Voluminous syllabus, inadequate time, stigma of dropout: NEET-UG aspirants caught in a web of mental trauma

Several NEET-UG aspirants are struggling with anxiety and depression during the last lap of their preparation and the lack of enough time for preparation is making it worse.

By Nimisha S Pradeep  Published on  5 July 2022 5:53 AM GMT
Voluminous syllabus, inadequate time, stigma of dropout: NEET-UG aspirants caught in a web of mental trauma

Hyderabad: Sania Khan gets a tingling feeling in her body when she sleeps. Her veins also start paining. She pukes whatever she eats. Forget studying, for the last one month, she is neither able to get some sound sleep nor eat anything.

With hardly 12 days left for the NEET-UG exam, Saina is worried. "Is baar bhi nahi mila toh kya hoga?" she asked.

Hailing from Aurangabad in Maharashtra, Sania is trying her luck at the NEET UG exam for the third time. "In 2020 when I first wrote the exam, my parents dreamed that I should become a doctor. In 2021, in my second attempt, I had worked hard but could not clear it. This time, it's my dream and I have put in a lot of effort. But this year, there is not enough time and this is adding to my anxiety," says Saina.

There are a total of 98 chapters to complete in Physics, Chemistry, Botany, and Zoology. "In the last one month, there has not been a single day when I have not cried. I sit to study and then my head becomes heavy with various thoughts, 'will they release the admit card?', 'will the exams be postponed?' These days, I am not even able to recollect what I learned the previous day," says Saina.

"If the government gives 30-40 days more for preparation, it would be like a new birth for me," says Saina, who is getting suicidal thoughts off late. "It's like losing everything. I can't bear this pain anymore," she says.

The NTA has decided to conduct the NEET-UG 2022 on July 17. Like Saina, several NEET-UG aspirants are struggling with anxiety and depression during the last lap of their preparation and the lack of enough time for preparation is making it worse.

"Stopped talking to school friends"

For Bhavya of Ludhiana, it is her second attempt. In her first attempt, due to some health problems, she could not do well. But after her illness was diagnosed and she started taking medication, she started working hard towards NEET-UG 2022.

Bhavya says the life of a dropout is not easy as it is not just the voluminous syllabus but also the stigma attached to a dropout by the society that is putting her off. She says they do not have any kind of socializing and it's just "study, study, and study."

"Everybody keeps on asking you what you are up to. My mom is a professor in a private college. Her colleagues always ask her what her daughter is doing. She becomes frustrated when she comes home. She takes it out on me. I have also stopped talking to my school friends because all of them are in their second year of college and here I am, I have not even started from where my school ended. Sometimes, I feel like I am a burden. Maybe without me, they would not have to be embarrassed," says Bhavya.

Having been brought up by a single mother, Bhavya also has to be mindful of the financial challenges. "My mom's work in the private school is not secure and can be lost anytime. She is constantly worried that if I take too long to graduate, she would not be able to help me financially," says Bhavya.

Some of the aspirants also said that their anxiety has increased in the last few months and so their doctors have prescribed them a higher dosage of medication, as a result of which, they are having side effects that are affecting their preparations. One of the aspirants who wished to be anonymous said that his anti-depressant pills were giving him sleep paralysis.

For those students, who have not sought medical help, it is worse. They say that their parents cannot comprehend what they are going through. "When I shared about the tingling feeling I get during my sleep and the heaviness in my head, they said it was because I was not having enough food," says Sania. Bhavya's mother, on the other hand, ruled it out and said that it was just that she was scared of the exam.

A two-hour Twitter poll conducted by NewsMeter on 4 July revealed that a majority of the students are not ready for the exam and want postponement. Out of the 773 aspirants who voted, 80% said yes, they wanted a postponement whereas 20% said that they want the exam to be conducted as per schedule.

Why the students are seeking a postponement

The NTA had announced the date of the NEET-UG exam in April 2022. The aspirants say that three months is not enough time to complete the syllabus. Also, another issue that they raise is that two competitive exams are being conducted in the same month without enough gap.

"It has not even been a month since I completed my boards. Besides NEET, I have also applied for CUET (the common entrance to Central Universities) which is also scheduled to be held between 15 July and 10 August. The boards were also conducted term wise so now I have to revise class 11 and term 1 of class 12. The situation is messy. Postponing NEET-UG will help a lot. Aspirants before us had been given a lot more time than us. It is unfair and puts unnecessary pressure on us," explains Asha*, an aspirant from Noida.

The aspirants also ask if the academic year is set to begin in February 2023, and why is the NTA in a hurry to conduct the exam. We are just asking for 40 days, 30-40days wouldn't cost anything to the government but those 30 days might cost the lives, and dreams of many, they say.

After multiple representations to the Education Minister and other government officials, 2 million tweets, an online petition, and a candle march across the country on Doctor's Day, the government has not yet heeded the students' concerns. On 5 July, the aspirants are planning to take a march to the Prime Minister's house raising their demand for postponement.

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