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Education is a race that Covid slowed down, giving students a breather and time to re-assess

Campus Voice is an initiative by ThePrint where young Indians get an opportunity to express their opinions on a prevalent issue.

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Has coronavirus impacted my education? A simple answer would be yes. Like millions of students around the world, my education has also been affected a great deal by this pandemic. However, unlike others, my opinion and experience has been completely different.

When it comes to my education, this pandemic has given me a second chance to start all over again, something that rarely happens.

Education for a middle class family is like a race. We run to escape the middle income trap, to emancipate generations, to meet parent’s expectations and there is hardly any personal quest for knowledge.

I was sanctioned to run for engineering even before I could add two numbers, and like everyone else, I ran.

I ran for everything, against an illusion that this is the thing that will liberate me, will do wonders in my life and most importantly, I ran because others were running and I was scared to fall behind if I took a moment to think about it.

Fortunately, I graduated from a reputed National Institute of Technology (NIT) and got a decent campus placement but when the race seemed to be finishing, there was no miracle.

After one race, I was about to be thrown into another — now it was the race to climb up the corporate ladder. The fear was new but still felt age old.

With Covid came lockdowns, and everything and everyone ceased to run. Suddenly, everything was static and no one was running. The race stopped and the fear eased. This was a prized moment and a time to reflect about my education, my career and my life. A time that I could never afford in the middle of a hardened race.

I got a chance to restart due to Covid

Covid gave me the time to see how much I had drifted from things that I wanted to learn, and gave me a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to restart.

The possibilities were infinite. Everyone now belonged to the same online classes, the education that I wanted now became more accessible to me, at least. The distinctions and hierarchy of colleges and academic institutions were meaningless — even for a brief moment — and everyone was clueless. It was chaos everywhere.

But as they say, chaos is a ladder and I could not let it go.

In that moment, I decided that if it takes a race to be successful, at least it’s going to be a race of my choice. I gave up the campus placement and in times like these, it was the bravest thing I could imagine doing. I opted to pursue a course in the field of Arts hoping to be a civil servant one day.

All the unconventional ways of learning that emerged due to the pandemic suited my requirements and for once, as a student, I discovered infinite possibilities.

Everyone was at the beginning of this race coping with online education. I could explore new ways of learning and even peer-to-peer cooperation. This was not possible earlier, where established procedures of success would determine whether you make it or not in almost every field of education.

I started to believe that it was still possible for me, that I did not have to be trapped in a race where I didn’t belong.

I know, I am blessed with many privileges to make these choices but as a student all I can say is that moments like these , which allow you to introspect about your careers and realise your dreams, are rare. Mostly, a student fears being left behind and that wins most of the battles in his or her career.

This pandemic has opened up new dimensions for my education and completely changed the student in me. This is how it has impacted my education and I am very glad about it.

Rishav Kumar is a student of Motilal Nehru National Institute of Technology, Allahabad

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