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An estimated 5-minute read
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Five point someone in law school

                                                                                                                                      -Radhika Agarwal

A few weeks earlier, I chanced upon a letter which had apparently gone viral on social networking sites. The letter which was written by the faculty of Barrowford Primary School in Lancashire contained an important message for its students; there are several ways of being smart and“the scores you get will tell you something, but they will not tell you everything”.

I found this particular line to be very telling because it does a brilliant job of busting the myth that academic performance is a measure of one’s competence…

Until recently, NALSAR used to declare exam results by publishing them online. In addition to this, the Examination Committee used to send home the results of all students in order to update parents about their wards’ class performance. Though this practice has now been abandoned, I wish that at that time, our professors too had told us that test results alone aren’t a fool-proof method of evaluating a student’s potential.

Looking back at the four years of law school that have gone by, I wish that I had realized this much earlier…

In my first year of law school, I was one of those who would give undue importance to grades. I remember that day in my first semester (barely six weeks into law school) when I was shown my Torts test paper; I had scored 6/10. For an eighteen year old who had made it to the top 100 in her first attempt in CLAT, secured a place in India’s most coveted law school and dreamt of securing a lot of gold medals in college, it was a moment of crushing defeat. I felt as if I had met my Waterloo.

Despite being sincere in class, I ended up scoring quite low in all my exams, and by the time the semester ended and the results were declared, I was nowhere close to topping in class. I had expected quite a stellar performance  from myself. What made it worse and more embarrassing for me was the fact that quite a few people in my class too had expected me to be a “studly” student with “sahi” grades, since they knew me to be one of those very few who would concentrate and make extensive notes in class. That is not all however…

I received a final blow to my self-esteem when I found out that I had failed a course in Sociology in my third semester. At first, I was quite sure that there had been a printing mistake in the results. My worst fears however were confirmed when I saw for myself that I had received an unbelievably low score in my sociology end semester exam.

At that time, I felt that all my dreams of ever applying for higher studies had been crushed, and that I should start looking at alternative options after law school. I had also been quite keen on going on an exchange programme during law school, but getting an R (repeat) in a subject meant automatic disqualification from applying for the programme (A rule that lacks any logic, and has thus been removed now).

Over the years however, I learnt that there was no need to obsess over grades. Even though I did not have an insanely high CGPA, I ended up securing some really great research opportunities. Whenever I applied for an internship, neither did I mention my CGPA in my resume, nor was I ever asked how much I had scored in any subject. It seemed that what was most relevant was my interest in a particular field, and the nature and quality of work that I had already done.

While I continued working hard to improve my grades in law school, I stopped getting upset after seeing my test results. [By the way, I also got selected for an exchange programme which I eventually turned down] I also deliberately chose never to find out my class rank, because I did not want to compare myself to my peers.

While I believe that one should aspire to perform well academically, I also feel that one needs to  remember that scoring less does not disempower one from being successful otherwise. What matters in the long run is setting your own goals and working hard to achieve them.

I share this in the hope that people realize that grades are not indicative of a person’s potential to do well in life.

“They do not know that many of you speak two languages. They do not know that you can play a musical instrument or that you can dance or paint a picture. They do not know that your friends count on you to be there for them or that your laughter can brighten the dreariest day.

“They do not know that you write poetry or songs, play or participate in sports, wonder about the future, or that sometimes you take care of your little brother or sister after school. They do not know that you have travelled to a really neat place or that you know how to tell a great story or that you really love spending time with special family members and friends.

“They do not know that you can be trustworthy, kind or thoughtful, and that you try, every day, to be your very best… the scores you get will tell you something, but they will not tell you everything.

“So enjoy your results and be very proud of these but remember there are many ways of being smart.”


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