This article is a long one, and has been broken into four parts.
Part 1 describes the formation of the expectations and the attitude with which I start my graduate and post graduate academic journey. This is important as it sets the tone of expectation management that is necessary later on.
Part 2 describes my shock at the mismatch between expectation and reality and its psychological impact.
Part 3 talks about how I react and try to deal with the shock – trying to overcome it or succumb to it.
Part 4 suggests various realistic measures that I can take in order to resolve the situation. It may be tempting to go directly to this section, but it is important to understand and identify with the other sections. By doing this, I create detachment, and I see myself as a third person undergoing trauma, and with this detachment the solutions make sense to me.
When I join an academic institution, be it undergraduate or post graduate, I expect the following:
- If I were good in academics in the past, I expect that my previous academic excellence and habits will continue to help me in the subsequent years
- If I were NOT good in academics, I expect that I now have an opportunity to start with a clean slate, and not allow the past to determine the future.
If I were good in academics:
- I had good teachers / tutors. I maybe lucky to have a teacher who could explain concepts very well, have patience and understanding, sometimes force and sometimes cajole me to give my best. The teacher created a scaffold and gradually removed the scaffold as I became more competent. I was therefore motivated.
- I liked the subject and found it easy or not boring. Therefore, I gave more time to the subject that I found competent to handle.
- I had good parents, who motivated me, pushed me, cajoled me, gave me structure and showed the future. They also held my hand
- I had good peer support, who did not pull me down, who gave me respect, accepted me as I was and did not compete.
- I had good genes, and I was able to think well, grasp concepts, have patience, could strategise and plan my academics.
- I could see how academics would lead to a rosy future, and I believed that I could achieve it
In short, I had
- the ability and capability
- a good environment and
- the right attitude
If I were bad in studies,
- I could blame myself, the teachers, the parents, the subjects whatever.
- I could accept that I was good in sports, socialising, but not in mugging for exams.
- I know that my history of academics in my home town, possibly the same teachers and the same school, same peers and their beliefs about me also determined how I was treated and examined. Now I can create my own persona, without any past references.
- I believe that since the new college is a different location with different friends, and since I am not stifled by the environment, I can do better and start afresh.
- I can develop new abilities, I can adapt to a new environment and can motivate myself.
Part 2 describes my shock at the mismatch between expectation and reality and its psychological impact on my performance.