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‘Life is More Than Academics’: NEET Rank 1 Holders Share Life after Topping Entrance Test, Joining AIIMS

By: Shyna Kalra

News18.com

Last Updated: September 07, 2022, 11:11 IST

New Delhi, India

NEET toppers Mrinal Kutteri and Karthika G Nair

NEET toppers Mrinal Kutteri and Karthika G Nair

Taking the pressure of competitive exam off has not only given NEET 2021 toppers a new perspective at studies, but also at life. In an exclusive conversation with News18, past year toppers share their life beyond NEET

“Life is beyond academics,” claim NEET toppers Mrinal Kutteri and Karthika G Nair who cracked the medical entrance exam in 2021 by scoring full marks and are now the first-year students in the top-ranking medical college in the country AIIMS, New Delhi.

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After cracking the biggest entrance exam and getting admission to one of the most prestigious colleges in the country, both the top rank holders have taken on new interests. While Mrinal says he is open and takes part in cultural activities on the campus, for Karthika, joining AIIMS also means rekindling her passion for dance. What remains common for both is they are now looking beyond academics.

“Before cracking the exam, life was all about studies. Now, it is a balance of academics, basic duties of living alone and adult responsibilities," said Karthika, who said living away from her parents for the first time is a lesson in itself.

While preparing for NEET was a race, now at AIIMS, there is no competition, instead it is like-minded people lifting each other up and acting as an external motivating factor to do better, said the teenager.

While preparing for NEET was a race, now at AIIMS, there is no competition, instead it is like-minded people lifting each other up and acting as an external motivating factor to do better.

The first year at AIIMS motivated her to “learn to enjoy life", as she tried to participate in almost every cultural activity. One lesson the topper claims she has learned so far is that “it’s about holistic development and one should be open beyond studies".

The biggest learning for Mrinal has been the ability to learn “to embrace failure”. Talking to News18.com exclusively at an Aakash education event, he said, “While preparing for a competitive entrance exam, there is a lot of pressure. It becomes the biggest deal in life and if one fails at it, there is no future. After getting ahead, I have realised that it’s not a make-or-break situation. Every situation in life is a learning graph."

There is no prejudice of being a ‘good’ or ‘bad’ student in college and that makes you bold enough to explore and make mistakes. One thing cannot derail the rest of life. Taking this pressure off has made me more courageous with my life choices

“There is no prejudice of being a ‘good’ or ‘bad’ student in college and that makes you bold enough to explore and make mistakes. One thing cannot derail the rest of life. Taking this pressure off has made me more courageous with my life choices," he added.

No one day at AIIMS campus is like the other, claims Mrinal. “There is so much to learn beyond the 9-5 classes. From fests to research to cultural activities, there is always something that keeps us occupied and it is not seen as an ‘extra’ activity. In fact, participation is encouraged," he said, adding, “I am sure each residential campus becomes an ecosystem of its own and it is not exclusive to our college, however, for me it has been worth the hype."

For those who could not get into their dream college, Mrinal said, “College experience is unique. Regardless of which college you end up in, you can make the best of it. As long as we are not afraid to explore, there always is a life to be lived. The journey is not just about becoming doctors, but to develop ourselves holistically."

Voicing similar sentiments, Karthika said, “Anyone scoring 660+ is equally intelligent and hardworking. How you perform on exam day is dependent on many factors. One should not get demotivated based on a single day’s performance. Learning beyond books and from peers is what has kept me motivated. It is highly underrated."

Both, however, also added that they have studied as much in the first six months of AIIMS as they did during the two years of NEET preparations. Their approach towards studies, too, has changed, however, maintaining balance with friends, family and colleagues is the new challenge now.

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first published:August 26, 2022, 12:47 IST
last updated:September 07, 2022, 11:11 IST