Post Education Stress Syndrome (PESS) – The cure might be impossible, but a remedy is possible!

Post Education Stress Syndrome (PESS) – The cure might be impossible, but a remedy is possible!

Learning & Development

Fazalur Rahman

Fazalur Rahman

259 week ago — 12 min read

Background: The demands and rigour of fast paced modern life can take its toll on anyone. But students on the cusp of starting their careers are especially vulnerable to mounting internal and external expectations and often unreasonable standards of excellence. Fazalur Rahman, Director of Talentpepz Career Solutions, elaborates on the phenomena of Post Education Stress Syndrome (PESS) and possible ways to keep it at bay.

Like everyone else I made my choice and completed 1st group with 80% marks, following which, I had successfully landed in my dream (which included my parents, my relatives and of course my friends too - what’s wrong in that?) degree.

This whole new world was filled with lots of fun, friends, debates and quarrels, cuddles and pokes, and nobody else could fathom my happiness when I was in college. But right before the final year, I started hearing words like, Placement, Career, Resume Writing, Group Discussion, Interview, Offer Letter etc. and my dreams were shattered and I started spiraling towards a grounded reality, The words that most college students don’t like to hear (fear, failure, frown and foreboding) started haunting me since then.

I wasn’t ready to face the real world that is so Volatile, filled with Uncertainty, which was made to be more complex for my generation and where every piece of information in front of me was Ambiguous. Although I have an arrear free achievement of 8.2 CGPA, I’m unable to succeed in any of the campus interviews. I’ve had enough hours of training to prepare myself to face these scenarios, but I was “rejected” or else I was hired to sell something.

PESS, or Post Educational Stress Syndrome is a phase that college students go through once they start their final year of college. This typically stems from an uncertainty about an individual’s future and a general fear of what will happen next.


My Post Education Stress started mounting and I saw myself as a loser...!

This is not the story of someone, somewhere and at some point of time, but a problem which is faced by many college going students who are painfully living with PESS, and it includes the student and their parents.

Also read: Career value curves


What is PESS?

PESS, or Post Educational Stress Syndrome is a phase that college students go through once they start their final year of college. This typically stems from an uncertainty about an individual’s future and a general fear of what will happen next. PESS affects the student and is often showed to affect the individual’s surroundings. Common abnormalities that can be observed is anxiety, isolation, general depression and reluctance. Reasons as to why an individual suffers from PESS include — not getting a job of their desire, dissatisfaction/displeasure in existing workplace situations, peer pressure and familial pressure.

Are we exaggerating PESS?

Are we exaggerating this syndrome, or does this really need a serious approach?

A survey conducted by the Scooldudes Team, across 8 major cities in India and covering about 5000 school-going children have found out that 50% of the surveyed children in Chennai, 80% from Mumbai, and 65% from Bangalore are acutely stressed with the reasons cited being heavy syllabus, long study hours (including after school tuition), parental/teacher pressure and lack of confidence. ( 2019).

A web article by an immigration consultant says that “Every day, 6.23 Indian students commit suicide due to peer pressure; India has one of the highest rates of suicides among people aged between 15 and 29. Although the reasons are numerous but failure in examination, unemployment, and depression are some KEY reasons why people put their lives at risk”. The cutthroat competition in high ranked university admissions has also resulted in increasing numbers of suicides among failing candidates in recent years. (WENR 2018)


What is triggering PESS?

The list of reasons that trigger PESS could be too long and it points towards every direction, so being specific and finding the source would be impossible, however, no lens is required for the ***** truth, “it is Rote Learning rather than learning for Personal or Professional success”; a culture that clubs educational achievement with social status.

Pankaj Chandra, the Vice Chancellor of Ahmedabad University points out in his interview to Business Today that:

  • Education got standardised and we forgot that education was about real people and real people are very different from each other.
  • Teaching in a standard way just leads to exams and outcomes
  • "We provided no flexibility and created water-tight rules which are applicable to everybody. It destroyed the good ones who could have taken the destiny in their own hands and moved on."
  • It is the amalgamation of regulators and society that don't see that higher education institutions must become the most important agent of change in the society
    -- Source: Business Today


Beyond these social realities, the natural reality that daunts us today is the VUCA World which require individuals to develop their competitiveness beyond their literateness. A highly populated country like India, where a majority of its population falls under the younger age group, the competition will be high in every domain naturally.


Also read: 5 critical questions for leadership success and life happiness

Where will PESS lead us?

  • Increased vulnerability to income generation and employment opportunities
  • Reduced economic development (for family, society and country as a whole)
  • Worsened mental health (chances of high premature deaths)
    -- Source: WHO 2010


Impossible cure/ possible remedy

It seems almost impossible to identify the core issues that cause PESS and a curative approach. However, there should be always a remedy available to ease the pain and pressure we experience. One such remedy is:

“Tough times never last, but tough people do.”– Robert H Schuller

“If you don’t like something change it; if you can’t change it, change the way you think about it.”– Mary Engelbreit

I personally feel that EVERYONE should shoulder the responsibility to first accept and then believe and understand the influence and dramatic result the remedy will bring by reducing PESS. When I say EVERYONE, it starts with the youth, parents, teachers, institutional heads, influencers, social role models and the list goes on.

Let us now look at the remedy and one shall induce this to successfully overcome PESS.

  • Learn to see the ground reality and the future ahead
  • An incremental self-development
  • Proactive long-term mentoring support
  • Be the first to adapt the new technology to learn and develop


Learn to see the ground reality and the future ahead

Be it the youth or their parents, peers let us understand the reality first, aspiration is different from the ground reality. Shun fantasy and start believing in reality. The reality is that you cannot achieve the best (fame, financial abundance, expert title, career success). Every great success is the outcome of extraordinary efforts. Align your goal with today’s possible effort and reach your goal step by step. Enjoy every minute and day, by envisioning and realising your goal.


An incremental self-development
Plan your achievement by deriving your goals as short, mid and long term. Develop yourself through mastering the skills that are required to achieve your goals. Incremental self-development is the key to success. When it is hard to master the skill, chunk it to pieces. For example; if you want to read a 100- page book, read at least 5 pages a day then you will be able to complete the book in 20 days. Similarly, any skill is possible to get mastered if we learn and practice it. Set a SMART objective (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Time bound) and ensure all necessary and relevant information and support are present. Act with determination to succeed even partially with the required quality. Challenges are common and you should develop the perseverance to face the challenges confidently without giving up. If your efforts are not yielding the desired results, it is time to seek the support of a mentor /coach and work for the best possible solutions.

Proactive long-term mentoring support
Assessing oneself regularly to understand one’s innate potential, will reveal the key strengths and area of development that needs practice and to become a habit. Development is a long journey in which you may need a mentor/ coach to guide and travel along to reach your goals. Mentoring / coaching is a famous process which goes back to our epics with the examples like Dhronacharya and Krishna for Arjuna, Chanakya for Chandragupta Maurya, and in recent years, Dr Vikramsarabhai and Satish Dhawan for Dr APJ Abdul Kalam and Ramakant Achrekar for Sachin Tendulkar.

So, if these pioneers needed mentoring / coaching, why not for you?

Expert mentors/ coaches are capable of bringing a tremendous transformation within yourself over a time period. Long – term mentoring / coaching will help you to transform by setting and achieving short, mid and long-term goals.

Associate with a professional network within your domain to be updated with the latest happenings, evolving innovation and techniques. Acquire hands-on skills by enrolling in workshops, events and relevant training programs. Share your know-how with peers to polish yourself.


Be first to adapt the new technology to learn and develop
If you don’t have a typing skill of minimum 40 words/minute, if you don’t have expertise to work with windows, Microsoft office, if you don’t know how to apply various search criteria to get specific results in Google, then no doubt your productivity will be very low.

To be successful one must be equipped to utilise the potential opportunity. Therefore, rethink how to develop technological skills in order to achieve the personal / professional objectives. Be proactive to learn about new technologies and how trends are changing and fear not to test and adapt the new.

Within each one of us there is a master of the universe. Not the universe out there but the inner universe of our own thoughts, feelings, attitudes and actions. Most people realize too late what awaits within and how valuable it is. For too long we allow ourselves to be distracted and bewitched by all that is happening outside. To be the master of your inner world is to be the master of your own destiny. Are you going to be the master or a slave?” - Source: Raja Yoga

Authors Dr. Fazalur Rahman & Prof. Syed Ahmed have teamed up with a hi-tech professional portal for individual transformation by identifying strength and development challenges to attain new age skill set. We help individuals to develop through psychometric assessments, One-to-one mentoring and In-depth E-learning for sustainable success with long term partnership. 


Also read: The top two sources of self-worth


Image courtesy:


To explore business opportunities, link with me by clicking on the 'Connect' button on my eBiz Card. 


Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views, official policy or position of GlobalLinker.