Wednesday, October 24, 2018

Those Entrance Exam Years - Part 3

As the students started preparing intensely for their school exams as well as entrance exams for professional colleges, we parents also had our tasks cut out. Our job was to research and do some background checks on the professional colleges, the courses they offered, the fee structure, their infrastructure and so on and so forth. Initially it seemed to be very confusing. Colleges that came under Government purview had a different system, whereas  private colleges had their own set of rules.

Since all the parents were in the same boat, we decided to set up a parents' group. On this group, we shared information about colleges, the dates when application forms were to be issued, the payment details, the last date for their submissions etc., This way we ensured that none of us would miss out on important deadlines. For the first time, I started maintaining a diary where I would note down all these details. By the way, the private universities/colleges start their admission process as early as November. The Government colleges as usual take their own time.

The private colleges conduct their own Entrance Exams. Generally, most of the children give about six to seven Entrance Exams! Be prepared for rising expenses at this time. You will not only be paying hefty school fee but coaching classes also come at a cost. Add to this travel expenses, books and stationary items, and the fee for all these application forms. Good education does come with costs attached.

It is a flurry of activity from November onwards. Filling online application forms, making payments online, and finally submitting the forms. The school as well as coaching institutes finish their syllabus by December and from then on, it is a series of preparatory tests and exams for the children. Our juggling still continued, that of driving my son to coaching class and from there to school everyday for two years!

Dates and centres for the twelfth grade final exam were announced. Time became a precious commodity. Before we knew it, the exams had started and also came to an end. The nerve wracking period doesn't end here. Immediately after his school exams, my son had to appear for the various entrance exams that he had applied for. I got to know areas in Bangalore which I had never ever heard of, as each exam centre was in different corners of Bangalore. While Google Maps was there, we would recce some of the areas that we were unfamiliar with, a day or two before the exams to ensure that it was actually 'the exam centre'.

Finally, the months of April and May arrived. This was marked by a frenzied activity of going from one centre to another to give entrance exams. The entire preparation of coaching classes was not only to make the students proficient in the subjects but it was also about training them to answer each question within two to three minutes. It was basically a race against time. To solve complicated and confusing questions using different logical steps within a given framework of time. To make it more challenging there was negative marking too!

After writing two or three exams my son started chilling. The two years of struggle was taking its toll and needed that chilling period. Most of his exams were over by May. Did I tell you that more than writing the exams it was waiting for the results which was nerve wracking? Some of the private institutes had already announced the results and had started with admission process. This was basically to get students to enroll into their institutes. I felt this was not fair on students and the parents. If all the results are announced around the same time, parents would have the leverage to take informed decisions (pick the best amongst the available)

I reiterate that one should let one's child decide what they are interested in. Most of the professional colleges announce a second and a third list of admissions. In such scenarios, your child might get into a reputed institute but the stream of their choice may not be available. The parents then try and convince the child that the name of the institute matters more than the stream of his/her interest. But, I would say that it is your child who will be going through the course and not you. Please let your child decide.

Well, by mid July my son was clear which University he wanted to get into and also got the stream of his choice. He was now all set for a new journey in the course of his life. For the first time, he was going to be living away from home.