It’s May. Its that time of the year when many parents and children are sweating it out waiting for celestial indications for their upcoming academic year. Sounds extreme? Not to the lakhs who appear for the various Common Entrance Tests (CET) amid stiff competition to get the coveted seat in a B-school of their choice. Of course only a few will make it to the Indian Ivy League but most will have to draw comfort from the many that are also of fairly high standards but often overshadowed by their illustrious counterparts.
Metaphorically speaking, current activities are just the tip of the iceberg, or is it volcano? The action and strategising begins much earlier often up to 12-18 months in before the exam day. The first step of course is to enrol with a ‘coaching class’. Whatever would we do without those? The parents duty there after is to keep a steady stream of Vitamin M (money) available as the candidate has to slug it out with DI, Quant and English which would test the Queen herself to excel at. Mock test after mock test, boys and girls alike weave dreams and hope against hope to crack the holy grail of B-School exams!
From July onwards its time for form filling, which means devoting sufficient time to stand in long queues to collect the forms. One examination board may demand collecting forms (in hard copy) from a bank; another demands bank drafts while yet another chooses the online route for the preliminary steps. As D Day approaches the youngsters slowly face mounting pressure bombarded by ‘specials’ on Websites, in the newspapers and television with “how to’s” for paper solving, what to eat and stay cool to give one’s best. From November to February almost every Sunday has some entrance exam each with a different bar and testing different capabilities. The student has to adapt rapidly so as to make the most of each opportunity.
There are many unforeseen factors at play like cancelling of some questions or even leaked papers, though the latter is less common now. As parents, our role has to be one offering stability and reason and of not burdening our child with our own aspirations. Do ensure atmosphere at home is conducive for studies. Most importantly plan your finances judiciously. Its true that loans are available but they usually cover course fees. There is plenty of expenditure before this stage in the form of classes, examination fees (most students appear for at least 5 exams) and individual college application fees (these are different from exam fees and most apply to over 10 colleges). The catch here is that forms have to be filled before the results are announced hence one cannot base the decision to apply on the scores. Then comes the expense for the interview process wherein travel to another city could be involved. As there is insufficient time a flight remains the only option, which means more expenditure. Once admission is obtained, there are other several overhead expenses, which are not covered by the loan.
The mother needs to remain the pillar of support right through. I say mother because all said and done, whether a working person or not the onus usually falls on her. This becomes especially relevant if the final scores are less than expectations or are insufficient to get through to the desired Institute. This trauma is often combined with delays due to the usual rigmarole of fee hikes, reservation controversies, court cases etc. She has to support her child, help him/her sort out their options and priorities and make an appropriate choice. The father’s inputs too are invaluable. This becomes all the more relevant as many candidates choose to go in for more than one attempt. Having the benefit of seeing a few summers more, parents should made concrete suggestions based on their child’s potential, needs and ability to withstand pressure. Most students are over 22 years at this stage- not really qualified to be called ‘children’- yet the need for parental support is paramount. Parents must not display their disappointment to the children nor attribute blame.
Yet another important place where parents need to participate is in selecting the right institutions. New B-schools are cropping up all over the countryside and often lack infrastructure and faculty. Some are even known to fudge their placement records. Parents must ask their friends, research on the Internet so that the child does not suffer. Do not fall prey to ‘touts’ who promise admissions and end up cheating students and parents.
Remember that a B-school degree is not the ultimate. There are enough examples of successful businessmen without the coveted MBA degree that will inspire the really talented, focussed hard working person! The important thing is to enjoy whatever work you do, work ethically and contribute to the progress of our society and country.
While admission procedure to courses beginning June 2008 may be almost over, the next exam season is round the corner, as notifications will begin in July. There is no time to lose. What are you waiting for? Those who want to bell the cat, snap out of your lethargy and get CET to go!