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What The Rat Race For College Admissions Made Me Realise

Posted on June 15, 2016 in Education

By Ananya Kumar:

The day was upon us. We crossed our fingers and wished desperately for the best, switched on our computers in trepid anticipation and punched in our roll numbers with staccato presses on the keyboard, torn between stopping the page from opening and willing it to load faster.

Result declarations are scary, even more so than the exam days. Especially when they have something to do with class 12 and the obvious step after it, college.

Pre-boards in December and January, a series of farewells in February followed by the board exams all through the month of March. It has been a relentless continuum, leaving us no time to even ponder over school getting over after 14 long years. And suddenly one wakes up to the hard fact that college and everything it stands for, including adulthood, beckons impatiently. One starts preparing for the next logical step which is trying to secure admission in a ‘decent’ college.

Whether it be an entrance exam written for entry into a reputed institution or the ‘best of four’ calculated to check if it meets a certain cutoff, applying for college after school is often unpredictable and akin to a gamble given the large number of applicants and the small number of seats available. Not that that’s something bad, to be honest. If nothing else, it motivates one to do their best and explore all available options.

Options are key in this whole process. Backups and backups of backups are necessary if one has to make it through. Whether it be rushing to apply to the UK because their application portal is less complicated, giving a last ditch attempt at the SAT or filling the forms of a private university, we’ve all had to take steps understandably to ensure a seat somewhere.

It’s a pretty tedious task, come to think of it. Scouring the internet for information on various institutes and universities and deciding on those that could be viable options. Not to mention filling multiple forms and uploading the same documents everywhere but with different size limits. 10-20 KB will soon be the death of me.

The race against time continues every day as one tries his/her best to keep up with the various deadlines, submit all the required documents and sort out all that is available. One wakes up in the morning and checks their mail the first thing and the university portals the next (most of which crash, sadly). It is a constant struggle to make the choice between course vs. college, private vs. government, central university vs. state university, staying in the same city vs. staying in a hostel in another. In today’s day and age, there are various factors other than the love for a certain subject that determine what one studies over the next three (or four) years. Magic numbers declared by faceless authorities are what often dictate one’s destiny. Or do they?

While there are a few new kids on the block like Ashoka University and Shiv Nadar University with solid credentials regarding world class infrastructure and accomplished faculty, they are still at the bottom of the table and are backups for most. Monolithic, bureaucratic structures resistant to change, with the government as the Big Brother watching over the process, continue to be a top preference for the majority.

All said and done, the joy one feels at getting the first ever acceptance letter after having performed well in an interview, writing a good essay and meeting the predicted grades is indescribable. It suddenly feels worth it. After being defined by a number/grade by everybody around you, one starts to believe that one is more than just that.

As Doris Day once sang,
“When I was just a little girl
I asked my mother
What will I be
Will I be pretty
Will I be rich
Here’s what she said to me

Que sera, sera
Whatever will be, will be
The future’s not ours to see
Que sera, sera
What will be, will be.”

Here’s to the learners, the stumblers, the achievers, the in-betweens, the happy, the sad, the dreamers, the imaginers, the students! We’ll find our unique place under the sun.