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GATE, CAT TOUGHEST TO CRACK THAN GRE, GMAT

February 23, 2015

Updated: May 11th. By now the boys & girls have an idea where they are headed. 2 girls have secured admission with Carnegie Melon, one girl in Newyork’s Columbia… lolz boys have not managed such a feat. Will keep the post updated. Sadly none cracked the GATE as expected… One boy who studied engineering at Singapore National Univ after finishing his 12th in my son’s school has been accepted by Microsoft to work in their Seattle office (campus placement) (son calls hims ‘a nerd!’)

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But life is sure much more than all this…

Looks like son has been accepted by 2 nice universities. Admit pending. One is in top 30. He is applying for highly competitive course, getting into which is not easy.. If he opts for engineering-management courses, there is an odd chance that he can break into top 15-20. Technical courses/Specializations are few and universities offering them are also limited. For instance in civil/structural engg, if he wants Construction Management or Environmental Engg or even Shipping & Harbour Construction & Port Management, he may crack into top 10 even. Some have with luck, with the exact kind of profile/gre & gpa scores like he has. But he wants steel structural design that not everyone has.  One of the top 10 surprisingly shortlisted him for ‘Tube Tunnel Engg’ – which will have great scope in future. Future world development work will be mostly underearth as above surface is getting saturated at an alarming pace. Underearth structures and undersea works we shall be seeing from now on on a massive scale. The chinese are into this already which is why they are good at Metrorails. India is still struggling. Our metros are underground finally, even parking lots are underground these days. Tunnelling and Underearth/Undersea projects is the future aimed at de-congestion as well as bridging great gaps via the oceans. To be chosen for the course by a top university is a stupendous feat. But I still said ‘no’ to this branch of engineering. A lifelong career under the earth is not something I wish for my son. Thank God, he did not like it himself and is giving it a pass. Which means he is missing a super university. He is sometimes left confused. Its a real big chance – but let it be someone else down there, not my son… I am clear on that…

Shiva Prasad: We got the good news on ShivRatri about the universities he was clamouring after.  1-2 more he has applied for will announce admissions only by Mar-April. He is doing a tough project right now – could have settled for a simpler one. This one is ambitious. Steel structural design, naturally. But that’s what he wants.

http://www.thehindu.com/news/national/life-is-much-bigger-than-exams-says-modi/article6922540.ece?homepage=true

Meanwhile, many of his classmates were giving GATE and CAT. 1 or 2 have hopes pinned on CAT. Actually its easier to crack GRE and get into a good US university than cracking CAT or GATE. Both, my son is not even attempting! (Ironical that its getting into our own IIT/NIT for PG that’s toughest over getting into foreign universities for masters/PhD. If you crack Indian entrances, you can crack any competitive exam in the world!) (My son’s GRE score is 318/340 and TOEFL is 114/120 so he has given GATE the slip). His collegemates and other friends were attending classes for over 3-6 months preparing for either of the entrances or both. Slogging like anything. My son completed CAD as well as a complete set of technical courses to equip himself better and has familiarized himself with Primavera.

If not tier-I, hopefully the boys and girls will find their way into some good tier-II, III institutions. GATE/CAT preparations equip them the best.

Reminds me of the times in their class 11 & 12 when they were preparing for professional entrances like IIT-JEE/AIEEE etc. More than the children, its us the parents who are tensed maximum!

Few like my boy have given GRE/GMAT. Mostly and surprisingly its the girls who want to go abroad for higher studies than boys. Mine – is a global citizen I knew right from his very young years. Sometimes makes me sad, why the men in my life can’t be rooted in one place.

The boys are all in their final sem. And the girls too. Girls have bagged some top-notch universities already. One girl went to the UK in peak winter to present a paper. Presenting paper is something that did not even cross my son’s mind! Look at the girls! First time in UK, this girl had to visit Scotland and when she alighted from flight, she was welcomed with snow she was not used to. First time ever in her life. She walked 45min to her destination – and came back after a week on successful presentation of research paper. Not mandatory – but look at the initiative, willingness to work and research! Girls have it in them – boys still aren’t that much into it all!

Another girl successfully completed ‘semester abroad’ last year in Sweden. Chennai girls…. oh my! The current crop of girls are so, so brainy that boys  have to work double hard and be real smart to win them!!!

Wishing all the guys and girls the best of luck! Since I am not there at home and my MIL keeps moving around, looks like my house is the melting point of school and college gangs. Átleast ensure that the boys don’t smoke or booze in our place!’ I told my boy.

He just got back after 2 days in Pondicherry with college friends. With school friends, there is this Goa trip coming up shortly. 15 boys and 5 girls. Gotto give it to the girls’parents for allowing their daughters on a 5 day trip with boys. I wouldn’t allow if its my daughter frankly! My boy thankfully and sweetly says he is ‘single & ready to mingle!’ Better this way so he stays focussed in academics and future career. There will always be time later on for serious affairs!! I only know whichever girl its gonna be, she is damn lucky! Says my son, ‘don’t worry Amma and Appa, I can take of myself. Its my life, my marriage. How can you fix it with someone for me?!”

Good question: one that my great grandparents, grandparents, aunts & uncles, parents and we ourselves forgot to ask our elders!!!

Girls who never venture into kitchen normally say they are eager to cook food for my son when I am not at home! Strictly banned them from mine in my absence. The girls – why can’t they help their own mothers! Looks like sonny is getting cooking tips from girls – he likes it better than getting tips from his mom, this is called Kaliyug!

One boy – my pet – wants NDA. Rarest choice. He is fatherless already, with his mother working as bank officer. She asked me to discourage him but he is not listening to. Very strong in his beliefs and wishes to serve the nation. Proud of him, he is already a fencing champion. Not come across any young man/woman wanting to serve India. Nithin wants to join as officer straight away and is preparing for entrance. Physically he is more than fit. His mother is resigned to his choice.

Finally the children are real grown-up. And how so very quick! Unbelievable. From here on, they have to make it by themselves. My son is spending 2 hours everyday in the gym (that reminds me I am losing my fitness here without Zumba). He is doing lots of extra technical reading which is good. How much we underestimate our kids.

About student anxiety,

I think it started with the time they came to class 9. Syllabus is completed by December in most schools with 10th classes starting by Jan unofficially but I have to give it to my son’s school for not bugging the children with too much of grinding. They were one of a kind who did not stuff the class 10 syllabus on kids in class 9. 10th boards followed, then 11th is the time they have to decide upon which tuitions to attend and already 12th boards is on them. After a struggle with college admissions followed by the professional courses crammed with semester exams every 6  months, finally the guys emerge out by the 8th and concluding sem – only to be preparing for and writing CAT/GATE/GRE/GMAT/TOEFL from as early as in third year once again. Where is the respite. My son and his friends still manage to enjoy maximum –  never miss any kind of fun… But take it a little overboard, you could end up with a ton of arrears. Especially Engineering Maths paper I, II, III & IV in first 4 sems are very tough. Even the brightest boys & girls have failed with a little carelessness. My own son received a jolt in IV sem Engg Maths paper which finally brought him down to earth. Unbelievable, he is otherwise a bright kid. But he managed to clear it next with a ‘B’ which worked to his advantage: which pushed up his GPA actually!

But thats a stroke of luck none can count on… Engineering Maths arrears are very tough to clear. Most who earn them keep giving repeat attempts until the final year/final sem.

So is college life as cool as they show in pictures! What a farce! In my son’s college you cannot even walk out of the campus without a proper exit pass issued by the HOD.

About those opting for medical courses: we have a couple of youngsters doing MD in our family. After they came to class 9, they have not had any fun at all. One is specializing in gynaecology (All India 2000th rank in PG entrance) and 2 others are mastering surgery. After this they have to still go for super speciality. Hopefully they will get back to be cheerful once they complete their education and start working/practising… As of now, they are a picture of disillusionment…. seeing them I feel none should opt for medicine! Tough career choice. Needs enormous mental strength and patience and perseverance… Testing time even for parents who have to support the kids until after they cross into their 30’s. The stipend the govt gives is hardly sufficient. Moreover if you do MD/MS in TN (as in most states), you have to execute a 5 year bond to work with state hospitals. 8 years finished this way starting the course. Highly discouraging.

And one doing MS has studied in a private medical college (payment seat). If he wants superspeciality of his choice, his parents have to cough up in crores again for securing private admission. So sad. Children get frustrated – I advise a strict ‘no-no’ to payment medical seats. This boy missed his govt MBBS seat via entrance by a margin of 0.01.

One more boy joined the Pilot course (aeronautical engineering). He is my son’s senior. After completion of degree over 5 years back, he is yet to fly officially. His parents are spending in lacs for his physical fitness every single month. And he is buying flying time – because he has to clock maximum hours before being accepted by a commercial flier. Such a drain on family resources and on the morale of the entire family. The boy is acutely depressed. He has crossed 28 years already – the family have sold their home.

All I can say is, give merit a chance. The willingness on part of parents to spend gives false hopes and encourages kids to choose careers beyond their capacities/capabilities. Do your own thorough research. 

Kids as such are under tremendous pressure today… plus pressure to compete with and excel like their ambitious peers. In my family of professionals, already the set standard is too high for the children. My son is a 3rd generation engineer. It goes without saying you have to be a high achiever in our circle. 

It irritates me to think of this even now: when I was carrying my son, everyone would say this to me: ‘so how is the junior engineer?! what is he saying?!’ So even before my son made his way to earth, it was believed he’s a son over a daughter and that son would grow up to be an engineer because that’s what his grandfather & father were!

Parental expectations add to children’s woes. On the other hand I also think if children cannot stand this kind of mental pressure in this age, how can they prime themselves for a tougher future tomorrow. May be we are preparing them well in advance for what lies ahead… Times are changed… Increasingly world is getting to be a difficult place to live in…

I do feel so sorry for today’s youth… I think we were a lot relaxed than this… My son and his friends are a rare cool lot who find time for other activities. Most don”t. Every semester has some 7 theory papers and minimum 5 practicals. Its a miracle my son has managed to balance his life well – with academics, books, music, friends, pictures, fun, sports everything. As I said, those who cannot keep up the pressure have ended up with backlog of arrears…

3 boys in my son’s class have already started going bald… One is going for hair transplantation… Sometimes I wonder why we cannot have a normal, average stress-free life? Why do we want more? Why can’t we be happy the way we are… I happily worked as a clerk because at the end of the day I did not have to take back anything home – in my mind. My worries were only about catching the bus in time, getting back to my baby the soonest… and about what to cook for the next day, when to iron our clothes…. Such trivial things, now I am glad I am a housewife. Atleast let me be the one in my family without stress.

True there is the yearning at times when I cross my bank’s branch… but I think life is worth all the sacrifices. I remind myself this is all I have always wanted out of life: to be there for my kid the way my mom could never be with me… and I am here…  I would have completed over 23 years service by now… eligible for voluntary retirement with half pension… No, but absolutely no regrets… My son has justified all that I had to give up as a woman, as a wife, as a mother… I do like looking at ambitious girls … but I would still like them to consider the fruits of raising a good family first…

I have working IT professionals in relative circles. What a life. Young couples. If husband is doing day-duty, wife will be on night-duty and vice-versa. The keenness they have for off-shore (overseas) projects, they aren’t showing in being together. Not even 35, already looking too old and bored, but ofcourse with one sedan each, great apartment with sea-view everything. And no, not a flicker of romance.

One thing I remember about my mom is, she was working from her 17th or 18th year I guess. My father worked for central govt and they already had health covered by leading hospitals like Apollo even in those times. My mom had some health issues that she did not give the seriousness it deserved. One day just like that she passed away on returning from school. One day she was there – a working woman, a school teacher who went to her school boarding a bus to teach her wards – the hearing & speech impaired kids, and the next day she was not there to board the bus. That is it. She died the intervening night. We learnt she could have been ailing from uterine cancer that must have spread, besides some other complications. Ever since even if I was myself a working woman who felt difficult to adjust to the role of a housewife initially, I wish for atleast a single member of the family to be stress-free giving 100% to the family… and I think its better if that happens to be the wife/mother… Women”s health issue has to be seriously considered. Who says we cannot die in our 30s or 40s. Just look at my mom who died so young unnecessarily – who was so full of dreams for her daughters… I am not a sexist, but I am seeing around me that stay-at-home moms like me are able to care better for our families because we simply have time and better health at our disposal…

I had a working friend who died like my mother in her ’30s too. She had kidney cancer that went undetected for months. Like my mom she probably thought she merely had a minor problem. Her eldest daughter today is studying to become a doctor at Manipal. One of rarest seats the university gives away on merit (otherwise as we know Manipal is mostly for NRI kids who can pay their way into the campus). The younger one is still in class 9. There are many parallels between her and my mom. A simple screening and a little more care could have saved their lives and their daughters out of lifelong distress.  Like my mom, this friend had facilities at her disposal. Yet negligence of health on her part took her life. Her girls break my heart. I picture myself and my sister in that age. My heart goes out to the girls who have steeled up like anything, who are channelizing all their focus on education. Good for them.

My friend’s terminal benefits (she worked for LIC) etcetera came to about 34 lacs which is deposited in her daughters’ names. I think of how my mom’s PF etc plus my parents investments in general cushion my own life today… But is that all a substitute to a parent. The girls – my friend’s daughters – are still agitated and feel the most insecure. What is this 34 lac for. They have paid a heavy price in life already. The family is directionless.

Never leave a doubt uncleared dear parents, for the sake of your children. None can take your place.

Advantages of having a working mom: By my twelfth or even tenth year, I was already cooking and cleaning, given our typical middle-class background. Was independent in most ways without banking on my mom for anything, taking an interest in finances. This is what helped me in coping up, taking over from my mom at a very young age. I took control of my home finances as well by my 14th year – my father started giving me his salary slips. I paid the taxes and insurances. Definitely kids with working mothers get more independent and bolder than those with stay-at-home moms.

A few of my boy’s friends too have lost their fathers already – mostly to massive heart attacks induced by stress and smoking habit. 2 of them were preparing to go to Germany for Mech/Automobile engineering (masters) and had completed the German language course. The untimely demise of their respective fathers forever foiled their plans. Such a stroke of bad luck.

Stress is a dangerous factor in middle-age. May be I am obsessed about it because of my parents. My father suffered psychologically. I am still suffering from my teenage trauma. In my experience, its goes a long way in helping realize the wards’ full potential and dreams if parents took good care of themselves too. The best gift we can give our children is – simply being there for them. It does not matter whether your child turns out to be a rocket scientist or a store clerk. Both are good enough. Family is the ultimate institution. Family is the true bliss.

One girl joined bio-chem in my son’s college. After completing 2 semesters she pulled out, unable to take it any longer. She had become a nervous bundle and finally her parents took her out and now she is attending an arts college – language course. She is happy here and is relieved she made the switch. I tell her she did a wise job. My friends daughters are studying English lit and Economics and Psychology. My friends are disappointed they were not ambitious enough. But I show them my example. Ofcourse with boys, there seems to be no choice although it does not  matter anymore in urban India whether you are boy or a girl. Both are equal in everyway. ,

There is no gain without pain. We have to give up something in order to win back something.

One boy in my son’s group is a marine engineer already. He did a certificate course and has started to sail around the  world. Touches base once in 8 months. He is right now in the city. Side by side, he is also giving tests attending marine certificate courses. Earning handsome…

Oh the future generation is already taking over….

Wishing the boys & girls the best from the bottom of my heart … and my sincerest prayers for them… Want to rush back to my beta now! Miss him so much!

So how many are ready to take up work straight away on graduation? Hardly a couple of them! There used to be rush earlier for campus placements but I see the interest waning in last few years. Only 2-3 guys have opted for campus interviews/placements this year. Scene of change compared to what it used to be 5-6 years earlier.

About girls opting for marriage on graduation – again very few. Now girls get married by 28-30 years compared to 23-25 in our times (in metros). I don’t know if this is okay. For girls I prefer an early motherhood under 30 always. None of my son’s girl friends have marriage on their minds right now… ‘Not before 25’ they say unanimously.

And on concluding note I have this to say: besides this all, I want a happy life for my son first. I am not at all ambitious. There is a tempting package in middle-east waiting for my son when he graduates should he choose to work – which will be a dream start. The steel design company he did his internship with already offered him a place last year on course completion. I still prefer this option. Early settling down in life, early marriage and parenthood, average life, average comforts, contentment and happiness with family – this is my list of priorities always. As a mother, this is what I want for my son over anything…

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