Thursday, 27 November 2014

What after 10th? - A Big Dilemma

Monali has always had a desire to do something different. Born at the end of the twentieth century, she has been witnessing the challenges and thrill of change and newness that defines his generation. She is intelligent, has a sharp mind, and a strong feeling of, "It is MY life!" She is fed up of elders telling him that engineering and medicine are the only options for a safe and lucrative future. Her mind refuses to believe it, for when she looks around she sees so much happening – tremendous advances in the retail and marketing sector, legal experts thriving, creative designers getting any fees that they demand, and even managers with no formal qualifications rising fast up the corporate ladder.
Such a scenario, while very encouraging and thrilling, raises the doubt in many youngsters about where their future lies. As someone said in a seminar recently, "there is a problem of plenty." Too many career choices, too many advisors, and too much at stake. Sharp youngsters like Monali also know that if they make a wrong move, they can be pushed off the fast track, and will wallow in the shallow waters of mediocrity and stagnation.

The Dilemma Begins too soon
Students touch the first crossroads when they have completed their 10th standard. A few who are not at all academically oriented, or cannot afford higher education, move on to diplomas, ITI courses or other job-oriented training. The vast majority move on to PUC/+2 and mark their time for two years preparing for the entry into degree courses that will define their career.

Here comes the first dilemma, to choose the stream for higher studies. Not only does a student have to select the stream of studies, but also the subjects.

The +2 courses in general can be divided into three major categories: Science, Commerce and Arts
  Science : The most common combination of optional subjects are PCMB (Physics, Chemistry, Math and Biology, the most popular choice of those who wish to "keep all career options open"), PCM+Electronics, PCM+Computer Science. It is significant that Science is also a popular choice among bright students who are not interested in a career in Science or Technology, since it is possible to switch from Science to Commerce or Arts, but not vice-versa.
Commerce : is the popular choice of students who feel that they are not oriented to science (or find the subjects too difficult), or even those who wish to have some free time in their daily routine to pursue other courses or extra-curricular activities. While Business Studies and Accountancy are compulsory, the other two optional subjects can be selected from Math, Statistics, Economics, to History, Geography, Political Science, etc. Commerce subjects are found to be more interesting even by students who eventually wish to make a career in Humanities or Arts.
Arts : Traditionally this has been the "poor cousin" of the other two streams, pursued by those who found science and commerce too tough, or did not have good enough marks in 10th to get admission, or were financially constrained. The scene has changed remarkably in the past decade, and many bright students who are sure of making a career that is people, languages, or social science related, are opting for Arts at the +2 level. Here again there is a fairly wide choice of subjects such as Psychology, Sociology, Economics, History, Geography, Political Science, Logic, etc., but most colleges offer only one or two of these combinations, hence one has to be careful in selecting the college.
Admissions in schools or colleges for +2 are highly competitive only among the few reputed institutions that have made a name for themselves over the decades. Cut-off percentages often go beyond 90% to qualify for admission. However, one should keep in mind that many new junior colleges have opened in the past few years, backed by good management and infrastructure, and since they have not yet gained wide exposure, admission is available much more freely. Many schools have also upgraded themselves in the past few years to either add on CBSE/ISC 12th standard. It is worth the while to check out the latest lists and then explore admission to the best possible institutions.

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