The college craze: it's an inevitable part of life for high school students and graduate school applicants all over the world. To make matters more difficult, there's a stigma associated with not going to a great college in any country. Growing up in Montgomery County means we've all been exposed to the madness associated with the college search. But somehow, I was under the impression that it wasn't as rampant in Bangalore - that in India, the insanity would be slightly diluted.
How very wrong I was. More often than not, the college of Indian students' dreams is IIT, or the Indian Institute of Technology, the Indian equivalent of an Ivy League college. With campuses all over the country, the prestigious school primarily draws applicants interested in studying engineering. Prospective students take expensive daily tuition courses and even skip school in order to study for the IIT entrance examination (offered last week here in Bangalore); after all, they know their results on the test could make or break their lives.
I came upon a humor article in the New Indian Express the other day called "Every child must enter IIT or die trying." Initially, I couldn't even discern whether or not it was written in jest - anything is believable in today's India. And while the phenomenon of college madness is amusing when presented in article form, it's frightening, at the same time, to observe the lengths to which today's students must go in order to gain admission to a great school.
The effects of college mania are encroaching everywhere in Bangalore. Nowadays, the faded, peeling posters illegally affixed to public walls that proclaim "Post No Bills" advertise LNAT and GMAT exams. The used book stores, which once sold primarily Enid Blyton novels, are now stocked with study guides for the TOEFL and IELTS exams, required for foreign students to study in the U.S. and the U.K. When you walk down the street, for every vegetable stall you pass there's also a Princeton Review center offering SAT classes and practice tests. Entering the harsh world of college applications is no longer simply a requisite for students in Bangalore: it's a way of life.
Sonalee Rau. Sonalee (suh-NAH-lee) is a chipper Chipper and a would-be magnet junior. She spends a great deal of time playing tennis (Blair is red hot), doodling, reading, quoting famous people, quoting not-so-famous people and lamenting her inability to play the piano. She is also a big … More »