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Sunday, 13 January 2013

Take time off to prepare - Ask Our Counsellor Q&A Column

[The following questions answered by me appeared in the Deccan Herald Education supplement of January 10, 2013. However, interestingly, due to editorial goof-ups they went under another person's name!! It's never happened to me before. Hope it doesn't happen again. However, since the content is mine I am going ahead and reproducing it here.]

Take time off to prepare

Jan 10, 2013
Dear Madam
I am a 21-year old graduate from Mysore, and I completed my Bachelors in Business Administration (BBA) in June 2012. Instead of applying for MBA immediately, I chose to take a year off and concentrate on studying for various management exams (CAT, XAT, MAT, etc.). I was actually aiming for an admission into one of the IIMs, so I prepared for CAT-2012, and took it in the month of October 2012. Right now, it is December, and I am preparing for XAT, which is to be held on January 6, 2013.

The thing that is troubling me is that I do not have any work experience to my credit. All I had planned to do was prepare for management exams. And even though I put all my efforts towards preparing for CAT from July-Oct 2012, the actual test was not as good as I had hoped. I managed to do just about okay. And not only this, I have also been told by my parents that they will not be able to afford admissions into the IIMs, as my family is somewhat tight regarding finances.

Hearing this, I became totally depressed, thinking that all my efforts were in vain. And my parents are adamant that I continue my education in Mysore, so that they can be with me and save on money as well. I am totally against it. I do not want to compromise on the matter of my Masters degree in any way, since my BBA days were not all that enriching and college was not exactly a “learning” experience”. I have no expectations from Mysore at all- My mother is behind me to find a job so that I can assist my family. Even I want to- but in a place like Mysore, I really don’t know how to go about it, and I don’t even have any expectations of finding a decent job here.

Please advise. I have a very bad feeling, as if I’ve hit a dead end.


Dear Anonymous

It is okay to take some time off to prepare for exams. It is not mandatory that you have work experience right at the start. If you have put in your best effort, and you get admission for MBA, as per your wishes, then you don’t need to worry on account of the lack of work experience.

However, if you don’t get admission, again all is not lost. You can always gain some work experience, and then try again after a couple of years. In any case you can benefit a lot more from a management degree when you have the practical experience of the workplace. So if you don’t get admission, you can choose to view it as a failure and feel dejected and depressed. Or you can choose to view it as an opportunity to gain some work experience, and try later.

Secondly, if your family is not able to support you financially for further studies, you can always look at the possibility of taking a bank loan to do this. I believe there are education loans available these days, though I have to admit I do not have too many details on this. You don’t need to see this as a dead end.

You need to be able to decide for yourself what you would like out of your life. Understandably, your family would like to have you close to them. You need to be able to formulate your plans, and communicate them to your family. Remember, your needs and aspirations will be different from those of your family, and it is okay for you to chase your own dreams.

Understandably opportunities in Mysore will be limited compared to what they would be if you are willing to move out. In the process if you are able to carry your family along with your decision, you will be some much richer for it. This will require you to be able to communicate your goals and motivations to them, and address their insecurities to the best you can.

Dear Madam

I’m in X class. With hardly 3 months left for my Board exams, I’m still not addicted to books. When I open my books, I read for some time (10 to 15 minutes). After that my mind starts diverting to some other topic. I don’t know how to keep all these out and concentrate on my studies. I’m worried that if I don’t do well in the Boards, I won’t get into a good colleges. Please help me out to prepare well for exams.


Dear Avinash

Why do you need to study? You need to answer that question for yourself and find your true motivation. If your motivation is to get good marks, to make your parents happy, to get admission into a good college, or to impress everyone, then you need to think again. Those may be short-term motivations but cannot be an end in themselves. What is your end goal and what are you working towards? If the end goal is exciting enough, you will feel motivated to work towards it. Remember, you need to do it for yourself, not for anyone else. You will be the biggest beneficiary of the effort you put in now.

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