Wake me up when it ends.
That’s exactly how I feel these days about the ongoing admissions race and process in our beloved city, Karachi. It’s that time of the year when every social gathering, every waiting area, be it that of a salon or the doctor’s, all you’d hear people talk or discuss is about the Admissions Race and the challenges that come with it. It has more likely become the parents’ obsession with certain types of schools, which creates the hype and noise that builds up once admissions are open. Everyone rushes to get registered/assessed by these schools for the sake of securing their little one’s academic future.
Little do they know or rather realize that they’re putting way too much pressure on themselves and the little beings tagged along in this entire ordeal. Excuse my use of describing the admissions process as an ordeal because it really has become one over the past few years. Especially in our city of lights, our very own K town- Karachi. I haven’t come across any other city in this glorious nation of ours that has such a challenging and mind-boggling admissions process and “ghost” criteria. Why do I say ghost criteria? Because yes there are many schools that reject you based on just filling an online Admission Form. I mean, they haven’t even met the applicant or the parents, and yet decide to decline their rights of being interviewed or assessed.
If you look at the literal meaning of prestige, our dearest Merriam says:
Standing or estimation in the eyes of people: weight or credit in general opinion, and commanding position in people’s minds.
Now let’s connect this concept/definition to that of the leading schools of our city. The kind of influence and impact they have created amongst the minds of the general public is that every new or old parent wants their child to be a part of such institutes. They would turn their world upside down trying every possible avenue of making it to the final list of applicants.
It has become more of a social status issue in my humble opinion that parents want to get in at selected schools only. I mean why? So they can come off looking superior in any way that they are part of the XYZ schools’ parent bodies? No. It’s got more to do with the competition that we have mindlessly created amongst ourselves to send our kids to these prestigious institutes only just because a certain relative/friend/co-workers child goes there. You may not agree with me here. By all means, I’m always open to disagreements but yes, in my past years of experience dealing with mentally and emotionally exhausted parents trying over and over again for the same league of schools to “save” face has made me come to this conclusion.
It’s not even 9 am. And we are glued to the screens waiting for these prestigious schools to open their portals so we can start hitting the keys on our keyboards and win this insane version of the survival of the fittest series. Those who make it to the list of accepted forms come out looking like some warriors who have returned from the battlefield. I’d rather call it the “The War of the Schools.” Every school at this time of the year tries its best to keep up with its socially acclaimed prestige and starts hosting open houses and info sessions to woo its prospective applicants. Crowds and crowds of people attending these sessions add to the existent hype of the schools.
The interesting part is you’ll find two types of parents coming out of these sessions. Ones who are dead sure that this IS the DREAM school for their child. And then there are those who are rather confused if this really is what they are looking for. And they start applying everywhere and trying every school out. It’s like you’re shopping for schools.
Now, we get to the exciting part. The admissions race in Karachi just does not end here at attending sessions of various schools and applying to every possible XYZ institute on the parents’ checklist. The real “fun” begins once the results are announced. Keeping track of which school will announce when is a whole other task to master. The timelines are extremely out of order. Let’s walk you through what the “race” really is about.
Say, for example, School A has announced its results today while the majority of these parents who got in are actually waiting on their DREAM school to announce the results. And of course, if it’s the dream school then one can imagine the difficulty level of getting in as well. So parents are forced to secure their seats at School A just so they have a backup plan in case they don’t make it to their actual choice of school.
The DREAM school like any royalty takes its sweet time in announcing, knowing very well how impatiently and eagerly the parents are following up. They know the parents are requesting again, and again, to speed up the results timeline just so they can save themselves from spending a lifetime of hard-earned fortune securing seats as a backup. The catastrophe of running from school to school, collecting welcome packs, and skyrocketing admission fees vouchers is like you’re in a marathon: Who reaches their desired school first. The prestige that these schools acclaim undoubtedly remains unchallenged and undefeated as they stand tall, welcoming hundreds of applicants each week.
Finally, the race comes to an end. The participants are exhausted, not just emotionally but financially too. While many are excited to begin the academic journey with their chosen school, there are some who really didn’t have a choice but to make do with whatever institute they were able to get into.
I’ll end here with a few words of wisdom: It’s not the prestige of these schools that decides your child’s future; it is YOU as a parent who shapes/molds them into successful and hard-working individuals giving back to society as they progress and learn. Schools can do only a quarter of this. The rest is upon us the primary caregivers of our children to make the best of human beings out of them and help them achieve their goals in life. Running after the same set of schools just because everyone else is, and not being able to get in, in NO WAY makes you any less competent than you actually are.
- Schools and Prestige: The Admissions Race in Karachi - February 24, 2022