Sharmada Sivaram a DU gal describes the bitter-sweet pangs of ending her “bachelorhood”….
Before I began the Final Year of my Bachelor’s degree, I had a vague idea of what I wanted to do once my three years of pretending to study at a College ended. I wanted to pretend some more.
This time I wanted to pretend while earning a Master’s degree. And so, I wasn’t too fussy about exactly what course I wanted to pretend to study. Anything that wasn’t an MBA or a Mass Comm program was okay by me. This led to some pretty interesting considerations, ranging from a Master’s in Sociology (which would be the logical step after a Bachelor’s degree in the same) to Women’s Studies to Rural Development & Governance to Water Policy & Planning to Development Studies to Sustainable Development Practices.
Of course, there was always Plan B which was really Plan A in my heart. To travel and write was the dream. Don’t picture ‘Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani’ and replace the videographer with a writer. Or maybe you can, it is a hyperbolistic aspiration. So, when a cousin suggested that I take a year off, in typical American Gap Year style, wear clothes from the Gap (okay, she didn’t say this part), work at say, McDonalds or Cafe Coffee Day for a couple of months and travel for the rest of that year, I began imagining myself in the middle of nowhere, with my camera and living out of a backpack and getting ‘real’ education, meeting interesting people, having no itinerary, etc. All this I imagined without realising that my procreators could laugh at my face and say, ‘how about, no?’ Of course, I could run away from home – lessons from Bollywood.
However, the bigger reason behind Plan B remaining Plan B and not getting promoted was the uncertainty it entailed by putting my pretend-studying on hold. It is hard enough getting admission the first time, let alone two years in a row. Once you apply to Universities and they actually, *gasp*, offer you admission, the right thing to do at that point is to grab it and have Dairy Milk for a Shubh Aarambh of Post Grad. You may feel like you’re obliged to take up the offer of admission.
Getting to the actual application stage, I applied to about six different Universities/Institutes. These included the likes of Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Azim Premji University, TERI University, DSE, JNU and South Asian University. The only relevance my undergrad scores had was to determine minimum eligibility. Applying to most of these courses involved a multi-stage application process. Once you’ve cleared the general MCQ question stage, you’re in for the time of your life. You’re on The Ultimate Challenge stage. In this stage, you will meet different, interesting individuals – some of them may make you blink twice and go blank; others may make you want to cry and hide your face. You will also uncover what went inside your head when you took certain decisions in life, stuff that you wouldn’t have imagined. You will learn what some people learn over a span of two years while studying MBA in Marketing. Your mental faculties will become sharper and you’d be inclined to join an Improv Club.
The Ultimate Stage consists of interviews and/or writing Statements of Purpose. You could be required to convince the Interview Panel that at the age of 20, you believe that Water and Sanitation Policy is truly your calling. That you could not possibly imagine studying anything else at any other University/Institute, and that its not just because no one else really offers such a random yet specific course. That you’re worth being offered one of the twelve General Category seats that they have.
Of course, these interviewers could just be more fascinated about your First Position in a Pizza eating competition or the meaning of your name, how unique it sounds and how your parents decided to name you so. Sometimes, if the interviewers are more than one in number, one of them could be struggling to keep his eyes open, the other one could spend the entire time nodding, even when the room got silent. There could possibly be a third one who ends up giving you a brief lesson about a feminist scholar who you thought you knew well enough to quote as an inspiration. At this point, it is important to control your facial expressions. Most of all, do not yawn – even though they’re contagious and its 3.40 PM and interviewer #1 is only adding to the sleepy atmosphere. There could be panels that make you question your existence. Okay, not your existence but your academic choices and why you’re doing what you’re doing – existential dilemma? And it could have been as impactful an interview to make you wonder if that lady sitting a few tables away from you is the same lady who asked you if you knew what the 73rd Constitutional Amendment meant or if that man standing in front of you in a line was the one who asked you if you could elucidate on Bina Aggarwal’s work and you looked up at him and asked him, ‘Arey something some thing land rights, no? I remember just land rights!’. A word of advice, don’t ever give the above answer after you mention that you loved your Gender Studies paper and are a student of Sociology. It doesn’t go down too well.
Once you’re done with The Ultimate Challenge, you wait. You refresh your inbox every hour. You open Facebook and YouTube on other tabs while pretending to your parents that you’re in fact waiting for results on the University website. And then, you see an update. That the waiting period and time-wastage will continue for another two weeks/a month. And hopefully, a month later, you know if the torture would continue for longer in the form of a wait-list. Personally, having received four consecutive results, all of which showed me being wait listed, I felt like I had a better chance of getting a ticket on the Mumbai Rajdhani for the same day’s evening, during the peak season.
And then some day, hopefully, you know that it is Dairy Milk Shubh Aarambh time.
*My search for Post Grad came to an end the day Azim Premji University, Bengaluru honoured me with an offer of admission to MA in Development, which I have accepted. So, I have a minimum of two years of pretend study before I contemplate giving The Ultimate Challenge another shot. Yea.
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