The big school admission travails

Warning – Long rambly rant. Four posts squashed into one! Cross posted at Blogbharti

Three and a half years ago when I moved to Delhi, I had people asking me which school I planned to put the 6 month old Brat into. I was a little surprised because I was still trying to work out how to start him on solids and whether baby poop should be green.

I later on learnt to ignore it because well, there were the more important matters of teething, walking, speaking and generally, enjoying all the things that come with motherhood. Time flew by and before we realised it was time to put the Brat into school. Big school, with a uniform and a school bus. I went through my period of mommy angst, not wanting to send him and whining to the OA about how my son would become just another brick in the wall, blah blah. Yes, of course I’m over that now!

In all this, the OA and I had some err… heated discussions. My stand is simple, yes, school is useful for a degree but after a point the school is a bit of an equalizer. And what really matters is your home atmosphere and upbringing. I grew up with my grandfather teaching us chess (he was a national level badminton and football player in the good old days) and he taught my brother all the finer points of the game (I wasn’t interested!), my grandmother taught us all she knew about art – she was a good artist and we grew up poring over her books and learning to recognise Renoir and appreciate Van Gogh. The house was full of nudes painted by her and I had many a school mate come over and die of shock when they realised that the nudes on display were done by the little, grey lady. And even before I could read she was reading Jane Austen to us and reading us Reader’s Digest abridged editions. My dad spent hours playing games with us in a huge Reader’s Digest atlas and that is how we learnt our geography and my aunt who was a geography student would spend hours helping us. My uncle who was a math whiz taught us simple tricks to solve sums.

No, not all parents have that kind of time but the point I was making to the OA was that since the two of us do have a lot of time for our children, we don’t need to panic. We do take them out a lot and they do get many experiences. And once I can trust them to be silent, we can start with the museums and galleries that I so love and miss. We have our club memberships and take them swimming etc – so why should we panic? Let them get into a nice middle class school without the fancy school mates in big cars and we’ll be better off.

His logic? He went to one of the best schools in town and he owes the school a lot. Fair enough – but that’s because his family wasn’t into art or literature – it  doesn’t mean that our kids need it because we do have a lot of time for them. All I want is a school close to the house so that the kids don’t spend the day travelling.

So while a good school would be nice, it’s not a matter of life and death for us. As I often point out to the OA  – he from his best school in a big city and I from my regular school in a little town ended up working for the same big organisation which is where we met and he still found in me something that made him want to marry me. So it’s okay. No need to panic.

Which is easier said than done when you see people around you going into overdrive. Putting aside money to buy that 13 lakh seat at the infamous but much in demand school in CP. Yes, The Boy is going to kill me for this one!

The OA had two colleagues last year whose kids didn’t get into ANY school. That’s right – not a single school and so he was paranoid. I mean its a basic assumption that your kids will go to school. That they will get an education. Right? Also – everything depends on the Brat. He gets into a good school this year and drags the Bean in along with him.

Wrong. And so it was that the OA filled EIGHTEEN forms for the Brat across November and December. Yes, you can pick your jaw up off the floor. Eighteen schools. And it’s not a joke. Picking up the forms. Standing in queues. Adding in information about vaccinations and birth and phone bills and rent receipts.

And boy what a nightmare it was. You had to write about your hopes for the child, your expectations from the school – and wait for it, this one’s the killer – the child’s achievements. Excuse me? The child should be anything between 2.5 and 3.5  – what achievements are we looking for. It was 2 am. We were tired of forms and I was wild eyed and hysterical. I grabbed the pen from the OA and said, that’s it. I’m going to write he can pee in the toilet bowl without sprinkling. The OA looked at me in horror.

What, I yelled?? What achievements is a 3 years old kid supposed to have, for chrissake??

And so it went on. Finally I made a word document, aptly labelled ‘Bullshit’ and mailed it to the OA. And there I waxed eloquent on what we wanted from the schools and what we hoped for our child. The OA just kept changing the school name and bunging the quotes in. And finally after days of form filling, attesting documents, getting pictures taken (schools want all sorts of combinations – a couple of them wanted a passport size picture of the entire family in it – why?! Do they think we’re faking this?!), medical certificates it was done. It all seems easy – but try fitting this in with your regular day at office. EIGHTEEN forms to be deposited between 10 am and 11.30 am. On a working day. Thats taking the morning off almost every day for half the month! But we managed somehow and then awaited the calls with bated breath.

And they began. And they wanted both parents – which is something we were more than willing to do. Friends and family made encouraging sounds -‘You’re just what the schools want’, ‘young professional couple’, ‘modern’, ‘educated’, blah blah.. ‘speak well’

Right. Whatever. The proof of the pudding is in the eating and the morning of the first interview my stomach made peculiar sounds and I felt slightly nervous. This year the Delhi government has banned interviewing the kids so it was all up to us. We were going to be grilled and if we fared well our son would get into a good school. As I got dressed that morning I subconsciously picked up the aged old maroon raw silk saree that belonged to my grandmother. It made me feel safer and it was a classic. Most of all, it reminded me of how proud I used to feel when my parents came to PTA meetings, looking well put together. The OA dressed in a conservative grey suit.

And so we reached the first school. We were grilled. Boy, were we grilled. On our parenting, our policies, our principles, our vision for our child. And in the midst of all this they’d slip in a question on whether we lived in rented accomodation. Err… excuse me? How is that relevant to my child’s admission?

Day after day we went to schools and at times we weren’t interviewed. We just had to submit forms that proved that we lived in a certain area, what we paid as rent, income tax returns and much more. By the end of it, my bum knee was aching, I was rushed between home, office and school interviews, the timings clashed with everything and I was just exhausted. I’d walk into work in a saree and colleagues would look up and say – ‘Ah – another interview? How bad was today?’

Some weren’t too bad. One of the principals chatted with the OA about the recession and funds investing in India in a knowledgeable way and asked me pertinent questions about my job. She told the OA and me outright that our son was through and that she wanted children of parents like us – whatever that might be!

The OA and I knew it wasn’t going to be easy. We had nothing going for us. The Delhi Govt ruling says the schools must give points and so the schools gave points – for the area you live in, to girl children, to second children, to children of single parents, to children of alumni and to poor children.

So our firstborn, male child with parents who weren’t from Delhi and by some sad quirk of fate were still much in love and together – got barely any points. The only quota I didn’t grudge was the economically weaker class because I totally support their kids getting a chance.

The thing with schooling in Delhi at this point is that there’s no point looking for a school whose philosophy matches yours. Simply because there’s no guarantee you’ll get through. So all you do is apply to the schools in your area and hope for the best. Acting fussy will get you nowhere because this year 1 lakh 75 thousand kids didnt get admission into any school in Delhi. Yes.

So you see, by the time you hear this bit of news you’re no longer acting pricey – you’re willing to take any school you get. The whole term ‘best school’ too takes on a new meaning. What is the best school for you, may not be the best school for me. And in the last few months of speaking to older parents, our views have changed too.

For instance, there are a few schools in Delhi that are more lenient and follow a more modern philosophy of never writing a negative remark in the report card like ‘Talks in class and disrupts.’ A remark I got year after year in my card. In theory that sounded good to us.

Until we met many parents who sent their kids there and said the kids were turning out rude, lazy and indisciplined. They believed that this system wasn’t really working for the average teenager in Delhi. It works wonders with the younger children but the older they get, the more insolent, spoilt and disruptive. One father who sent his kids to a school that gained popularity after Priyanka Gandhi sent her kids there, said he was very happy until his kids reached the senior classes. Therafter the school philosophy was such that they weren’t being disciplined very well. I quote him – ‘Teenagers everywhere are unmanageable, they’re worse if they’re rich and the worst is if they’re rich teenagers in Delhi.’

Right.

It doesn’t help that the moment a school begins to give a good education, the rich can pay their way in. And there is always a clerk or a principal who learns that ethics are nice, but there is a price at which they’re willing to lose them. So invariably all the good schools soon have rich kids and long waiting lists and longer cars waiting at the gate. Hell even the fees for most of them is close to 2 lakhs a year.

Which leaves us with nice, subduded middle class schools with old fashioned methods of discipline and fewer facilities. Suits me fine. I don’t need my son learning horse riding and pottery in school. I want him to learn math and some discipline. The rest can be organised outside of school. I don’t want him to have this sense of entitlement.

So the results came out and the Brat got through four decent, middle class, old fashioned schools. Most of his class hadn’t got through anywhere because they’d applied to the top three schools in the city that the whole world had applied to. There were two schools I had badly wanted that he didn’t get into and I was so mad when I realised that all the richest kids in his  class had got through despite living further away from the school than we did. Obviously the income tax returns helped.

The OA and I breathed a sigh of relief and picked one, paid up the fees and relaxed over a cup of tea. The Brat was thrilled when we went for the orientation and called it a ‘beautiful school.’ We’re duly grateful to get his stamp of approval.

But the orientation began and as we settled in and saw the crowd around us, some richer, some poorer … some just like us which was rather reassuring. The show started with a simple Saraswati Vandana by Grade Three. And then, oh horror they sent six 8-year olds on to dance to some disco number in skimpy outfits. The girls outfits were clingy, transparent and most inappropriate – all rather sad considering the little girls were just at that stage where they were developing.

I looked at the OA in horror. We looked around the hall to notice most of the parents looking rather pleased and clapping. Just a few more faces mirrored our horror.

The lady doing the introductory talk couldn’t string together a sentence in English and I wished she’d just stuck to Hindi. Whats wrong with speaking Hindi if you can’t speak English? And proceeded to tell us how the display was to show that the school believed in Indian culture and well as Western modernity. Err… alright.

As we left, I groaned to the OA that I would have to spend my day making the Brat unlearn the mispronounciations he was taught in school, and then teaching him the correct pronunciation.

The OA grinned and said I was a typical mother… Nothing was good enough for my child.

Hmm… maybe he’s right!

Sigh – why didn’t anyone tell me how traumatic getting your child into school in Delhi is? Oh wait – they did try. I just wasn’t listening!!

PS: The Brat starts school tomorrow. Pray for him and wish him a happy 14 years ahead.

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104 thoughts on “The big school admission travails

  1. All the best to the Brat!
    Those are some lovely insights about what kind of schools are best for our babies. My son’s school admission drill begins for us this year and I’ll think of all that you said..
    Thanks!

  2. I am yet to read the post but thanking you for the length of it… it is kind of slow day at work… you know what I mean.. 🙂

    Me: 🙂 Its many posts in one. I meant to write in December when we going through the admission process.. then in January as the nailbiting wait began.. and then now that he’s begun. so it got long. and poor blogbharti who i wrote it for, waited so long for it…

  3. The school hunt sounds scarily like my job hunt. (Willing to take anything, after a point.) Except that people actually called you guys back.

    Any rationale for the school starting on a Thursday?

    ME: chin up child. didnt the thing the OA put you on to work out? and school started today. the post was written two days ago..

  4. Good luck to the Brat! I agree…ultimately we all studied in anywhere between lousy, to average to the topmost elite schools…and it has no relation to how and what you ultimately do in life.

    And there’s no such thing as a perfect school. It’s either too far, too expensive, too elite or not posh enough, too fussy, too la-di-dah, too academics-oriented, too extracurricular-oriented and so on!

    We just pray for admission, shell out the donation and hope the kid, school and parents all have a good relationship for the next 12-15 years, so we don’t have to go through that horror again!

  5. Thats a tale… though I would rather you moved to Nainital and sent them both to school there- I will write any number of letters of rec for both of them- which will work. Besides you guys need to live in the Hills.

    Me: and the OA will investment bank who? 🙂 although i love the hills and would give anything to go back

  6. wow. as i sit in the northern hemisphere, in the coldest nation in the world, i can’t believe the turmoil you went through for something that i consider a given…a right?! i have always taken schooling and my right to be let into public schools for granted. your post made me realize what a dunce i’d been.
    it’s nice that your kids have a mom waiting to teach them lessons that will carry on…because most of the things learnt at school, we all forget. much luck for the next 14 years!

    Me: thank you 🙂 and yes – when 1,75,000 kids dont get into school in delhi just this year – you realise its no longer something you can consider a right 😦

  7. *M4 sighs knowingly, understandingly and physically feels her heart reaching out to MM to offer love and support”\*

    Hey Brat! Rock the very foundations of your new, ‘beautiful school’. I know you’ll be a star!

  8. Here’s wishing the Brat a wonderful 14yrs ahead of him and MM, he’s gonna rock. Who knows…maybe he will change the way the teacher pronounces!

  9. OK.. finished lunch and reading your post.

    First up.. congratulations.

    My take: any school is fine if the parents have time to spend with the kids.. if not, and they have money, only then the boarding schools are perfect. While growing up, I have seen so many kids not doing well simply because their home environment was not good.

    On a lighter and serious note (paradox??), Brat should be able to distinguish between ugly and beautifull, stupidity and smartness. Seems like this school will give him that oppertunity.
    My 4.5 year old daughter has started to have fun by observing stupidity around her. Almost a year back, when she was stiil into Mickey mouse/Dora etc, one evening while flipping channels, I stumbled onto ‘Paataal Bhairavi’ movie ( I am not sure if you have watched it, if not please do.. it is a must.. I had to endure it 4 times in a span of 5 weeks when I was preparing for my engg. entrance exams)… anyway, she asked me papa why are they fighting.. and I go .. bachche, they are not, they are just pretending.. and then after sometime she just started laughing and could not control herself. After about 10 minutes, I turned off the TV and asked her what was so funny about the movie.. and she suprised me (still laughing) by saying that was so stupid papa…

    ME: And after all these months of you reading me I find out you have a daughter… 🙂 she sounds lovely and bright

  10. good post…but 14 yrs??!! cant people change their child’s school in a few years? Let him have fun for a few years and as he grows a little older transfer him to some other school, that you like more.
    This may sound very naive but I am just curious.

    Me: It wont be easy. Vacancies dont come up. seats are few and lots of Delhiites have lots of money to pay that i dont 😦 and wont.

  11. Good luck Mad Momma..err Brat! School life is fun, any which way. Btw why does his school start tomorrow ???? No summer chhuttis for a 4 year old? That thought is kinda making me sad 😦

    2 lakh a year for school fees ?????? :O There goes my dream of having 2 kids..lol! Either be happy with none or auction my kidney are the only 2 choices I have 😉

    Me: auction kidneys…excellent idea! off i go

  12. Good luck to the brat MM! Am sure he will do great when he has you & the OH to complement what he won’t get at school. When I read about the number of kids in Delhi who don’t get into any school it took me a few minutes to pick my jaw off the floor. With my two, getting in was just a given where we live. Just had to stress over the school of choice, the cost and the multitude of extra curricular activities to enroll them in:) I agree with you that I would much rather have my kids hanging out with other kids similar to them to social strata & upbringing than the overly wealthy kids.

  13. Firstly, my best wishes to your son on the eve of the day that marks the start of a new chapter in his life- his formal school education…..

    I fully concur with your views on the school and its effect on a child…… in the end, it is the kind of atmosphere at home that ultimately governs the overall development of child. It was not my usual ordinary school education in a small town but my upbringing that is helping me compete successfully with people from big cities with world-class education…… for eg- a simple habit of reading newspaper since Class I shaped my worldview that gave me confidence to speak on any subject under the sun….my school never taught me that but yes my parents did….So agree with you 100 percent.

    To take forward your argument on the school and its effect on the developewnt of a kid- yes without any doubt it does help but to a little extent. Had that been not the case, all children from same class would have been similarly placed in their lives…….

    You know this Delhi school admission tamasha last year coincided with my wife’s pregnancy…..At the height of this mad rush for admissions, someone launched a website called -www.nurseryadmissions.com. I used to frequent that website just to gauge the parent’s reactions….. and trust me, every comment was pointing to a very high stress levels amongst parents…..

    All I could do was to ask myself- If this mad rush for big schools amounts to parents trying to buy education by throwing money…..why have they forgotten that it wasn’t the school stupid…but the atmosphere at home……..

    How could a saying that “Your home sweet home is your first and best school” lost its relevance in the new order?

    Trust me this mad rush further solidified my plans to go back to Dehradun and do something worthwhile rather than being a part of this rat race (both in the corporate world and the city itself)……if not anything, my kid will be able to get a good quality education-both at home and school.

  14. good luck…this is indeed a traumatic experience. i am always wondering if i am making the right decisions for my kids when it comes to schools and education.
    my son has his pre screening in june for kindergarten and i am already shitting bricks!

  15. All those eons ago when I was a kid they were doing those silly dances with hip thrusts etc at my school in Bombay and my parents were horrified.

    I totally agree that it’s what you give the kids at home that matters. You just have to make sure the school doesn’t kill the brat’s curiosity and desire to learn :).

    Me: Did you have to voice my worst fear? now i know i’m not the only one who thinks of all this and the OA will hunt you dont and kill you because i’ll chew his ears off… 😀

  16. Congratulations and Good Luck to the Brat!

    And I wouldn’t worry about the teacher who couldn’t speak English – in my admittedly ancient experience, it was usually the second-language teachers who were roped into teaching these cultural thingies…and we had a couple who were really only fluent in their languages, not English. The English teachers were well qualified martinets who drilled correct pronounciation into us 🙂 🙂

    Out of curiosity, when did movie songs become acceptable in school? They weren’t – in any language – when I was in school – we had to find appropriate classical, semi-classical or folk songs…I remember a huge furor when a girl sang the “O Re Bichchua” (Madhumati I think?) song at a singing contest – she was disqualified and all the prefects given a huge talking to about “appropriate music” for schoolgirls!

    M

    Me: When did it become acceptable? sometime after the junior boogie woogie contest i think!

  17. Hey MM,

    First of all Congrats to you all the best to brat!
    With that out of the way, can I ask you an important question.
    Will you be willing to share your bullshit document with me if/when I need it. I won’t plagiarize, you know,just get some inspiration.
    Dreams and hopes for your child who is yet to start school…this is scary!

    Me: Sure! Although you wont need it where you are…

  18. @MM – Thanks. It was not supposed to be an *emosional attyachaar* for you 🙂
    Nice song, though nowadays I am hooked to listening the X-rated version of the song on youtube.
    With my emotional rantings done, now I’ll be back as a troll on you blog.

  19. 13 lakhs??? Don’t do this to me after lunch.

    I don’t understand no criticism – what fake real world are they preparing these children for? I’ll take my convent any day. I still remember I topped class in 7th grade but got a C (yes, C) for discipline (I was a err restless kid). The remark from my nun principal? “What a shame. It’s brains that ruin the world.” I went home mortified and safe to say there were no celebrations. Academic and no other excellence were a substitute for good behaviour in either my school or home.

    Me: yep. no criticism. we’re creating kids who will go into the world imagining they are perfect and need not change… or improve.

  20. Erm. Two LAKHS? See, I will again urge you to move to Calcutta. Though I am not up-to-date in such matters, I think we get by with a lot less money in schools. 😛

    Anyways, best of luck to the brat! The ‘beautiful building’ will be one of his most important memories of childhood, you know. 🙂

  21. Whatt?!!! 2 lakhs/yr for Primary school? You are joking me. I went to school in a small-town(compared to Delhi).Lived in Salem(till me 10th std)and then moved to the city where ‘Tammi’ (Mad Sibling) went to college.Got into one of the best schools out of pure merit.No recommendations,no donations.All that I had to carry was my 10th Marksheet along with a filled up application form which had the most basic questions.The Science+Maths group that I took was the one that was more costly than the others(due to a lot of lab work).And guess what? I finished two years of my Higher Secondary education there in less than 12k! Thats it!

    From what I hear from you,I better start putting aside money every month from now on for my kids’ schools *sigh* Although, Im not going to get married anytime in the next 3-4 years and Im definitely not going to have a kid before marriage! *double sigh*

  22. oh my! what an ordeal! I just wish they weren’t so money minded in kids’ education.

    Good Luck to the Brat! 14 yrs sounds like a court ordered punishment – 14 saal ki sazaa 🙂

    Beanie will get a free pass! Aren’t younger siblings spoilt?

  23. This is exactly the reason why I don’t want to move back to India from USA. I enrolled my daughter in a really good school, no interviews, no tests nothing at all :). It is awesome that Brat made it to a nice school.

  24. Dear Mother of the BigSchool going Brat and soon-to-be Play-school going Beanie,please go to bed! Its late!! You need a lot of rest and you have to stretch those legs of yours with that poor knee!

    Go go! Be a good girl! 🙂

    Me: I’d love to be a good girl and hit the sack. But i spent the evening playing with my ‘big-school-going-boy’ so I must work now 🙂

  25. 🙂 Ahem ahem.You mean the ‘Big boy’ of the house 😉 Or the ‘Little Big Boy'(ah!oxymoron) 😛

    Me: oh alright. you made me blush. ME. NOBODY makes me blush but you did it. i changed it – happy? 😀

  26. wow.. I thought going 2 days to fill out forms and return it back was a just as hassle.

    So the district I am in is over-crowded as well, the school just implemented morning-afternoon kindergarten and parents are unhappy. They need to read abt the kids in Delhi 😦

  27. Was discussing this with the big son today. He went to middle of the road schools, a decent but not top ranked college, a professional college, and reached an Ivy League institution on his own steam. Home environment plays a huge huge role. The husband used to sound like the OA, since he attributed all his good fortune to the school and college he attended, and had been very keen on sending this son to a good boarding school.

  28. oops! primary schools cost 2 lakhs???? what do middle-class parents manage with!!? I graduated from college in 2005 with a B.E. I spent less than 50000 Rs for the entire course of 4 years!

  29. good luck that lasts 14 yrs and congratulations to the Brat! on the rest of it, i dont even think i should comment….now i can go back and kiss my parent’s feet for having actually gone through all of this.

  30. Doesnt the school year start in June in Delhi? I didnt know competition starts right from the time you are 3 years old! MM,if the teacher cant string a single sentence in English, will you keep the Brat there beyond 1 year? I mean my school wasnt fancy,just a normal school but the teachers were awesome,knew what they were talking about. Dont worry we’ll all pray for the Brat.

  31. MM, comment #26, #29 and #30 were mine, if you already hadn’t guessed 😀 I hadnt logged out of my own blog acc then. And I made you blush eh? So you were really upto something then, werent you? 😉

    And WHAT!! You went back and changed your previous response to me? OMG! I never knew you’d do something like that!!!! That was very rude and cheating and what not!! How can you????!!!! :O

    PS: For all that drama, please please call me a ‘Troll’ na? 😉 Lol!

    Me: of course I knew it was you, you cartoon! and you dont get to be a troll for free. its a high honour around here and you have to earn it. now get to work and try harder!

  32. Dear God, I didn’t read the whole thing, but boy am I glad I live in a school district that offers decent public education to everyone who lives within its boundaries and pays its property taxes (through their nose – I might add).

    Good Luck – to you both and the Brat.

    Priya.

  33. Hi MM,
    school years are the best years of one’s life and it is sad that the process is of starting this journey is so taxing on the parents! I remember we only had to do a ‘test’ as a formality for the good schools in Bangalore and after that it was just a matter of passing the years!
    Is it the same all over India or does it change depending on state/syllabus?

  34. Hey MM,

    Ok, good school, mediocre school, bad school, whatever… they get through and then they may be exposed and interested in something you have no control over – posting a link here – please read through and I would like to know what you think about this in general – a separate post on this please?

    http://www.baltimoresun.com/news/education/college/bal-movie0402,0,3273550.story

    Ok, those little 8 year olds you wrote about, here’s what I am wondering – based on what you described, how come the girls parents never said a word to the ‘costume designer’?

    S.

  35. Wishing Brat the best of all 14 school years ahead. And don’t worry things will take care of themselves. With a Mom like you a kid will turn out great – the school wouldn’t matter.

    Best Wishes.

  36. Gman went to a decent school in small town india…same here albeit in a pakistani cantonment..his mother paid INR 30 as fee (which went up to gasp 60 rupees by the time he left school in 1990)..my mother might have paid a little bit more. though i rant and rave how the missionaries killed my spirit (well attempted to) and gave me a “guilt complex” I know that we both have a lot to be grateful for..the schools gave us solid middle class values and were good for “personality development” (borrowing this from Parul’s post)…they gave me the gift of “dissent” and Gman confidence. and mashallah we can hold our own when in the company of private school wallahs.
    as my grandfather would say a child who wants to study will study and excel in a “taat school” (where you sit on bamboo matting)and the one who does not want to will idle his days away in Oxford.
    Dont worry about Brat being incorporated by the disco dandia regime in school, he has two parents who will steer him towards the straight and narrow!!

  37. p.s: some may make a case for the “bigger better” school and the opps. it may provide…but it might give you complexes as well. Or maybe it was true for me and my childhood, I am very happy that my mother stuck to her guns and sent me to a middle-class school. This as I had my share of childhood angst as it is and could not face any additional pressures.

  38. we got admission for our elder boy in a fairly good school in south delh, but their admission process was a groaner…they made the parents sit separately and write essays, blah..blah…and two rounds of interviews, and we had only applied to two schools then, having just moved into delhi…6 yrs later, having moved out of india, that losing of the seats causes much heart burn to the hubby…

    i thought the point system would ease matters but things seem the same still…

    wishing you satisfaction and happiness in the school in the years to come…

  39. Oh boy… wish I’d heeded that “long post” warning. Now I gotta go run and get in some sort of workout AND eat before college! aaaah!

    But really, all the best to the Brat. Hope he has lots of fun at school, and if he manages to learn anything at all, consider yourself lucky! 😉

  40. Yeah. This whole business sucks. And thanks to my clever one year Chennai plan I have to do it all over again next year most likely (we ran out of steam at THREE schools, forget eighteen!).
    I retain my complete disdain and cynicism for all schools, especially ones that use the word ‘holistic’ on their web-site.
    The situation is the worst for well-educated idealistic parents who believe in something and refuse to cough up money.

  41. brrrrr..i shudder at the thought of school admissions! We dont have kids as of now, but my husband keeps arguing that Delhi has the best schools and we should move to delhi when we have kids, but i have always heard these gory stories of delhi teenagers! I should send him this link. Good luck with Brats schooling 🙂

  42. One of my cousins once told me, he wanted his kid to go to a reputed school because it becomes a great networking tool in later life since many of them go on to be achievers. I’m amazed parents think so far along. Yeah, it would be great if a kid could go to the so-called best school but how far should one go. And does one really want one’s child only interacting with the wealthy and influencial?

    One of the greatest parts of my education was studying with girls who were so poor they didn’t even have a toilet at home in addition to girls who were really wealthy. Somehow those boundaries cease to matter and you learn from each other. That’s education.

    I’m sure the Brat will benefit from going to a simpler school, even if they do have the odd dinchak number.

  43. I finished both my graduation n post grad in less than 2 lac!!! Thanks to the Govt Run Good Colleges.. Y can’t the Govt do that in Primary Education too..

    My mother always used to remark that she didn’t spend much on my education but I turned out OK!! I Wish I could say that three decades from now..

  44. the school starts in april?? What happened to the idea of summer vacation? Though frankly i prefer the winter vacation.. those who want to sleep can sleep and those who want to play can play… whats the point of summer vacation if it is too damn hot to go out and play????

    Me: good question – and hols start in may and go on till july – all over the north of india – those are the hot months but they cant change the term and start after it na….

  45. I live in Indore and I see this huge board which reads
    (I dont remember the name of the school)
    ‘Preparatory school, producing excellence.’

    Good luck to Brat. I hope he has great years at his beautiful school.
    🙂

  46. Will the summer not be in its Peak in May? Why wait till July for the summer holidays?

    Me: yes yes – so hols from mid-May to mid-July…

  47. Commenting after so long!

    Wait isnt the OA the rich greedy investment banker who has made tons of money already?

    Me: You’d think so, wouldnt you?! He’s the rare breed that doesnt work till midnight and make pots of money. Damn – I should have married one of those who did and then found a new husband when they died of a heart attack at 40 and left me a rich, merry widow!

    I got a huge shock reading that 14 year last line..baby brat is going to the big school..feels so wierd

  48. I was an emotional midget when it came to school admissions for my firstborn…

    and then if they put me through this wiggly dance — that would have TOTALLY sent me into weeks of therapy

  49. Wow! 1 lakh 75000 children didnt get admission in any school? Thats shocking!! And sad.. And its a good thing you applied to 18 schools, the conversion %age looks not too great.

    Its sad how money can buy anything. And eww at those kids being made to dance that way. And lenient hand at discipline? To what extent? I am with you on home environment making a difference to the child. A middle class type school sounds great, as long as the school doesnt try to act like a wannabe big school and screw up! I guess its a good idea to not think too much about things which are beyond ones control anyway and try and fill up for the voids at home.

    And congrats to the Brat! Hope he has a fun filled 14 years and grows up to be a great person!

    As usual, a thought provoking post. Sometimes you kinda scare me though 🙂

  50. The Chennai scene is really not so bad.
    All the best to the brat. Am sure he will like the school- he has always adapted well.

    As you said you and the OA will offer a lot at home to enhance and to make amends if need be…

    I really do not understand how parents enjoy their kids doing raunchy suggestive dances at that age- some of the TV shows thrive on it!!

  51. Oh my God! This is shocking! I thought Delhi is a laid back place as compared to Mumbai. But my opinion has changed after reading about admission procedure. School admissions are much easier here.

  52. Good luck to the brat.
    The situation in Chennai is not much better. I applied to quite a few schools which are close to where I live. Got “regret” cards from every single one of them despite living within a 1 km radius of one of the schools :-((

  53. the admissions process is totally nuts. hoping puddi’s and bojjandi’s turns will be easier

    Me: oh you’ll be fine now. the suburbs have some good schools and the lovely chubbocks is in one of them and will pull the siblings through… 🙂

  54. And hey! This is the school that doesnt allow you to bring food na? And you are calling it middle class. I thought it was all posh posh back then, to be providing such ‘facilities’. What are those super posh schools like then?? Or maybe you are just being modest 🙂
    Chennai is leagues away from all this, I wonder if that is a good or bad thing…

    Me: no no 🙂 not being modest. its a very middle class school with a lot of issues and I would describe them if it werent for the fact that it gets to easy to recognise then…. but yes, it provides lunch as of now and he’s going very happily.

  55. Good Luck to the brat. I hope he has a great time at school and learns to enjoy it….like I did..yeah I was a school nerd 🙂

  56. It is really scarey, the admission scene in Delhi. When my daughter got admission in 2004, we filled 5 forms- even that was too much for me. We had a school which was walking distance from our house. It is a renouned school and she go through in that one first, so we did not look elsewhere. I think parents can make a lot of difference in the culture of the school if they actively participate in its functions. They always need parents to help them with the school programmes and unfortunately only those moms can help out who are sitting at home and watching the dance programmes dished out in TV- therefore the outcome is the horror show that you speak of.

    Me: not fair Diya 🙂 I was home for the last 4 years and I can assure I neither watched any such programme nor would encourage it in school. Its a terrible SAHM image that must not be propogated. In this case however, the culprit was a greasy, pony tailed dance teacher.

  57. brrrrr! i might be paying Cubby’s play school fess today and that starts in June! and apparently lotsa schools here START the adnission process by Hune! so when he starts going here we also have to start looking for his BIG school! grrrr! its so annoying!

    even I have been telling M that i just want a school close to home! ofcos i am not excatly OK with Florence English Schhol (affiliated to CBSE! Ahem!) next door which doesnt have glasses on thair windows and some classromms have just curtains! but nothing too fancy!

    and yup! will have to work harder on the local accent! he already goes soapu and eggu! 😛

    you have most defi scared the hell outta me!

    😦

  58. It’s ok MM :). My english teacher in the best convent school of my small UP town/city used to pronounce ask as aks. He used to mark all my correct answers as wrong. But I still managed to get really good marks in ICSE in English. And also in 12th which was unheard of from an aspiring engineering candidate. All thanks to my Mom. She taught me Shakespeare and poetry at home and I was done. Infact I ended up teaching half the class :). Now I have forgotten all I knew 😦 and have to hear a lot from her for using wrong grammar etc.
    Anyway I’m sure Brat will be fine. But undoing the wrong input from teacher’s is tough. Specially since some will give you less marks for non-mugged-up answers. You’re in for some really fun times 😛

    Me: arre that isnt the worst! kids this age, worship the teachers. So if you try to correct them, they refuse to listen and will doggedly do/say what the teacher tells them to!

  59. yeah that’s right..meri miss ne kaha hai…mummy ko kuch nahi pata aise bhi 😀

    Me: bilkul. meri miss bhagwan hai. mummy agyaan hai

  60. If it makes you feel any better.
    My son goes to one of the so called top ten schools in India.

    It was the last school in to which we got admission and we were so desperate to get him there since all the advertising types or people like us had their kids there.
    Day boarding, no exams, they just let them be…all the virtues seemed to be amazing.

    He made it despite talking gibberish in the meeting. Year one was bliss and has been documented in this very section. Year 2 onwards saw teachers inflicting trauma, and harping on his lack of “social skills” and a recommendation to hold him back a year.

    We met with the head of school and asked her as to whether she could guarantee the fact that holding him back would provide their desired effect. Since she had no guarantees – he went to the next class. The later years saw him getting bullied and berated since he did not have a big car and that he seemed “poor”.
    But hang on – this was still dealt with.

    Middle and senior school was a 360 degree change. Lax attitudes, disinterested teachers, complete lack of involvement in the child’s performance / well being..the list is endless. All one would get would be a report card twice a year saying these are the problems and an enquiry if all is well at home.
    The kids of so called “professional parents” who study with him – have turned in to sloppy, full of attitude morons – who carry porn on their i-phones and sniff bottles of whitener in the school loo.

    No child can study without multiple tuitions.

    The point I am making is – that the so called best schools are resting on their past laurels and as long as we run after them we they will thrive.

    I wish the Brat all the very best for his school life. And I determine that he is going to rock. No matter what.

    Huggss and love MM

  61. *Sigh

    I can not imagine struggling so much to get into school. Is it like this in most metro cities? Or is it slightly/really bad just in Delhi?

  62. Am scared reading your post. Feeling bad for all you had to go through 😦 But the way you’ve written it is really funny 🙂

    I havent even thought of which playschool to put N in. I think i better stop blogging and commenting and go look for a playschool for him!

  63. All the best Brat..and All the best MM&OA and the bean starts play school too?All the best to her too 🙂

  64. OMG, MM, the whole process sounds dreadfull, and I’m suddenly feeling grateful for living in a smaller city.
    I did an ‘instant’ prayer for Brat, but then I do know it’ll be alright. 14 years of trust in one institution. Wow. Scary thought. Good luck and big hug. hope the knee and tooth are better.

  65. Sometimes, I think the whole zoning thing would be the best way to work things out. Send children to the school that’s closest to them and be done with it.

    On an aside, I’m almost off having children, now that I’ve read this. The stress seems too much to cope with. Strange that this should do it, when stories of cesareans and all the blood and gore didn’t.

  66. All the very best to the Brat ! 14 years hence he may make you feel bad about what you thought of ‘his’ school ! LOL.

    Hope he enjoys his exciting journey and makes you really proud at the end.

  67. Just fwded this to M, telling him why we can never live in Delhi.
    Brat in uniform? I know its supposed to be fun, but makes me sad… The lil baby is a Big Boy now.. 😦

  68. See, now this post is the ideal one to be titled “Why not to have kids”. Just the thought of all of this is enough to make me not want to ever have one, and put him/her and me through these shenanigans.

  69. As long as the brat gets good class teachers hes going to grow up to be a fine gentleman. If you ever get to see some teachers driving into him the fear for some subjects like maths , make sure you spend more time on such subjects.

  70. I hear these horror stories and I always wonder – why don’t the paretns say ANYTHING???

    Me: what makes you think they dont. they do! but theres only so much anyone can do – there just arent enough schools if 1,75,000 kids didnt get in. and we can say what we want but until more are set up, nobody can do anything… and in an environment of shortage, there is always scope for corruption

  71. do what u will….my brat’s gonna floor every school with his gentle ways and loving smile and they’d be bloody lucky if he ends up in any of them

    and my bean is going to be a drama queen. I’d even have said bollywood starlet but I am feeling generous so will spare you the horror 😉

    Just you wait and watch 🙂

    Me: thats it. no more chicken korma for you.

  72. I find it odd when people say that the rigorous school admissions in India prompts them to stay back in US. You’ll get an admission to a school in your neighborhood relatively easier in USA, alright.

    But what about the other perils?

    – Bullying (at a much higher rate than in India)
    – The obvious cultural and physical differences and the emotional toll that it might have on the child
    – Gun Culture!!

    I live in the US (and like it here) and I dont yet have kids.. but I cant imagine saying I’ll stay back in US because my child can get a school admission easier here.

    On a lighter note – good luck to the Brat and your family MM. I am sure he’ll do great.

  73. Getting your child into school can sometimes be more difficult than getting him out into the world, huh?
    But its not THAT bad in B’lore. Or at least we escaped lightly- for Sonny boy had chosen his school and while our nails were getting bitten to the flesh, wondering if he’d get thru ANY, he was 100% sure he’d get into HIS school and he did.
    The first year over, to be very honest, I prefer his Montessori playschool, for the Montesssori method, but otherwise, this school is ok. The teacher is adored and that makes all the difference. Thankfully, i like her too…

  74. Ah ! Finally the post I had waited …. remember I has asked you how the admission process was coming weeks back ??
    Anyway, Good luck to Brat ! I hope he learns what he should be at the same time never failing to have fun … Best wishes Brat !
    How was his first day MM ? I won’t be surprised if you told that you stayed at the gate all day just to be sure he was ok at school.
    Do they have preference to siblings ? Would Beanie’s admission go simpler?

    Me: will post abt his first day soon 🙂 he was good. and yes – siblings get 5 extra points and so does the girl child – so she has a better chance!

  75. Just wanted to respond to comment #88 above, from Sri: I live in the US (TX) and have two kids in public school here. Both kids were in private schools earlier, we moved to the public school system for various reasons, not pertinent to this comment.

    1) regarding Bullying – my experience has been just the opposite. Bullying is pervasive in schools in India, my BIL/SIL faced many issues with their children being bullied – the school treated it as something outside their concern. Here, I can take a concern about bullying to the school and be assured that something will be done.

    2) Cultural and Physical differences: Most desis in the US tend to live in suburbs with good school districts. Such school districts tend to have fairly large Asian (I include the subcontinent into this description) populations – The biggest cultural difference my kids had had to face is their vegetarianism (in TX, *everyone* eats meat :-)). Otherwise almost all the kids are in similar after-school activities and play the same set of seasonal sports. Almost every evening in spring the neighbourhood is full of kids playing outside.
    The school has volunteers come in to talk about Diwali and Eid, and there are some schools that are actually closed for these festivals (a school closes if over x% of the students will be absent for a religious function – I think x is 20% here, may be different in other states). I went to a convent school back in the day in India – the divide between rich, middle-class and poor (Scholarship) was very very clear – if anything I am glad my kids don’t have to go through that here.
    – Gun Culture…again, we’re in TX – and know many people who think guns are just fine….sometimes I agree with them – and most middle-class suburbanites who own guns are very responsible gun owners. But the possibility of guns impinging on normal adult life in the US is far higher than it impinging on schools…I wouldn’t think of this as a threat only to schools, or more to schools.

    Those of us who think or say that we’re glad not to have to navigate the tricky shoals of school admission in India are probably from this camp of suburban desis whose choices here are better than in India, given our resources.

    regards,

    M

  76. Sri,
    This is in response to your comment, MM sorry for hogging your comment space. It totally depends on the type of school and county that you enroll your kids in, the school that I enrolled my kid in has very strict policies with regards to bullying. I don’t think culture is going to take toll as long as you don’t “confuse” them. My daughter is an american and she will like one. The gun culture is getting worse in India too.

  77. Oh boy!! I feel for you MM. You’ve taken a very practical approach.I guess you’re making the best of it.
    But Brat is going to do just fine because he has parents like you who are very involved in his life.

  78. i have a question. What will now happen to those 1,75,000 kids? I mean what abt their schooling? dont they get any?

    and now i’m well and truly horrified. think i shd start enquiring abt schools already for the lil one on the way 😦

  79. The leaves me thinking.. Whether I should ever have kids.. If we cant even give them the basic, much needed education, whats the point.. or Shall I go back to my hometown once I have the kids!!! The situation does not look good at all in NCR atleast…

  80. You and the OA seem to have had a rough time, MM! All the best now – I’m sure the Brat will do very well! As you say – the environment at home counts for a lot!

  81. Hope Brat’s enjoying his school.

    I still need to go get admission info for Bheblu-babu but I have a nice, unpretentious, middle class backup in mind. If they at least don’t take my son, well, they’ll be missing out on a good thing!

  82. I watched two of my colleagues-cum-friends struggle with the admissions this year. I contributed my two-piece by helping to fill out the app. forms and thinking up suitable answers to the interview questions.
    One of them chose a middle-class school which has branches in Kolkata and the other went in for a “modern” school. The first day of school had the “middle-class” colleague literally whooping with delight as she found the entire approach to getting the kids adjusted to “school” really sensible and child friendly by allowing the children to play, taking them out, showing them videos while gradually introducing the habit of sitting in class and learning.
    The “modern” colleague was really depressed after seeing how the school handled the new kids…they literally locked them into the classrooms to “break them in”.

    My learning has been that if and when my turn comes, I am headed back to Cal !

  83. allo…been a while since I last visited this blog…dont u worry…the brat will turn up just as good as u 2 if not better…:D and btw I was laughing at most of the requirements schools are setting for admissions these days…seem so silly and ridiculous…

  84. is scary. i dont have kids yet, would like to soon, but dont think i can gather enough courage – what is worse, to see your kids being deprived of education… or to see them being spoiled rotten at fancy schools as against normal, middle class schools almost everybody i know went to.

    i do understand home environment makes a HUGE difference, but so does the school, teachers and peers.

    damn confusing. and damn scary. grateful for reassuring noises, and advice, if you have some. mucho thanks.

  85. I did a small post when I got regreat post from one of the 2 schools we applied here in chennai. We got a call from the other school but we didnt take admission coz we(read my husband and family) were hell bent on this particular one. Anyways we got into another good school which is just starting up in our neighbourhood(2 min walk from our house).So alls well that ends well!!

    http://mwimw.blogspot.com/2009/03/it-came-by-post.html

  86. read your post late… made my hubby read it too. we have started to prepare for our son’s nursery admission right now, guess its more like preparing for competitive exams again. i wish there were coaching classes and postal courses for this too…

    sigh, i thought examinations are over.

  87. Pingback: Judge me then! « The Mad Momma

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