I am sure that the title itself must have given you a shudder or two. School admission process has that effect on you. As for me, I was dreading this since the day my little girl was born or may be before that. Which board should I prefer, which schools accordingly should I try to seek admission, will they give admission, the fall backs, the running around, the seemingly endless waiting period, to be constantly on tenterhooks lest I missed a phone call or email from the school…phew!
Well, actually it was worse than I had imagined.
My first dilemma –
Which board is better? During my time, it was only State Board or CBSE. If your parent had a job that was transferable, you were put into a CBSE Board school otherwise State Board schools were fine for you. But now, it’s State Board (nobody cares for it anymore), CBSC (depends on the school), ICSE (newer Board, in-depth training of various subjects. Kids are burdened. Focus on English language), IGCSE (affiliated to Cambridge University, UK. Focus on specialization and application based teaching) and IB (International Baccalaureate, Geneva, Switzerland).
Some people debate that IGCSE board schools have lesser school hours and lesser academic burden than the other Board schools. Again it’s an ongoing debate, nobody has won yet.
I must have met scores of people (family, friends, friends of friends, neighbors, school teachers, random parents standing at the bus stop with their kids – some even looked at me suspiciously as if I was a child-picker or someone) and talked to them on this subject. But nobody could give me a decisive answer. I was so dissatisfied with the vague replies that I did my own research and came to the conclusion:
Choose a good school, care less for the board.
- IB schools are abominably expensive, so gave them a wide berth.
- IGCSE schools are good but all are afternoon schools which I am totally against. My kid coming home at 7 in the evening is not done for me. The mentally conjured picture of her drowsing in the classroom and then missing out on the evening play with her friends totally put me off.
- ICSE board schools are old and trustworthy. So I chose this option.
- No good State and CBSE board schools exist in my area. Chapter closed.
Secondly, I wanted the school to be in the vicinity. What’s the point in wasting precious hours of your child in mindless commute? Wouldn’t you rather he/she is with you or in some extra-curricular class?
Start drawing a list of all the schools in the vicinity or around your area. When? The earlier the better. Then as per your criteria (board, school fees, activities, proximity etc.) short list them.
After all the research, I shortlisted 3 ICSE schools and 2 IGCSE schools as a fallback option.
All schools had different form issue dates and form submission dates. Even after endless inquiries and their taking down your phone numbers/email ids, no school calls you. You have to keep calling them or finding from your sources when the forms will be out. Fortunately for me, an active mother’s what’s app group from my daughter’s preschool helped me. Be a part of a group (neighbors, preschool or online) to be constantly aware of these things.
Schools forms don’t come cheap. I got the forms (after paying thousand of rupees), duly filled them up and attached the required notarized copies. Yes notarized true copies (for God’s sake) of the child’s birth certificate, parents’ qualification certificates, telephone/electricity bill, Aadhar/ration card, passports, housing society certificate!
Every school has different criteria. Some want Medical Health Report of your child, some want Aadhar Card even for your child (I suggest you get it made if you haven’t so far) while some take keen interest in the parents’ educational and professional qualifications. Oh and some in the bank balance. L
After submitting the forms, the schools may take from 2-3 months in getting back to you if they are at all interested in giving you admission. So you need to call them up regularly or meet the admin officer to get constant updates.
If you know someone influential who can get your child admission in your desired school, don’t let him go. Some schools give you admission only if you have a pull. Normally, you may not fall in their required pin code, but with an influence you can stay in Sri Lanka (a little exaggeration but you got the drift) for all they care.
If you really want an admission in that coveted school, then it’s time to break the bank. A good school is like a sound investment in the future of your child.
Interview Round: Don’t start panicking just yet. Kid interviews are banned now. Teachers merely observe your child playing with different toys. Fair enough!
School 1 – So we got an interview call during Diwali vacation…coincided with our Goa trip…had to reschedule it. My little pumpkin got the admission but had to refuse as no bus facility provided in nursery. I calculated, the auto fare would have come down to half the full year school’s fees.
School 2 – again during our Goa trip. Sadly, had to refuse.
School 3 – haven’t got a call. Still waiting.
School 4 – got through the interview but took a long a time to revert for the payment process.
School 5 – no interview. Hurray! Submitted the forms and cheque and admission secured in one of the best schools in the area. Also, my preferred choice from day one.
Tuition Fees Nominal – Check
Morning School hours – Check
School bus for pick up-drop – Check
Under table deposit – none
So after all this running around for 3 months and boring certain people to death, my daughter’s school admission process finally got over. Phew!!! Yippee!!
I know it’s silly of me to feel that, but I have a certain weird notion of an accomplishment greater than delivering my baby after 17 hours of agonizing labor.
How was your experience while seeking school admission for your child?