The summer of 2009 has been a long and ardous journey for those of us who have had to traverse the higher education maze in Tamil nadu. Having helped my child do this, I have a few things to say to parents who will face this in the years to come.
The first thing I learnt was that there is no such thing as precedent in the admissions game - the parameters that held for the last year are not valid for the current year. So, start reading the paper more closely everyday for the latest announcements/amendments and additions.
If your child is looking to do Engineering, here are some facts; most important of which is that near 1,50,000 students appear for admissions in the single window system and that number is growing. Over 10,00,000 write AIEEE; over 3,00,000 write JEE and there is a lot of overlap here. Since the mad rush is always for Engineering let's take a hard look at what you need to be armed with.
CBSE 12th grade marks rule!(Let's hope Kapil Sibal can reform this system). Admission to all colleges apart from IITs and NITs depend on it. The formula used to rank students is math/2 + (phy+chem)/2. This formula works for single window as well as management quota admissions of all colleges affiliated to Anna Univ.It would be a good idea to use this formula through all major exams of 12th It will give an idea of where you stand and help you improve scores. The deemed univs do their own thing and their admissions are invariably done well ahead of Anna which means shelling out a year's fees to ensure a backup. The good news is that the concerned minister has announced that Anna will publish its ranks (for single window) on the same day as or soon after 12th results are announced. Let's hope that does happen. What is the single window,anyway? To the uninitiated, it is a one point counselling system where Anna University ranks students using the above formula and publishes it on its website(www.annauniv.edu). Also published are the previous year's cutoff marks for the various departments of various affiliated universities. Using this you can figure out if you can make it to the college of your choice. Only one application form has to be filled which is available at the Anna Univ campus.
The statutory warning here is that these marks vary depending on the demand for a particular branch in a year, the competition and demand for a particular college. A score of 197.5 assures you a seat in one of the branches on the Anna campus itself or any of the other leading colleges such as SSN ,SVCE,Meenakshi etc.The popular deemed universities are VIT, SRM and Amrita to name a few. SSN is the most sought after college after Anna main campus. The number of seats available through single window varies from year to year and colleges retain a certain proportion for their management quotas. Trouble is that this magic number is not readily available.It is a good idea to find this out to help you estimate your chances. The counselling process through the single window is most transparent and efficient. Whatever the case it is important to apply for seats under the management quota in the college of your choice. Competition is stiff and the state board students on the average score far higher than the other boards. Get this - this year only students with a score of 200 (on 200!) were able to get into ECE in Anna campus.
Admission to IIT is of course through the JEE, which is not as forbidding as it seems. Anyone with strong conceptual knowledge in the three key subjects must attempt it - with confidence. Though the format of questions is changed often, the effort requires remains more or less the same for JEE. That is definitely not the case with AIEEE. It would be safe to say that IIT level preparation will definitely get you into NIT. The format of AIEEE, number and type of questions are changed every year and no one has a clue about it. Not even the coaching institutes which claim to know everything about it. Last year above average CBSE students made it to NITs.This year it is a struggle for anyone who did not put in IIT worthy efforts. Moral of the story - prepare for the boards like there is no tomorrow and keeping the golden formula in mind. Even admissions to NUS and NTU are based on the 12th scores alone. In these 2 universities, based in Singapore, the cutoff for this year was around 96% (4 subject average excluding English).
If there is time and inclination individualized tuitions for AIEEE can be rewarding. They will probably come in handy in the first year of college, but if your child is not willing to put in the mandatory hours of dedicated work for IIT/AIEEE, CBSE is a better bet. It opens many more doors than the other two exams.
There, I hope I have armed you to your teeth. Good Luck!
PS : IIT has taken to publishing a rather long extended merit list (60,000). So if your child's name figures in the list, it does not mean much. A rank of below 10,000 in this list opens a few more opportunities. Anything less can be used like a certificate, but without required board marks it's as good as not being on that list.