Managing the university admission dilemmas

Shanjida Hossain | Published: September 05, 2018 21:03:57 | Updated: September 07, 2018 14:10:17

A partial view of BUET campus: Students' struggle for admission to universities is a very common phenomenon in Bangladesh each year

Completing higher secondary education marks the end of the students' college phase--class twelve. The experiences gained over the course of the years influence the students to make decisions regarding their next step, which is the university. However, they have to make specific valuable choices during this period which  plays a prominent role in shaping up their future.

Choosing the subject to pursue

The first decision they need to make is regarding the field of study. Sadly in our country, the choice is based on family and societal pressure rather than what the student wants. There is a significant amount of discrimination among the different fields of education. For instance, students studying in the science field are considered as more successful and intelligent than those studying in commerce, or arts. Students belonging to the arts subjects are thought of as the least capable and are treated as outcasts. This is the reason why a person completing his or her under-graduation from Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology (BUET) is provided with more respect and is regarded highly compared to someone studying in art departments in universities. This is one of the reasons why a student passionate about arts often hesitates to adopt the field and takes a different route to the science fields. This leads to a lack of emotional attachment to the undesired field, eventually leading to psychological issues such as depression.

However, students and their families of this generation are becoming more aware of the opportunities of various sectors. "I am currently studying political science because I love this subject. I do not listen to what people have to say. My parents supported me and encouraged me to study whatever I like," said Sharif, a public university student.

The decision regarding a subject choice should be made considering factors like interest and passion in that particular sector and analysing the opportunities in those sectors. A student can consult a senior for this because it is essential to find a balance between the two factors. Unless you are genuinely interested in a subject, there is no point in studying that. It will only cause dissonance in the future.

Deciding whether to apply abroad

Another dilemma faced by students is whether to apply abroad or stay in Bangladesh. Due to the existence of a conservative culture, many parents are reluctant to send their children overseas for further education. Another aspect of feeding this dilemma is scholarship. Studying abroad consists of a variety of costs alongside the tuition fees. Sub-categories include accommodation fees, food cost, transportation cost and so on. Despite having excellent results in primary and secondary education, acquiring a scholarship is a big challenge where a significant portion of the focus is on extraordinary activities. This is an issue for many students since the scope of getting involved in extra-curricular activities in Bangladesh is very low unless you have a significant amount of passion for a particular field. Obtaining a visa is another significant factor. At times, despite acceptance and having hold of scholarship, a student may be rejected by the designated embassy.

It is advisable that students try to reach out to the successful seniors who were awarded scholarships.

Applying to the universities of Bangladesh

A big dilemma faced by the majority of the students in Bangladesh is whether to apply for public universities or private universities. While most of the students want to study in the public universities, the limited number of seats and the challenging admission processes enable only a certain number of students to study in public universities. The entrance tests for public universities are considered more difficult than those of private universities, and hence the preparation track for getting into public universities involves more hard work and effort.

Arindom, a second-year student of Independent University, Bangladesh said, "My results were not up to the mark, and since the syllabus of English medium educational institutes and the ones under the national curriculum are entirely different, I knew it would be a big challenge for me to study in a public university. Therefore, I did not go for that challenge. My friends did, however. Some of them are currently studying in the top public universities."

The selection of private universities is mainly depended on the prior reputation of the universities, the courses they offer, geographic location and results of primary and secondary education. The financial stability does not often come into play because of similar tuition costs courses among the private universities. 

"Since my house was close to North South University and it was the most convenient one for me regarding location, I chose it for my undergraduate programme. Moreover, the other private universities had similar costs, so the location influenced my decision making," said Sadia, a second-year student of Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at North South University.

Students during the admission preparation phase experience an immense amount of societal pressure from neighbours and relatives. Everyone has an eye always fixed on the student preparing, anticipating the ultimate result whether he or she gets into a public university or not. Being accepted into a public university in Bangladesh is considered and given the same status to a student who gets into an Ivy League school.

"I remember not getting accepted into a renowned public university during my admission test season and ended up studying in a private university. I was demeaned throughout my entire graduation period. I had this constant urge to prove my surrounding people wrong, and I have finally been successful in doing so. Today I'm doing my internship at World Bank," said a recent graduate of BRAC University.

It is not about where you study, but it is about how much effort you give in your study. People should stop stereotyping students. Parents, especially, should continuously motivate and encourage their children to achieve their dreams from wherever they want to and defend stereotypical comments from surrounding people. An institution does not define its students; the students define an institution.

The writer is a first year student of BBA programme at the Institute of Business Administration (IBA), University of Dhaka. She can be reached at

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