University admission tests have always been a daunting experience for the most part. Many people spend months preparing themselves to get into their desired universities and major in a subject of their choice. However, the harsh reality is that not everyone has the luxury of picking and choosing when it comes to which university to go to or what their majors will be.
Tamanna Mannan Atoshi is a 21-year-old student, currently enrolled in the Mathematics Department of Independent University Bangladesh (IUB). While Atoshi had always been passionate about studying mathematics, it had also been a dream of her to do so at Dhaka University. After completing her A-levels, she started preparing herself for the public university admission tests. Despite giving it her best, in the end, the odds were not in her favour and she could not get into her university of choice.
"I was at a crossroads in my life, I was so focused on getting into a specific university that I hadn't really thought of other options in case it didn't work out," she said looking back at the decision that has certainly changed the course of her life.
The decisions that followed for Atoshi were ones that are faced by the majority of admission candidates across Bangladesh. She became unsure of whether studying mathematics would be a good decision anymore. There were so many unanswered questions like which universities she could still apply to, whether they would offer her a subject of choice or not, whether she would be able to stay in Dhaka with her family, and if affordability would turn out to be a big issue or not. While these may seem like questions that are one Google search away from being answered, it is very important to understand the situation that students like Atoshi are in at the time. For many people, affordability is a major factor when it comes to selecting a university. However, Atoshi's story, while similar to that of many people in Bangladesh, still does not depict the complete picture.
Raisa Fatema Bornita is a third-year student studying at the Institute of Business Administration (IBA), Dhaka University. Her first choice when it came to selecting a university also happened to be Dhaka University. While she did attend the admission tests for multiple departments at Dhaka University, her main interest had always been in fine arts and therefore, she was really looking forward to getting into the Faculty of Fine Arts. And her hard work paid off in the end as she got into the fine arts department as well as IBA. While such good news would make almost any candidate ecstatic, Bornita knew she was now faced with a difficult decision. According to her family, studying business would bring about better prospects for her and allow her to fulfill her dream of starting her own business and creating her own niche in the fashion and beauty industry. But art was something very close to her heart, it was something she knew she had the potential to excel in whereas business was a completely unknown world for her. The prospects of studying BBA, while an opportunity she very much appreciated, was quite nerve-wracking to her simply because it had never been the plan for her.
Just like Bornita thousands of admission candidates every year end up majoring in a subject they had not initially planned on studying. In many cases, family is the main influence that comes into play. Parents want the best for their children, and the collectivistic nature is quite inherent in our society. So it is considered normal for guardians to make such significant decisions about their children's lives. While Bornita is happy to have found a place where she can learn new things and grow as a person with her new peers, it isn't the case for many people. In most such cases, there is a strong dissonance going on in the person's mind that ends up affecting the student's academic performance as well as their personal life.
Whether or not these two individuals made the right decision truly depends on what they decide to do in future with the opportunities they both received. It is, therefore, very important to remember that the results of a single standardised test do not define or give proof of a person's intellect or abilities. In today's day and age where the younger generations have a plethora of unexplored opportunities ahead of them, which university they go to or which subject they majored in no longer confines them within a boundary, they have the option and the capability to become whatever it is that their heart desires.