When I moved to Pakistan in 2006, I took up a job teaching at a private high school. It made a couple of jaws drop because teaching is not considered a worthy profession for people with foreign degrees. I thought it was entirely noble and super fun. And over the course of one year, I got to know a group of 12 students really well and we had a great time and each of the progressed to go on to do great things!
One of them has become a writer. She’s wonderful at it too. This Sunday she wrote an article in Dawn about the application system to top business schools. And when you would think that writing iseless exeercise especially in a country like Pakistan, Pakistan will slap you upside down on the head and surprise you. In response to Hafsa’s article, she got offered a job by a grf citizens working on school reform.
Her essay was tremendous. I hope she will continue to write, create change with her writing and continue to prove those people wrong who think that making yourself heard will never yield any results.
Not So Dear Business School
Two years back I applied to you for my undergraduate degree like every other youngster who wishes to study management sciences in Pakistan. For you, my application letter would have been just another application from a young girl living in Pakistan. For me, it was definitely much more than that; a letter that enclosed the aspirations of a lifetime, the hopes of a young girl, the dreams that her eyes had seen something she wanted more than anything else at that point in time. I had spent my entire high school hoping to get into your business school.
Today, if I am sad about one thing, that your school was the farthest that I could see, the best that I could dream of and the most that I wanted! Even at that point in time, with an average O-Level result, which I improved to a superb result in A-Levels later, I had the potential to get into a much better school than yours. My colleagues and teachers kept telling me to apply abroad as I might even get a scholarship on the basis of my published work in newspapers. Unfortunately, I didn’t apply outside Pakistan.
At the time I applied to your school, I had a job of an assistant editor at a local monthly magazine, which I was offered at the age of 18. I had over a hundred published articles in leading newspapers of Pakistan to my credit. I had evidence of my credentials, photocopies, links of my articles, reference letters, certificates, recommendations from teachers and editors and what not that I spent days collecting and putting in my application letter hoping someone would at least look at them and realise that brilliance can not only be measured by the transcript a student brings along.
I could speak or debate about almost anything in the world, I had my own ideas, which I could pen down or speak up without any hesitation, I had dreams, aspirations and ideas which most young people in our country don’t have. I had great potential to be an entrepreneur, something our country needs most at the time being.
Your business school, an institute that boasts to be the best in the country, could not see all this. You promise to provide the best graduates to the market. Today, I question you, what role are you playing in all this? It’s easy to pick students with transcripts that don’t have a single ‘B’ grade on them. Straight ‘A’ students will always score ‘A’s no matter what conditions they are exposed to.
They are excellent students as it is, what role have you played in making them the best graduates of the lot?
Interesting is the fact that you pick up the cream and produce nothing out of it. After four years, they turn out to be graduates exactly like the others produced by any of the other schools. And they were weaker in studies than the lot you took in the first place. The real challenge for you would be to pick up a mixed crowd and turn them into the most-refined graduates.
It wouldn’t be wrong to say, that you pick up nerds. The fact that you only look at grades proves my stance. The best schools of the world reject students with exceptional results but no interest in extra-curricular activities. A girl with 13 ‘A’s in O-Levels was rejected from quite a few universities abroad because all she had done in her life was memorise from textbooks.
The more grades one has, the better chances they have of getting into your school. But you don’t care if someone has spent an entire summer volunteering day in and out to bring about a change in the country, you don’t care if people know somebody’s name and look forward to reading his or her articles, you don’t care if someone is a great debater, you don’t care if someone is thinking out of the box, you don’t care if someone has more knowledge than your books could contain, you don’t care about what anybody does after their school hours.
Of course, if one passes your criteria — ‘A’ grades in literally everything — you just might call them for an interview and give five minutes to that person to speak about what they have done in life apart from studying. I know you really won’t bother listening to the content of what the person is speaking. You only judge people for their communication skills because the decision has been made on grades already.
As a result of this, the real cream of Pakistan, the true brilliance, the people who think out of the box, the exceptional ones, who have done much more than memorising material from books, are left out to look at universities abroad for help.
The universities abroad look at their credentials and identify their brightness, offer them admissions, at times even scholarships. That’s when we hear you crying about the brain drain!
It is only justified for a student to go abroad. All the reputed universities here pick the ‘A’ graders while rejecting the other exceptional students to look for greener pastures abroad.
Bright students are rejected everyday, which is just plain sad as universities need to understand that anyone can get ‘A’s by sitting in a room and memorising without even understanding or gaining the real knowledge. The real cream is the one that manages fairly good grades while indulging in extra-curricular activities.
Today, I want those trying to get into the university of their choice here to realise all this as it took me a while to do so. No, I wasn’t depressed over my rejection because depression is not in my nature, but I see other bright young students going into extreme depression due to this. I just want to let them know that if they have potential, they should show it to the college that rejected them and throw it in their face.
Considering the recently-announced admission results, a lot of the rejected students out there might just feel better after reading this.
I want them to know that they can be the best without going to the best school and one day the university that rejected them will realise what they lost years ago.
A student rejected by you two years ago.
DAWN.COM | Education | Not-so-dear business school.