Above : The scene outside the Shivaji Park Axis Bank branch today, on the first day of CAT voucher sale
Below : The scene outside the same Shivaji Park branch last year on the first day of CAT voucher sale
The pictures say it all.
Queues for The Common Admission Test (CAT) vouchers in many centres across the country have got shorter this year. Besides, there was no scramble to be the first in the line to get a voucher like in the previous years. Applicants were seen queuing up post 8.00am, compared to 5.30 am last year.
The lack in enthusiasm was however made up by 'freshers' who outnumbered work-ex applicants in most queues outside the banks. For many, the experience if buying a voucher was new and exciting as well.
Esha Salian a B.Com graduate said that CAT will help her get into a good b-school and hopefully a good future too. "A good b-school is very important. If I do not get a good score, I will drop a year and take CAT again next year. Leepika Walia, a BMM student, has also made up her mind to drop a year if her scores are bad. Taking CAT will ensure that my MBA learning experience will be good," she said. Both of them have decided to take every other entrance exam this year, including CMAT.
It is Meera Achrekar's first take at CAT too. She thinks the MBA option will open many career opportunities. "Yes, the IIMs are my target. But if I don't get through, others will do."
Divya Gulati is also taking CAT for the first time. Still in her last year of engineering, she has decided that business is what she will do later. Her mother was in the queue at a bank in Bandra, Mumbai, since Divya was away at college.
Puneet Kawdiya, seen outside Turner Road branch in Mumbai is in his last year of engineering, also wants to become a businessman. "My father has a business but I want to do something on my own." Besides, CAT, Puneet has decided to take the IIFT entrance exam too.
At the same centre, there were the work-ex guys like Pravin Gupta and Pallavi Kamath who have each worked for three years and hope that their work-ex will help them a better entry into an IIM (Indian Institute of Management), provided their scores are good. Pravin says that since the IIMs are looking for consistent applicabnts he is good on that front too. "I have got a first class right through school and college and extra-curricular activities are fine too. Now I have to only get a good score," he says. Pallavi is also sure that if not an IIM, then nothing else. "I will take CAT next year, if I can't get an IIM this year," she said.
At the Shivaji Park branch of AXIS, there was not a soul around, unlike last year when the queue seemed never-ending. A trickle of students at long intervals was all the activity. Neha Shetty, another fresher and first timer at CAT said: 'I am doing my CA right now and taking CAT for the sake of it. Just keeping my mind open for whatever comes my way." Her pal Dishanki Chhadva, is a BMS graduate. "I did my BMS only so that I could take CAT and try to get into an IIM, she said.
Up north, similar bunches of freshers were seen at AXIS Bank voucher centres. At the Defence Colony branch, an energetic Soumya Adhikari, a B.Com graduate, had come with her father to collect the voucher. Her father said: As a parent I have to fulfil my child's wishes. How much ever money it takes, I want her to do whatever she wants in life."
Parineeti Garg, a B.Com graduate and Saurabh Rai, (an undergraduate) were spotted at the Greater Kailash branch of the bank. For them too, it is their first CAT experience. They have however have decided to take other MBA entrance exams too just, in case their CAT paper turns out to be a difficult one.
Applicants reported on the PaGaLGuY forum that there were some registration problems on the CAT website. PaGaLGuY spoke to CAT Convenor Prof SSS Kumar who said that some time at 11.00 am in the morning since there was an overload of people trying to register, there were issues but they were settled within no time and the day went off smoothly.
And yes, the funniest part of the day was that centre were the coaching centre guys who were at practically all the centres. Even when we told them that we were not applicants, they still forced us to take a copy of a CD and other material. "Please just hand us over your number and we will make sure you get good CAT coaching," was their marketing line.
At one centre in Mumbai, a lone boy sat jotting down numbers and names of all the students who walked in to buy a voucher. He claimed he was from a two-tier b-school. "CAT applicant numbers are really down this year on the first day. My colleagues who are at other centres are saying the same thing. I have come to make my school famous." Sadly, he had few takers.