The stage is set for one of the biggest academic exercises in the State — the Tamil Nadu Engineering Admissions (TNEA)-2013. It calls for a detailed look into the process of counselling sessions for selection of colleges and courses by candidates.

This year, 1.89 lakh candidates have applied for participating in the Unified Single Window Admission System (USWAS) of the Anna University in Chennai for 2 lakh government quota seats in 558 engineering colleges. The counselling sessions are scheduled to begin in Chennai on Friday and will go on until July 26. A sizeable number of candidates from Madurai and other southern districts will participate in the exercise, but ironically, many of them are unaware of the procedures involved.

S.Bala Meenakshi of Madurai has scored a cut-off mark of 190 and she has been invited for the counselling session on June 25. The girl belonging to the Most Backward Class has done quite a bit of homework on the prospective colleges in which she might get admission.

“My first preference is Thiagarajar College of Engineering, Madurai. I am ready to take up any branch there. My next choices are Velammal College of Engineering in Madurai followed by MEPCO Schlenk in Sivakasi. I hope to get into one of them,” she says.

However, Ms.Meenakshi is not familiar with counselling procedure. She is under a wrong impression that students would not be allowed to take a companion with them into the counselling hall where the crucial decision of finalising the course and college has to be made.

It is the same with A.Charles Williams. He also does not have any idea about the counselling session in which his daughter is slated to participate on June 28. “My nephew is a software engineer in Chennai and he has promised to help us on that day,” he says.

Cautioning people against being ignorant about the counselling process, V.Rhymend Uthariaraj, secretary, TNEA, says candidates and their parents should not get misguided by touts roaming around the counselling venue and end up selecting a wrong college or course.

As per schedule, eight counselling sessions, each running for about 90 minutes, would be conducted every day except for the first day when there shall be only six sessions. The candidates would be allowed to attend the sessions in the order of merit.

They should reach the counselling venue — Anna University, Guindy campus — well before the time allotted to them along with cash or a Demand Draft for Rs.5,000 drawn in favour of ‘The Secretary (TNEA), Anna University, Chennai.’

The money should be paid at the bank counters on the university premises in return for a challan which should be produced at a hall designated as ‘Attendance Hall.’ Candidates should register their names at the hall at least an hour before their allotted time.

An electronic board will display updated vacancy position for various courses in different colleges even as the counselling is on. Students must carry sufficient number of blank papers and pens to note down the vacancy position for making an informed choice. “Many a times, I have seen candidates borrowing pens from others and noting down the details on the reverse side of their original mark statements and community certificates. Such things are undesirable,” says career analyst and consultant Jayaprakash A.Gandhi.

After registration of names, the candidates would be asked to move on to ‘Verification Hall’ where their original certificates would be verified. From there, they would be asked to move to the ‘Briefing Hall’ before being allowed to enter the ‘Counselling Hall.’

Good counsel must

Use of mobile phones is prohibited in the hall, but every candidate would be permitted to be accompanied by one person. “Students should not take any Tom, Dick and Harry along with them. The person accompanying them should be knowledgeable and must provide wise advice,” he adds.

There will be more than 70 terminals inside the hall and every candidate would be allotted a terminal. The computer operators would initially ask for registration numbers of the candidates and retrieve their personal details from the system.

Candidates must check those details carefully before selecting courses and colleges. “The computer operator must be asked to refresh the details every two minutes to obtain updated vacancy position. Candidates or their parents should not ask the computer operators for suggestions. In fact, if someone makes any suggestions to you, it must be immediately brought to the notice of the Anna University officials for appropriate action,” Mr.Gandhi adds.

According to him, selection of a course or college should be left to the discretion of the candidates. “Anna University is doing its best to keep the touts away. Yet, parents must be careful with people suggesting particular colleges,” he cautions.

Go by code numbers

Candidates must be doubly careful before finalising colleges because many colleges had identical names and once a selection is finalised in the terminal, it cannot be changed. It is always advisable to select colleges by their code numbers.

Then, the candidate would be asked to sign a declaration form and they will be given an allotment letter confirming admission. Students wanting to opt for marine engineering course must be aware of the eligibility criteria — minimum height of 157 centimetres and weight of 48 kilograms, besides normal colour vision.

“Many candidates lose a year of studies because they fail in the medical test after having selected the course through counselling. Parents of all engineering aspirants must keep some money ready as most colleges would want them to remit the fees within a week of selection,” Mr.Gandhi said.

S.Velumani, parent of a student who got admitted in an engineering college in Chennai last year, opines that parents of candidates admitted to self-financing colleges must have deep pockets to shell out money towards hostel fee, mess fee, transport fee, laboratory fee and so on, apart from tuition fee.