Geography State topper D. Selvajothi, a student of Chennai Higher Secondary School in Tiruvanmiyur, wants to be an IAS officer.

But her parents are looking at various options including an engineering seat in a college that would give her a scholarship. “We cannot afford any kind of fees,” said David Muthukumar, her father, a fruit seller in Tiruvanmiyur.

Selvajothi studied in the same school from class I. “We did not want to send our daughters to school but the teachers said we must educate them. We lost our son in a road accident last year. He was in college at that time. Our daughters have made us proud. They have done well not just in academics but also in sports. An entire wall in our house sports their trophies, shields and prizes,” said Rani, her mother.

Selvajothi, an arts group student with geography, economics and political science as her subjects, had come to Ripon Buildings with her parents to meet Mayor Saidai Duraisamy, Corporation commissioner Vikram Kapur, and joint commissioner (education) T.N. Venkatesh, on Thursday.

This year, Chennai School toppers are also from non-science groups. All of them are from the commerce group that had accounts, economics, business maths, Tamil and English as subjects. Four of them — V. Veeraselvi (1,145 marks), B. Ayisha Sithika (1,138), B. Nithya (1,142) and C. Priya (1,142) — want to study chartered accountancy.

Veeraselvi, the daughter of an office assistant inflicted with polio in one leg, said that it was her father who informed her about her marks. “I had expected more marks but I lost out in English and Tamil,” she said.

Her father met with an accident recently and is now in hospital awaiting surgery.

The other students, too, said they found Tamil and English tough. “English grammar is tough. I should go for some kind of coaching for English but I cannot afford it. My father sells ‘agarbathis’ and the household runs on his daily earnings,” said C. Priya, a resident of Velachery, who is disabled from birth. She cannot use the fingers of her right hand.

“I chose this group as I would not be able to do experiments during practicals. My teacher asked me if I needed a scribe but I trained to write very fast,” she said.

Ayisha Sithika’s father, Babu, works as a tailor in a shop and earns daily wages. “I chose this group as I wanted to study chartered accountancy and earn a lot of money. My family needs it. People I know told me I can earn a lot of money if I become a chartered accountant,” she said.

B. Nithya, whose family was delighted with her marks, said she chose this course as she wanted to become a chartered accountant. “We had a seminar in school and the person who spoke on chartered accountancy impressed me very much. It is a nice profession but very tough to get in,” said Nithya, daughter of a flour mill worker.