On Day 1, several of the candidates with high cut-offs were first-generation college goers

There’s no stopping this bunch of students determined to make a career in medicine.

On Wednesday, quite a few of those who came for counselling at the Kilpauk Medical College hailed from families with an agricultural background. Several candidates with cut-off marks of 200 and 199 were first-generation college goers.

Their parents were either agricultural labourers or automobile mechanics and led modest lives. On Wednesday, as parents discussed and debated over the choice of colleges — their focus was on ensuring their wards remained closer home — the candidates were in awe of their surroundings.

On the first day of general counselling for MBBS/BDS seats on Wednesday, a total of 549 aspirants were admitted to various medical colleges in the State. Candidates who were allotted the top 10 ranks were admitted to Madras Medical College (MMC).

Health minister K.C. Veeramani distributed the admission cards to them, formally launching the counselling procedure at Kilpauk Medical College. At the end of the day, only 10 seats were left to be filled in MMC.

S. Dinesh, who was ranked fourth in the merit list and was admitted to Madras Medical College (MMC), is from Kattavadichampatti village in Harur taluk of Dharmapuri district.

His parents, Sampath and Senthamarai, did not study beyond class XII. “He travelled 15 km one-way, by bus, to reach school. We put him in a hostel in class X because of the tiresome journey,” said Sampath, a casual labourer.

The students too recalled the sacrifices made by their parents. “My mother would wake up at 2 a.m. to keep me company while I studied,” said S. Vignesh, who was ranked ninth and admitted to MMC. His father V. Sundaram is an agricultural labourer from Kundadam village in Dharapuram taluk of Tirupur district.

It was a moment of pride for many parents. M. Sankaranarayanan, father of S. Muthumanikandan, the lone student from Avadi in Chennai, was overwhelmed. “That he is among the top 10 is a matter of pride for us,” he said.

Even as candidates tried to wrap their heads around the nuances of counselling, their family members used the opportunity to make new friends and contacts. They exchanged notes and assessed their wards’ chances. For some candidates who were accompanied by entire families, it was almost an outing.

Asma had come with her five children from Tirunelveli. Her second son will appear for the counselling session on Friday. “All of us came together as we had never been to Chennai. Earlier, since the children were young, I could never travel much. Now, we have turned this trip into a holiday,” she said. Asma’s husband is a bank employee.

So, was her son keen on studying in Chennai? “He would rather be in Tirunelveli, Tuticorin or Kanyakumari as he has never lived in a hostel before,” she said.

While most students were confident of getting admitted to a college of their choice, some had other concerns. G. Saravanan, with 1,159 marks, had a desire to study in Stanley Medical College, as a distant relative too studied there.

But he said he would opt for Coimbatore or Madurai as that would be closer home. His father, K. Gunasekaran, a mason, lives in Mettur. “In our family, nobody educated the children. I have four elder brothers and they did not send their children to college. My son is the first to enter college,” Mr. Gunasekaran said. “I want him to stay close to home as that would reduce expenses,” he said. Saravanan was admitted to Coimbatore Medical College.