With the rank list for engineering and medicine out, students have a crucial choice to make in selecting the right colleges and courses in the coming weeks that will determine their career

On Monday evening, Sundar Natesh was playing cricket on his school ground. Son of an IT consultant, the boy topped the merit list in engineering released earlier in the day. A topper in medicine as well, he wants to specialise in cardiac surgery.

Sundar has preferred medicine to engineering. Four of the other toppers in the engineering rank list who studied biology have opted for medicine. Son of a bill collector in the Tamil Nadu Slum Clearance Board, Abhishek wants to do MD in cardiology.

With both parents as engineers and a sister studying gynaecology, Mithun wants to complete MBBS and “do something thrilling in life”. Mythili, like Mithun, hails from Namakkal. Her father, who runs a factory in Namakkal district, said she has chosen medicine over engineering. Vijaya Ram had applied for engineering only as a “fallback option”.

The inclination of the toppers opting for a career in medicine, despite the long years of study to serve society compared with the lucrative information technology sector, shows that the dream of middle-class students to become a doctor is still alive.

The other five toppers — M. Prabhu, Ravi Shankar S., Vishnupriya N., Ramu S. and Hareetha R.B. — in the engineering list studied computer science. And they will pursue engineering. Hailing from Koothandukuppam in Vellore district, Ramu is a first generation college goer. His father is a farmer who owns two acres in this arid district. Over 90,000 first graduate candidates like him have claimed concession to study engineering.

Higher Education Minister P. Palaniappan said of the 1,73,687 applications 1,68,423 had been accepted. As many as 5,264 forms have been temporarily rejected. If the candidates, whose applications had been rejected, can provide the required details during the course of counselling and their forms will be re-considered for admission. Candidates can visit Anna University website www.annauniv.edu and enter their application registration number and date of birth to get details of the counselling session. Academic counselling for general category begins on June 27.