Wasting a seat? #MondayMusings

Last year my write up on being a stay at home mom got published in Women’s Web. It was accepted well among the readers. 14 months later yesterday, my inbox received another comment on the same. I am quoting it here.

Just one question. If you wanted to be a SAHM, the why did you study engineering and waste a seat?

I went back to the article to reply to the comment, but that comment was removed. My intention was to leave a smiling smiley as the reply because if you have read the article you would know that the question this reader posed based on this write up was irrelevant.

But this question “Why did you study engineering and waste a seat?” stayed with me. This is the problem we face in India. It isn’t education we are aiming for, but the seats and marks. My engineering education equipped me with more than the engineering knowledge. The experiences during that four years helped me in dealing the challenges in life after the college. And that is an impressive education because no parents, no teachers, no syllabus would cover those.

What disappointed me was that the people who have the means and sense to go to the sites like Women’s Web end up asking questions like this. Which I conclude as a failure in the education system. If someone wants to be an SAHM and still be a graduate or post graduate in any field, I will say go for it. My engineering wasn’t bought with money nor was the result of my religion or caste. I got the seat only because I cleared the entrance exams and was eligible because of my marks. How can it be a waste?

Another fact this person didn’t know was that I did my post graduation in MBA as a correspondence during my pregnancy and successfully complete after having the baby. And even today without a job, I still look for topics to learn, mainly programming languages. For some people, learning isn’t a waste of seat or time. It is a process, an on-going one.

What is your take in this? Is earning degrees a waste if the person isn’t earning money using that degree? What does education mean to you?

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26 thoughts on “Wasting a seat? #MondayMusings

  1. Oh gosh! Like really? How sad is that? So when I took HR, I wasted a seat of Engineering? And how is that related to your being a SAHM. Like one who takes up child care should not study?
    You are right – we associate education with marks and that is because everyone is fighting the race to beat every one else. Learning, value from education, team work, hard work – all that has no meaning.
    I can feel for you. I am feeling so worked up on this comment!

  2. As you said, learning itself is an enlightening process. It is food for the soul which you so meticulously earned! It makes you grow as a person. Development is as much about individual growth as the growth of a state or country.

  3. Really Vinitha! In my IT team, we had civil engineers, mechanical engineers with no iota of logical thinking trying to make sense of programming, whereas I know BSc and BCom graduates who are better at the same. So, didn’t they also waste a seat which should have gone to the B.Sc grad who could have been a better IT engineer.

    I also do not see how education can be a waste of time. It can never be. Maybe some illiterates need to get educated.

  4. The value of education to me is that it gives the confidence to pursue whatever one wishes to become in life. It opens up endless opourtunities. When I worked for 9 years after completing MBA, it gave me the confidence to go out, work and prove myself everyday. When I decided to give up working to become a Stay-at-home mom, this decision only took away my job but not the empowerment that came from all those years of studying and working. I am here today blogging because of that, because I did not think it was the end of the world giving up the career. Education is surely above degrees and marks. I love my SAHM status and feel as if I was cut out only for this 🙂

  5. I’m not familiar with the education system in India, but I guess my big counter is that by you pursuing education in engineering and then choosing to be a SAHM, is it really true that you wasted a seat? First of all, all that you learned both in the classroom and outside of it you are likely applying now as you raise your child(ren). They are benefiting from your experience and you are setting the stage for their own success, regardless if they pursue engineering or other fields of study. But, secondly, though these spots are competitive, there are also so many who try time and again to pursue these fields when they really aren’t meant to be pursuing these fields. I see it time and again in the classroom with students pursuing technical degrees because that’s what they are suppose to be doing. But it’s clear that this truly is not a good fit and ultimately they end of dropping out or abandoning this education all together to pursue callings that truly are better. In short, if they truly had the drive and passion, they would get in on their own accord. How can you steal a seat from someone who shouldn’t be there in the first place?

  6. I’ll have to admit I’ve been guilty about wondering out loud how fellow women can fight through an engineering degree and then never practice, or only practice a short time before leaving. As I’ve grown as a person I’ve realized that everyone has their own idea of what their life is like. I was too scared to figure out what I wanted from life, so I blindly pushed ahead in my engineering career in order to please my parents.

    I applaud you for figuring out what you wanted and going for it. And learning is on-going, your education will serve you well no matter what path you take!

  7. This entire education system needs to be rethought.. in the race for marks and seats, I wonder what students actually learn. Ideally it should be about learning right..? So, I get asked why I am pursuing the degree I am pursing.. and I say, I like to study.. which almost always creates an anguished counter questions, “but for what purpose” and I say, knowledge.. people don’t get it.. they always think that learning ends when the degree ends.. and then it is just work, but we are learning almost every time.. when will people realize!

  8. Absolutely not a waste. Sometimes there is learning that is put towards the goal of a job, and sometimes there is learning for learning’s sake. Plus no education is wasted.

  9. That was really insensitive! It’s not just the question of being an SAHM – people ask me “If you wanted to be a technical writer, why did you pursue engineering?” I don’t honestly know what to respond to such comments. While it’s true that engineering courses in India are just rush-push cram courses that make you study a whole lot with just syllabus and marks in mind, I don’t think such questions are relevant or even civilized!

  10. Hai Vinitha,

    The same question was still being thrown at me even after three years of my decision to be a SAHM. I completed my B.E ( Computer Science & Engineering ) during 1995 and I loved to do my Masters right after getting my under graduation. God had some other plans for me. But a better plan, I believed. During that time, my father passed away at the age of 48 unexpectedly and I was in a position to work and support my family. I was working as a Lecturer in an Engineering College. So my Masters dream was dwelling only in my heart and mind. In 2002, I got married. During 2004, with the big support from my hubby and family, I enrolled for Masters as Part Time in the same college. I struggled a lot to manage family, classes and my studies with my one year old naughty son. But I completed my Masters with Distinction. I worked for the same college for 16 years and one year as HOD of CSE department in another college. And when my hubby decided to go for SA during 2012, I made a strong decision to be a SAHM. My hubby was really shocked since he knew well how I loved my profession. But I never went back in my decision. I really enjoy being a SAHM. I am seeing the fruit of my decision in my son’s behavior, discipline and studies. But I am not wasting my education. It helps me to guide my son, in decision making, to be confident, to support the family by taking care of everything and specially all our money managements, to find my personal space, to learn new things daily, to get connected with lovely friends through my blog and much more. Really I’m happy that my students are still in touch with me and am able to guide them in their studies, career, family and life. Thank God for all goodness. Loved your post very much …. ) 🙂 🙂

  11. Firstly, Vinitha, I think you are doing an excellent job at being a SAHM! I’m concerned that the question directed at you also covers all mothers who are professionally qualified and have decided to devote a sizeable amount of their valued time to the upbringing of their children. Surely education is a little more than just earning a degree and getting a job based on that degree? I mean, Motherhood itself is an individual choice. And so is the decision to be a working mom or a stay at home mom. Both have their privileges and their flip-sides. Getting to do nothing but raise a person you opted to bring into the world is a privilege and being a professional should definitely not come in the way of doing so ever. Only people with tunnel vision think that way Vinitha, and you’re best ignoring such people

  12. hugs!! I’ve heard it all and its worse because I stay at home and I’m not a mom yet! 😀
    But, for me – financial independence came with a job I liked (not loved) for 8 yrs. I quit because I hadn’t grown to love all aspects of what I did. I might get back into the game with a focus on what I do enjoy.
    And more than financial independence – staying at home has given me emotional and intellectual independence because now I am free and stable to follow my heart 🙂
    So, follow your heart – you are a great person and an amazing mom! Hugs!

  13. Its interesting as to how people think that because we are not using it, we must have wasted it. I am not using any of my computer science degree but I have found it useful at other times when things go wrong on another teacher’s computer or mine as well.
    Learning is on going and people should understand that what we gained from merit still holds. And anything is an experience. I would rather have gone through my experiences in any field than not have gone through it at all.

  14. Totally agree with what you have said here Vinitha. Being a SAHM or taking up a job is completely your choice. And deciding to be a SAHM does not take away the right to education. The question that you have also raised in your post – that people who have to sense to go to sites like WW and still ask such questions is what amuses me.

  15. It is your life. How you lead it should not matter to anyone as long as you do no harm. At any rate, his question never deserved a smiley face because it was clearly condescending in tone in nature. Choosing to care for your child does not make your education irrelevant. You have been pursuing your studies even while pregnant and later as a mom… these are your skills and it is a part of your armory. He does not get to decide that it must be used today or the day after you passed out of college or next year or ever.

  16. Wow man..!! Look at the audacity..!! People have to say and write as well without realizing their blunder.. Haven’t they heard the saying, if you educate woman, you educate the entire family! And your experiences and learnings, in or out of the books, doesn’t matter, will it not help you bring up your child in a much better way than the ones who’re not educated and stuff..!!
    Crazy people are.. In spite of so much awareness, when people hold such kind of thoughts in their heads, God knows, how do they function and make decision in their family..!

    It is really nice of you to bring this up and write about it..


  17. Vinitha dear, you know what, don’t even waste your time thinking about this! One thing real education also teaches is to be courteous, above everything else. You know more than the question, I am annoyed at the way it has been asked. There are hundreds of thousands of educated people and so one can safely assume that there are as many opinions on a given subject. But the way you put across your thought is something that good education teaches. And I guess there lies the answer to that person’s question.

What do you think? Please share! :)

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