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Posted at: May 17, 2017, 12:26 AM; last updated: May 17, 2017, 12:27 AM (IST)

Should I reveal my medical history?

Q.I am a cancer patient. I had to quit my previous job to go for surgery and chemotherapy. I am now under remission. Should I mention my illness at my next job interview? —G M  kak

A.Unless you’re specifically asked, there’s no absolute need to bring up or discuss your health or medical condition during an initial job interview.

Instead of bringing up the topic yourself, focus the conversation on the deliverables — your talents, track record, experience, and how you can add value to the job. Once hired, you and your new boss can work out a schedule to accommodate any further treatment should it be called for.

Above all, since illness can strike anyone at any time — and in fact, studies reveal that one in four employees will be diagnosed with some form of cancer or cardiac ailment at some point in their careers. So you have nothing to apologise for.

Instead, you need to focus your mind and energy on getting well, rather than worrying about what an employer will think.


Cost of commerce course in Europe

Q.I am presently studying in Class XII.  Ssuggest something which I can pursue in the commerce stream after Class XII.  I don’t want to do regular graduation. Further, is there anything that I can pursue outside India as well as my family might move to Europe after some time? What would be the duration of the programme there? Also let me know about the cost? How can I study for the programme in India? — Meenal arora

A. I wonder if you read my detailed answer on options for commerce students in a previous column. Nonetheless, given that you don’t wish to do your graduation in regular classroom mode, you can pursue CIMA or ACCA right now or after completing Class XII.  These are some of the International professional qualifications in the commerce stream.  What’s more, these programmes can be pursued from anywhere in the world. The duration of these programmes would be approximately 2.5-3 years.  

The cost for these qualifications is payable paper wise. So, the total cost would depend upon the paper for which you are appearing. Roughly, including coaching, the entire qualification will cost Rs 2.5-3 lakh in India.  

In India, we have different options available, the most relevant being the approved learning partners the details of which are available on the respective website. The registration process for becoming a student member is easy.


Break the stereotypes

Q.I am a student of Class XI with physics, chemistry, mathematics and biology as subjects. Could you please tell me whether given a choice, I should prefer to study medicine or engineering? Being a girl, should I prefer medicine over engineering? — Taruni awasthy

A.Making a career decision is not the easiest thing in the world. There are plenty of women engineers. While there may be relatively fewer women in the traditional branches of engineering like civil or mechanical which involve working outdoors, onsite, or on the factory shop floor, their number is growing. And there are any number of hot-shot electronics, computer and even aeronautical engineers who are women. The same goes with doctors. And scientists. And lawyers. And….

But please don’t let mere statistics guide your choice of career. Numbers don’t count. Your caliber does.

Both medicine and engineering are top-of-the-line options. This leads me to believe that you are keen on pursuing a professional career. It’s, therefore, essential to go by your interests, aptitude and inclination rather than conforming to outdated beliefs andassumptions. 

This is certainly not to belittle certain practical considerations. For instance, if you’re keen on medicine but don’t savour the prospect of being on call round-the-clock, you may opt for fields like dentistry, ophthalmology or dermatology, plastic surgery etc., which pose fewer emergencies. You could even move into hospital management or medico-legal practice after pursuing the relevant courses.

By the way, should you wish to have the best of both medicine and technology – you could opt for biomedical engineering/science or biotechnology, bioinformatics among others.

Regardless of what you choose ultimately, do keep in mind this very obvious fact: if women continue to opt for the typical soft options they’ve been traditionally pursuing, they’re bound to remain confined to conventional age-old stereotypes. True, to get ahead, a woman may have to work twice as hard as her male counterpart, but fortunately, that’s not at all difficult!

Also, do make a realistic SWOT analysis to assess your strengths and weakness. This will make for greater clarity and help you prioritise your goals and move in the right direction.


Should I shift to IB school?

Q.My parents are US Green Card holders. I’m staying with my grandparents and studying in a CBSE school in Chandigarh. My parents suggest I move to an IB school. Is there any advantage of doing so like getting credits etc? I’ve just moved to Class X. — Kiran jamwal

A.A challenging high school curriculum is one of the most important factors that colleges look for. And for that purpose, the International Baccalaureate (IB) Diploma Program may be worth considering.

The intention is certainly not to denigrate our own tried and tested Indian Boards (CBSE, ICSE and State Boards that have turned out scores and scores of brilliant scholars who’ve been admitted to the best of colleges abroad, including the US.

But since you specifically ask, let me tell you something about the IB Diploma which is a comprehensive two-year program comprising of six courses and a philosophy class (Theory of Knowledge). You have to score a minimum number of points in each class, complete an independent research paper, fulfill the requirements for Theory of Knowledge, and complete 100 hours of creativity, activity, and service (CAS) to complete the program and earn the IB diploma

Sounds forbidding..? It is. Quite like a liberal arts curriculum, the IB system offers a wide range of academic studies and extracurricular activities. 

Each of the six IB courses covers a different subject group: Language and Literature, Language Acquisition, Individuals and Societies, Sciences, Mathematics, and the arts.

For students interested in applying to college abroad, the IB program is widely recognized in most countries (including the US).  Regardless of whether or not it fetches you real credits, your IB scores may well allow you to skip certain courses and perhaps even graduate early -- depending on a college’s specific credit-granting policy.

IB’s rigorous academic track offers a well-rounded approach to the humanities, natural sciences, and social sciences.

Even you wish to specialize in science for instance, you have to take at least some classes in fields outside STEM.

There are no multiple-choice tests, unlike CBSE or ICSC. IB scores (from 1-7) include both exam grades and scores on written and oral assessments.

The challenging IB program can help you stand out in the eyes of college admissions to get into your dream college. In a way, the program also gives you a good estimate of the workload you’ll encounter in college. Honing your research, writing, critical thinking, and time management skills – gives you a crucial advantage over many incoming college students.

Look up leading high schools in your area that offer the program. Admission to the program may require you to complete a special application. Once admitted, you become an IB “candidate” i.e. you’re eligible to receive the IB Diploma if you clear your IB exams.

While students can enter the IB programme in elementary school itself, most students take it after class 10.

As the application policies vary for each school, it may help to consult a good guidance counselor about the best options in your area.

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