Look beyond IITs; there is Still Hope

Rajendra Prasad Nadella,Co-Founder & MD, iScholar
By Rajendra Prasad Nadella, Co-Founder & MD, iScholar

iScholar is an on-demand live tutoring platform which offers online education and learning services like Online coaching, courses, preparation, study material and many more for schools, colleges, professional trainers, tutors, corporate, government and non-government organizations.

In India, the herd mentality pushes students into the field of engineering. Some come to graze voluntarily, while the others follow them clueless and confused. It comes as no surprise when the entire herd of aspiring engineers wants to flock to the greenest pasture as the ideal, which is the ‘IIT’. These institutions have earned their stars over the years with their advanced teaching methods, and only the creme de la creme of the crowd is accepted into them. There is no doubt these institutes deserve the name & fame that they have earned over the years.

The Way to Become the Coveted 'IITian'Every year, over tens of hundreds of thousands apply for the JEE (Joint Entrance Exam) mains. Once they clear the mains, depending on the cut-off, they qualify for the second phase of the exam – the JEE advanced. The candidates are then ranked, and after a few rounds of counseling, a student chooses from the provided choices of streams of engineering and the institutes given by the counsel. What is interesting is that the acceptance rate at IITs is much lower than that at Oxford University. The IITs choose one applicant out of more than 100 applicants, whereas, the Oxford chooses one out of five applicants. This doesn't come as a surprise, especially when there are over 1.1 million students competing for over 11,000 seats.

Have Passion for Engineering; Not the College
Plato rightly said: “Do not train a child to learn by force or harshness; but direct them to it by what amuses their minds so that you may be better able to discover with accuracy the peculiar bent of the genius of each”. Unfortunately, many of us are more trained than directed. Your career will ensure you are a student all your life; so love what you do. Every challenge that you face in your professional life will be a lesson learnt. Only
passion for your work will pull you through the trying times. You may not recognize the need to have an aptitude or passion for what you study during college. But while sitting before a panel of 'judges' who are interviewing you through questions such as why are you in this field; why do you want to work for us; you will realize a few things.

Nothing makes you introspect your life’s choices and create chaos in your mind like these questions. With the right passion and aptitude for engineering, these questions will never baffle you. If your goal is only to get into a certain college, then you are simply running after the brand value and not knowledge. Brand value may give you a head start in your career, but will not hold your hand when you are climbing the ladder to success. Your calibers, communication prowess, love for work and professional ethics are what help peak in your metier.

"Hands-on experience is always an added advantage and something that prospective employers look forward to"

Have your Priorities Set Right!
A trivial mistake that young aspirants make in pursuit of the brand IIT is that they trade one’s stream of interest for a seemingly promising course. As they reach the end of their academic course, they realize they don’t enjoy what they are studying and mostly under perform. Some even drop out of college, only to regret their choice later in life. Instead, a student must choose the stream of their interest and what they have an aptitude for, even if it’s at a lesser decorated college, to reach greater heights. At times, the streams they choose at the IITs may not be as good in terms of the faculty and infrastructure as the rest of the departments.

The Flawed Selection Process
The IITs, like the rest of the education system, depends on written aptitude examinations. These exams only check for the aptitude of the candidate at the surface level unlike their western counterparts. The pressure to score in these exams may cause apprehension and anxiety in students, creating barriers to perform on the ‘d-day’. Schools abroad understand that engineering is not just a theoretical course and have a lot of technicalities attached to it. They create the admission format such that it also checks for various other components. Elements like passion for science, aptitude for research, and the ability to be a team player is paid heed to. This ensures that a candidate has all-round capabilities to be part of the course and reduces the emphasis on scoring.

Adjust your Goals to your Situation
The marks you score in the JEE don’t indicate your mental capability or define your career. If plan A doesn’t work, move on to the next best option. You’re more than a mark or a rank in an exam you’ve given once. IIT only paves the way to start a career, but you can pave the way for yourself too. You don’t need to depend on a college to give a head start to your career. Students can take-up certified courses, internships during their academic coursework, and fortify their resume. Hands-on experience is always an added advantage and something that prospective employers look forward to. Your situation can always be repositioned with the right focus!

Students need to follow their passions they have an aptitude for, change their goals according to their situations. This will always ensure that they stay on top of their game. This will aid one to fight the curve balls (to use a baseball euphemism) that life throws at them. Students must know they control their future and just because one door closes, it doesn’t mean all doors close too.