What makes IITians different from others
What makes IITians different from others – India a country with more than 6000 engineering colleges, produces more than a million engineers each year. And we often come across people questioning their quality. We see companies chasing candidates with a degree from an IIT or NIT, and having more trust on their degrees than the capabilities of candidates from tier 2 or tier 3 colleges (even in the IT domain). Are these companies right in their approach?
Considering that these are some of the most successful companies of the world, it’s tough to question their time tested practice so easily.
To find a short answer to this question would be nothing less than a diplomatic yes and a no both. The very fact that India produces more than double engineers every year than of Luxembourg’s total population, but still lags behind other countries shows an appalling situation. To understand the problem we need to delve deep into India’s education system starting from primary education all the way up to graduate level.
India’s illiteracy rate caused it to hurtle the process of educating the masses and later became more of a political stunt, politicians opening schools in their names for electoral gains. Most of those schools never got proper care and were given only bare minimum to sustain their existence. Private schools too are made from business point of view and are hardly concerned about children’s growth.
With due passage of time, India did build up a good number of schools, but never looked back to reflect at the quality of education being given by them. The basic necessity of primary education has been shifted from imparting knowledge to a rat race of scoring highest marks based on cramming textbooks.
In order to make education affordable in India, tuition fees of government schools are almost nil, and neither has the government cared enough to pay the teachers well enough. Most of the teachers found teaching at primary or secondary schools are there only due to necessity and not by choice.
The fact that most of the primary and secondary school teachers never wanted to be a teacher in first place is enough to kill their motivation for the job. The very foundation where curiosity and creativity base of whole life is to be formed is destroyed by the broken system.
Another contributing factor that is debated by many is the language barrier posed by students in India. Students from every corner of the country have their first language as something else other than English. Although Primary and Secondary education is provided in many major first languages in their respective states, but for further education they need to shift to English.
The fact that young students are made to learn in a language other than the language their mind processes, is problematic. In process of mugging up those foreign characters, the actual knowledge behind it fails to reach the young brains, further hampering the learning process.
Moving on, after twelve years of formal education what has the student achieved? Two certificates which could only be used as an alternative to identity proofs. Most of the students have no idea about the subjects they have studied for past twelve years due to which they lack inquisitiveness and continue further studies just for the sake of getting a job.
So, here comes a part of our tag line
“In our country of 1.3 billion+ population, we have millions of students fighting to get into top colleges each year. But the fact that total strength of those colleges can accommodate only 1% of students trying to get into them”
After class 12th Students willing to opt for engineering, are made to go through an exam in which 99% are already destined to fail. As the top colleges are capable to accommodate only 1% of the total strength of the students appearing for the exams. This as may appear funny to many, is the harsh reality faced by students in India.
Moreover every engineering aspirant in India is evaluated on basis of his aptitude in Physics, Chemistry and Mathematics irrespective of the stream of engineering they wish to pursue, except for Bachelor of Architecture. And the rank they receive in these exams decides the college and field of study they would get in engineering.
Suppose FAANG conducting interviews based on Igor Irodov’s theoretical problems? Makes sense, right. Yes, as much as Indian education system.
As this article is about engineering graduates, more specifically Computer Science and related discipline graduates I shall focus more on them further on.
A class 12 pass out student, sitting in his first class in IIT Bombay and another fresh class 12 pass out student sitting in his first class in a tier-3 college has almost similar or nil exposure to the technologies that they would be learning over the years.
So what is that happens in those 3 – 3 ½ years that creates such a wide gap between them, that one could be a prospective Google SDE and another would struggle to get into any mass recruiting service based IT company?
Well to begin the answer, they do not start the same. They may have same technical knowledge (which is nil in both case), but what’s different is the mind-set.
Many of the points that I mention from here on could sound too bookish, but these are based on real analysis and have given proven results. Rather than focusing on what a tier-3 college or a student studying in it lack, I’ll be focusing on the facts that are present in a tier-1 college and students studying in them.
While it could be tough to accept for tier-3 college student, but the truth is that curriculum of any institute is curated according to fact that majority of the students studying in it could pass the exams in any normal sample.
For comparison I had Data Structures and Algorithms (DSA) as a subject in my 4th SEM of College and my friend in an NIT had the same course topic as a mandatory subject in his 3rd SEM. While comparing the question paper I realised, if we got the same paper in our exams, at least 70% of my class would flunk in the paper. And the funny part is, I was in Computer Science and Engineering Department and he was in Metallurgy department in his college.
So yes, their curriculum is tough. But is only relevant/irrelevant tough curriculum enough to make them stand apart? No.
Students sitting in the IIT’s classroom face the same difficulties faced by a tier-3 college student while understanding data structures and algorithms, but the difference arises in the kind of environment they are in and the kind of support they get from seniors, mentors and/or teachers.
Environment plays a lot of role in day to day improvement of mind-set and keeping oneself consistent over a long period of time. A habit built over the years turns into a lifestyle. Seeing their peers and seniors achieving great heights always keeps raising the bar for them, and keep them motivated to go for more.
The kind of exposure they get early on while being in college is also way more than students in other colleges. Their Clubs and societies have international sponsors and give them chance to try hands on real world like work responsibilities early on. The kind of support provided by seniors in these college is also way more than other colleges, be it regarding studies, internships, placements and yes, also ragging.
They also have a very strong, well established alumni network which they can leverage for extra gains in terms of training, internships and other required guidance. These points accumulated create a huge impact on overall skills of any person.
While these may not seem to be much, but it’s what defines a person’s competency in the long run to achieve success. A student who has gone through all of this process for four years of their engineering life is supposed to be trusted more to complete any task assigned to them rather than the ones who have not, and it is what the industry mind-set is while hiring graduates from these colleges.
And students graduating from these colleges have delivered too, in each of the domains they went, they proved their competency which in turn led to creation of brand name of these colleges.
Although times have changed drastically in last few years, and students are made aware of facts early on nowadays. Many of the factors that matter a lot, can be achieved via other mediums for Computer Science and related disciplines.
Now with proper guidance and right mind-set it is possible to remedy the situation for students studying in tier-2 and tier-3 colleges in India, who constitute the majority of engineers produced by India. In my next blog post I would discuss in details about these and how to graduate from a tier-3 college in same or better position than an IITian.