Saturday, 7 May 2022

What are the advantages of studying at IIT? Is it really worth the 2 years of preparation?

The biggest misconception that people have about IITs and JEE preparation is that people go to IITs to study and that JEE is a test of one’s Physics, Chemistry, and Maths abilities.

Hear me out.

To be successful in life, one needs to learn certain qualities:

  1. Persistence
  2. Hard work
  3. Dedication
  4. Focus
  5. Handling failures
  6. Being around smart people
  7. Learnability

The list is obviously not exhaustive. These are some qualities that came to the top of my mind. If one is able to develop these qualities, with a high probability, they can become successful in life. The chances of failure will drastically go down, with obviously, some exceptions.

IITs and the JEE preparation don’t teach you academics at all. In fact, academics (including Physics, Chemistry, and Maths) are used as a means to teach you the above abilities.

Let’s take an example. When you were young, your father gave you a piggy bank to save money. You saved Rs. 1 or Rs. 2 coins over the month/year and that turned into a sizeable hundred of Rupees worth of saving. Did your father intend to teach you how to save Rs. 100?

No.

He intended to teach you the concept of savings in general so that you become wiser financially. He wanted you to learn the value of hard work, patience, and money, and today, if you’d have followed his advice well, you’d have learned a bunch of other things - investing in mutual funds and stocks, not spending money on unnecessary things, etc.

The same is the case with IITs and JEE preparation. When someone studies Physics, Chemistry, and Maths in Class 11th and 12th, or studies CSE in B. Tech at IIT Bombay, they are not learning SN1/SN2 Reaction or Newton’s law of motion. They are rather learning the important life skills I mentioned above.

I prepared for JEE from 2011 - 2013 and then joined the Computer Science Program at IIT Bombay from 2013 - 2017. Do you think I remember anything about the ideal gas equation, inverse trigonometry, the moment of inertia, or Stoke’s law? I don’t even remember the instruction sets that I learned in the Compilers Course that I studied in the 3rd year of IIT Bombay, forget about remembering Raoult’s law. At best, I remember the names of these concepts, with possibly spelling mistakes.

What I, however, remember, is the fight that I did during the 2 years of JEE preparation to get a top 50 rank. I used the exact same fight to build Cogno AI to a team of 100+ members, leading to the acquisition by Exotel. I used the exact same fight to compete for the internship during my college days. The mindset that I developed during the JEE preparation days and during the IIT Bombay B. Tech time, is helping me to date and I know, it will help me for decades to come.

My hunger to learn, to earn, and to do something big in life helped me crack JEE with a top 50 rank and the same hunger is helping me build my startup. The same hunger will help me do well at Exotel as well.

At IIT Bombay, I met some of the smartest people, including juniors, batchmates, and seniors. I met people who have done phenomenally well in their respective fields. I met people who switched fields and did even better there. I can say with full confidence that much like me, almost none of them will remember the concepts they learned during the JEE preparation. However, all of them would remember the mindset and skills that they acquired, which are helping them succeed in their lives.

To answer your question - Is it really worth the 2 years of preparation?

Yes. A top rank in JEE leading to a top IIT is worth not just 2 years but worth 4 years of preparation. The IITs help you with a bunch of stuff:

  1. Mindset and skills that I mentioned above.
  2. A stellar group of a successful peer network, that can open a lot of doors.
  3. A brand name that helps you distinguish yourself in a large group.

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