I might be one of the only (bastardly) people who has almost no sorrow that the JEE is being disbanded. I justify my nonchalance and hatred towards the JEE by these two closely related …things, of my life, in which, I failed at the JEE despite having wasted quite a lot of time, and losing out on many other things hoping to do well in the same. And secondly, having ended up at this IIT, which I don’t find awesome by any standards. And I see no reason why I should spend four years at a place like this. I have a lot of words to use here, but I’ll try and calmly spread them out, over a long discourse so that I forget half the things I want to say, and not make you understand my pose at all. So go ahead with that.
First I’ll tell you why I think it’s a good move. This so called Indian Science Engineering Eligibility Test. [Skip this whole para and read the last summary sentence. You’ll miss one crucial idea, but who gives a shit anyway. And I didn’t even explain it well.] There are lots of engineering colleges in India. The IITs are considered to be ‘undisputed’ best among them, for some inexplicable reason. Not really, though. They have (soon-to-be used-to-have) the relatively toughest examination of ‘aptitude’ for students to continue with the study of science-engineering-related subjects. As a result the kinda smarter, mostly more desperate students would end up here. In the process of studying for this exam, many of them would gain some knowledge, have this pseudo sense of being able to solve questions and do things, and most of all, whoever among them qualified, had this nice ego due to having done well in such a tough examination. Very few among those who studied, actually transcended into a territory of knowledge and/or aptitude, that is notably superior to what they were in, and actually changed their lives and/or intellect. And even when they did, even more rare would that push be in a specific field, something that they can pick and say, I do this excellently, because and due to my love for doing this. Most of the others who do very well would do very well in any other exam in any case, and just are, good with exams at least, if not other stuff too. So this is the crowd of people we’re calling smart, which makes up the IITians. By the standards of Indian colleges, due to government support and this associated prestige, also the best professors of India who’re jobless enough to sit around and be professors in India, generally end up being professors in the IITs. So they end up making a mostly better faculty too. I think.
So summarily, a tough examination brings in kinda smarter students. Everybody else thinks this place is smart. So they put an effort. And again the ‘smart’ out of this large lot of trying people, get in. And this cycle continues. And a similar thing happens with professors. The critical part here, obviously, is what the basis of calling people smart is.
Secondly, people think that after the IITs, one gets a better job. I don’t really know, whichever few figures I’ve heard do seem to imply so, and stuff. But here is where this idea, stops (and fails) for me. For every successful IITian you can name to me, I can almost definitely name more than one successful non-IITian. From an Indian institute that too, I’d guess. I’m not sure of this at all, but I believe that even if this is not true, its reasons are more likely to be media agenda, rather than true superiority of the IITians. Except for this one thing – because of the popular image, the real smart people do end up going to the IITs. But they would’ve ended up being successful and shit, even if they’d not gone to the IITs. Highly unlikely the IITs made them. Simply because of their popular image, the IITs probably provide with a relatively greater exposure, but that’s it.
Unlike what I’d planned to do, in these paragraphs I established my opinion as to why the IITs are a futile experience. Mostly unworthy except for the rare, few, people, and not a real value addition to your future.
As to why this exam is good? Simply because there could’ve happened worse things. Supposedly this is sort of modeled like the SATs, except currently with an engineering focus. What if these were given off to a private organization? That would’ve been worse.
And people are saying this will stress people more? It seems the boards and this exam will be objective. I think that’s just more chill. Similar patterns and stuff. There is no difference between the two, so I can study for one, while I study for the other, because it seems you’ve heard that I don’t like studying. So you won’t make me do it twice.
This will get stupider people into the IITs? Frankly, I find that very tough to imagine. There could really be barely, if any, group of people stupider than those who do end up here anyway. The best will go whichever place is popularly considered the best. That’ll probably still continue to be the IITs for some time, because of the self perpetuating cycle not seeing many points of failure.
Now people are saying this is not the solution to the problem. What really is the problem? I don’t think anybody knows. I don’t, at the very least. That the IITs are tough to get into? Students are being stressed with two exams and stuff? That seems plausible. Coaching? That’s just brainless government propoganda. I don’t see how anything they do will change the status of that. People (parents) want their kids to be able to write in answers. Kids start believing that that’s the important thing too. So what can you do? If you don’t tell the answers to all the questions in the classroom, they will go to the tuition classes to get more answers. They’ll fill themselves up with as many answers that they can, so their exam goes better. Whoever managed to fill himself with answers, does best. And when I say, fill up with answers, I don’t mean rote memory. I mean problem solving techniques. That’s ideally supposed to be a good thing. But I see the difference, and bad quality of the techniques handed over, as to how they should be. In our math course, people have no way to grasp abstract stuff. They just spent three months doing indefinite integration, two months doing nonsensical trigonometry proofs, and they can’t grasp the concept of real numbers. So what were they really learning?
What they were learning, at least at my coaching institute, was that given a problem you punch these techniques into it, and hope to get the answer. That was, arguable, abstraction of an entirely different league. One-that-numbs-the-mind, and-makes-you-happy-at-finding-answers – genre. So coaching can’t be done anything about, anyway. It’s pretty much no different from a drug.
Now, why this makes me happy, moreover. This might actually bring down the overruling thing of the IITs. Yes, that makes me very happy. I believe that I screwed my life numerous times over by choosing to be here, because of this being the place it is, as opposed to the other places that I could’ve been. That I chose to waste two years of my life, dropping numerous activities and opportunities thinking this will probably put me in the sorta-best place I can be. I don’t think it helps people do anything they couldn’t have done anywhere else. Because this place, does not think of itself any much different than schools used to think of themselves. That might be the fault of my environment, the professors I happen to listen to, and the family and previous experiences I have. But college isn’t going to make you. No amount of formalized education can give you any purpose in life. Because it wasn’t made for you. It wasn’t made to excite you. It was made to put certain ideas, believed by somebody to be important, into your head. Maybe there exist truly challenging courses, which are more challenging and better than those of other colleges at IITs, but I haven’t seen them. And actually, I’m almost sure they don’t.
Another reason this makes me happy is: more girls! 😀 That’s mostly only a presumption, and it’s not like the girls who’re busy topping the boards are great lookers very often, but one can still anticipate an improvement in the general quality of the so-claimed female crowd at the IITs.
And most of all, people might start questioning more seriously which college they want to be at. The IITs seem to be becoming more general too. I’ve heard of some introduction of some biology degrees at some IITs. I think a college ought to be general. And very loose about what they want the students to do. And there should exist no 300 student classes at any point of time, because they serve almost no purpose at all. I will talk more about what the problem is, and what the solution ought to be, at some later point of time. Maybe. And it’ll probably only be as disheveled as this was, if not more.