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After JEE Advanced: How do you choose between IITs and branches? Former IIT Guwahati director explains

Besides this, it is also important to consider the question of which IIT to join. This decision is almost entirely made by the previous year’s opening and closing ranks of an IIT.

 NEW DELHI ;- The seat allotment process for admission to the Centrally Funded Technical Institutes (CFTIs) is underway as we speak. All of you have already given your choices with priorities, so we cannot talk of what your choices should be. However, once you get a seat, you will have to decide whether to accept the seat or not.

If you do not get into an IIT, your other choices could be a seat in an NIT or an IIIT.
But the IIT brand, which has immense value at the workplace, attracts most students. But why are IITs so highly valued?
A main reason is the success of some IIT graduates in the global arena. This begs a natural question: is the IIT teaching programme better than other institutes that graduates from the institute end up being better than others?
Indeed, the academic environment in IITs is very good; the faculty of high quality. However, the main reason why IIT graduates do so well is this: the best students join the IIT system.

This ensures the quality of the graduates, even if a particular IIT is not doing very well in its teaching programme. The second reason is that the best faculty candidates are also “lured” to IITs because of the branding.These reasons lead the government to provide more funds per capita to IITs than to other Institutes under it (the NITs and IIITs). This reinforces the strength of the IITs. It is a win-win situation all the way!

Besides this, it is also important to consider the question of which IIT to join. This decision is almost entirely made by the previous year’s opening and closing ranks of an IIT.

Usually, students make choices based on the rank they obtain and the opening and closing rank inputs. They follow the herd, with their first three choices usually being Computer Science and Engineering (CSE) in the three metro IITs.But if your rank is well above the closing rank of CSE in these IITs, even if you keep these as your top choices, you will make the next choices based on closing ranks. So, if the “best” of the best go CSE in these IITs, won’t the outcome also be the “best”?

There are two issues to consider here. First of all, if you barely made it to CSE in one of the metro IITs, and if the academic outcomes closely follow the JEE outcome, you will at best be in the bottom half of the class.

On the other hand, if you break ranks and give CSE at another IIT as a higher choice than for CSE at the metro IITs, you will surely get admitted into the IIT you chose, and you are most likely to be in the top 5% of the class there.

Additionally, it is also important to note that the IIT ranking does not put students in an absolute order of merit. You know that the two marks you got less in the JEE Mathematics paper because of a “mistake” which might have lowered your rank by at least 500, if not more. So, it is difficult to distinguish among students within, say, the top 25,000 ranks. Some with lower ranks may also have done very well in their school and they might even end up doing better in the BTech programme than someone with a much higher rank.

So, it does not matter which IIT you join. All of them will have “brilliant” students like you as colleagues, and you will have a really good environment for studying.Finally, let me mention the choice of branches. Students’ choices are almost entirely based on the job market. CSE rules supreme here.

If you read what I wrote in the above paragraphs, I have basically said that IITs are well above the level of NITs and IIITs, and all IITs are similar. I do not have time to analyse the issues here, but my advice is this — if you do not have strong preferences, and you are following what “everyone” is telling you to do, then you should join an IIT over any other institute. You can change your field after you complete your programme, do an MBA to get into the corporate world, do a master’s in CSE somewhere and switch over to CSE if that is what you wish after four years. The options are endless.
You should also remember that computing technology is now well integrated into every science and engineering field. The recent buzz is of Artificial Intelligence and machine learning. Almost all disciplines are using AI techniques to solve difficult problems in their field. So, you will be “CSE savvy” if you join an IIT, no matter what branch you get into. Also, please remember, CSE is not everything.

Its algorithms and techniques are only tools to be used to tackle and crack the really fascinating and challenging problems of today, be they be in energy, climate, food, health, transportation, communication.

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