By Dr. A.S. Deshpande – Principal, KLS Gogte Institute of Technology Belagavi.
One of the most complex and difficult decisions for the students who plan to get in to Engineering after PUC 2 or 12th, is to decide about the Branch of study. People have been asking us this question, and based on our varied experience, here is the advice for you.
Branch is not all that important. That’s right!
Most students and parents seem to be very focused on getting in to the “best” branch (Computer Science, Electronics & Telecommunications, Mechanical, Civil, etc.) Everybody wants to get into the “top” branch. Everybody wants to know which branch has the best “scope” in the future.
Engineering is primarily an ability to understand, analyze and solve. It’s getting independent of Branches. If you are good with clear fundamentals and think differently, you could crack any problem irrespective of the specialisation. (Sunder Pichai a Metallurgy engineer is Heading one of the largest I T companies, Google).
Changing of field is very common amongst engineers. We have E & C engineers who are in advertising agencies, mechanical engineers who are into banking and finance, chemical engineers working on Bollywood movies, and computer scientists in the insurance industry doing non-computer stuff. What branch you get your degree in is forgotten within 5 years of graduating.
So, please do not break your head much for a particular branch.
What branch the student is interested in, is irrelevant.
This is a big one. 12th standard students tell me, “I am more interested in Computers. I don’t like Mechanical.” Frankly, in 12th standard, you have no clue what any particular field involves. If you find that field boring, then, the most likely explanation is that you’ve been taught that subject by a bad teacher.
Guess would be this: any subject that you find very interesting was probably taught to you by a good teacher. A good professor in any branch can make the branch come alive for you.
You may be feeling that you are passionate and love a particular trade of Engineering or branch. Please note your ‘love’ for a branch may be ok but, the scope and growth prospects of the branch is more significant. Be practical…If need arises, please re-orient your ‘passion’ to a domain which might get you better career options.
If you study in a good college, all branches have “scope”.
There are successful businesses and well-paying jobs in all disciplines, including civil engineering, and Electrical engineering. And the vast majority of computer science graduates in the country do not have decent jobs (because there are so many of them!) If you study in a bad college, a good branch is not going to help you. Also, so called “good” branches with lots of “scope” tend to be over-crowded, because everyone is entering that field. And finally, nobody really knows which branch will have the most “scope” 10 years from now. (When I did my Engineering, my friends took E & C and CS because they couldn’t get into more sought after branches those days like Civil and Mechanical!)
College does matter
The IITs, and BITs Pilani are clearly better than other engineering colleges. Most NITs are better than most state engineering colleges. Top state colleges (which are generally the Autonomous institutes) are clearly better than the second-tier engineering colleges. And so on.
Your identity is primarily because of the institute. Prefer an institute with a good teaching-learning system and one which is preferred by meritorious students. You learn a lot from your peers. Yes… Brand does matter… but Brand is set by its acceptance by corporate as-well-as research organisations, long existence in the academia and successful Alumni base with global presence.
Look for the institutes with excellent Academic profiles. Institutes with Excellence in Academics have been conferred with the Autonomous status by the Universities and UGC. Please note all the top institutes in the country are Autonomous ( IITs, NITs, best ones like COEP, VJTI, RVCE, MSRIT, SJCE etc.). It’s extremely difficult to get this honour. Academic autonomy empowers institutes to adopt all the good practices needed by the corporates.
Superlative grades by accrediting agencies like NAAC and NBA would ensure the quality of the academic system and processes.
It’s fashionable to say the college doesn’t matter. And it is very common to trot out examples of students from terrible colleges who have succeeded in life. But that’s flawed logic. Students who succeed inspite of being in a bad college, are probably succeeding in spite of the college, not because of the college. And probably would have done even better if they had been in a better college.
Better colleges have better systems of education, better professors, and better “resume value” (which, whether you like it or not, is a factor for a long, long time.) Also, in better colleges, you have better classmates. This matters in the short term (because better classmates means more influence of friends who are interested in the right things), and the long term (better “network”).
So, here’s the advice:
If you are getting a not-so-good branch in a very good college vs a good branch in a not-so-good college, you should definitely choose the not-so-good branch in the very good college.
I am not saying that you’re ‘gone’ if you get into a bad college.
There are enough examples to prove that good, motivated students can shine from anywhere. All I’m saying is that if you have a choice, then choose better college over better branch. If you get into a bad college, then work hard, ignore your professors, and try to get guides/mentors/projects from industry.
(For some part of this write-up, credits to the narration by Mr Navin Kabra.)
About the Author: Dr. A.S. Deshpande is the Principal, KLS Gogte Institute of Technology Belagavi.