IIIT-Delhi has established itself as one of the top institutions in the country for CSE/ECE research and education – it has modern curriculum and programs, its faculty is as good as the best in the country, and it has high quality and modern infrastructure. Its placement record is comparable to the best, and a good fraction of its students get opportunities for higher studies in good universities (visit placement page for records on these.) It is undoubtedly one of the best places for pursuing CSE/ECE.
However, it is also clear that the programs at IIIT-Delhi may not be suitable for all. Every year during the counselling I used to mention to prospective students some points about whether IIIT-Delhi is the right choice for him/her, and what traits a student should have if he/she is to effectively leverage the high quality education it offers. As this time there is no face-to-face counselling, I am putting down some key points here. (I had earlier written a note on my blog on the same topic. This one is more focused and tries to give a prospective student some specific guidance to self-assess whether IIIT-Delhi is the right choice.)
Based on observations and discussions with faculty and many students, we can identify three traits that are necessary for a student to do well at IIIT-Delhi. These are:
- Ability to work hard. Each semester a student has to do 4 to 5 courses, and each course requires about 10 hours of total work per week (including lectures). This means that a student must be ready to work a few hours every day after classes, and 10+ hours during the weekend. If a student is not able to put in hard work consistently during the semester, the student may find difficulties in coping with academics at IIIT-Delhi.
- Interest in programming. Students in both CSE and ECE will do many courses which will heavily involve programming in different languages like Python, C, Java, MATLAB. Many of the advanced courses and independent projects also involve considerable programming. If a student does not like programming, he/she is likely to face difficulties and many courses can become stressful. For those who have no experience with programming judging this will have to be done indirectly. One proxy can be – if you like doing logic-based puzzles and riddles, mathematical problems, analysing different possibilities for a situation/problem, solving problems, etc, and have the patience for doing these, there is a good chance that you may like programming. Another way to find out is to ask a friend who knows programming to help you write and run some programs and use that experience to judge whether you will like programming. (A clarification: you do not need to know programming from before – all students are taught programming in 1st Semester.)
- Interest in learning. It is known that learning style of a student can either be surface learning or deep learning (a search on Internet on these will give many references). Surface learners focus on memorizing, learning just to pass the test, etc. – i.e. they don’t really like learning but do the needful to get the marks or pass the test (which often students do for Board or a competitive exam.) Deep learners focus on understanding the subject and apply their understanding to problem solving – i.e. they like to learn and understand and apply the knowledge, and do the needful for that. Most courses at IIIT-Delhi will challenge the students and require them to learn deeply and apply the knowledge in the assignments, projects, etc. Students who are surface learners can face difficulties.
We believe that a student needs all three traits to do well in IIIT-Delhi. If all the above three hold, then IIIT-Delhi is an excellent choice for you, and the Institute will love to have you as a student. Such students will blossom into top quality professionals through education at IIIT-Delhi.
If any of the above does not hold for you, you should seriously consider whether IIIT-Delhi is the right choice for you.
On another note – what a student does after graduation is a student’s choice, and it is expected that many students may opt for different kinds of careers after graduating. However, if a student knows at the time of joining the BTech program that engineering (CSE or ECE) is not his/her cup of tea, and is only joining the program to get a degree in engineering, then I feel there would be other options that will better suit this goal. The program at IIIT-Delhi is rigorous and strongly engineering focused. It is not a good idea to join this program if you already know that you don’t want to do engineering.