Online study platform Stupidsid used to dub it as the most overrated course on planet Earth. Very well, the then teenage founders knew what they were dealing with when they included Bachelor of Engineering (BE) courses into their database. But, little do incoming students know what the technical courses have in store for them once they step into its confusing and gigantic world of information – numbers and alphabets and symbols mostly.
And I am talking chiefly about those students, passed out of the mandatory yet insufficient Secondary School Certificate (SSC), at the entrance of the matriculation edifice. Should I take up the three-year diploma (certificate) course or should I go through the HSC-CET route? Is diploma good after 10th? What if I have decided to become an engineer? What about ITI?
These are the questions you will get answers to in this article.
The Confusion After 10th Grade
That is also exactly when your (yet unheard of) relatives clog your home network with phone calls, text messages, and what-not giving worthless advice about what you should do and which stream you should join and why VJTI is still the number one college in Mumbai. Your parents talk more to those parents whose children now walk behind the top CEOs or are the top CEOs of some native amalgamation under the disguise of an international one. (I’m not taking any names.) Your friends will be helpless because most of them will be in a similar situation.
Your partner is doing fashion designing or is studying town planning or is perhaps busy doing what most untalented folks do – digital marketing. You want to take up a diploma course because it sounds cool and will give you some respite from appearing for the Common Entrance Test (CET) which we all know is a tough nut to crack.
Whatever you are inclined to do, you should give a peek through the following points that I have personally experienced over my engineering days. After completing my four-year diploma course from Agnel Polytechnic, Vashi (which included six months of in-plant technical internship each at Air India and Godrej & Boyce), I entered second year of the degree course (in Electronics and Telecommunication or EXTC) at SIES Graduate School of Technology and studied for three more years to become an engineering graduate. Two years later, I began pursuing my Master of Arts in English Literature. And then in 2019 I successfully completed it. So you can rest assured that this article is based on experience and not on hearsay.
Note – Most diploma courses span three years but in my case I spent four years completing it because of the in-plant training.
Degree vs. Diploma – Which is Better?
A list of important factors to consider before opting for diploma in engineering compared to the HSC-CET route:
You Will Perform Poorly in Mathematics
This is the biggest drawback of doing diploma before degree in engineering. Because whatever stream you choose, a diploma course has the subject Mathematics only in the first three semesters as M1, M2, and M3. And the pathetic syllabus by the Maharashtra technical board (MSBTE) will have you learning only basic Matrices.
By the time you complete the course, you will forget most of it chiefly due to a lack of practise and implementation. Next, since you will directly enter the second year of engineering degree, a huge part of essential Mathematics (first two semesters; M1 and M2 of degree) will elude you and there is where they teach you why Mathematics is so, so, so important in engineering. Eventually, the chances of you flunking in the third semester Mathematics is as high as your chances of getting through the college that you want are low. Tutors may help you, but remember, coaching classes are a multi-crore business in India.
Although I somehow passed M3 in my second year, I struggled a lot to get passing marks of 40 out of 100 in M4. Since Mathematics is critical for other subjects like Electrical Networks, I struggled with those subjects as well.
Lack of Friends
You will find out how badly you suck at Mathematics in less than five days of your degree. And there’s this lack of friends-cum-classmates that you cannot even throw the baggage on.
Most of your classmates have all braved the CET and are, in most cases, younger to you by at least a year; they have already formed groups and all the pretty girls are taken, the topper has been throned and is usually not good-looking, teachers have capped their white-lists and created nicknames for you. You will never be called by your first name until the time you almost forget how a Bipolar Junction Transistor (BJT) works. Diploma students are called D2D students, direct second year admissions, failures, scumbags and thankfully, sometimes “scholars.” Too bad, they won’t call you back-benchers because unlike during the school times, here the only vacant benches are the front ones. Somebody might want to edit that Kalam quote!
To cut the long story short, if none of your diploma classmates have enrolled with you in your college and if you are an introvert, then you will indefinitely sink into a state of desolation. Paranoia will take time, but history shows that soon you will find solace in other diploma students from different college and/or streams.
Diploma is Not Equal to Degree
Diploma will give you opportunities and plenty of accolades for participating in the ubiquitous technical paper presentation competitions where you take a topic (which is often – “Recent Trends In Engineering”) and plagiarize every other online journal/Wikipedia article/magazine related to that topic without citing. The rookie jury will be astonished to see you present a Prezi slideshow because they are used to the more popular MS PowerPoint presentations. Technobabble will win you that cash-prize.
In degree, the story is totally different. You think of changing the monotony by participating in a presentation in the upcoming college-level technical fest. They have challenging competitors, professional jury, brainstorming sessions, and concept-debriefing. You will fail terribly if you follow your diploma protocol and that will further attack your self-confidence.
You should also think over this: diploma is typically a three-year course and degree is a four-year one but you only move forward a single year (direct second year admission) in degree after you complete the diploma. That answers the question why diploma has such a low value in career shelves and professional CVs.
Diploma as it should be rightly known is just a certificate course that was originally developed to help individuals land quick jobs in the technical fields. It cannot be termed a degree (as in academic rank) because earning a diploma neither makes you a graduate nor just a 10th/12 passout. You hang in the middle and that’s not a great situation to be in.
Parents Will Never Understand the Paradigm Shift
Okay, so you cracked that diploma examination with flying colors and were consistent in your efforts. You get the provisional certificate. Fine. But, since you suck at Mathematics, and because you will invariably find out that the remaining subjects are partially related to it, you will have the luck of flunking in at least one subject. Because, what you studied during diploma will be located on the farthest parts of your brain, and Mathematics, along with alphabets now has ambiguous sentences and Greek letters guarding it.
Techmax Publications won’t be sufficient also because they are crammed with errors. Depending on Easy Solutions or the recent fad KT280 Solutions may help, but will you really understand and grasp the engineering concepts? When the time comes for you to perform during the Graduate Aptitude Test in Engineering (GATE) or any Public Service Undertaking (PSU) entrance test that you may later take, you will most probably experience a huge failure.
And that failure won’t be like how it seems to be in that famous inspiring quote about the invention of light bulb by Thomas Edison. It will bring you embarrassment. Teachers of your former polytechnic will understand and react totally opposite to how your parents will. That’ll be a relief, and if your diploma mates are allowed to keep term (ATKT) in the same subject(s), that will be a support against your parents, too. Pressure will falter and you will stop thinking about the future. This moment will be worthy, and I am pretty sure, the next time you sit to study with a credible reference book, it will be with vengeance. Only, here the adversary is no one.
So, it is up to you and only you to decide what it will be and how it will be. Engineering is just too overwhelming when it comes to all the knowledge and learning, but make sure the path you choose is trustworthy and unmasked.
DO NOT listen to people who use sentences like “Diploma will give you experience”, “Diploma is better than the pain of CET”, and “Diploma is in parallel with Engineering.” This is all blabber because these people are actually referring to how the mainstream terms it. Of course, self-thought can outmatch these above listed discrepancies and there are people who have found actual success with the diploma route, like my father who is a successful Civil Engineer now after starting off with a diploma course in engineering. He took the diploma route in early 1970s followed by a four-year degree course and is a proud construction specialist today.
On the other hand, I have recently observed that there is not much difference between diploma students and graduates when it comes to their ability to get jobs in the real world. A friend and former colleague earns a handsome package as an engineer in Schlumberger after doing Industrial Training (ITI) and diploma courses. He still tells me that he has plans to complete his engineering from Mumbai University, but despite without a graduation, he is still an asset to his company.
With respect to how the word sounds bold, diploma is good enough for students who are not planning to pursue graduation in future. It is also a great path for students who are financially weaker and would want to wrap their education with a decent technical faculty. For example, a close friend of mine earns a decent package at Godrej & Boyce in Vikhroli after only pursuing diploma in Industrial Electronics. She has no plans to pursue degree in engineering and she’s happy and already climbing up in the world.
Choosing one over another is just a matter of choice, and there is no objective answer as to which one is better, but all I want to emphasize on today is that Diploma does come with its own set of disadvantages. Which, to conclude, are more devastating than that of going to junior college. TN.
Featured image courtesy: Unsplash
Update: Copyedited; added and removed sentences and links. (14 September 2019)