How to Survive the Initial Days Of Degree After Diploma

A lot of people had to say a lot of things about an article that I had written on this topic. So, here’s a follow-up: a primer on how to survive the initial period of Engineering Degree after you have completed your Diploma. A friend of mine also just completed three years of his life-changing four-year diploma course and he is kinda in a kettle of fish. This guide is for people exactly like him.

What is the Situation?

You have just passed out of diploma and you aspire to enroll for an Engineering degree course in some extremely fashionable college. SIES (Nerul), for instance. Mind you, every single college is different in its own style but when it comes to the quality of education and faculty and other ‘features’, things are almost the same. I say this not because I have studied in different colleges, but because I have honest friends who all write or talk about them endlessly.

And you are worried about how you will cope up with a new group of students because you will be a direct second-year student. Worry not, because in no particular order, here are the things that you should worry about as well as how you can circumvent them…

Issues to Deal with in Your First Year of Engineering

  • Quota or No Quota: The online admission process sucks. You need to choose which one university you will opt for the next three years of your life. Some options are the politically controlled University of Mumbai, the unmindful Pune University, and some other state universities like the popular ones in Chennai and New Delhi. After you get out of the selection universe (that’s a bad pun), think about your ancestral origins. If your cast certificate (get one immediately if you don’t have it; domicile certificate is equally important; Aadhaar card too) says SC/ST/NT/OBC or any other caste that falls in the “Minority” category you need not worry at all. Colleges will come to your doorstep. If you are one of those ‘Open’ caste-wala, then we are friends. Worry not, colleges like SIES & K J Somaiya have minority quota for the poor ‘Open’ guys (if you compare the salary graphs of your father and that of your SC/ST/NT/OBC friend’s fathers, then you will know how many millions your family falls short of to win the race) which means if you are a South-Indian or Gujarati, procuring a seat will be simpler. Consider all the choices you have. Do not consult your relatives.
  • Scholarships: Your fees will be in the range of a few lakhs depending upon the admission criteria i.e. donation or no donation, SC/ST/NT/OBC complete their engineering with a total amount that you pay your maid per month. And ironically enough, the people who have maids to do their household chores are SC/ST/NT/OBC. Once you start attending the lectures, make sure you check for the websites of trusts which give scholarships. For Gujaratis, there are hundreds of community-run trusts. But we all – Open folks – should be interested in the Sir Dorabji Tata Trust Scholarship, which will give you your full fees back, or at least 90% of it. Trust me, 90% people who apply for it get the cash. I had received a hefty amount of INR 90,600 against my yearly fee of around INR 100,000. The good part is: you can apply every year; the bad part: you have to score above 80% aggregate.
  • Extra Lectures: Most colleges who want their students to do well academically will conduct extra classes. Sit for these lectures and you won’t have anything to complain.
  • Tuition/Classes/Mentors: I won’t suggest any of them. I have friends (who were toppers during diploma) that flunked in subjects even after spending thousands to those professors who have the most bumptious nicknames like “Don,” “Raja,” “RR,” “Mangal,” “Hero”, and “Saviour.” They will eat your wallet and time. Many people who join these classes boast about how their professors had set the last year’s paper. They are either lying or have been fooled by their tutors. People suggest you take extra classes for Mathematics, but I will recommend you to first get your basics clear by buying some reference books of first year Engineering Degree. They work if you study well. Also, do not rely on Techmax publications which spoon-feed you the concepts. Get hold of actual author books and things will be much different. I have read Bhargava’s Basic Electronic System two times and now after four years since I completed Engineering, I know how a BJT works. Simple!
  • Efforts: Do a little (10%) more than what you did during your Diploma times. That ten percent will give rise to about forty percent in Degree, which is the minimum passing mark.
  • Teacher’s Pet: This doesn’t work in Degree. Teachers already have their pets and Diploma students are considered aliens. Your best bet is to eye a new-comer professor. He/She will support you like you will support him. And if he/she talks your Mother’s tongue, bingo!
  • The Student Council*: Try and join it. People (both teachers and students) will know you and soon, things will be nice and easy. This is by far the best thing to do in order to survive the initial period of Degree after Diploma in engineering.

I won’t stretch this because I don’t have the power to turn an introvert into an extrovert. There’s one more soft rule that you can follow in your first few weeks in Engineering: talk to as many people as you can and build friendly relationships. This could be with your classmates, college mates, professors, photocopying shop members, etc. The more people you know the better you will swim out of your Engineering course.

All I can say is, everyone can pull this off if they believe they really want to excel in this field. Concentration is the key. If something doesn’t seem right, talk about it with your family. Or girlfriend. Or boyfriend. And then change your career path.

*As suggested by a close friend Sushanth Nair, it will take more than the Student Council to become popular. You will have to be lively and social. You should know people, and above that, know how to interact with them. You also need not join a council to be popular among the people. Just skip the lectures, and hang out around the canteen patting cats or dogs. If people notice you, bingo! Otherwise, you possibly are hideous or don’t have any swag. TN.

Featured image courtesy: @rizsam (Unsplash)

Update: Copyedited; revised. (31 January 2019)

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    Tejas Nair is a freelance writer based in Mumbai, India. He writes about cinema, literature, current affairs, culture, and society. He manages search-based digital campaigns for Publicis. more »