Tag: diploma

Why I Pursued Master of Arts After Bachelor of Engineering

Because I had always wanted to do something in the humanities.

The long answer is a combination of several interests I racked up over the years since I first signed up for Engineering. I don’t blame the education system, but it was personally a tough call for me to choose what I had wanted to do with my life career-wise at the age of 15. I was living in a bubble to take a wise decision that would capitalize on my inherent talents and interests. So, I did what the rest of the world did. Chose a path that was common and signed up for a four-year diploma course in Industrial Electronics.

This is a short summary listing the different reasons why I chose to pursue MA after doing my Bachelor’s in Engineering (BE).

I Have a Penchant for Writing

The initial years of my diploma were when I first started writing. Thanks to the internet, I was free to write and publish anything without anyone telling me not to. One thing led to another and by the end of the course, I was a seasoned writer. I wrote beautiful trash but at least I was good at publishing it.

It was a few years later that I realized that I had a thing for writing. It came naturally to me once I began blogging. The problem was that I was not reading anything, which made my writing read like a content mill product. No one reads (and still doesn’t) in my family and it would be a cliche if I said I magically caught up with reading since childhood like they show in the movies.

My writing – although looked good to me – was ridiculous from a universal readership’s point of view. I realized this when I got rejected by a couple online magazines where I had pitched for freelance writing gigs. One of the editors was too vocal about the reason why and so I knew.

After the diploma came BE and before the second year was over, I knew I wanted to explore something else. Something other than Engineering.

I Read

My aspiration to be a good writer led to me chasing books. While men (boys?) my age chase something else, which I did give a few tries and enjoyed, I focused on reading. I started reading newspapers, books, magazines – whatever I could get my hands on. I even remember the time I told a job interviewer how I tended to read everything – even the text on sleeves of shampoo containers while taking a bath. He took it seriously and asked me to read his face.

MA after Engineering

I chose literature books over engineering books. / © Nicole Honeywill

I first started reading when one of my maternal uncles handed me a semi-fictional thriller book, Frederick Forsyth’s The Day of the Jackal. I so fondly remember its plot details, and above that, the joy of reading. But, more than the joy, what I took home that day when I completed reading that book was general information. The book gave me a little more idea about espionage, the CIA, how foreign government intelligence works, and who Charles de Gaulle was.

This little conveyance of specific information about specific things in the world from yellowed sheets of paper into my mind made me fall in love with reading. And today, I spend a good time reading every day. Which has directly impacted what I write and the way I do it.

I Want to Know the History of the World

I think it is Marco Polo’s travelogue, an online course titled “The Importance of India”, and my English professors who should collectively be blamed for my healthy interest for the general history of the world. Both reading and writing about random stuff also contributed to it, but I think that course – which I did not complete – was the main reason I began reading more about the history of humanity’s existence and associated activities.

One time I even asked a lady – a friend’s sister – out for coffee so that we could discuss the meaning of life. Maybe it was the way I framed the request but I don’t think I have had a longer conversation with her since then. Maybe you should not use WhatsApp to ask people out.

I want to know more about the origins of religion, money, and many other things. What is the meaning of life, how should I react to a particular incident in life, how do I deal with people I don’t agree with, how to ask women out, why and how is Trump president – everything that makes the world as it is right now. And I believe the only way to do it is to study literature.

Yuval Noah Harari’s account of the history of humankind, Sapiens, is an excellent prologue to the complicated answers to these questions, but I am more interested in the materials that he used to write that account. I would only get closer to them if I did something like this.

I Want to Be Better at My Job

People who know me know that I want to be a copywriter. And my current job also entails some kind of writing. There are several ways to be good at it, and last I checked I am doing all of them simultaneously. Signing up for an MA course was definitely on the list, and about two years ago, I told my mom.

 

And those are some of the biggest reasons why I pursued – or rather, pursuing (I’m in my second year right now) – Master of Arts in English Literature two years after I graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in Engineering. I used those two years to think through the pros and cons of making the career switch and I am glad I made that decision.

(I took the liberty to leave out another big reason – I failed to land an Engineering job that would pay my bills – from this list because let’s try to look at the positive things, shall we?)

People are often stumped when I tell them about this switch, but I think I will send them this article from now onwards. I hope they won’t mind me using WhatsApp. TN.

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 wrote on why diploma before degree in Engineering might be a bad idea for most (in India). So, here’s a follow-up in case you still took the diploma route: a primer of sorts on how to survive the initial period of engineering degree (BE or B.Tech) after you have completed your diploma.

A friend of mine also just painfully completed three years of his life-changing four-year diploma course (which included a year of training as part of the curriculum) and he is kinda in a kettle of fish unable to cope up. This guide is for people like him.

What is the Degree Situation After Diploma?

You have just passed out of diploma and you aspire to enroll for an engineering degree course in some extremely fashionable college with decent education and faculty. SIES Graduate School of Technology in Nerul, Navi Mumbai, for instance. Mind you, every single college is different in its own way but when it comes to the quality of education and faculty and other ‘features’, things are almost the same across Mumbai. What matters is how you manage yourself and your studies while you are in college. 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 get past 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 and creamy layer certificates are 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 rowing the same boat (although I reached the beach in 2015). Worry not, colleges like SIES, Father Agnel’s, and K J Somaiya have minority quota for the poor ‘open’ guys which means if you are a south-Indian or a Gujarati, procuring a seat will be slightly easier in these colleges. 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; in comparison, students who come in through the caste quota pay only a fraction of what you pay. 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. The good part is: you can apply every year; the bad part: you have to score above 80% aggregate. Your chances of getting the scholarship increases if you go beyond 90%
  • 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 giving thousands to those professors who have the most bumptious nicknames like “Don”, “Raja”, “RR” of RR classes, “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 previous year’s paper and how they are sure they will get a whiff of what questions will come in the present year. They are either lying or being fooled by their tutors.[1]However, recently I have found that these claims are true. Especially professors who are tied to the University of Mumbai. They do act unscrupulously and list out questions that are bound to appear in the final board exams. 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 only spoon-feed you the concepts and make you forget them when the need arises. Get hold of actual author books and things will be much different. I have read Bhargava’s Basic Electronic System two times and now years after I completed engineering, I still know how a BJT works. Or do I?
  • 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!
members of agnel polytechnic student council 2011
My time at the student council during diploma days helped me face the degree days. That’s me fourth from the left.
  • 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. Because even if you cannot fare well in studies, these extracurricular activities will keep you going. After all, college life should be a mix of studies and fun.[2]As suggested by a close friend Sushanth Nair, it will take more than the student council to become popular in college. You will have to be lively and extremely 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!

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 degree: talk to as many people as you can and build healthy relationships. This could be with your classmates, college mates, professors, stationery shopkeepers, chaiwallas, 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 key. If something doesn’t seem right, talk about it with your family. Or girlfriend. Or boyfriend. And then maybe change your career path. It is the 21st century and you don’t have to stick to a course if you don’t feel like it. TN.

Featured image courtesy: @rizsam (Unsplash)

Update: Copyedited; revised. (31 January 2019)

Update #2: Copyedited; removed stereotypes related to the caste system; added images. (19 September 2019)


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footnotes   [ + ]

1. However, recently I have found that these claims are true. Especially professors who are tied to the University of Mumbai. They do act unscrupulously and list out questions that are bound to appear in the final board exams.
2. As suggested by a close friend Sushanth Nair, it will take more than the student council to become popular in college. You will have to be lively and extremely 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!

Is Diploma Before Degree In Engineering a Good Bet?

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!

members of agnel polytechnic student council 2011
My time at the student council during diploma days helped me get through the degree

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.

certificates, medal, and trophies received for technical paper presentation competitions
Some of the honors I received during my diploma days. These only look good in the showcase today

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.

Final Points

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)


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