Does the CGPA define a student’s worth in IIT?

The struggle to crack JEE, and get into one of the most prestigious engineering institutes in the country, is well known. The engineering aspirants go through this rigor for two years and in some cases, more than two years. Finally when they do make it to the IIT there is something that goes amiss. Grades drop, and eventually some end up with a letter expelling them, as in case of the 73 students from IIT Roorkee. What is that makes these aspiring engineers go slack? Why do they arrive at this situation that acts as the biggest spoiler in their careers and life?

The obvious was pointed out by a first year student, from IIT-Bombay, Sindhuja.K, “The years we spend in preparing for cracking the entrance exam, it just wears out most of us. And once we make it into the IITs, it is just one big relief. Post that, studies takes a back seat and then the results are there for all to see.” IITs across the country have a lot of fests and competitions. These co-curricular activities very often keep the students outside the classroom rather than inside. It is not that it should only be all work and no play, (in this case all studies and no activities) but the students must be able to balance it well. The time they spend outside classroom shouldn’t eventually lead them to be shown the way out of college itself.

Does this classroom learning really help? “The syllabus in the first year is important. It is not that all of the classroom learning is only theory. In fact, it is important during the placements and internships that is later offered,” said Niranjan Thakurdesai, a fourth year student at IIT-Bombay currently interning with Samsung Ltd. in Bengaluru. This opinion was echoed even by a few other students from the senior batch.

However, on the flip side an alumnus from IIT- Roorkee, Ritika, commented that classroom learning helped only to the extent of imparting basic understanding and doesn’t really affect career. “The compulsion to attend lectures and be judged as capable only if you score a certain grade point is harsh. Whatever we learn, gives us the basic understanding, but one learns the complexities on the job,” she says. There are alumni who voiced a similar opinion and even took to social networking sites to voice their opinion especially in light of the recent expulsions at various IITs.

“Students need to realize that life doesn’t stop right after getting into the IIT. Why would there be classroom lectures if they were redundant? Yes there is a lot of learning that also happens outside of the classroom. Personality, communication skills, confidence blooms when students go out but what about the knowledge of the core subjects that are being taught?” said a professor from one of IITs. 

Balance is the key to keep the grades afloat and also have fun. If students understand how to manage both, they can probably avoid the situation of landing up with bad grades. What a lot of students seem to depend is on the brand name of IIT instead of the real know- how of things. This somewhere deters efforts on the part of students and eventually failure knocks their doors. It is debatable if grade points in the first year should be considered as the only benchmark for capability. But then again, it is not entirely neglectable either.