What does it take to walk away from the great Indian IIT dream? We found a willing candidate in Debojit Das, first year CSD dual degree (BTech in CSE and M.S in CSE by Research) student at IIITH, who could help answer this for us. Debojit’s answer to a question on the same lines on Quora, shot him into the limelight for his courage and conviction to follow his heart.
After the initial euphoria of having “made it to an IIT”, Delhi in his case, Debojit speaks frankly of the academic scene there. “I got into Textile Technology, but most of the courses there didn’t interest me”, he says. He was however forced to change his disinterested outlook with the “Introduction to Computers” course. “That was probably the only class I paid attention in (and didn’t sleep off… much).” Another course that he was lucky enough to get into and he absolutely loved was the one on “Data Structures and Algorithms”. By the end of the year, he had made up his mind. He wanted a career in Computer Science. No less. Only there was a slight problem in achieving this goal. One, he wasn’t doing academically well in the other courses due to lack of interest. Two, it was difficult to even try for a minor degree in CS.
20-year-old Debojit faced the Frostian dilemma of finding himself at crossroads – to continue listlessly down the IIT path because it was the “right” thing to do, or to go down another road where he could start all over. “Having studied for 2 years in a pretty good college already, it was never an easy choice. To start everything from scratch all over again, I was very scared”, he admits. Luckily for him, the naysayers notwithstanding, his family was very supportive. “I finally came to the conclusion that it is better to leave the past behind and focus on what will be best for me at this moment. I realised that I would not be able to do something that I am not particularly interested in for the next 40 years.”
He appeared for the JEE Mains again. “I don’t know how but I managed to get enough marks to get Computer Science in one of the best CS colleges in India”, he exclaims of his admission into IIIT-H. In response to a question on Why IIITH, he says, “I had not even applied to any other college because if I was taking such a major decision I had to make sure I get the best opportunities.” He says that he’s learning so much more here in the first year than he did in his first year at IIT Delhi. “Even though it’s been hectic, it’s definitely a lot of fun”.
Follow Your Heart
If there’s one thing he can tell others like him from his own experience, it is this: Don’t fall for big or brand names. “Big names can get you in the industry but they will not take you far. Only a deep understanding and knowledge will always take you a long way.” He also cautions against the herd mentality of opting for a course regardless of interest or aptitude. “If you do not like CS, and you are taking it only for the high paying packages, remember that companies want result, and if you don’t like what you are doing then you can not deliver to your potential. If you really don’t like CS, choose something else that you like.” Simple enough, and yet thought-provoking.