I have been reading articles by Kamal Sinha on how useless the IITs are, and it got me thinking - what have I learnt from IIT in the past 1 year...??
The one thing that amazed me in IIT : how open Profs. are to student suggestions. I have seen Profs changing their style of teaching, & even the curriculum thanks to student feedback.. Even more importantly, a student can openly and honestly criticise a Prof on his face without fear of repercussions. Even more surprising, students think this is normal, dont appreciate this freedom of speech, and think that its their right to criticize Profs :O....
They clearly havent been to Mumbai University, where your in-term marks depended on whether you belong to the same village that the Prof does, and whether you have praised him enough through the sem or not.... 1 word against the Prof and the topper could mysteriously flunk all his courses and repeat the year....
Anyways... back to the subject : in my 2 semesters here, I took 8 relevant (CS) courses, 1 irrelevant course (Communication skills) & 1 lab course.
1. The lab course taught me that learning how to code is easy - a very important lesson to someone from Mumbai University, who has not coded much in her B.E. Learning Java is easy, Perl is simple, and not knowing a language will never scare me again.
2. The Communication skill taught me the importance of laughter in my life. I attended it every week in my first semester when I was grappling with my other very tough courses and was very stressed out. Once a week, I went to the audi, sat with 200 other PG students, and laughed at the foolishness of the Prof :), his weird Powerpoint slides with too many colors and sounds and animations, and his weird fundas about what communication was.
3. My core CS courses - Artificial Intelligence, Algorithms, Databases, Data Mining, Lanugage Processors, ... (I tried to take a variety of courses from all fields - and not specialise in 1) - didn't really teach me much. The little that I learnt - I am sure I will soon forget. Its already difficult to remember how we had derived the guarentee that backpropagation algorithm will always converge for linear seperable data in neural networks....
My major lesson was how ignorant we B.E. students really are, how much there is to know and how little of it have we learnt, and how much of it we have forgotten :( - or atleast I have.
So what did I really learn in 1 year & was it worth it ?
1. I met some of the most brilliant students - B.Tech.s as well as M.Tech.s, realized that some of these guys are going to be rich and famous in the next 20 years and also that I am dumber than I thought I was.
2. I hope that I learnt not to take life so seriously. The grades don't (shouldn't) matter, what job I will get after M.Tech is not important, and most important - the world will not collapse if I don't understand a particular concept taught in class or don't complete an assignment on time.
3. The rat race in IIT taught me that the race is only with yourself - what others are doing, what they are achieving, what they think about you is all unimportant. The important thing is to be happy, to enjoy what you do, to put in your best effort without worrying about the results. It sounds like those self-help books yap-yap, and no, I didnt learn these lessons completely, but I really did learn this in the past 1 year.
4. I learnt how important friends are - B.E. friends who are still in touch, and new friends made in IIT.
5. I realized that inspite of all my plans and hopes and dreams, I still don't know what I want to do with my life.
IIT has many well-maintained basketball courts, badminton courts, tennis courts, a swimming pool, a huge ground, etc etc. Visits to any of the above in my 1 year stay in the IIT campus = 0.
Visits to hill-top during the semester = 0.
Visits to Hiranandani = maybe 4-5 times.
Visits home (only 45 min away) = 4-5 times.
Movies watched from the unlimited movie database on the IIT servers = 4-5
Making up for all of it now though.....