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Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Post graduate options for Technology and Science graduates

I read Dipankar Gupta's article in TOI of 3rd June on why IIT's cannot be blamed for having a world class research set up.

Basically the article points out difficulty in setting an eco-system that research requires. It is not about having research budgets. IIT's, howsoever good it may be, cannot set up the eco-system by itself. It requires to work with industry. It is about working with other universities on topics of common interest. It is about getting the best talent, both as professors and students, to channelise the research. In short, those of you who wish to pursue PG options ( MS, Phd etc) after doing BE, BTech or MSC, have to pursue these options in other countries.

Who should pursue PG options

I have found it very easy to find which students are likely to pursue PG options. These students are the students who enjoy doing their graduation, who have a 'friend group' who like to take up challenges in a subject, who are amongst the 'top 20%' of the student in the class, and whose questions get answered diligently by the teachers.

Surprisingly, i have discovered that these students may not be the students who 'topped' in CET. Most of the time, they are in the 50%-70% percentile. Sometimes they seem to be 'ordinary' students. I know of a young student who was considered to be the last in the family in terms of his CET marks. ( By the way, Einstein could not get admission to Electrical Engineering course because of low marks ) But when he joined Engineering, he simply found his 'space'. I also know of a girl who was an average girl till BSC. While doing MSC, she found her footing, and went on to do PHD in Physics from US university. In short, your marks and earlier scholastic record may not give you any indication that you will pursue PG option.

How should one pursue PG option

More importantly, when you decide to plan for PG, plan on all the three items:

I. You need to find which university and college is right for your speciality.
II. You need to get adequate references to ensure that you will get admitted in the right college/universities.
III. You need to prepare adequately for GRE to get good score.

Adequate preparation is a key that makes a big difference in getting a PG degree versus getting an effective and useful PG degree.

I have seen students jumping to the easiest available option to join a course in not-so-good college, that they find it difficult even to get a job, leave alone PG research position. Sometimes, i have seen students, complete degrees by paying so much of money that they require another 5-10 years to repay the loan. Infact, you will find many students who live very very difficult lives in foreign countries because they are in this catch-22: neither can they find good jobs, nor can they return due to huge debts.

Out of these three items, students find lot of help on item III through coaching institutes. Many metro and Tier-I towns have GRE & Toeffel coaching institutes that can help student get good scores in these tests. They also advise in matters like writing a good 'brief', that is compulsory for getting a good admission. But they cannot provide specific assistance on item I and II.

However, students rarely work on item I, which makes it difficult for them to work on item II. This are the two items that make a big difference in the quality of PG option that you may pursue.

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