4 Negative Things About Being In An IIT:
Negative things about being in an IIT? You must think we’re kidding right? How can there be a downside to being at the best darn technical college in India? Isn’t the name ‘IIT’ synonymous with prestige, excellence, competence and integrity? The truth is that, as with any other great place of learning, IITs come with their own set of problems. Sample this – In his book Roses in December, former Chief Justice of India complained that his rooms in Oxford were dull, dingy and lacked adequate ventilation. Similarly, our former prime minister Dr. Manmahon Singh, would often go hungry because the cost of studying at Oxford was so much, that he would have to skip meals. Do not fret – you won’t suffer from these problems in an IIT, but an IIT is not a place where the proverbial milk and honey flows. Here are a look at some negative things about being in an IIT.
The skewed gender ratio
The most painfully excruciating among the negative things about being in an IIT (and only a few people may be able to sympathise with this abject condition of IIT-ians). You can easily expect the gender ratio at an IIT to be anywhere between 8:1 to the steep, terrifying 11:1. What this does to the social life, and more importantly, to the development of social skills of the students, is fairly clear – it stymies it. Whether or not college is the place where students must get into a relationship is something people can have different opinions on (parents’ views would be especially clear on this – Puttar, No Aashquiee!). Yet it requires no rocket scientist to understand that students everywhere get into and actively seek relationships or at least meaningful friendships with the opposite sex in their undergraduate years. With such a gender ratio, IIT does not seem to be a conducive place for ‘falling in love’. Ever watched the way the smartest geeks on the Big Bang Theory behaved around women? At any time in any IIT in the country, try finding more than a fifth of all undergraduate students dating on campus. Nope, its numerically impossible! On the other hand, it does give you a ton of free time to really concentrate on academics without any distractions – well, who are we kidding?
Tasty food? What’s that?
Food in most IITs spells bad news. The same food 24/7 spells even more bad news. Without having to complain, imagine eating the same food for 4 or 5 years – you get the picture, right? After relishing home cooked meals for most of your life, the sudden onslaught of mess food can be quite a shocker to the system. Not that it’s any different from mess food at other college campuses, but it’s difficult to place the cuisine offered in the mess into a neat category – the food might not be as mouth-watering as you may want it to be, or look north Indian, but taste nothing like it. Your best friend will be midnight Maggi, which you will perfect over the years (an induction cooktop is always a good investment). And don’t expect an extra sweet at dinner time or some special snack when you’re hungry. The good news is that you’ll survive, and will never complain about the food once you’ve passed out. All in all, not such a bad deal, as it’ll make you appreciate home cooked meals and you may even acquire some Masterchef–worthy skills you can boast about.
Mutual respect! Is there such a thing?
Be sure to expect a lot of snide remarks, uncalled for comments, and whole barrage of insults, not just from professors (which you may be used to) but also from fellow students. Plus, a lot of students complain that the culture of cut-throat competition doesn’t help in relaxing things much – it gets really stressful after a while, when all students can talk about is this score, that internship, this certificate, that big achievement etc. Campus-life shouldn’t merely be an inventory of achievements, but it does tend to get like that at times. Although you may find yourself surrounded by endless ‘I’m smarter than you’ contests, bickering, jealousy, undermining comments and plain humiliation at times, this is a good time to learn to grow a duck’s back (let all those comments slide off and move on). This is the place where the best minds in the country and probably some of the best in the world congregate – there’s bound to be some amount of disagreement, and half the time, that’s where the fun is! Take only the best from your experience here, and let the rest fall on deaf ears.
IITs float their own fests, sometimes multiple fests a year. Some of these, for example the one at IIT Bombay called the Mood Indigo, are spectacles of joy, and invite a lot of people, performers, and visitors, from around the country and the world. Yet if you’re the studious types and still seek some serious cultural enrichment, you’re in for disappointment. Even though there are departments like Humanities, Design, etc., where you can indulge your thirst for culture, you can’t take a whole lot of these courses. Apart from the select few who dabble in debating, writing, and elocution, there’s not many who come together regularly for the sake of the Arts. Yet this problem is completely remedial – with the amount of autonomy you will have as a student body, you can seek to lobby for your demands from the administration and make sure that you get the perfect wholesome college experience. So it’s really up to how badly you want it!
These were some of the negative things about being in an IIT. But, believe us, apart from these teeny, tiny negatives, getting into an IIT is more than worth it. The pros by far, outweigh the cons, and the moments you spend here will definitely be some of the best in your life. You will meet a diverse lot of smart and talented people, and of course, spend your time in a beautiful and serene campus and enjoy the independent hostel life in one of the most happening metropoles in the country. Good luck!
For those of you interested in the details, you can read more about the experience of IIT life from an IIT-ian himself.