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Many of us may not even realize it but clearing JEE Advanced is but an infantile step when it comes to the journey to get into the IITs. For all that is worth, once you get your rank in JEE Advanced, the actual brainwork begins in true earnest. The days past the declaration of result are more or less filled with anxiety and indecision as you shall flounder here and there to decide what shall be the branch that you will choose to stick with your entire life, and more importantly, which institute, or IIT, you will complete the beautiful journey of engineering from. That is where the all-confusing question – old IITs or new IITs – comes first into the picture.

Old IITs Or New IITs?

A typical dilemma, almost any student with any decent rank in JEE Advanced will face is the almighty tradeoff between institute and branch of choice (or more often than not, glamorous branches). This is a legitimate dilemma and the most common form through which this manifests among the JEE rankers is the question : old IIT with ‘lower’ branch or new IIT with ‘higher branch’?

Having been through that intense phase myself, let me try to shed some light on how this dilemma should be handled and what factors must an individual, and their family, needs to take into consideration before taking that giant leap of faith.

Before I move on to dissecting this question into bits and pieces, here’s some amount of statutory warning. First of all, the very distinguishing of branches into ‘good’ or ‘higher’ branches is a sorry misconception that most of the JEE rankers harbour. But since it is a dilemma we at Toppr nonetheless believe it needs to be addressed. Thus, only for the sake of understanding, I shall mention branches having higher ranked students traditionally as ‘higher’ branches and vice versa.

Now, let us move on the actual argument. The JEE ranker, in most of cases, is a naive individual (I apologize if that comes off as too harsh) and wholly incompetent to choose branches as most of us have no clue as to where our interests lie and what career path we would like to take. It thus becomes of paramount importance that you actually sit down and download the curricula from the respective department websites of the institute to get a view of what the department has to offer.

Most probably, this entire brainstorming process will lead you to a choice which boils down to two things: the question that is the title of the article.

First of all, a deeper analysis of what your likes are would be in order. In my opinion, if you are unsure of your likes and interests, or are not greatly into the aspects of science or visibly disinclined towards research as a field, go for the old IIT with the ‘lesser’ branch. That is because of two reasons. One, given the vibrant culture at the old IITs and the immense load of exposure that these IITs have by way of brand value, partly by virtue of being in metropolitan cities, you can always hone your non-academic side to the fullest. And it is a fact that most of us may not even end up getting a job and doing work for the rest of our lives that have barely any resemblance to what we studied here for four or five years. 

Secondly, if you are interested in any particular branch, the old IITs have well established mechanisms to give you a way of getting involved in different branches of your liking. Then you can pursue your interest independent of branch as well. Lastly, the one final but highly dicey straw in the favour of the old IITs is the glittering aspect of branch change.

As a ballpark figure, almost half of the students in IIT Bombay (where I study) enter the hallowed portals of this institution fantasizing about branch change. The hard cold fact that only up to 20% of those students actually get to change their branch after the first year says that branch change is no walk in the park. However, it is not an unreasonable plank to join an IIT. For that matter, if you study reasonably well, you can get a good enough CPI to branch change to your branch of choice. However, just be aware that it is a precarious slope to travel on.

Having said that, many among us have our goals and ambitions clearly set in our mind. A lot of us have that burning passion for a particular branch. For those enlightened souls among us, I will strongly suggest going for the new IITs with that branch of their interest. This is so because the new IITs are fast catching up with the older ones. What they lack by way of name, they are making up by facilities.

The newer IITs have top notch laboratories and clean hostels. Their infrastructure, at times, even supercedes that of the old IITs. And don’t worry, the placement stats of the newer IITs are getting better every year. Thus, if you have passion for a certain branch, new IITs are absolutely worth it. Some new IITs like IIT Hyderabad and IIT Indore have already carved out an independent niche for themselves.

That is all that I can provide to assuage that niggling dilemma you must be facing. All the advice apart, one thing is most important. Just sit down calmly, with your parents in tow (they are a huge stakeholder in this all) and self-introspect. Look into yourself and see what is it that you want and picture yourself five years down the line. An honest hour-long session this way, keeping what I have said in mind, will easily clear up your doubts. And then, the form filling will be merely a formality!

You can also read more about choosing the right engineering branch for yourself here.


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