IITK-101

There are some fundamental questions about life at IIT Kanpur which only experience and sound advise help us answer. Starting out, everyone has a vision of acing all the courses and getting the highest possible grades. But life here is not one as dimensional as one gets used to in their JEE days. From cultural activities to sports, technical projects to making memories for life and of course academics, a lot goes on in the life of a student. Hence managing them all is not a trivial thing. Hence in this article, we give answers to all these major questions that freshers have from seniors who have made their way through these inconceivable amounts of activities.

With the end sems approaching, how feasible it is to actually study through pre-exam night-outs?

While the question is highly subjective, the consensus is that night-outs are not something which can be planned. They always are the last resort. Soumyadeep Dutta, a third-year student, said that only the people who have the ability to alter their body clock and still have the nerve to deliver during the exam can pull off night-outs. But if someone cannot do so then studying regularly cannot be substituted by night-outs. Amlan Kar, Y13 alumni presently pursuing Ph.D. at the University of Toronto, had aligned views and added that one only retains the topics they are regular with. What one studies during the night-outs is retained only till the exam, that too if one is lucky.

A related phenomenon is missing classes. What should be done if the professor does not teach well? Is skipping classes justified in this case?

The first port of call should be to approach the professor. If the professor is not aware of the problem then it’s not possible for him/her to rectify it. Skipping classes without doing so is the result one’s laziness. In case one does not feel comfortable in doing so, then they should get help from the counseling service. The AM system can prove to be very useful in such cases. But if things still do not work out comfortably then keeping track of the progress of the course is the bare minimum. Amlan said that missing out classes must be made up by self-study. He said, “If you’re wasting that time sleeping, or watching a movie, then probably you need to reconsider.” He suggested that self-study can be supplemented with online courses, it’s just that the person must be vigilant. The online sources such as NPTEL, Coursera, et al can prove to be very useful.

How important is CPI at the end of the day?

Amlan said, “CPI is like a key to a door, a higher CPI opens up certain doors that a lower CPI will not. But in the end, there is always a door. It acts as a parameter for hard work but not for someone’s intelligence. It is an opportunity to present yourself in a better light.” It is clear that though working hard for a high CPI is surely worth it but not getting one does not mean that one is not left with options. If a person has enough zeal for doing something, CPI cannot hold him back. Soumyadeep added that along with maintaining a decent CPI focus should also be on improving soft skills and general knowledge. There are ample opportunities to work on them here but will be scarce if left for future.

Staying on point of soft skills or life skills. Do clubs really help here?

Bhuvi Gupta, a third-year student who is the coordinator of the robotics club, said that developing an interest or hobby is important. It gives a person an escape from the humdrum of daily life and adds a new dimension to their characters. Anshumali, also a third-year student and coordinator of the dramatics club, added that in club activities people learn to push their limits. He further impressed that clubs inculcate patience and commitment, qualities which are expected from individuals looking to be successful and they can be learned best through extracurricular activities. Learning to coordinate with a team, brainstorming for major events, planning, and most importantly execution is what both of them emphasized a person gets to learn through clubs. Soumyadeep also said that just being worked up about academics does not justify one’s existence here, living a social life is of equal importance.

How should one choose from the innumerable options that are out there?

Bhuvi shared her experience saying that due to the lack of time she had to limit her participation in extracurricular activities. Joining a Science and Technology club was something that appealed to her so she tried it first. Electronics club was her first stop but she moved to robotics club from second year onwards. She emphasized that opportunities for participation elsewhere continue to exist for her, even in her third year. It’s just a matter of realization of interest and an intent to participate. Anshumali also mentioned that there have been people who participated in dramatics for the first time in their fourth year. He said that one should try exploring their creative space and they will know what activities suit them. It is never late to try.

But clubs take up so much time. How does one manage everything else with them?

To this Anshumali responded, “Things do get hectic, but that is how we learn to manage time and not to waste it.” He mentioned how everyone misconstrues the whole scenario and the real culprits, Facebook, Whatsapp, DOTA, and movies go unnoticed. He further added that many people are not ready to push their limits which is why they fail to manage clubs in their schedule. Bhuvi added, “Time spent with like-minded people can do wonders for a person. If one feels that doing an activity is helping them relax or take a break, then they should go ahead with it.” Amlan talked about his concept of the time budget saying that not everything one wishes to do can be squeezed into the 24 available hours. Things need to be planned out otherwise some interests will have to be left out for other higher priority tasks.

So, as one can see it’s all about the choices one makes and the paths one wishes to take. Many people have chosen trodden paths when they encountered that ‘fork’ in their lives, while others exist who have paved their way through the fork. To conclude “The challenge is not to manage time but to manage ourselves” - Stephen Covey

By Ayush Agarwal, Saksham Mittal and Yash Kuwade.