Friday, January 20, 2012

What It's Like to Attend IIT ...


Apparently, that's something that someone at Quora was terribly interested in, and a revealing tell-all happens. Here's a sample:

Academic Life

While the students that enter the IITs may be fairly assumed to be the best produced by the country, the same cannot always be said of the professors. There is a structural reason for this : over the 70s and 80s, all the academically inclined students in the IITs went to the US for PhDs and became professors there. From a lifestyle and financial point of view, there is little reason to come back and work/teach at the IITs. Thus, the professorial ranks at the IITs are often heavily populated with PhDs from the IITs (ie, those who came to IIT for grad school) or less prestigious foreign universities.

As you can expect from young undergrads with enormous chips on their shoulders (having surmounted the JEE), IIT grad students – who enter through another rather less highly regarded exam – are looked upon with derision, even pity. That these very students become TAs and later IIT professors is galling. Thus, in my experience, the relationship between professors and students is always somewhat tense. It is a very transactional relationship – students go to class because they have to (grades are docked for poor attendance), submit routine homework, take exams and move on to the next semester.

But things are not so bad. Here's the next paragraph -- and note the square brackets!

[This is not to say that all professors are second-rate. Some are truly terrific, and a few have been very inspirational to me, personally].

* * *

And here's a bonus mystery link!

7 Comments:

  1. ajitjadhav said...

    This could be Abi's way of supporting the freedom of speech....

    --Ajit
    [E&OE]

  2. Vikram said...

    Refer to Five Point Someone ? :D

  3. ahannaasmi said...

    I attended the Computer Science department of one of the IITs as an undergrad, and I'll contend that some of the best professors there were "PhDs from the IITs (ie, those who came to IIT for grad school)". They were marvelous and inspirational teachers, and their research was (and is) very highly regarded in their fields.

  4. ahannaasmi said...

    As for the grad students, it was certainly true that a majority were just there, as one of the professors put it, "to get a stamp" to improve their job prospects. But to be honest, that was true also for a majority of us undergraduates. On the other hands, there was a significant majority of grad students at the department I went to (at least in the field I was interested) who were really passionate about, and very good at, their research.

  5. vishvAs vAsuki said...

    I did not understand why the squareness of the brackets matters.. Is paranthesis considered more mainstream?

  6. Abi said...

    @vishvas vasuki: It's not a 'square' vs. 'normal' brackets. I highlighted the brackets for the condescension that they implied.

  7. Abi said...

    Good point! Except that it's too long and too boring.