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Monday, May 21, 2012

A Guide to JEE Counseling 2012

I have been writing the JEE Counseling article for several years. Every year, it was marginal changes from previous years, but last year, I pretty much wrote it afresh, and wrote as a blogpost instead of a document on my website. Here is the link. It was a very significant effort over several weeks, before I published it. Unfortunately, my current commitments do not allow me that luxury, not even enough time to update it adequately. In fact, I had more or less decided to not write anything at all, but I have started receiving so many emails that either I ignore all the emails, or I should write at least something here. I decided on the latter. I am assuming that before reading this article, you have read the last year's article.

I am not going to give you the detailed point wise advise with frequently asked questions. I am just going to say a few things about making choices.

First of all, do not try to find out placement statistics, do not be persuaded by high salary packages given to top few, or the number of companies that came to the campus. You should be concerned about flexibility of the programs - what is the chance that even if you did not get your first choice of discipline, you will still be able to do several courses in that discipline - either a liberal branch change policy, or the possibility of a dual major, or a minor, or at least so many electives that it is realistic to learn what you want to learn. You should be concerned about the campus life - hostels, festivals, sports facilities, etc. You may want to rank them on the basis of metro versus non-metro (both have their own advantages). You may want to rank them in the order of time taken to reach that place from your home. Any criteria will be better than placement statistics for the simple reason that placement statistics is not about you, we don't know how market forces will operate 4-5 years from now, there is no correlation between first month salary and career earnings, and there is just too much unreliability. So placement statistics only distort the admission picture.

Second, consider one or two disciplines that you feel passionate about (it is quite possible that you don't feel passionate about any one, but don't tell me that you are passionate about 10 disciplines). If there are no such disciplines, skip this para. If there are 1 or 2 such disciplines, then consider the top choice discipline. Relook your list of IITs in light of this discipline. Go to the website of the particular department of all IITs offering this discipline. Compare what you see there - primarily faculty. You may want to modulate the order of IITs for this discipline based on the websites. Do the same thing for the other discipline (if you have a second preference). Once you have filled up all IITs for these one or two disciplines, then fill up all other programs of your top choice IIT, then all programs of your next choice IIT, and so on. It is difficult to have passion for a discipline after 3-4 years of coaching. But one should still be able to decide what IIT one wants to go to, and fill up all the choices of that IIT before the next IIT.

Third, you should go to a place where you will feel wanted, where the faculty is keen to get good students, and are not just passively waiting for JEE to give them a list. Check if the Institute and/or department have a page dedicated for potential students. Do they tell you why you should join them. Do they at least have a frequently asked question section for the new students. Do they give some names, email addresses, and perhaps phone numbers too, of some faculty and/or students who could answer your queries. If not, send your queries to some faculty members anyway, and see if you get some response. This will give some indication as to how "student friendly" they are, and you should go to the IIT/Department which is student friendly. Modulate your order of IITs based on this as well.

Coming to what has changed since last year's blog. The biggest change is that Rajya Sabha has approved the amendments to the Institutes of Technology Act, which means that all "new" IITs will soon be able to give you degrees legally, and IT-BHU will soon be renamed as an IIT. This should result in some improvement of closing ranks for various programs in IT-BHU. I don't expect a large jump though, since it takes years to really improve the quality of an institute, particularly one which is already quite decent.

There is also a change in the counseling procedure. Now, IITs have introduced a mechanism to withdraw from counseling after the 2nd round. One will get back the registration fee (after a deduction of Rs. 1,000), but would not be eligible for the 3rd round. This is certainly an improvement over what has happened in the last couple of years. But more improvement was possible. Last year, I had suggested to several JEE Chairmen, including the Organizing chair for this year's JEE that a candidate be allowed to "withdraw" last N choices at any point in time. That would have been much more effective in filling up seats in unpopular programs. But, I digress.

Third major change is that they have given ranks to a very large number of students, which means that a much larger number of "JEE qualified" candidates would not get to study in IITs. I don't really expect the withdrawal process to have a significant impact on the closing ranks. If anything, they may turn out to be better this year, since I do not expect any OBC seat to be converted to unreserved this year.

Now, as I did last year, I would permit only a fairly limited number of comments on this blog. Only those comments will be allowed which provide additional information, advise, etc., to the readers of this blog. As far as questions are concerned, if there is a "philosophical" type of question, we can discuss that here. But if you want to discuss what you as a successful JEE candidate should do, please contact me on email. All the rules of last year apply (which basically means that your email should be readable to me). My email address is: sanghi AT Please do not ask me for my mobile number.