Congratulations on your success, on winning the rat race. There are still a few days before you start filling up the choices in the order of your preference. Choices of which program in which Institute, etc. So what do you plan to do in these few days so that you are ready with your list.
First, rue your performance. Unless you are JEE number 1. Tell the whole world how you deserved a much better rank. How that day you had a slight headache, or the invigilators wasted your 30 seconds in making the announcements twice which they were supposed to make only once, or they took your paper away 1.3 seconds before they took others'. Or you were so stressed because you didn't know you were not supposed to wear a full sleeves shirt on the fateful day. This will not change anything, of course. Your rank will remain the same. But your true friends will respect you even more if they know that you are not merely a person better than 99.99 percent of your cohorts, but a person better than 99.991 percent of your cohorts.
Having established that JEE is a poor quality exam which cannot place gems like you at the right position, get down to the business of telling everyone how great you are. Call every friend, family, neighbours, and relatives. Post it on Facebook (which has other advantages as we will soon see). Of course, don't forget to order tonnes of Laddoos and of course, share a Coke to share your happiness. In our days, we used to have Limca before Limca and Limca after Limca.
The problem is that all these people who come to your house will have a few questions and tonnes of advice. How you wish that all these people will just come, take a laddoo, drink coke, and leave and of course, tell the story of your great success in that exam called JEE to everyone else in town, including the bit about how the poor quality exam couldn't really recognize your talent fully. But they will stay on and ask those questions and give that advice. So you need to be ready.
Number Two, Create your passion or at least interest. I know it is difficult. You wouldn't even know if Kota has a cinema hall or an industry. Studying for JEE would not have given you any time to explore your interests. But it really isn't as difficult as it sounds. If you are in the top 500 ranks, just remember that your first toy was a computer, and you have been on the Facebook for the last 3 weeks, ever since the JEE Advanced was over. If someone tells you that this does not prove your interest in computers, tell them that you know the names of all programming languages, that you are logical which is good enough evidence that you will do well in computers. On the other hand, if your rank is between 500 and 1000, it is reasonably safe to tell people how you are so excited about owning the iPhone 6, and how you actually opened up the PC one day (hide the fact that you got a scolding from Dad since you had no clue how to close the box). All this will convince anyone that ECE is your real passion. Beyond that, robotics is a very safe passion. It can lead you to CS, or Electrical or Mechanical. Rank beyond that, physics should become your favorite subject, and if you are so good at Physics, you would obviously be good at Mechanics, and by extension Mechanical Engineering. If you are a 2000-ranker, then switch your interest to Chemistry which has so much overlap in its spelling with Chemical, so your passion becomes very obvious. There will be some who will see through this. If Physics is your interest, why not study Engineering Physics. If Maths is your strong point, may be you should consider Maths and Computing programs. And for Chemistry, maybe IISERs would be options worth considering. Just take out your phone from the pocket, and loudly proclaim that it is your uncle from US calling, and go out of the room.
Three, Sort all choices in order of last year's closing ranks. This will do two things. Convince everyone of your interest in computers. You know sorting, which is an extremely important problem in Compooters. Second, it gives you the order in which you should be filling up your choices. After all, the students, the parents, and the whole Internet (particularly quora) couldn't be wrong. Don't even think about the possibility that last year too, everyone filled up the choices based on previous year's closing ranks.
But you should be seen as doing due diligence. This is, after all, the most important decision of your life. And you shouldn't only follow the right methodology (which is, of course, to follow the last year's closing ranks), but should be seen as actively trying to do due diligence.
Four, Ask for placement data on quora. Quora is obviously the most trustworthy source of all important data (which most placement offices do not even release). People on quora will claim that the "best" IIT had only 99% of its job offers from within India, while the other run-of-the-mill IITs had a huge 99.5% of their job offers from within India. And this huge difference (which you should trust since it is on quora) is the best predictor of the success of ALL students of that IIT over the next 50 years of career. Quora will also tell you that the average offer in IIT-1 was Rs. 15 lakhs, while it was Rs. 14.8 lakhs in IIT-2. That the percentage of students placed is 93% in IIT-3 versus 92.5% in IIT-4. These huge differences can not be because of different way of computing these numbers, and of course, could not be questioned because they are on quora, and the only significance of these differences is that IIT-1 is better than IIT-2, and IIT-3 is better than IIT-4. (Don't even think about what happens if IIT-3 is same as IIT-2, and IIT-4 is same as IIT-1. We will come up some other metric to justify which ever IIT you want to join.)
Five, Arm yourself with other very important facts. Metro cities have more than 1000 restaurants, while other big cities have only 100 restaurants. And having a larger number of restaurants will force you to become an expert in evaluating choices and taking decisions when the number of options is very very large. And these skills will obviously help you in your career. You could also count the number of movie halls, but that is not very impressive since every screen is going to show "Udita Punjab" anyway. A bigger city would mean that you need to fight for your space in public transport and your career is nothing but a fight for your survival. The hair saloons in big cities will develop your personality so much better than the barber in the hostel of that small town IIT. On the other hand, if you are seriously considering a smaller town, you could read about the pollution numbers or just make them up. Who will know the difference anyway. You can also find out if the boys to girl ratio is 90:10 or 89:11. You can gather all these and more from quora or go to your coaching center. Believe in their wisdom. If they can get you through JEE, they know it all. (Oops, it is not clear whether they got you through. Normally, all successes are mine, and all failures are others'. So may be you passed JEE not because of coaching but your hard work and intelligence.) And come to think of it, since you are not particularly keen on facts being true or relevant, you don't need to go through quora for them. Facebook would be just fine.
And if all this does not convince some uncle that you have actually done due diligence, just ask them what their JEE rank was in their youth. That almost always works.
Six, Ask your Dad to contact me. I reply very quickly if someone my age contacts me and that is the only reason why mostly dads ask me questions. They may not have foggiest of the idea about what you want, but that does not matter. At the end of the day, or the week, they will sit with you when you login to the counseling portal, will give their mobile number and email address lest you should do something without their involvement, and they will tell you the order in which you should put your choices. So they need to do due diligence as well, and they would have followed exactly the steps outlined above.
Seven, some more questions to ask on quora:
- Is there an MBA coaching place near IIT. You know that IIT is just a degree for you, a membership of the alumni association. The real action (read, real money) is after IIMs.
- In which IIT, the professors give easy grades, is attendance compulsory. (So that you can do proper time management, another useful skill for the career. Avoid classes and build personality.) And of course, this information is easy to get, verifiable and can be completely trusted. The companies would love it when you say that you are a very focused person, the only thing you look at is the short term profit for yourself.
- Which IIT allows you Internet access 24x7 to play those multi-user games which develop so many skills of coordination and team work.