his post is aimed at people studying in the 3-tier colleges or other state-funded colleges. I actually started out writing with engineers in mind but later generalized to any undergrad student in general (Mentioned everywhere when it’s not so). In colleges like these where the students usually remain unaware of what all, they can do during their degree, and not many peers are motivated and ambitious about anything in particular. life just happens. Most faculty do the teaching in a perfunctory manner, they can’t motivate students to learn nor can they recommend any good sources to learn from. More so, they themselves have little to zero knowledge on good sources of the subjects they have been teaching for a decade or two. You’ll realize all these when you get to know of the environment in premier institutes like IISC and IITs.
[Non- Engineers can skip this paragraph]
As opposed to what typical readers of the Blog(The frustrated Indian Engineering student lot) might be thinking about engineering that it’s not a good course is not true, Engineering not all that bad!! It’s actually the sudden increase in the no.of colleges offering the course and subsequent fall in the quality that made us feel so. Engineering is a fantastic course for those it suits and the subjects can be extremely exciting if learned from good sources/teachers.
Learn from good resources:
Most books recommend in places like those are from Indian authors written with an average or below-average student in mind and to make him/her pass the exam somehow. They’re not written to arouse interest in the subject they’re trying to teach. The purpose of their existence is a different thing altogether, which you’ll realize the night before the exam. But on a normal day, reading such books can sabotage someone’s interest in learning the subject in an elegant and detailed way.
- What are these ‘Fantastic books and where to find them?’
It’s this magical world you need to look into, to find all kinds of books. You can find all world-class books and courses over the internet. When you have access to the best sources in the world, why restrict yourself to mediocre ones? Invest your valuable time in something that will give you the best returns.
Whatever is the subject you want to learn, do a quick google search about the best books or best Online video lectures available on them. You can even lookup on Quora or stack exchange to find some recommendations along with reviews. You’ll find plenty of online courses on Youtube, MIT-OCW and Course era and EDx. Good Books and teachers make the subject more intuitive gripping and the whole learning process enjoyable. Even most boring of the subjects can be taught in a captivating manner, all it takes is a good teacher. I know, the prices of books by foreign authors will be exorbitant, but you can always download their PDFs and print them and make a spiral binding. You can download almost any academic book in PDF format in ‘Lib-Gen‘. Google ‘Lib-Gen’ and find the latest link of the website ( They keep changing it for obvious reasons).
(This point again is more relevant to engineers, Non-engineering students can give it a skip) I recommend going to a good coaching center in the summer for 45 days. The coaching center teachers teach with a lot of passion and enthusiasm(I’ve been to ACE Academy, Dilsukhnagar, Hyderabad can vouch for that but I don’t know about the others). I’d recommend doing this even if your passion lies elsewhere. You’ll learn a lot about your subject and can talk confidently in an interview or in front of anyone whenever the topic about your stream comes up. The teachers over there usually start from ground basics assuming you know almost nothing about the subject. So, In my honest opinion, you need not wait until your third year or second year, you can go there even if you have just completed your 12th. Albeit, you might not understand as much as a third-year student will, you will definitely understand the gist of the topics, which will give you a huge advantage while learning the same subjects again during your coursework in college. It’ll help you better up your GPA and give you some time to focus on any other place you are passionate about.
I can say with quite a certainty that an average student learns in these 45 days more than what they have learned in all the 4 years combined. If you don’t have the time and patience to read all the foreign author books and do those online courses, this will be a not-so-bad alternative. They’ll cover all the fundamentals in a very short time in a succinct manner. Moreover, it’ll be very relevant to the Indian curriculum. But the catch is the classes will be for around 8 hrs every day or even more than that on some days. If that is too much for you, you can skip one subject which is not being taught well comparatively and sleep during that time( That’s what I did😛).
Even in a case where you cannot go to one of those coaching centers or if coaching centers are just not your thing, do at least get their study material and Xerox of handwritten notes ( They usually sell them in the Xerox centers surrounding the coaching center). The handwritten notes will be extremely useful!!!
Strengthen your Basics
You need not know all the complex topics present at the end chapters of your books, but you should know the basics very well. By the word know I didn’t mean knowing just the names. Reading all the topics superficially is not a good practice, one should have a good understanding of basics and must be able to answer questions on the fundamental topics of your subject. It’s not necessary to have them on top of your head all the time but learn them in such a manner that given some time, you’ll be able to reconstruct everything from the basics or a quick glance at the book. The key to strengthen up basics is asking ‘Why?’. We should keep asking this question a lot more in our life as well. See what Richard Feynman one of the greatest Physicists ever and one of the best teachers in the world said about it here Richard Feynman ‘Why?’
, His autobiography book “Surely you’re joking Feynman ” is a very popular book I recommend reading this to everyone(Although I’m guilty of not reading it myself 😔). Also, If you’re someone who gets intimidated when people say complex terms that are new to you, watch this video in which he explains why names don’t constitute as knowledge
as long as you don’t exactly know what they mean.
Summer and Winter breaks!!!!!
Make good use of these breaks, Don’t just stay at home for the whole period and do nothing. Do a summer project or plan to do an online course or finish a book or study a subject of your interest in depth. You can do your summer or winter project any field of your interest which need not be the same as the one you are studying in college. Doing these will give a glimpse of what working in that field will be like and will benefit a lot if you are planning to go abroad. Also if you show in your CV that you’ve been consistently interested in a specific field, it’ll be a huge advantage in getting a admit in that particular field. If you’re wondering where and how to find internships, do go through this post Where and how to get summer/winter Internships?
I’ve mentioned several places you can look to get internships and how to go about writing emails to profs about it. It will be extremely helpful if you are new to this thing.
Explore as much as you can
Actively participate in Inter-departmental events either on campus or outside. Take the notice board in your department seriously. You’ll find posters of all workshops, seminars and even fests. Have conversations with the students of those departments about their subject, they can boil it down to you so that you’ll get the gist of it. Besides, there are extra perks of attending these events, like you’ll get to see a whole lot of new faces, meet new people, etc, etc.. Who knows, who you might discover and what might lead to what😋.
Notice if you start liking a specific subject or a field
While you’re learning and exploring, see if you find any specific topic interesting in your field. If you find any such, Try to pursue it. This will be extremely helpful in building your profile if you’re aspiring to go abroad for Higher Studies. Attend events do an internship or do online courses related to that. If you can show that you’ve been consistently interested in a particular subject for a long time, you can get admission to top schools that specialize in those subjects.
Be open to all options
Even to streams like Physics chemistry Business, management, Entrepreneurship media, masscom, etc. Search on the Internet about how to change to that stream and develop a plan towards a career in it. Find someone who made that switch and gather as much information as you can.
Read more books in general
One more thing I’ve observed in places like these is that the students don’t have the habit of reading. If you’re one such, it only means you just haven’t come across the right book yet. Visit the library(or Book Store) just once and take a quick glance at all the different kinds of Books with enticing titles and cover pages, one thing or the other will definitely lure you into reading. Once you start to develop the habit of reading, you’ll realize that it’s the 9-3/4 platform to the magical world you’ve been missing all your life!! Reading is one of the best things you can do to yourself. It’s a very common trait among many successful people all around the world.