Tips to get thru VIT

Update: I’m in grad school @ Boston University now. More on this some other day.

I went to VIT Vellore, it was a fun 2-3 years (cut short due to COVID). There are few things you need to know, however. Here’s a general list of tips first. I’m just reminiscing about college days. I had 15+ backlogs, I did a bunch of things wrong, but here’s something I saw my more academically smart friends do.

  1. Make good friends in first sem, you’ll need a decent circle. They will help you find the right professors, and connect you to other people. Always good to have friends in class too - most of my friends were from other branches, so very little friends in my own class.
  2. Do your own DAs first few semesters, it can be fun and nerdy and you’ll learn a bit. It’ll make you confident too. After that, your choice depending on how done with this university you are. I’d suggest do it every semester, but YMMV.
  3. Certificates are useless, ODs are hard to clock in (if you attend an event). Be at 85%+ attendance for the first 3 semesters, it’ll help you relax. The sun, food, rain - something will make you sick. The hospital is OK too, just a little expensive. If you attend <75%, annoy the dean till they let you take the exam.
  4. Keep your room clean, minimal and fresh. It’s always fun. Amazon has fitted bedsheets, please use those. They’re a little expensive so try to get the darker ones. Get comfortable chairs too, they’re cheap (2-5k for a second hand in places), they’ll be super helpful.
  5. Hackathons are fun, but don’t go to win. I went to 10-15 hackathons and lost all of them. Still learned a lot. Met Deepanshu from Persistence (CTO) who helped me land an internship later. Wild, fun days.
  6. Men: The free gym is good enough for Mehdi’s 5x5. Run in the huge track. Basketball is great on campus too.
  7. It is easy to become addicted to smokes on campus, harder to get close to alcohol. Been there, escaped narrowly. Be careful.
  8. Grilled/Boiled Chicken is great outside campus (Bihari Dhaba, Tarama, even FC - etc). Good for building mass.
  9. You’ll walk a lot, get decent shoes. I used Nike’s Zeta 2.0, but Decathlon and New Balance are also good.
  10. Continuing previous points - Audible.com is great for walking, buy it - get some reading in. Spotify Premium/YouTube Music is great too, you’ll need it. A decent pair of earphones (KZs, Realme Buds are cheap and all you need).
  11. Learn Linux and gitHub - learn them through use and project. To learn how to code, start with HTML/CSS/JavaScript on FreeCodeCamp. Spend 3-5 weeks here, then start your real journey.
  12. Dress up clean, take baths frequently. Ideally daily, and no repeat clothes - but we know you’re not doing that. Choose a perfume or cologne that suits you. Vellore is insanely hot, you can’t wear shorts, and the shared baths are rarely clean or vacant - in this, I understand how hard it is to look and smell good, but do your best.
  13. Internship, apprenticeship or shadowing - go do it under a more senior dev (and not someone who is in 3rd year while you’re in 1st). Seniors in College don’t know jackshit.
  14. Clubs aren’t family, but you’ll make great friends there.
  15. On choosing a laptop: choose any lightweight laptop if you want to bring it to the class (if the professors allow it) - I would suggest Macbook Air M1 but no one is as much of a miser as Indian Undergrads - so get whatever you can, keep it neat and clean. Disk health should be above a certain marker, don’t install anti-viruses, no downloading from weird places, switch out from Chrome to a lightweight browser. VS Code, Typora, Notion are all great for me.

Good to know

  1. There are 180 credits, capstone is 20 - usually your last semester is just these 20 credits.
  2. 160 credits is divided into a bunch of 2-4 credit courses, let’s say every course is 4 credit - we get 40 courses. You end up doing 5-6 courses per semester. This isn’t accurate, of course, but it’s best you calculate stuff up like this for things to go smoothly. Go to Curriculum and do it.
  3. Failing a course isn’t too bad, just don’t fail too many courses, it’s expensive.
  4. In Summer, you can redo upto 4 courses per month. 2 Summers = 8 courses.
  5. There are 3 components to every course: J, L, T - Project, Lab, Theory.
  6. If you fail project or lab, I think you have to redo the whole thing - so don’t miss labs no matter what, and do your projects on time - incomplete is fine, most faculties don’t care. They have to vet 30-40 projects per semester. Make it look legit, be on time, be polite - you’re good. Arrogance is not good.
  7. Labs - Do everything from lab same day. Lab will be like 1 credit, but easy marks, and losing it is bad.
  8. Soft Skills - no one likes it, including the faculties. Go to class, if the faculty is chill, watch some videos, listen to an audiobook, finish off some work.

Indian Engineering is a game of how much bullshit either sides can pull off without others noticing, play it well. Coming to grad school, there is a night and day difference. Everyone is clean, genuine and honest. Try to be that in your shitty undergrad, it’s worth a try. But remember to have fun.