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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Men: The free gym is good enough for Mehdi’s 5x5. Run in the huge track. Basketball is great on campus too.
- It is easy to become addicted to smokes on campus, harder to get close to alcohol. Been there, escaped narrowly. Be careful.
- Grilled/Boiled Chicken is great outside campus (Bihari Dhaba, Tarama, even FC - etc). Good for building mass.
- You’ll walk a lot, get decent shoes. I used Nike’s Zeta 2.0, but Decathlon and New Balance are also good.
- 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).
- 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.
- 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.
- Clubs aren’t family, but you’ll make great friends there.
- 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
- There are 180 credits, capstone is 20 - usually your last semester is just these 20 credits.
- 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.
- Failing a course isn’t too bad, just don’t fail too many courses, it’s expensive.
- In Summer, you can redo upto 4 courses per month. 2 Summers = 8 courses.
- There are 3 components to every course: J, L, T - Project, Lab, Theory.
- 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.
- Labs - Do everything from lab same day. Lab will be like 1 credit, but easy marks, and losing it is bad.
- 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.