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Before you start reading this article I would suggest you not to take this article as an advertisement for Computer Science/Information Technology (CS/IT) stream or something of that sort. I have written this article to make students decide if they are suitable for the CS/IT stream or else what steps should be undertaken by them to be a successful candidate while pursuing it. I wrote this article after getting inputs from my seniors and faculty as well as from my own experience as Computer Science student.
This is an argument beyond any doubt that is the most popular course in India in the Engineering Stream. Unlike other streams which are interdependent and relatively easier (again no hard feelings for non CS/IT streams), CS/IT is independent with few inputs from Electrical Engineering stream.
Due to its popularity it finds many takers but very few out of those who opt for it survive in this stream. Today it has become insanely diverse and complex.
Hence a right approach is need of the hour to excel in this stream.
To get started it is very important to have an aptitude/interest for programming which an important element CS/IT education. Consequently, students who don’t possess suitable aptitude for programming but take CS/IT for different reasons, often end up finding later that they are unable to deal with the requirements of an IT program and career. Such students not only have a difficult time during the education program, they have difficulty in their careers in IT as well. On the other hand, students who have a natural ability enjoy the program and go on to successful and enjoyable careers.
Though no full-proof test exists that can reliably tell if someone has aptitude for some subject (including programming), some pertinent issues are mentioned here which can help a student (and his/her parents) evaluating the suitability of a BTech program in CS/IT.
I know many students who despite being high rankers in entrance test failed miserably in this stream and ended up adopting ways of plagiarizing, cramming and coping up the pressure for 4 years.
First it should be clarified that a CS/IT program is not about learning use of web, spread sheet, PowerPoint, etc. – these are software tools that an IT education program will expect students to learn on their own and use them. A CS/IT program is mostly about programming, theory related to computing and programming, and platforms for writing programs. Hence, in such a program, many courses like data structures, operating systems, networking, databases etc. will involve programming (i.e. writing computer programs in languages like Java, C, C++, etc. – note, however, that students are not required to know these languages from before). Courses like Discrete mathematics, linear algebra, Theory of computation(believe me it is the toughest course ), Analysis of algorithms, etc. will involve working with abstraction and formal models relating to computing and programs and analysing them and proving properties about them. And courses like computer organization, computer architecture etc. cover the design and analysis of hardware platforms for computing.
Due to the rigorous nature of such a program, to do reasonably well in any IT program will often require long hours of study and long hours of programming and lab work. On an average, I advise that student be ready to put in 30-40 hours of work per week (i.e. about 3-4 hours every day and more on weekends) beyond lectures on studying, home assignments, projects, etc.
Given the nature of the program and its rigor, one can say that a BTech in CS/IT may not be the right choice for you, if you dislike programming, find mathematics and formalisms hard, or are unable to study/work for long hours. Today there are many exciting careers in India and there is no need for such students to feel that they must take IT. On the other hand, IT may be the right program and career for you if you like programming, enjoy formalisms and mathematics, and want to work hard.
I hope that this article achieves its purpose of guiding the students for good.