Guaranteed admission at best engin. school in world!





Click here to go to the NEW College Discussion Forum

Discus: College Admissions: March 2004 Archive: Guaranteed admission at best engin. school in world!
By Silmon77 (Silmon77) on Sunday, March 07, 2004 - 02:24 am: Edit

well...pretty good chances, anyways. My dad says that if i wanted too, I could probably get into Indian Institute of Technology(IIT), considered by most to be the best, most selective, and most rigorous university in the world. Every year, 200,000 apply to the school, which accepts 3,000. It takes a lifetime of preperation and a 6 hr exam to get in. However, what many don't know is that IIT has a foreign quota that is not usually filled. It is hard work, you are more likely than not to fail, you have to go live in India and everyone there is likely to be smarter than you, but on the plus side, classes are taught in English, the campuses are beautiful and modern, and you get the best bang for your buck- $5,000 a year total. Not a bad way to risk dying from stress.

By Anger (Anger) on Sunday, March 07, 2004 - 03:41 am: Edit

I believe IIT has scraped the DASA policy!
No information is available on the website anyway!
Besides when the policy was functional it was tution rates $8000 +Accomodation(again extra fees for foreigners and NRIs)+living expenses!

Although its a great institute it doesnt have the requisite financial resources to provide the amneties most US universities have!

By College_Kid (College_Kid) on Sunday, March 07, 2004 - 05:15 am: Edit

Yes..the IIT's. The food there is tasteless and looks like it was made for animals, the dorms are plain halls, for sports there is a dirty, damaged and unmaintained sports complex. The 'ragging' tradition holds - freshmen are badly humiliated as an introduction by groups of upperclassmen. The kinds of things they're made to do faintly reminds one of concentration camps. A recent freshman at the Delhi campus needed treatment after his 'ragging'. The campus is filled with mainly two types of people - those who study and do nothing else, and those who rarely study but go around the campus picking up fights. The DASA candidates have to pay a higher fee, and the professors think that they are 'a bunch of fools from all parts of the world' (someone said so on CC itself). The IITs have had some great alumni, but the only problem is that their list of great alumni hasn't changed all that much over the years. The CEO of bell labs, CEO of some airline company, and Kanwal Rekhi the IT personality. They were the IIT success stories in 1999, and you still hear the same old success stories - hasn't IIT produced anything better over the years? These people graduated from the IIT's years ago, but what people don't see is that the current stream of IITians turn into mere followers. The only difference between them and other students remains that they earn higher salaries because of their alma mater. The successful IITians I've met over the years graduated in fields totally different from their current practice. They were great professionals by themselves - IIT didn't give them any useful skills. Personally, I think it's totally worthless working like a donkey for preparing for the IIT entrance exam. If all of these IIT aspirants from India focussed that much on EC's and school grades and did something creative, MIT would be full of them.

By College_Kid (College_Kid) on Sunday, March 07, 2004 - 05:27 am: Edit

Yes..the IIT's. The food there is tasteless and looks like it was made for animals, the dorms are plain halls, for sports there is a dirty, damaged and unmaintained sports complex. The 'ragging' tradition holds - freshmen are badly humiliated as an introduction by groups of upperclassmen. The kinds of things they're made to do faintly reminds one of concentration camps. A recent freshman at the Delhi campus needed treatment after his 'ragging'. The campus is filled with mainly two types of people - those who study and do nothing else, and those who rarely study but go around the campus picking up fights. The DASA candidates have to pay a higher fee, and the professors think that they are 'a bunch of fools from all parts of the world' (someone said so on CC itself). The IITs have had some great alumni, but the only problem is that their list of great alumni hasn't changed all that much over the years. The CEO of bell labs, CEO of some airline company, and Kanwal Rekhi the IT personality. They were the IIT success stories in 1999, and you still hear the same old success stories - hasn't IIT produced anything better over the years? These people graduated from the IIT's years ago, but what people don't see is that the current stream of IITians turn into mere followers. The only difference between them and other students remains that they earn higher salaries because of their alma mater. The successful IITians I've met over the years graduated in fields totally different from their current practice. They were great professionals by themselves - IIT didn't give them any useful skills. Personally, I think it's totally worthless working like a donkey for preparing for the IIT entrance exam. If all of these IIT aspirants from India focussed that much on EC's and school grades and did something creative, MIT would be full of them.

By Foreignboy (Foreignboy) on Sunday, March 07, 2004 - 05:39 am: Edit

MIT kicks IIT's proverbial ass.

By Shahab (Shahab) on Sunday, March 07, 2004 - 12:31 pm: Edit

The successful IITians I've met over the years graduated in fields totally different from their current practice

Isnt that true for most people?

IIT didn't give them any useful

Not true. If anything, IIT gives a lot of control over the university to the students. IIT lets students plan trips, and operate a budget to an extent unseen in the states.

The CEO of bell labs, CEO of some airline company, and Kanwal Rekhi the IT personality. They were the IIT success stories in 1999, and you still hear the same old success stories - hasn't IIT produced anything better over the years?

How many CEO's do you expect them to supply? You cant make one every other day for top companies like AT&T as you know. Also, if you look at HYPS and look at their "famous alums" they sometimes take you back in time to like the 50's to name some senator or another famous alum. I think those people are a litle less relevant than those in 1999, who are still having an effect on the world.

Look, MIT and IIT and Caltech are both amazing schools, and anyone who gets into them should thank their lucky stars. But the thing is, MIT and (to a lesser extent) Caltech look at EC's, disadvantaged background, etc etc. IIT just looks at one ultra hard test's score. Almost everyone in India would be considered "disadvantaged" over here, and EC's, while many do participate in India, are not seen as relevant. To get in, you have to be around the top 1 percent or less (i forget, and its probably much much lower than this statistic) among already very competitive students in a nation already known for its student's mathematical abilities.

By Bunmushroom (Bunmushroom) on Sunday, March 07, 2004 - 12:52 pm: Edit

I would prefer Stanford, MIT, or Cal Tech. I also pity those who devote their childhood to get into IIT.

By Silmon77 (Silmon77) on Sunday, March 07, 2004 - 01:12 pm: Edit

From a pure academic standpoint, its hard to top, but yes, I agree, the social life is slightly above being in a coma(not that CalTech or MIT are much better).

With hundreds of thousands of applications, they really don't have the time to do any 'comprehensive review".

Besides, for a third-world, state-run institution, its in pretty good shape.

By Shahab (Shahab) on Sunday, March 07, 2004 - 01:53 pm: Edit

By the way Silmon, dont think youve found a loophole. Every employer is going to see that you are from the US. and every employer is going to wonder why you didnt apply to american schools/ get accepted. IIT is great for indian students, but i dont think it will be looked highly upon if youre from america and chose to go there.

By Star69 (Star69) on Sunday, March 07, 2004 - 02:41 pm: Edit

IIT is a pure meritocracy - you either make the cut off by exam score or you don't. There is no "social engineering" and trying to balance classes for diversity or creativity. However ITT grads aspire to AMERICAN grad schools so go figure!

By Aim78 (Aim78) on Sunday, March 07, 2004 - 04:26 pm: Edit

That's because America is where it's at, the UK too. Most of these IIT grads want to go to the Silicon Valley where people like to see graduates of top American schools.

One super-hard test is the best way to get a bunch of geniuses. But if that's the only criteria, there won't be much diversity. I'm sure they get athletes too, like for the cricket team and whatnot. But don't diss the test, most of the people on this board would go down in flames if we had to take a test like that to get into the Ivies.

By Star69 (Star69) on Sunday, March 07, 2004 - 04:56 pm: Edit

Actually am not "dissing the test" just saying it is a very different process and IIT is basically looking to cull the geniuses as do many European schools. I know about 5 guys who went there. There is not any interest in diversity, it is extreme darwinism - to the fittest(smartest) go the spoils. American Universities seem to be seeking creativity along with genius and that is difficult to measure with a test. American Universities have also taken social engineering upon their shoulders -- for instance MIT has made a conscious decision to try to admit 50% girls even though they as a group do not test as well as boys in math. They have different goals than IIT.

By Evil_Robot (Evil_Robot) on Sunday, March 07, 2004 - 05:44 pm: Edit

My question about IIT and schools like it that are based off of one test: How do we know the test measures true intelligence? I looked at some parts of the test (physics/math) online, and it wasn't too bad (certainly didn't delve into quantum mechanics and linear algebra). It's like the SAT, but worse. Missing one question on the IIT exam can cost you your admissions: should one question on an exam that you take under extreme stress cost you college admissions? Under those criteria, Albert Einstein would've failed miserably, as would innumerable other great geniuses of history. Do you really get the best and brightest out of this test or the ones who memorize the best?

By Sakky (Sakky) on Sunday, March 07, 2004 - 05:48 pm: Edit

Not that I don't think IIT is a fine school, but I strongly suspect the hype has overtaken reality.

*Specifically, consider the contention that "IIS is considered to be the most selective school in the world".

I've heard this phrase being tossed around before, with very little substance to back it up. Proponents would point to the fact that a large number X apply and only small number Y get in, and attempt to pass that on as proof that this makes IIT selective, unfortunately this is tremendously misleading argument when you're talking about IIT.

The fact is, as stated before in this thread, the only thing you have to do to get into IIT is pass a test. The test itself is the "application form". Yes, the test is grueling. Yes the test is difficult. But getting a high score on the test is the only thing you have to do. Furthermore, every single person who sits the test is considered an "applicant". Clearly this severely skews the calculation of the "selectivity" of IIT.

For example, consider how you go about getting admissions to a highly selective American school like, oh I don't know, Harvard. How do you get admitted to Harvard? You have to amass a body of stellar performance in high school, along with EC's, strong essays, strong test scores, good rec's, etc. etc. etc. If your SAT score or your academic record or anything else on your application is poor, you're probably not going to apply to Harvard. Suffice it to say that the only people who apply are those people who believe they actually have a reasonable chance of getting admitted. The admissions process is therefore highly self-selective. Those who know they have no chance (usually) have the good sense not to even waste time applying.

Let's say that Harvard decided that the only thing you have to do to gain admission to Harvard is score highly on a certain test. (Those of you who know your history should know that this is precisely how Harvard used to run its admissions back in the 1700's and 1800's, until Harvard administrators realized that, quite frankly, too many Jews were passing the test and getting in and so plain old anti-Semitism reared its ugly head and Harvard scrapped the test to make it harder for Jews to get in). I think we all know what would happen if Harvard re-implemented such a policy. Far far more people would "apply" under this new system than did under the old system. People would figure (correctly) that all they need to get into Harvard is one good day. The guy who screwed up in school and would therefore never dream of applying under the old system would probably attempt the test, hoping he might get lucky. Why not? The worst thing that can happen is you don't score well enough to get admitted. And each of these test-takers would be considered an "applicant". It should be plain to see that Harvard's selectivity numbers (as measured by the number of acceptances divided by the number of "applicants") would drop precipitously.

Now, don't get me wrong. I'm not saying that IIT isn't selective. Surely it is. But the notion that IIT is the most selective school in the world is a rather bold claim that is not particularly well supported by the facts at hand.


*Having said that, I do agree that the IIT admissions process is "cleaner".

I think somebody like shahab is implying that in some ways, the IIT admission process is a more transparent process than that used by American schools. You get a certain score on a test and you're in. It's clean. None of this highly subjective game where adcoms have to weigh whether some guy's 4 years of playing varsity tiddly-winks compensates for 50 SAT points or whatever. Also no more jealous and suspicious rantings and ravings about "Well, so-and-so got in and I didn't, and I have better qualifications than he does, etc. etc." Under the IIM system, you either got the requisite test-score, or you didn't. It's that simple. Ivory-soap clean.

* Is IIT really "the best"?

At the risk of starting a religious war, I would say that best and most honest way to figure out which school is the "best" is simply to imagine a hypothetical situation where you were admitted to each and every school in the world. Also, to remove the impact of cost in this exercise (a fair thing to do because you shouldn't have to use caveats like "the best, given the price" - either a school is "the best" or it isn't), imagine that you could attend these schools all for the same cost (so imagine a hypothetical worldwide financial-aid equalizer). Now ask yourself honestly - where would you go? Be completely and perfectly honest with yourself.

In particular, for the purposes of this discussion, ask any of those Indians who are cramming their brains for the IIT test whether he would he still want to go to IIT if, for the same cost, he could go to, say, Harvard, Oxford, or MIT instead. I don't have anything against IIT, but I think we all know what that Indian guy would choose. I think that goes a long way towards figuring out whether IIT really is "the best" or not.

By Poeman (Poeman) on Sunday, March 07, 2004 - 05:51 pm: Edit

good for you silmon. for those who have no clue IIT is the best UNIVERSITY in the world. I dont go there tho

By Penn08please (Penn08please) on Sunday, March 07, 2004 - 06:00 pm: Edit

200,000? I don't think so. There aren't even enough potential engineering students in the country to fill out all those applications.

By Shahab (Shahab) on Sunday, March 07, 2004 - 06:10 pm: Edit

200 000? frankly im surprised thats IT.

And

"The fact is, as stated before in this thread, the only thing you have to do to get into IIT is pass a test. The test itself is the "application form". Yes, the test is grueling. Yes the test is difficult. But getting a high score on the test is the only thing you have to do. Furthermore, every single person who sits the test is considered an "applicant". Clearly this severely skews the calculation of the "selectivity" of IIT"

Hate to break it to you, but your logic is flawed on two points
1) That people as poor as in India have 6 Hours to SPARE. people are broke. Time= money. Money=food. Youre not wasting 6 hours on a test you cant pass. Typical thinking for those of us stateside though. The test is self selecting in its own right.
2) Take a look at those admitted to IIT. They almost always, without question, have stellar grades and were consistent top performers. The test is engineered to weed out anything BUT. You assume that just because a Harvard etc. looks at EC's and things besides standardized scores, that they are harder. BS. There is too much emphasis on being a "well rounded person" here, or even doing well in a couple of activities. Maybe thats why we consistently have among the lowest scores in math compared to the chinas and the indias.

By Silmon77 (Silmon77) on Sunday, March 07, 2004 - 06:28 pm: Edit

I think that its good that the exam is black and white. Otherwise all these rich politicians would get their unqualified kids into it.

Also, maybe the reason that IIT graduates have stopped making a name for themselves here is that they are staying in India, fullfilling the goal that the gov. had in mind when they started IIT in the first place. Remember that India's technology sector is booming, and a typical engineer might make 1/6th of what they would make here, but living expenses might be 1/20th of America's.

I personally would rather go to ASU (shudder) than go to IIT, but maybe thats just me.

By Chrisq (Chrisq) on Sunday, March 07, 2004 - 06:29 pm: Edit

Here's something I've always wondered when people talk about IIT. Okay, why the hell do 200,000 people apply if admission is based so heavily on that one entrance exam? If only 3,000 people are admitted, then it should be obvious to most of the applicants, based on their test scores, that they can't get in. Right? Or maybe the 200,000 number just refers to the number of people who take the entrance exam, in which case the figure is extremely deceptive. It's almost like saying that Ivy league schools have millions of applicants just because millions of people take the SAT. As an aside, think what wonders a 1.5% admission rate would do for a U.S. college's ranking in those silly magazines!

By Sakky (Sakky) on Sunday, March 07, 2004 - 09:42 pm: Edit

Chrisq, you got it exactly right in your second statement - that every single test-taker is considered an "applicant". Therefore you agree with my previous post that that selectivity rating is misleading to the extreme.

Now let me deal specifically with the points that Shahab is making.

*"That people as poor as in India have 6 Hours to SPARE. people are broke. Time= money. Money=food. Youre not wasting 6 hours on a test you cant pass. Typical thinking for those of us stateside though. The test is self selecting in its own right. "

It is indeed true that the IIT exam also has self-selecting elements in its own rights. It is obviously true that not every single eligible Indian takes the IIT exam. But you missed my point - that you simply cannot determine a school's selectity merely by looking at admissions percentages alone. The 1.5% IIT admissions number is therefore misleading because you're not doing an apples-to-apples comparison with American schools, and that's the point

And more precisely, American schools tend to be more self-selective in the attributes that schools should be self-selective about. That's the point.

Let's think of what we're talking about logically. You say that many Indians are poor, and this is of course true. We both know that right now there are probably millions of Indians who were born with more brainpower than anybody here, but were unfortunately born in poverty and will therefore never have a chance to lift themselves out of poverty. I agree with you that these people probably cannot even afford the 6 hours necessary to take the test and that is a sad thing. On the other hand, you must concede that there are probably plenty of middle and upper-class Indians who will surely decided to take a shot at the IIT exam even though they were mediocre students. Indians are therefore "self-selecting" themselves to take the IIT exam to a large extent based on poverty. We both know that that's not the way it should be, but that's the way it is.

American schools, on the other hand, self-select based on actual ability. Again, consider a rich American and a rich Indian, both with atrocious academic records. The rich American probably knows it is hopeless to apply to Harvard, so he won't try. The rich Indian, on the other hand can clearly afford to take 6 hours out of his day, and even though his academic record is bad, might attempt the IIT exam anyway, figuring he has nothing to lose.

Contrast that with a poor American and a poor Indian, both with very good academic records. The poor American might apply to Harvard. The poor Indian, as we agreed, might not be able to take 6 hours out of his day. In any case, that poor American is more likely to apply to Harvard than that poor Indian is to attempt the IIT exam.

So while I agree that IIT is indeed self-selecting, to follow your logic, IIT is more self-selecting based on poverty than American schools are, and I think we both agree that this is not the kind of self-selectivity that should be practiced. I don't want to sound like a wild-eyed progressive here, but I think we all agree that it is better for schools to select (and therefore for students to self-select) based on academic merit rather than on wealth.

*"You assume that just because a Harvard etc. looks at EC's and things besides standardized scores, that they are harder. BS. There is too much emphasis on being a "well rounded person" here, or even doing well in a couple of activities. Maybe thats why we consistently have among the lowest scores in math compared to the chinas and the indias. "

I must take severe umbrage with this statement, because you just put words in my mouth and engaged in a straw-man tactic. When did I say or assume that Harvard is necessarily better precisely because they look at other factors like EC's? Please pull out the quote where I said that I was assuming that. I never said, nor did I ever assume such a thing. In fact, what I actually said is that I agreed that the IIT admissions system is in certain ways actually better than the American system precisely because it is cleaner.

I do in fact believe that Harvard and MIT are better than IIT, but that has nothing to do with their admissions policies per se. It has to do with, well, money (H&M have far greater financial resources), better connections to the research community, and the like. I never rested my arguments as to why Harvard and MIT are better based on superior admissions policies.

Harvard and MIT are better than IIT because people who are admitted to all of them, even Indians themselves, presuming money is not an object, will happily choose Harvard or MIT. You can talk about how IIT has all these great things, and I cannot disagree with you, but at the end of the day, Indians will vote with their feet about which school they honestly think is better. Again - be completely honest with yourself - if you've been admitted to both MIT and IIT, and money is not a factor, what are you going to do?


Now, to penn08please's quote of "200,000? I don't think so. There aren't even enough potential engineering students in the country to fill out all those applications. "

You sure about that? According to The Times of India, every year India produces about 360,000 engineering graduates (from all the engineering schools in India, obviously not just IIT). That's not 360,000 people who are thinking of becoming engineers - but rather 360,000 actual engineering degrees granted every year.

"The Indian Human Resources Ministry put the number of engineering schools in India at 1,200, cranking out 360,000 engineers annually."

http://www.indiafirstfoundation.org/archives/news/03/august/s&tnews_m.htm

By Stanfordrulez (Stanfordrulez) on Sunday, March 07, 2004 - 11:53 pm: Edit

Most of the successful Indians in the US are IIT graduates.
Hmmm.
Yet, I'd rather go to a more 'fun' place for my undergrad.

By Belial (Belial) on Monday, March 08, 2004 - 01:37 am: Edit

Let's take another example where admitted % is invalid. Tsinghua University from China, THE most prestigious school. However, the admission rate for undergrad is well over 70%. Does that mean the university is not selective? Or does it simply mean people match themselves up pretty well?

By Sakky (Sakky) on Monday, March 08, 2004 - 07:54 am: Edit

Actually, Stanfordrulez, first of all, I'm not sure that what you're saying is true. I don't have the facts in front of me, but purely from an anecdotal standpoint, I believe the most successful Indians in the US are not IIT graduates, but rather graduates of the usual suspects - Harvard, MIT, Yale, Stanford, Oxford, Cambridge, and the like. For example, the richest Indian in the world is Azim Premji, chairman of Wipro. An IIT graduate? No. He went to Stanford.

What obviously skews the situation is the simple fact that most Indians do not have the financial wherewithal to study in the US. But again, I would appeal to the thought exercise - a guy in India is admitted to both IIT and to Harvard. Assuming money is no object, where do you think he will go? I think we all know that he will choose Harvard and that is very telling.

Now that's not to say that money isn't an important thing in life. Of course it is. But Indians who choose IIT over Harvard because they simply don't have the money to go Harvard still want to go to Harvard, they just can't. It's like this. Let's say that I gave you the choice between buying a Chevy and a BMW. Even though we all like the Beamer better, many of us might choose the Chevy simply because it's cheaper. Now let me offer you both cars for the same price. I think it's clear that now everybody would choose the BMW.

Now does that mean IIT is a bad school. No of course not. IIT is a very good school. It is just, not at this time, at the level of the elite American or British schools. That might simply be a problem of perception, but, let's remember that perception means a lot.

By U2rules (U2rules) on Monday, March 08, 2004 - 08:23 am: Edit

offer an iit grad a full ride to stanford and hell be on the first bullock cart out.
face it..iit is good.but u.s universities transalate to better oppurtunites and a better life.

anyone whose gonna downplay u.s schools shouldnt beon these boards.

btw i am indian

By Innsayneidiot (Innsayneidiot) on Wednesday, March 10, 2004 - 01:14 am: Edit

"Tsinghua University from China, THE most prestigious school. However, the admission rate for undergrad is well over 70%. "

if that's true, it's only because chinese students take an entrance exam and report their top choice colleges before they find out their scores. if you're rejected from your top choice because you score lower than you thought you would have, or their cutoff score is higher that year, or whatnot, your second choice may not take you even if you have higher scores than their usual admits because they know they're your "second choice"... so the only people who "apply" to tsinghua are the ones who are pretty sure they're going to get in.
i don't think that's the point the other people on this post are trying to make about IIT/american schools. if you could only apply to ONE school, not very many people would apply to harvard either.

By Stanfordrulez (Stanfordrulez) on Wednesday, March 10, 2004 - 05:49 am: Edit

Sakky:
This link is for you
http://www.indianembassy.org/US_Media/2003/mar/cbs_iit.shtml
Thats the 60 Minutes special on IIT.
Tell me if you still disagree with me.
[btw, I'm not Indian]

By Longhorn (Longhorn) on Wednesday, March 10, 2004 - 04:23 pm: Edit

Here's my perspective. There could be huge debates over IIT vs. Harvard/MIT. What should be clear to everyone, however, is that IIT and Harvard are in totally different worlds, and both are adapting to their countries the best way they can. Don't like the JEE? Tell me a better way to select 3000 people out of 2,00,000 in a limited budget with limited staffing.

IIT has roughly the very best of students in India, and is therefore connected very well with the industry. In such a huge country, IIT proves to be insufficient, though, because there really are many more meritorious students than they can accomodate. This makes getting admitted a big victory, and the focus of the whole industry on only a few institutions. All grads get nice jobs right out of college, and the facilities within the college aren't that bad.

Compare that to other engineering colleges throughout India, and IIT would be considered heaven. Job Placements, proper labs, libraries, etc. are rare at even well-known colleges. The city where I come from, anyone with a little money is setting up private engineering colleges, with half the seats merit-based, and half "paid" seats, which means you can officially pay your way through admissions. It is such places that turn out some of the 3,60,000 engineers in India, and the situation is pitiful. Many of these colleges are just plain classrooms in a building, and they are seen mainly as nice business opportunities for those who start them. "Research? what research? You mean pesking people in the market with questionnares? no we don't do any of that.". There are state-owned schools, too, but most of them are not so good, even though they're better than the private ones, and most of them suffer from heavy red tapism. IIT is heaven compared to them. The only problem is, that you go either to the IIT or to Chipmunk Engineering College- no other place between the heavens and the gutters.

But the bad side of IIT and other exam-based admissions is the tremendous pressure it puts on high school students. Those serious about getting into IIT seldom come to school and spend most of their time studying at IIT coaching centres, which require 8-10 hour/day studies. Extracurriculars and even simple 'fun' goes out the window. Most students in their drive for the IITs forget to study for their boards (high school exams) and end up failing or near-failing them. At the end of high school, you're not able to distinguish the IIT aspirants from drug addicts. No, all of them are not nerds. Nerds _enjoy_ what they do. Only a few students can come through the whole deal as normal kids.

Compare that to the kind of high school student the US colleges inspire you to become. If you wish for the Ivy League, you score well in school and standardized tests, and at the same time you work in activities that interest _you_ to gain experience and awards. At the end of your high school experience, you haven't wasted your 4 years just collecting scores. You've made something of your time, learnt some skills, and most important, had fun.

These two being the only drawback of the IITs, I think they're excellent institutions. By the way there is very little self-selectivity in the IITs - the application fee is just $12, and lots of students do give it just for the kicks, and it only requires that you give a paper (and nobody in India is so poor as to not be able to afford a mere 6 hours. The whole analogy time=money=food doesnt fit so well for students, IMHO). So, lots of students do give the exam just for kicks, though there are lots of serious students as well.

By Sakky (Sakky) on Wednesday, March 10, 2004 - 09:23 pm: Edit

Stanfordrulez, I saw the IIT 60 minutes article when it was actually on 60 minutes.

The point is simply this. As stated in the article by Lesley Stahl, the basis for saying that IIT is the best in the world is the low acceptance rates of IIT. The strong implication is that low acceptance rates means high selectivity and therefore eliteness. Unfortunately, as mentioned before many times on this thread, a low acceptance rate is a tremendously poor way to determine selectivity. Again, the way that you "apply" to IIT is to sit the JEE, which costs very little in both time and money, which is why you end up with a lot of middle and upper-class Indians, who figure they have nothing to lose, to attempt it.

Now let's deal with the notion of some Indians being rejected from IIT who got accepted on scholarship to some of the bigger-name US schools. It is of course obviously true that when you're looking at large numbers, odd things will indeed happen. Even in the US, I know guys who got admitted to elite schools who got rejected at lesser schools. A guy I know very well just got admitted, for graduate school, to MIT's LFM program (the combined Sloan MBA and MS-engineering program and on full scholarship). The LFM program is one of the super-plum programs in the world for not only are we talking about going to the #4 graduate business school (Sloan) and the top-rated graduate engineering school in the country, but he pays no tuition. But he got rejected from the MBA programs of Yale and Georgetown, and these are not particularly elite MBA programs. Strange things do indeed happen when you talk about large numbers. Admissions to US schools are always a crapshoot and it is inevitable that when you're looking at the large numbers of IIT "applicants", some of them probably did rejected from IIT but got admitted to top US schools. The mistake is that to take random events and generalize them into patterns that don't exist.

Let me give you the following example. Let's say there's a guy who's won the lottery for a million dollars not once, but twice. Impossible? Well, consider this. Let's say that the odds of winning that lottery were a million-to-one. Now let's find 1000 past lottery winners. That really isn't very hard, because somebody wins each million-dollar state lottery every few weeks or so, and then multiply that by the number of states that run lotteries, and it really isn't all that hard to find 1000 past lottery winners. Now let's say that each one of those past winners buys 1000 lottery tickets. Wouldn't be hard to do, after all, they can afford it. In this situation, we got 1000 people *1000 tickets each = 1 million chances to win, which means it is highly possible that one of those past-winners will win again. The mathematics almost dictates that there will be a multiple-winner. That should show you the power of probability and statistics.

Similarly when we're looking at the large numbers of "applicants" to IIT, it is almost impossible that there wouldn't be some students who were rejected to IIT but were admitted to top American schools. Again, the laws of probability dictate that there must be some such people. The mistake in logic is thinking that that's a general rule. Notice that even the 60 minutes article never made such a claim - that IIT rejects are, as a rule, getting admitted into MIT. It never said that. The article said some such people exist, just like some people will win the lottery twice.

The real way to figure out what school really is best is, rather than looking at statistics or rankings or anything like that, is to have people sit then and ask them where they'd really like to go if money was not an object. Ask an Indian - do you want to go to IIT or would you rather go to Oxford? Do you want to go to IIT or would you rather go to MIT? Do you want to go to IIT or would you rather go to Harvard? I think we all know the answer to these questions. We all know what the Indian is going to say.

{Now some of you might protest that this is an 'unfair' way of determining what school is the best, in the sense that it's unfair that Harvard, MIT and Oxford are desirable to an Indian because they happen to be located in rich countries. Sure, it's unfair, but that's not really the point. Lots of things are 'unfair' when it comes to college quality. It's not "fair" that Stanford has good weather. It's not "fair" that Harvard is the oldest school in the country and can therefore derive advantage from its extensively accomplished alumni network. It's not "fair" that MIT is so deeply entrenched in the US scientific and technology cognoscenti. None of that is "fair". But it doesn't matter. For the purposes of determining which schools are better, all that matters is that some schools happen to offer benefits that others cannot (like a better alumni network or better ties to the scientific community, or better weather or whatever), and why those schools have those benefits and others don't is really neither here nor there. }

By Stanfordrulez (Stanfordrulez) on Thursday, March 11, 2004 - 12:03 am: Edit

I never stated that its the best in the world.
All that I did say was that it has some very very successful graduates.

By Foreignboy (Foreignboy) on Thursday, March 11, 2004 - 03:57 am: Edit

Being nit-picky here. The OP seems to imply that he is guaranteed admission to IIT just because his dad says so.. hmm.

By Upandover (Upandover) on Thursday, March 11, 2004 - 05:15 am: Edit

"But Indians who choose IIT over Harvard "

" Ask an Indian - do you want to go to IIT or would you rather go to Oxford? Do you want to go to IIT or would you rather go to MIT? Do you want to go to IIT or would you rather go to Harvard? I think we all know the answer to these questions. We all know what the Indian is going to say. "

For all you know they could just be influenced by the name and the prestige rather than by the quality of the academics.

I don't know anything about IIT, so I am not gonna say anything about it, whether it's profs are good, facilities whatnot.

But I already can see what a lot of you assume, that PRESTIGE, NAME AND WORLD WIDE FAME= GOOD QUALITY.

That's so not true. Erm, I can quote some sources, but am too lazy to get off the chair to look for it.

By Sakky (Sakky) on Thursday, March 11, 2004 - 05:58 pm: Edit

Stanfordrulez, has IIT produced successful graduates? Of course it has. I never disputed this point.

My dispute is with the contention that it is the best engineering school in the world, or at least the most selective engineering school in the world. It's good and selective, I don't dispute that. I do dispute whether just looking at admissions rates are a good way to measure selectivity. Like one poster above said, if Tsinghua University in China has an admit rate of over 70%, does it necesssarily follow that it is not selective?

And to upandover, I agree with you that the prestige of a school and the quality of the education at that school are not entirely congruent. However, I have 2 responses to that.

#1) Over the short-term, the prestige and the quality of the school may not equate. But over the long-term they tend to converge.

It is indeed true that colleges can, to some extent, live off the glories (or shames) of their past. However, if a school consistently provides a good or bad education, year in and year out, its reputation will adjust accordingly.

For example, just pick a school, any school, and look at their website or read their brochure. Almost surely they're going to talk about all the accomplishments of their school, their rating in the USNews (if they have a good rating) or other ranking systems, how many Nobel Prize winners they got, how much research funding they have, etc. etc. etc. For example, I remember the one year that CalTech earned the #1 rating in the USNews. CalTech trumpeted that fact all throughout their website, put it in their brochures, and even started selling T-shirts that said something like Caltech - the #1 school in the country, etc. etc.

The point of that is to demonstrate the colleges don't just engage in the business of providing an education. Colleges also engage in myriad vigorous marketing, branding, and advertising activities, not very different from how the business world does its marketing and advertising. If a college starts doing well in something, they're not going to sit idly by. They're going to tell everybody about it.

So if a school provides a strong education every year, then either their reputation in the eyes of the world will rise, or they have an incompetent marketing department. Considering the savage competition between schools, no school is going to put up with a bad marketing department for very long.

Case in point. Take Stanford. Stanford is now widely understood to be one of the world's premier schools. But that wasn't the case even a few decades ago. Only in recent history has this been true. Stanford is actually one of the youngest schools in the country (born in 1891 - so it's significantly younger than all of the Ivies) and for more than a half-century was considered to be a small regional school of little consequence. Many of the academic programs of which Stanford is now noted were not even founded until not that long ago. For example, the Stanford Department of Engineering and the Stanford Graduate School of Business weren't founded until 1925. Stanford may be known for being a Nobel-factory now, but Stanford didn't win its first Nobel until 1952. Any cursory examination of the history of Stanford will reveal that Stanford is a far far better school than it was in the past, and its burnished reputation demonstrates that. As Stanford got better, its reputation improved. Stanford is now fully competitive with HYP and can even challenge Harvard for title of best school in the country - something that would have been considered ludicrous just a few decades ago.

The point of all this is to demonstrate that while the reputation of a college and the quality of that college may not exactly equate in the short-term, over the long-term, the two are linked. It is simply inconceivable for a college to consistently provide good (or bad) education without everybody eventually catching on. As PT Barnum once said, you can fool all the people some of the time and some of the people all the time, but you can't fool all the people all of the time. If Stanford, for example, consistently provided bad quality education to all its students from this moment going forward, Stanford's reputation would eventually be tarnished.

Therefore one can take reputation and prestige as a relatively decent indicator of educational quality. Is it a perfect indicator? Of course not. But compared to lots of other indicators out there, it's a reasonable one to use.

#2) I know this is going to sound terrible - but the simple fact is, for many people, the purpose of college is not to get a quality education.

Now, I can just feel a lot of you just stretching for your keyboards to type me a vociferous response. So let me explain. The reality is, historically speaking, most people attended college not so much to actually get educated, but to meet people, learn social niceties, and inure themselves to a particular social-class. Surely you've heard the phrase "It's not what you know, it's who you know".

Prior to WW2, did most students who attended HYP really do so because they were after a high quality education? I would say probably not. Most such students attended those schools because they wanted (or, more likely, their parents wanted) a socializing experience with other upper-crust gentlemen (and it was usually gentlemen, for these schools didn't become fully coeducational until the 60's and 70's or so). Stories abound of HYP 'young aristocrats' actually competing to see who among them could get the lowest possible grades without landing on academic probation. You didn't go to HYP to really learn anything, you went there to hang out, drink with, and party with your father's friends' sons, perhaps meet a young woman at one of the Seven Sisters Colleges (i.e. Wellesley) to date and marry, and then after graduation, no matter how poor your grades were, it was understood that a job was waiting for you at your father's or your friend's father's company.

Lest you think that this sort of thing is strictly relegated to history, let me assure you that it still goes on. True, things are more meritocratic than before. But the fact is, the exclusive Harvard finals clubs, the exclusive Princeton eating clubs, and the Yale secret societies like Skull&Bones are still alive and well. The best reason to go to HYP is still to meet people, only nowadays, instead of meeting just upper-crust Yankee Brahmins who will hook you up with a job at a lush and cushy banking job, you will meet people who are going places because of their merit - whether because they're brilliant or they're hard-working, or whatever. Case in point - how exactly did Steve Ballmer become CEO of Microsoft? How did he get into Microsoft in the first place? Does it have anything to do with the fact that he happens to be the old Harvard roommate of a certain Mr. Gates?

Therefore, even if some other colleges might indeed offer a better education than HYP or Oxford, well, in the eyes of a guy from India, he may not care. Does that guy really want to get educated, or does he want to get a chance of meeting powerful and dynamic people? The real value of college is not what you learn in the classroom, but in the people you meet. Again, it's not what you know, it's who you know. Anybody who's looked around the world of business or the world of politics or any other world where power is important will remark just how insular it is, how everybody seems to know everybody else, and how important personal relationships are. You don't necessarily get a job or a promotion by being the most qualified, you get it by knowing the right people. Again, the most valuable thing you can take out of HYP is not really the education, and not even really the diploma itself. The most valuable thing you get is your contact-list.

Therefore, to a great extent, it doesn't really matter if some other school truly offers a better education than Harvard. This is where the power of marketing and branding comes in. If everybody thinks that Harvard is better, then the best students will end up going there, which means that you want to go there because you want to get the chance to meet these people and put them in your contact list. Consider this analogy. People just "know" that a Toyota-Lexus is a better car than a Chevy. But why? How many people really understand the technical differences between the two kinds of car such that they know that a Lexus truly is the better car? Almost nobody. But it doesn't matter. Through proper branding and marketing, Toyota has successfully cultivated an image of exclusivity, luxury, and high-quality for the Lexus name. {And it's not a bunch of marketing bullshi* either - Lexus's truly are some of the most reliable and well-engineering cars in the world.} The branding and marketing is so strong that when people see somebody driving in a Lexus, they automatically think that person must be rich. That's the power of marketing. As long as people connote the Lexus brand-name with an air of exclusivity, high quality, and luxury, then Lexus's will always be seen in a rarefied manner. Similarly, as long as people keep thinking that HYP are the best schools in the world, then for all effective purposes, they will be. IIT might well indeed provide a better education than HYP. But as long as most people in the world still think that HYP is better, then most of the best students in the world will want to go to HYP instead of IIT, which means that the Indian should also want to go to HYP instead of IIT if, for no other reason, then to be able to get a chance to meet all those other people who will be going.

By H0neymoon (H0neymoon) on Thursday, March 11, 2004 - 06:18 pm: Edit

Good lord.... did you go out at ALL today???

By Sakky (Sakky) on Thursday, March 11, 2004 - 06:37 pm: Edit

It only took me 20 minutes to type all that. Courtesy of, first of all, having all that information in my head (except the dates, which I had to lookup, but that's what Google is for), and second of all, pretty damn good typing skills, if I do say so myself.

By Aim78 (Aim78) on Thursday, March 11, 2004 - 07:25 pm: Edit

I totally agree with Shahab. Some people are automatically assuming that these is no diversity in IIT. That's ridiculous. Human beings are all unique, we all have our quirks. Maybe some Indian guy who gets admission into IIT hasn't been involved in a bunch of clubs (many meaningless) and leadership positions, but he could have the greatest personality out there. In my high school, there are a lot of people involved, but NO ONE really stands out in terms of personality. Almost everyone has something about them that makes them unique. When I complained about SAT problems being draining, my IIT-grad Dad said he and his buddies used to hunt down problems, and they would go to the beach and solve them in the sand. So don't assume that everyone in IIT is locked up in their room all day. Those types do exist, but the ones that really become successful are the social ones who love learning.

By Virgo007 (Virgo007) on Thursday, March 11, 2004 - 07:38 pm: Edit

Listen. The people who are in third world countries want to go to IIT because they are poor and they want money. No doubt evenyone in this world wants money, but the people in India think that studying/education is the most important thing in the entire universe. Work Work Work. Work even if your behind is starving because your only goal in life is to 1) study, and 2) get married. Know all of the scientific equations known to man. Memorize every possible mathematical combination of x and y and z. You get what I'm saying.

But here in America the colleges look for who you are - they want to get to know you. The IIT selection process is not like that. Besides, the quality of life in America is better. You not only have Indians in America, but Chinese, European, & South American people. Although you may not have many at your school, there is no doubt in my mind there is diversity around you.

The selectivity of IIT will not make any typical guy living in America to go there. Simply in America, you have a LIFE in college.

I mean hell, if the suicide rate at MIT is high and that isn't has selective at IIT, what is the suicide rate at IIT...?

By Becks777 (Becks777) on Thursday, March 11, 2004 - 07:50 pm: Edit

All i can say is that India in itself is more diverse than the united states. People from each state are as different as south americans are from europeans

By Flyguy (Flyguy) on Thursday, March 11, 2004 - 08:33 pm: Edit

Why would you go to India when you could be in the U.S. where the girls are 1000x hotter :)

By Candi1657 (Candi1657) on Thursday, March 11, 2004 - 08:38 pm: Edit

Flyguy, you should apologize for that statement. I am not Indian female, but if I'm offended, I'm pretty sure they are too.

By Flyguy (Flyguy) on Thursday, March 11, 2004 - 08:39 pm: Edit

Oh relax, I was just having fun

also, congrats on dartmouth

By Candi1657 (Candi1657) on Thursday, March 11, 2004 - 08:47 pm: Edit

Thanks.:)

By Shahab (Shahab) on Thursday, March 11, 2004 - 10:13 pm: Edit

Indians are therefore "self-selecting" themselves to take the IIT exam to a large extent based on poverty. We both know that that's not the way it should be, but that's the way it is.

Youre saying that this doesnt happen in harvard ? There are students that may have the brain power but not the money for these schools and therefore choose not to apply. And upper middle class- upper class students apply because they can. Come on, the average american makes a mere 2/3 of what harvard costs PER YEAR annually.


Another thing is, there are no legacies at IIT. There are no athlete scholars. No outstanding EC's. Just the top of the top, the cream of the crop. Brainpower-wise. That's it. Therefore your statement

"American schools, on the other hand, self-select based on actual ability. Again, consider a rich American and a rich Indian, both with atrocious academic records. "

is fallacious. One needs to look just as far as our president to see that this is not true. And no, this is 8not* an exception. *Anyone* with the right amount of money can buy his or her way into an ivy. Brooke Shields gave millions to Princeton in the 70's, and lo and behold, she got in despite middling grades and a middling/poor SAT.

Academically, it is *more* selective than H/Y/P/S/any other school in America. You cant buy your way in. You cant strike the jackpot by excelling in an EC. You cant get lucky by living in an underrepresented part of the country. If you're looking for a nice "mix" and a "diverse population", sure, Harvard got IIT beat. Not when it comes to pure smarts.

By Xindianx (Xindianx) on Thursday, March 11, 2004 - 11:09 pm: Edit

one sentence:
IIT is the BEST university in the world.

Everyone here that is whining about how it doesnt take in people that are creative/social/bs, thats because you are either the top/intelligent, or the rest, thats how it is in India.

And the second thread, watch what u say about the campus, just because u guys have bs nice and luxirous colleges doesnt mean they are the better universities..jesus how can u guys be so picky, its for education, u learn! dun whine about the food, u shoulda thought about that before making the decision that u want the best education possible. Like Bill Gate's son, who got rejected from IIT...IIT is just pure intelligence, the best of the best, thats why in the next 20 years India will become a superpower in the world, take my word on it =)

By Flyguy (Flyguy) on Thursday, March 11, 2004 - 11:19 pm: Edit

So go there and be gone. :)

By Sakky (Sakky) on Thursday, March 11, 2004 - 11:43 pm: Edit

First of all, Shahab, let's look at what we're talking about here. Harvard is well-known for not only being need-blind but also for being quite generous with its aid. Harvard just announced that they would provide full aid to anybody who comes from a family that makes less than 40k. So the claim that Harvard self-selects based on poverty is rather baseless. I would say that Harvard actually "de-selects" based on poverty - for not only do you get more aid the poorer you are, but Harvard admissions also gives you points for poverty.

Now you might say that a lot of poor Americans don't know that Harvard is need-blind and are therefore intimidated by its sticker price. Sure. But those people probably aren't serious Harvard material anyway. Any American, no matter how rich or how poor, who is seriously thinking of going to Harvard, and has the academic record to back it up, should have learned in due-course of investigating schools, how the financial-aid system works and should therefore have discovered that price is not a serious obstacle.

Consider this thought exercise. You got a poor guy in India who's brilliant. You got a poor guy in America who's brilliant. It is more likely that the poor American will both apply to Harvard than the poor Indian will apply to IIT. Both are unlikely to happen, true. But the former is more likely. Hence, Harvard is less self-selective when it comes to poverty than IIT is.

Second, I already agreed with you that to a certain extent the IIT admissions system is better than the US system. I never disputed that the IIT system is cleaner.

But if we want to talk about IIT admissions as a whole, then we have to talk about the following subjects as well:

1) The biggest flaw in the IIT admissions system is the 'one-good-day' problem.

What I mean is that all you need to do to get into IIT is have "one good day". You don't need to amass a body of long-term sustained excellence. You don't need to demonstrate yourself over and over again. All you need to do is get a high score on a test, once. Conversely, you could be the most brilliant person in India, but you might just have "one bad day", and -boom- just like that, you're rejected from IIT.

This is why you have the problem of people in India who know they're not very intelligent, but figure, heck, I have nothing better to do, why not just take the JEE? Why not? They might have "one good day". Guys will come in to the test-center who really have no business being there whatsoever, figuring that they might just try the test and see if they might get lucky. That is why IIT's have a very serious self-selectivity problem. That is why IIT's admissions rates are so misleading.

2)National vs. world competition.

HYPSM and Ox-bridge are so eminent that they don't just draw applicants from their home countries, but from all countries in the world, including India. On the other hand, I would say that very few Americans or Brits would apply to IIT. So to win admission to HYPSM or Ox-bridge, presuming that you aren't rich or you don't have 'pull', then you have to beat out applicants not only from your country, but from many other countries.

Case in point - I am sure that many of the top IIT applicants also applied to HYPSM and Ox-bridge. So we got the cream of India competing for spots in those American and British schools. But are the cream of the US and the UK competing for spots in IIT? Not really. If all of the cream of the world were taking the JEE with the intent to get into IIT, and only Americans were applying to HYPSM and only Brits were applying to Ox-bridge, then I would agree that IIT would have a strong claim to being more selective than HYPSMOxB. But by and large, the only people who are taking the JEE are Indians. It's a one-way competition that makes the scuffle for HYPSM-OxB spots even more fierce, and puts the lie to contention that IIT really is more selective.

3)Having said that, does pure selectivity really matter?

Even if you still believe that IIT is more academically selective, is that really important? I would contend that academic ability only goes so far, and that academic ability is only one factor that determines success. Look at the powerful people in the US and, heck, all over the world. Are they necessarily the people who are stellar academics? I don't really mind that Princeton admitted Brooke Shields, even though she might have been as dumb as a post, because the fact is, by the time she was 17, she was already a world-famous model and actress and therefore accomplished things that most people could never dream of doing. By the same token, I would have no problem with, say, Christina Aguilera getting into Harvard, even if she's dumb as dirt. The fact of the matter is, she's probably accomplished more in her life than all of this year's Harvard's entering class combined has accomplished, and, to be honest all of IIT's entering class this year has accomplished. Lest anybody think otherwise, I challenge them to go out and try to make a bunch of multi-platinum selling albums and win a Grammy, and see how hard it is to do that. Again, say what you will about how hard it is to get admitted into IIT, but Ms. Aguilera has done something far more impressive than getting admitted into IIT. Just think of it this way - 2000 people get admitted into IIT every year, but there are certainly not 2000 new multi-platinum selling superstars emerging every year. (The entertainment industry mints at most 5 or 10 new superstars every year). This all goes to show you that mere academic ability is not enough to determine success, and the fixation of IIT on academic ability as measured by one test I don't think is the best way to go.

Personally, I think the truly best admissions process is a combined approach. Again, I like the fact that IIT's admissions are clean. But they're also brutal, because of that 'one-good-day' problem. I would actually run multiple tests, over a long period of time, such that no one single day will make or break you. And I would not base my admissions on just the results of that test. I would also add in actual accomplishments. A person who simply don't test well but who produces greatness in another realm should be considered for admission. I agree that the American emphasis on 'diversity' is probably excessive, but there has to be some consideration for the fact that life accomplishments are important.


Report an offensive message on this page    E-mail this page to a friend
Posting is currently disabled in this topic. Contact your discussion moderator for more information.

Administrator's Control Panel -- Board Moderators Only
Administer Page