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IIT or MIT – this question is asked so frequently, given the craze for IITs and new opportunities to study abroad.

To help you make a choice, we researched the experiences of several folks, who have been on both sides of the comparison, and here is what they have to share:

Securing admission

The passion for studying science, an aptitude for research and the ability to work in a team, are the foremost qualities that foreign universities look for while recruiting students. Contrary to these, IITs solely focus on the ranking secured in the entrance tests by the students. This objective assessment is often not an accurate measure of an individual’s capability and interest.

Creativity compromised

There is no doubt that the IITs have some of the best minds of the country, but the vital question is, do the students love what they study. To start with, the coaching institutes which primarily prepares one for the IIT exam emphasize on time management and strategic problem solving. For example, it is advised to “let go” of a difficult problem rather than take up the challenge of solving it so as to save time. Secondly, institutes often lay stress on ignoring school education and concentrating more on IIT preparation which compromises the necessity of proper education. On the other hand, interest and passion for a subject are the qualities foreign universities swear by.

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Chitraang Murdia chose MIT over IIT Bombay. He was a JEE Advance 2014 topper and after completing 1 year at IIT Bombay, he took a transfer to MIT to pursue his Bachelor’s degree in Physics.
“I want to get into research and probably into theoretical physics and pure sciences. IIT is mostly technical and the research atmosphere specially for pure sciences at the UG level is not that good.”

Flexible learning

The field that you get to study solely depends on your JEE rank. Thus a person who has no interest in civil engineering might be forced to study it owing to his rank. There is no option to change your subject in case you develop an inclination for some other field. And even if you have the option, the process is very tedious. Foreign education is pretty flexible. While admitting they look at the alignment of skill set and interests of a student. In short, they value an individual. They lay a lot more emphasis on counseling students to make the right choice.

Infrastructure and faculty

Education is definitely more expensive abroad than in India but one ought to pay for quality. Foreign universities boast of a robust infrastructure including modern teaching facilities, modern labs, good quality hostels, food, etc., which their Indian counterparts generally lack. The faculty is motivated to excel and be role models. Unlike faculty in the IITs, they are given incentives like good pay and also resources to provide quality teaching. The student teacher ratio is much more balanced in foreign institutes enabling teachers to give individual attention.

“There is a good reason why IIT is not MIT”, says Srivatsa Krisha (IIT Madras, Harvard Business School, IIM Bangalore), while comparing IIT and MIT:
1. IIT Madras has a budget of Rs 200 crore, which hardly compares against millions of dollars of endowments of MIT, Caltech and Harvard. Despite this, professors of IIT Madras have published in world-class journals.
2. In recent years, IIT Bombay hired over 26 new faculty members, predominantly from Wharton, INSEAD, MIT etc. Why would young PhDs/ brilliant faculty from these schools voluntarily relocate to IIMB unless they saw the possibility of doing world-class research and teaching there?
3. Why do global companies, banks and consulting firms repeatedly hire from IITs/IIMs?

Life @ Institute

Foreign institutes look to make an individual “life ready” rather than “job ready”. They encourage interactions among peers, participation in clubs and extra co-curricular activities, travelling for internships and teamwork. Regular Alumni meets are organized which are mutually beneficial for present and ex- students. They want to produce leaders for tomorrow and realize social skills are of equal importance. At the IITs, mundane competition is a priority. The spark is often lost when students are busy balancing creativity and exam preparation. Also, the sex ratio is quiet skewed in the IITs.

What’s after graduation?

The trend in IITs is to pursue an MBA from a premier institute after an engineering degree. This not only is a waste of the engineering degree, but also a waste of time and effort of four years pursuing a course in which a student was never really interested in. On the contrary, it is observed that after a foreign degree, students often are keen on further specializing in their chosen fields and also get into academics.

We only urge you to consider all the choices available to you before you make one of the most important decisions in your life.

You may also want to check out our article on Why study overseas? career, networking and other reasons

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