Many science students spend about 2-4 years of their school life preparing for engineering entrance exams, and give it their all through relentless studies, persistent coaching and sleepless nights. But alas, some succeed, while others do not.
More often than not, the ones who do not succeed fail to properly comprehend a back-up plan. This is the reason many engineering aspirants are left clueless once they realize that they could not get through the JEE examination, that engineering remains a pipe dream.
This is exactly what we want students to be aware of. After all, life is full of surprises.
But fret not! If you are a JEE aspirant still in the midst of your preparation, or one with some disappointing results in hand, here are options to consider in case your JEE plan does not pan out:
1. Weigh Other Options in Engineering
If you are not able to clear JEE, but still feel that engineering is your true calling, then you need to look at some other options for engineering beyond the IITs and NITs. While JEE may be a tough exam to crack, there are many state engineering exams such as UPJEEE, WBJEE, COMEDK, MHTCET, TNEA, etc. that are relatively easier, and should be on your list of exams to be written.
Apart from state colleges, you can even consider private institutes. Institutes such as Birla Institute of Technology, Vellore Institute of Technology, SRM University, Manipal University, etc. also offer good courses in engineering, and conduct their own entrance exams. They may not be as reputed as the IITs and NITs, but are good institutions for gaining knowledge.
However, when it comes to private institutes, do tread carefully. Take the time to evaluate the college reputation, ranking and placements before you take such a leap.
2. Look for Alternate Options in the Pure Sciences
When you start feeling that engineering may not be your calling after all, but maybe science is, you should look at degree programs in science. Programs such as B.Sc. Chemistry, Physics or Mathematics can satiate your quest for knowledge, and are equally lucrative options as Engineering.
Degree in these fields open up exciting professional opportunities in pure and applied research. With areas such as Robotics, Computational Physics, Aerodynamics, Data Science, Pharmacological Research, Operational Research open for you to explore, you will get to work at the forefront of innovations in science and technology.
Institutes such as the IISc, IISERs, ISI, University of Delhi, Loyola College, etc. offer courses in the pure sciences, which can provide a tremendous learning experience to students of science and mathematics.
While some of these institutes will require you to crack their respective entrance examinations, a lot many take admissions through merit too. So if you are able to score well enough in the board exams, these programs are a good option to explore.
3. Apply for a Professional Degree in a Related Field
If you think B.Tech. is the only professional course related to science, think again. There are multiple courses that you could look out for, that are related to science and mathematics.
Courses such as BCA (Computer Applications), B.Arch (Architecure), B.Sc. Aviation (with Commercial Pilot training), B.Sc. Nautical Science (Merchant Navy training), B.Des. in Industrial/Product Design, B.FTech (Fashion Technology) etc. are all options that branch out from Science. Moreover, they provide some professional expertise for you to give your career a boost.
You can keep such options as your backup in case your initial plan of engineering does not work out. Or you may even explore them as promising career options in themselves, in case you didn’t really stop to evaluate whether Engineering is the right option for you or not before getting into JEE preparation.
An added advantage is that the entrance exams for many of these courses will not require any additional preparation, as most of the concepts you studied for the JEE would be applicable.
However, do note that these courses will be accessible to you only if you have already filled their application forms. In case you already have your JEE results in hand, and haven’t really applied anywhere else, then you can only apply next year. Thus, planning ahead of time can save you a lot of time (and disappointments) in this case.
4. Look for Alternate Paths that May be Better Suited
Sometimes we may overlook the biggest signs that a certain career path is not meant for us. An inability to score well despite giving it your all, or a lack of interest in the subjects, being some.
It’s understandable. You may not have really stopped to evaluate if Engineering was the one for you, or you may have been under a misguided impression due to a lack of information about it.
So, what should you do when you have this realization?
The first step is to open up your mind to possibilities. There are hundreds of career options out there, with an immense number of opportunities and avenues to explore. And yes, they are as lucrative as engineering, if not more. Be it Law, Management, Psychology, or even something upcoming like Social Media Marketing, the possibilities are endless.
Explore as many options as you can to find out what lies out there. Read up on careers; find out more about them, the opportunities offered, what work people do in those fields, the career path required, etc. To begin with, the Mindler Career Library is a reliable resource with information on hundreds of careers.
Beyond your research, take out the time to talk to people who know more about the fields you wish to explore – college students pursuing the course, professionals in that field, even career counsellors. If you don’t have any people in your circle of contacts, find such people on LinkedIn (send connection requests with a message), or post your questions on forums like Quora.
And if despite your exploration you are unsure which field is the right one, then seeking the guidance of career counsellors is the best way to bring method to this process and get reliable answers.
5. Consider Taking a Drop Year if the Reasons are Legitimate
If you still feel that engineering is your blood and soul, and there is no other career you would rather pursue, then consider taking a drop year.
However, your reasons have to be logical and strong. Only because you feel you can clear an exam does not mean you will. Many students take a year drop without vision, only to end up wasting an additional year of their lives.
Realistically evaluate your chances of clearing of the JEE exam if you do take the drop:
Was the margin by which you missed the cut-off minor or significant?
Did you give the exam your best shot this time?
Can you sustain your motivation for the duration of the entire year of preparation?
Carefully think over these questions and decide if you have the right ability and patience for a second attempt at the JEE. If you have both, then there is no reason to not give it a try again.
I have met many students who take a drop year because of the wrong preparation strategy, illnesses, or insufficient preparation time. At the end of the day, one year will not make a huge difference to your long-term career if you have, in fact, found your calling in engineering.
Engineering and IIT are two dreams many Indian students nurture. There is no harm in harbouring this dream, I say, if you have the right vision of your longer-term goal. Don’t be a part of the “Everyone is doing it, so why not me?” herd, and take the time to evaluate if Engineering is the right fit for you or not.
Countless of students end up discovering they do not wish to be Engineers after/during their course. I am sure you don’t want to be in their position, which is why this is the right time to assess your options.
Your inability to crack the JEE may prove to be a silver lining, after all.
Recommended Read: Popular Myths about a Career in Engineering
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