JEE Unplugged By Arpit Agarwal

Many of the young high school students dream of creating a space for themselves in top prestigious colleges. Scoring high in JEE and achieving a good rank is a dream come true for many. While we talk about how to get successful  in the exam, Arpit Agarwal, the topper of IIT-JEE 2012 talks about his life experience as an aspirant of JEE. 

“As a JEE aspirant, AIR 1 was the best I could expect out of life and by God’s grace, I achieved it. What followed was a month full of adoration and attention with days packed with seminars and talks in schools and coaching centres and a host of interviews to TV channels and newspapers. Having studied at Kalu Sarai (a small coaching hub in Hauz Khas, next to IIT-D), IIT-Delhi was like the final destination for me and I was elated at the fact that finally I am worthy enough to be there. I was perhaps in a celebration mood for too long and had got my head way too high; thankfully my first lesson at college was that of humility.

Partly because of the hype given to JEE and partly because of what I had always heard about college life, I was into believing that you needn’t study once you are out of school; the first month at IIT proved me wrong. The first semester had a really busy packed schedule, new courses and lots of competition. The system here was quite different. Around two hundred students sat in the same lecture theatre at a time and it was the first time I was doing labs. Most professors kept iterating that we won’t be spoonfed here and that we are responsible for ourselves. Having prepared only for an MCQ paper for two years, I found it a little hard to write rigorous proofs of correctness or draw lines of varying thickness with the same pencil.

Further, the fact that I resided around 30 kilometres away from the campus and that I wasn’t too fond of the mess food got me going home every weekend. Not a fan of counter-strike or cricket, I was somewhat a misfit in a hostel that was famous for its sports achievements. Given the little time I spent in the hostel and the lack of common interests, I couldn’t make any friends, just people with whom I had decent relations. Now that I look back, the problem wasn’t that I wasn’t able to adjust with the new environment, it was that I kept it to myself. Needless to say, the first experience here wasn’t something I’d love to be reminded of.

Bad days were accompanied by bad luck; I fell ill during both minors, missed a few and underperformed in the rest. 12 on 22 in Maths: it was worse than any bad dream could be. All through the semester, I lived in deep pessimism, but then what was happening wan’t any encouraging too. Yes, I had lost all hope at that point of time. I had accepted the fact that I won’t be able to perform here the way I had been doing. Perhaps I was too quick in taking conclusions; what followed all this thankfully proved me wrong.

Things didn’t end on a sad note and the first sem saw a number of good days as well. Thanks to the frequent holidays and fests in IIT, I got a lot of time to do things I could not pursue in the two years of JEE preparation. I started reading History, a subject I couldn’t lay my eyes upon after class X. Also, owing to the opportunities I got in IIT, I developed a taste for literature and started writing poetry, that even got published in the IIT-D magazine. And finally, as they say, all’s well that ends well; I covered up well in the reminor and major exams to get a decent enough grade point and be a part of the IIT merit list.

As is often said, experience is what you get when you don’t get what you wanted. The  first semester essentially taught me that life doesn’t fit well into a simple linear regression model. There will be ups and downs and you can either keep fearing all that’s happening or put up a brave face and enjoy surfing on them. It taught me that however high you are in life, lows are inevitable and all you can do is to keep climbing up till you are back on the peak. If Bollywood movies had taught me that if it’s not happy, it’s not the end, IIT taught me that being happy doesn’t mean it’s the end! ”

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