It is the time for first year students to adjust themselves to the new environment when they enter into the college. The first and foremost thing that a fresher entering into a professional college needs to do is to change his/her mindset. It will be completely different from the school level and Intermediate level academics. Many of our colleges at +2 level spoon-feed their students.
When it comes to professional colleges it is the student who has to take care of everything. He/she has to mould the future. They must have strong basic knowledge on the subjects which they had studied, because many of the engineering first year subjects have their basics from +2 level. The teaching methodologies in professional colleges are completely different from their +2 college. The major difference is - the students must learn on their own. There will be a lot of things that about which freshers get confused.
This confusion can be overcome normally by talking to their lecturers or their academic counsellors assigned by the college authorities or the seniors who have a lot of experience on these. Organizing their studies is key at this level. The first requisite is knowing the examination pattern and distribution of marks for each subject and each topic.
Another major difference from the previous studies is the internal marks. Normally this is an advantage to the student unless he/she is very irregular and arrogant in the class. Here, there will be advantage of getting good score if they can perform well in their internals. However, one must understand that the number of subjects is more and the load will also be heavy. He/she may get into trouble if the studies are not planned properly and if he/she doesn't finish the day's homework immediately without postponing them.
First year students try to prepare for their end examinations just a month before the examinations. This leads to tense situations and the students then think about just passing the subjects instead of scoring good marks. As they are new to the system and they think that they can score in later semesters. However, if they get less percentage in the first year it will be very difficult to improve it later. Another important factor is the non-core subjects.
Many of the students do not concentrate on non-core subjects thinking that they are not that important which will become a burden in later time. Unfortunately, if they fail in one of the first year subjects it becomes very difficult to pass them later because there will not be any continuation of those subjects in their next semesters and they will lose the grip on that subject.
I have seen many good students who have neglected their studies in the first year and realized their mistake and got good marks in all the other subjects but failed to clear these subjects till the final year. One more common thing that we observe is that the enthusiasm of the student gradually decreases, owing to various other attractions. It is for the students to have the same enthusiasm till the end of his/her studies because, after all, it is his/her career and his/her degree.
Students should develop the habit of general reading.
Go through newspapers for general news, technical journals and magazines for the latest trends in their engineering discipline. Every student must utilize the facilities like library and the Internet provided by the college. These are the main resources for information to students. Internet is a major resource from which a lot of information can be downloaded. Many colleges have access to journals and magazines like IEEE and ACM which cannot be obtained otherwise.
It is also possible, by this facility, to interact with experts in discussion forums where a student can get good domain knowledge. It is advisable that the students utilize the sports facilities provided by the college. This keeps them fit and active throughout their career. They have to participate in sports events like inter branch competitions and inter college competitions.
Ultimately every student should remember that these four years of study is the best part of his/her life. He/she should make it more enjoyable by planning their activities properly. If there is no proper planning it could also be the worst period of one's own life.
Subjects in first year
Intermediate mathematics is the basis for engineering mathematics and in turn this engineering mathematics is the basis for their later core subjects also. It is applicable in any of the streams in engineering like computers science, electronics engineering, or mechanical engineering. One more important part that starts from the first year of their engineering are their lab works and work shops. Every branch in engineering will have generally common labs and workshops. Some of them are C & Data Structure programming lab, engineering drawing lab, electronics lab, civil work shop etc.
It is better, if a student can afford, to have a computer or laptop at home irrespective of their streams so that they can practice the basic programming languages which are applicable in many of the engineering streams other than computer science also. It is advisable to write more and more programs than the normal scheduled programs in the lab class. This practice gives confidence and improved programming skills at the time of placements and will be useful throughout the student's life.
One more lab is engineering drawing practice which almost every branch in engineering will have and this is very important, especially, for mechanical and civil engineering department students. Colleges provide these labs in their regular time-tables but it may not be sufficient for some students. Then they have to practice during other free timings if they don't get sufficient time in their regular lab timings.
Another thing that students must incorporate while in the first year is active participation in all extra curricular activities like conducting seminars, group discussions, programs on communication skills development and sports. This makes them develop leadership qualities, team work and communication skills which will be very much useful in the future. Communication and analytical skills are very much necessary for the students, especially those from rural background, as many of the companies are insisting on these qualities while selecting them for jobs.
Some students might not attend college for the fear of ragging. This naturally creates some problems like attendance shortage, missing some important topics in the subjects etc. at a later date. The Government, the judiciary and the managements of all colleges are all very serious about ragging and are engaging seriously in some anti-ragging activities. However, the students must also know that the seniors are their first resource for future guidelines. Apart from this there are many aspects that freshers have to know and mingle with.
E. Sreenivasa Reddy
(The writer is Vice-Principal, Acharya Nagarjuna University College of Engineering.)