A Guide to College Life as a First-Year Engineering Student

Landing a seat in an engineering college of your choice is no less than a miracle in India. But you often ignore mental, physical and psychological preparation required to actually face the first year of engineering college. This article talks about several problems faced by a first-year engineering student and ways to tackle it.

A Guide to College Life as a First Year Engineering Student
A Guide to College Life as a First Year Engineering Student

A Guide to College Life as a First-Year Engineering Student
Landing a seat in an engineering college of your choice is no less than a miracle in India. Engineering aspirants start preparing for this right from their school days for a host of engineering entrance examinations including JEE Mains, JEE Advanced, BITSAT and many others. In this rush to secure an engineering seat, aspirants often ignore mental, physical and psychological preparation required to actually face the first year of engineering college. In fact, many engineering aspirants have often reported facing several problems in trying to cope up with stress and anxiety of the first year engineering course, which has not only hampered their academic performance but also derailed their plans for future.  With the majority of engineering programmes being residential in nature, engineering students not only have the challenge of coping with advanced academics but also manage personal things and requirements.

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8 tips for engineering students to ace their first-year studies

The below given guide will help engineering students to get through the first year of engineering college and make the most of it while at it.

1. Stop playing the waiting game

As a first year engineering student, you would encounter many challenges that may or may not be within your purview of action. However, whatever challenges that you encounter during the first year of your engineering college try to tackle them head on rather than procrastinating over it. During school days, when you had limited syllabus and teachers, tutors and coaching classes to guide you, in engineering college, you would have to start doing things on your own. Therefore, it is advisable that you plan them well and start solving these problems it as soon as possible. As a first year engineering student, you can’t afford to play the waiting game and try to do damage control at the last moment. The days of last minute study sessions and waiting for mum and dad to fix your personal matters are over. It’s time to buckle up and ‘take the bull by the horns’ as far as first year engineering is concerned.

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2. Look at the options available at hand

If we look at the general syllabus for first year engineering programmes in India, they are designed to cover all the basics required to tackle the tough academic studies that wait for the students in future. Therefore, first year would be the ideal time for engineering students to understand and evaluate different options available at hand when it comes to engineering.
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While you may have picked the major stream like electrical engineering or civil engineering during the counselling process, these are still very vast subjects and you might as well consider different study options available within their purview for further studies.

3. Network – Find friends-for-life and future colleagues

College is the place where you meet and make friends for life, and this also stands true when it comes to engineering colleges. However, there is one more added advantage of building your network during your B.Tech days, as it can help you in future when it comes to job projects and even setting up your own start-up business. So, try to build a good social, academic and professional relationship and network with your peers and it may come in handy later on.
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4. Explore other avenues – take up add-on courses or extracurricular activities

The fact that you made it to a reputed engineering college proves how hard you have prepared to crack engineering entrance exams like JEE Mains or JEE Advanced. You would have had to make several sacrifices while preparing for these super-tough entrance exams cutting down on activities that you are passionate about. Well, its time you make up for the lost time and pick up on those during the first year of your engineering. As far as academics are concerned, the first year of engineering college is entirely dedicated to strengthening your basics and therefore will leave more time for you to take up other extra-curricular activities to boost your skill-set. Apart from taking up regular extra-curricular activities, engineering students can also think about taking up some add-on courses that may add some serious value to their resume and profile. Remember, at the end of the day, India is producing more engineers compared to the general demand, in such case it is always better to have some added advantage, qualification or even a hobby to set you apart from your peers.

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5. Focus on academic fundamentals

If we look at the syllabus which is prescribed for first year engineering students, it mostly focuses on the core basic sciences i.e., Physics, Chemistry and Mathematics. There is a reason that all these super qualified professors and doctorate holders decided to include the subjects, concepts and topics that you have already covered in your class 12 / intermediate schooling. That being that you need to beef-up your fundamentals before actually proceeding to hard-core engineering studies. Another argument on this front is that, although students might have covered these topics but from a different perspective and therefore they need to refresh the same from a core-engineering point of view. Whatever be the reason, the key point to take home is that engineering students need to work upon their fundamentals and strengthen them before moving ahead. Doing do will not only aid their further studies but will prove to be a boon even for their professional career.

6. Get involved in a good project

We have already established that the first year of engineering is also going to be the best year of your college. However, while focusing on all the fun and games engineering students must also not ignore their studies and academics completely. One such way in which you can not only have fun but also learn at the same time is project work. Generally, first year engineering students are hardly given any chance to pick up project work, but still, students must try their best to pick up or be part of a good project during their first year.
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Either designing an entire project with your friends or being part of an on-going project as an assistant to the seniors will help you not only gain an insight into how project work is to be done but also help you meet new people. Along with this, it will also inspire the innovator in you and help you identify different ways in which you can apply your theoretical knowledge gained in the class in a practical setup.

7. Work on your language skills

While as engineering students, we may like to look up English honours students with a slight disdain in our eyes, but let’s face it, language is also important to us technical people. One of the most daunting tasks that engineers face today is with respect to their language and presentation skills. The whole point that you can invent, design and build a complex machine but are unable to explain its working or features to others has been a big challenge for engineers today. Therefore, it is important that first year engineering students focus on their language skills both verbal as well written.

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Verbal skills would be pivotal if you are planning to take up a management role with the help of an MBA degree after B.Tech (which is almost a norm now) or if you are planning to start-up on your own. Alternatively, even if you plan to continue your studies as a research scholar, written skills would come in handy. In any case, enhancing your language skill will prove to be a great advantage not only during your B.Tech studies but also help you advance in your professional career.

8. Develop Your Leadership qualities

One of the key skills that you should develop during the first year of your college should be your leadership skills. During the course of your engineering programme, you would be involved in numerous team activities and project works with other engineering students. These projects or activities may or may not cover core engineering domain, but still, it would require a leader to lead the team to success. In addition to this, the leadership qualities you develop during your engineering college days will also prove to be a great asset in your professional career ahead.  
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9. Don’t ignore humanities, arts and design subjects

As future engineers, you would be involved in building, creating and developing technologies that make human lives better, simpler and more convenient. Therefore, it is very important for engineers to keep in mind the needs, requirements and concerns of the general public. The best way to do this is by keeping an open mind and giving some amount of space to other subjects from humanities, arts and design backgrounds. These subjects will help you to understand the contemporary needs and suggest ways in which you can employ your technological knowledge and know-how to solve them. Moreover, they will also help you understand the implications (either good or bad) that your inventions can have in general on human lives. To put it simply, it might be a great technological feat to develop a flying refrigerator, but it won’t be a commercial market success due to obvious reasons.
Therefore, as a first year engineering graduate, you should try to make it a habit to connect with humanities subjects and keep in touch with general human needs.

10. Enjoy and Have fun

Well, this is pretty much a self-explanatory point but a rather important one. In the pursuit of scoring the perfect GPAs; many engineering students forget that college is aimed at holistic development of students and not just a rat-race to the top. In other words, while study and academics are very important part of your first year engineering college, it is equally important to let your hair down and blow some steam from time to time. Considering that you would have your hands full as far as acclimatization and adjustment are concerned, try not to be too hard on yourself if you can’t ace every subject on the list. Try to take it easy in the first year and lead a balanced life.
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