The Freshman Survey, 2019

We have come a long way from the first time we published a Fresher’s Survey in 2017 where we sought answers to questions like Where do they come from? What do they like? What do they want to be? This year, we look to not only repeat this feat but also provide to our readers, the students and the administration, a snapshot about their attitudes, opinions, tendencies and beliefs. From place of origin, educational background and fluency with language to career goals and sleeping habits, we examined it all.

Out of a total UG strength of 1061 students, we were able to reach out to 823 freshmen, 78% of the total batch strength. As you would anticipate, the percentage of female responses went up 5% from 13% in 2017 to 18% in 2019, reflective of the female population increase. The Boy:Girl ratio (based on the responses of the forms in the two years) has gone down, from 6.8 in 2017 to 4.4 in 2019.

Where are they from? 70% of students came from North India and Central India, with 1 in 5 students coming from Rajasthan alone. Surprisingly, the number of people from Delhi city in the 2019 batch has increased significantly, from 9% in 2017 to 15% in 2019. This is linked to the increase in the number of boys from Delhi. It might be linked to the fact that 44% of the 2019 Delhiites have at least one IITian in the family, an increase from 29% in 2017, or may have something to with better access to education with 70% of them earning over Rs 9 Lac. Or probably Delhiites are just brainier than before!

Regarding language, Hindi is the mother tongue of roughly 70% of the student population, followed by Telugu (a distant second at 6%).


- 91% of students took some form of coaching during their JEE preparations.

- A little over 39% of students admit having been in dummy schools, while around 30% concede that their schooling didn’t play any significant role. (Fact Check I: almost every second person in Batch A is from a dummy school) - 42% of students moved to a different city for the purpose of coaching. Explicably, 74% of the students who had moved, hailed from small towns and villages. - While in 2017, 48% of boys moved for coaching as compared to 30% of girls, in 2019 the gap decreased significantly, with 43% of boys having moved for coaching as compared to 37% of girls.

- 16% of students responded that they were first from their families to attend college. 30% of students from Andhra Pradesh and 26% from Bihar are first generation college-goers. - 72% of students from villages have trouble speaking or reading English. Since the survey was also in the English language only, we may have missed out on capturing several students who cannot read English well. Therefore, this number could well be higher.

- Only 7% of students have difficulty speaking or reading Hindi.

- 12% of students are uncomfortable with using computers. 57% of these students hail from small towns and villages.

At IIT and Beyond.. Regarding reasons for choosing IIT Delhi, the Brand name of our institute influenced college choice for 1 in 2 respondents. Also interesting is that 6% of the students reported family pressure as a reason for joining IIT. More students from villages selected “family pressure” than those from cities.

While brand name, branch-change opportunities and entrepreneurship culture were the major reasons for those from cities, UPSC/CAT preparation and brand name were the major reasons for those from villages.

Regarding department change statistics, there is a steady increase in the percentage of people per branch who want a DepC with respect to the closing ranks of their branch. Notably, CE1 and PH1 do not follow this trend, indicating greater branch satisfaction.

While in the beginning, only 45% of students desired a DepC, the number increased to 60% in the 2nd semester. (Fact check II: % of TT students wanting a DepC increased from 66% in the beginning to 80% currently). Expectedly, while a whopping 97.5% of CS1 students don’t want to change their branch, only 64.5% of CS5 students seem content with their branch. This trend reverses in MT1 and MT6, wherein just 16% of MT6 want a DepC as compared to 42% of MT1. That the duration of one’s degree is an important factor as far as branch satisfaction is concerned is well-reflected.

27% of students are undecided regarding their future aspirations. Interestingly, this number has fallen from 40% in 2017. Notably, “working in the core sector” drew just 7%, the lowest number of responses. Just 7% of those from metro cities chose “Working in the civil services” as a career option, as compared to 27% of those from villages. Significantly, only 2 people from villages selected

“Working in a corporate firm”. A similar trend was also observed for “working in academia/research”, with 3% from villages opting for it as compared to 12% from metro cities.

Significantly, similar to the figures obtained in the last survey: - 45% of the Civil Engineering department chose “Working in the civil services” - 38% of the Engineering Physics department chose “Working in research/academia”

When asked about whether they would like to move abroad after graduation, 47% of students responded that they do not have a preference. Notably, only 17% from villages responded that they were desirous to move abroad as compared to 35% from metro cities.

Personal Preferences Around 60% of students like to spend their free time hanging out with friends in the insti/hostel area. But that’s not all IITians do in their spare time. A significant number of responses were observed for “Doing some online courses in the area of interest” (the choice of 40% of the CS batch). Interestingly, people hailing from metros prefer more to stay in their rooms or do online courses than people from other places.

Regarding the reasons that motivate students in IIT to study, 64% study because it is the only option while 31% of students study because they find classes interesting and want to learn more. Almost 30% of students who said that they study because they find classes interesting also marked that they study because they have to, indicating there exist students who study because they find classes interesting but also have no other option. The fact that 2 out of 3 students study as they feel like they’ve got no other option, raises questions about the herd culture in our country as well as the design/ability of the courses to nurture the academic temperament that is expected of an institute like IIT.

- Interestingly, 40% of students from metro cities find classes interesting as compared to 30% of students from villages. This may point to certain problems that people coming from villages might be facing at IIT. - Almost 3 in 4 students who have lost hope of earning a department change at the end of their first year find studying as a compulsion. 28% of those who have lost hope of earning a department change also don’t feel like studying at all. This raises the question of whether students who find classes interesting are only interested till the DepC list comes out. The spike in the number of people who lose interest in classes and don’t feel like studying also waves a red flag. - 6% of respondents admitted that they “might use unfair means in exams/assignments”. This number has not changed much from the last survey despite the fact that this was an anonymous survey. As Freshman Survey 2017 remarks, “the possibility that several students begin resorting to unfair means during the course of their years at IIT Delhi” remains, that may explain why the 6% number is an unexpectedly small figure, (given that a Senior Survey performed by us in 2016 found out that 60% of seniors admitted to having used unfair means in assignments).

A lot less students marked that they had never tried alcohol and/or drugs, which went from 95% in 2017 to 80% in 2019 (plausibly due to the anonymity of the survey in 2019). However, a word of caution: this figure might also not be reflective of the actual num-

ber of students, the number may be more than what we were able to obtain. Significantly, 12% have tried alcohol/and or drugs once/occasionally, but don’t do it on a regular basis. Notably, the percentage of people who have tried alcohol/drugs once/occasionally/regularly and come from metro and big cities is significantly higher than the ones who are from small towns and villages (~11 point percentage difference).

Regarding sleeping patterns of students in IIT, 68% of students get at least 6-8 hours of sleep daily. However, only 18% have fixed sleeping habits, which leads us to believe that freshmen typically have dysfunctional sleep schedules, although they do cover up on sleep through daytime naps (24%) (or through daytime naps in classes (30%)) or through other ways.

Regarding eating habits, only 42% of students take their meals regularly while 40% miss breakfast often. These figures are in line with what students of IIT would expect, nevertheless it serves to reflect how busy students become so as to miss out on as important parts of the routine as daily meals. Notably, 10% more boys skip breakfast as compared to girls, which may be indicative of the relative distance of boys hostels and girls hostels to the institute area.

Regarding comfort with communication:

- 28% of students are not comfortable talking to members of their sex while 47% of students are uncomfortable conversing with members of the opposite sex - 1 in 2 respondents also admitted that they are comfortable conversing with only a small group of people. More people from villages agreed to this as compared to those from metros or big cities.(~10 point percentage difference) - 72% of students from villages are uncomfortable talking to members of opposite sex as compared to 38% of students from metros.

Regarding communication with parents, it was observed that 86% of students were “in frequent touch” with their parents as compared to 12% who were in touch “occasionally”. Interestingly, only 11% of students from villages are in frequent touch with their parents as compared to around 30% students each from metros, big cities and small towns.

Concluding Statements Just like the previous survey remarked, there are certain advantages that students from urban backgrounds have, with respect to not only access of education and fluency of the English language (as the language of tuition at IIT Delhi), but also with respect to their comfortability in conversing with other students. That the survey was conducted in the second semester of the first year underscores the fact that even after the passage of one semester, difficulties in moulding in to the student life at IIT Delhi exist for a significant percentage of those hailing from small towns and villages. The fact that 91% of students had taken some form of coaching and 40% of students admitted to having been enrolled in dummy schools highlights the state of education in the country and also points towards the priorities of a large majority of students in their +2 years. The survey also highlights differences in the aspirations of students after graduation with a significant 27% percentage from small towns and villages aiming for the Civil Services as compared to just 7% from the metro cities. This trend reverses for the academia/research sector, with only 2 from villages opting for it as compared to 12% from the metros. The effects of the busy life at IIT is reflected in the messed up sleeping schedules of 82% of students and the fact that 64% of students study because they feel like they have got no other option raises questions about the “herd” culture in our country as well as the design/ability of the courses to nurture and develop the academic temperament that is expected of the students of the nation’s premier engineering institute(s).

Since the questionnaire was only in the English language, certain biases may have been created in terms of collection of responses from those who find difficulty reading. Differences in interpretation of our questions also may have crept in (for example, the difference between a “small town” and “village”). Therefore, in our analyses we have also seeked to eliminate all biases that can be controlled by normalization and have only presented statistics that were significant (~at least a 10 percentage point difference from the average values, wherever applicable).

The questionnaire can be viewed at: usp=sharing

Word of Thanks

We would like to thank the teachers of the NLN classes for allowing our journalists to conduct the survey after their classes ended, and also the Board for Student Welfare without whom the huge coverage of 823/1061 students would have been impossible. We also thank the students, who took out their time to fill our extremely long survey.

Miscellaneous Observations:

- 65% of students find it comfortable to study (during minors) in their own hostel rooms, while 44% like it in the Library, 26% in CSC, 20% in LHC & 8% in Ex-hall.

- Regarding belief in God, around 50% said that they believe in the concept of God as compared to 33% of students, who classified themselves as agnostics and 11%, who classified themselves as atheists. 57% of students from villages believe in God as compared to 43% of students from metro cities.

- Irrespective of being in a relationship (or not), it seems like people have the same order of preference in terms of comfortable study spaces with hostel rooms in 1st place and library in 2nd. Perhaps couple study is not exactly an IITian thing :P

- Majority of the people report being at least somewhat happy with the student mentors assigned by BSW to them, while around 10% desire a better relationship with their mentor

- Regarding relationships, the number of students having relationships declined marginally from 18% before they entered IIT to 13% currently.

- If you’re in a relationship, you are less likely to have tried alcohol/drugs, more likely to skip meals and you sleep much less than those who aren’t.

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