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Branch Change - Clearing the Mist

February 22, 2023

The IITs are considered to be the most coveted institutions for undergraduate studies across the country. The fact that only around 1% of the candidates appearing in the entrance exam manage to secure a seat in these institutions is a testament to the quality of students that manage to get through.

But added to this is the disadvantage that your fate is left in the hands of that little amount of magic that you produce during the 6 hrs of one of the most difficult and strenuous examinations across the globe. The incredible load of expectations of all those who surround the examinee sometimes leads to blunders that can cost the candidate his/her dreams. However, the system itself provides the candidates with another chance to deem themselves worthy of their dreams, with the opportunity to change their branch in their freshman year.

In the oldest technical institute of the country, this opportunity presents itself at the end of the first semester. The best part about it? The students compete as equals with nothing but merit separating them from their dreams—that, and of course, their JEE rank that comes back to haunt some of the candidates. Most of the freshmen find themselves struggling to strike that sweet spot of balance between exploring the plethora of opportunities that the campus has to offer and studying “hard enough” in order to have a better shot at changing the cards they were dealt with.

This article aims to dispel some of the myths that seem to surround the idea of changing your branch, make past year statistics easily accessible, and hopefully provide perspective with regards to the ideology behind the process.

Rules and Regulations

So far no changes to the policy have been announced. This article will be updated if and when that happens.

Key Takeaways from the present policy:

  1. The additional 10% seats “added” at the end of the semester are calculated using the original number of seats being offered by the department during the JoSAA counseling. Extra seats are also vacated if students from a department change their branches. (see next picture)
  2. Grades are the only criteria on which preference is given to students. In the case of equal grades, the JEE Advanced rank will be the tiebreaker.
  3. B.Arch students aren’t eligible.

“In India, we don’t choose our major but our major chooses us.”

Reflect on this for a second. Most of the students who enrolled in IIT Roorkee in any branch whatsoever did so without much research about what they were getting into. In fact, the research generally begins after the JEE ranks are out and your future has already been partially decided. Most of us are told to choose any available branch from the old IITs simply because of their reputation(sounds familiar?).

According to the modern-day convention, almost everyone seems to be aiming for the circuit branches without actually even knowing what the stream is all about.

But since we’re already here, how about adopting a different approach?

The first step in any life-changing decision is to identify why you think taking that decision means so much to you. Most of the candidates that think about changing their department do so citing the placement statistics of the previous years. While not the best way to make that decision, we don’t discourage you from going down that road. But what we certainly encourage you to do is to understand that now that you are on campus, you have the opportunity to talk to a wide variety of seniors, all of whom are working in various different fields. In doing so, you enable yourself to make an informed decision of what you want to do, at least for the next few years, if not eternity.

Citing the fact that a number of students look forward to the process, the rules and regulations for the same were considerably relaxed last year. Owing to this, the students now enjoy a much better chance to change their branch. The following diagram shows the number of students that successfully changed their branch last year:

Adopting a Holistic Approach

Contrary to popular belief, being a traditional “ghissu” is not the key to changing your branch. For most of it, it is a journey in parallel to the one you embarked on when preparing for JEE but also a lot different in terms of the opportunity cost and final outcome.

Most candidates who give their everything towards the idea of a branch change often make the same mistakes, the most major of them all being never actually stepping out of their rooms to explore what the campus has to offer. This decision either comes back to haunt them if they fail or becomes something that just falls into the pit of buried regrets if they are successful.

Adopting a holistic approach in getting through your time on campus is probably the best thing that you can do regardless of what your aspirations are. Devote yourself to your studies, the idea being to give your best but not to be bogged down if you’re unable to do so (this is where relative grading is most helpful). At the same time, don’t disregard all the talks and lectures that the institute and the various campus groups organize.

The key is to manage your time exceptionally well and also to be persistent with your efforts towards the final goal (see the similarities yet?).

How tough is it?

To put things into perspective, we now follow up with a diagram based on last year’s statistics. The numbers provided here are just to give the viewer an idea of what he/she needs to do in order to secure a branch change. It is important to note that these numbers do not form a standard basis and change each year according to the preferences of the candidates that year.

As mentioned earlier, the rules for this procedure have been considerably relaxed, but the entry into the “much coveted” circuit branches(CSE, ECE, and EE) remains an uphill task. The required SGPA last year was as follows:

Branch Opening CGPA Closing CGPA
CSE 10 9.67
Eph 10 8.6
MnC 9.81 9.42
ECE 9.67 9.55
EE 9.52 9.42
Mech 9.33 9
Eco 9.2 8.3
Chem 9.143 8.6
PnI 8.619 8.34
Civil 8.42 8.05
Meta 8.095 7.6
MSP 8 8

Final Word of Advice

The truth is that changing your branch is by no means easy, but consistency and persistence go a long way in getting you what you want. It is important to remember that your college isn’t just here to provide you with quality education; being an IITian is a lot more than that. It’s about modeling yourself into a better individual, something that is only possible if you step out of your room and your comfort zones to experience the journey that is IIT-Roorkee. So although putting a semester into something that draws you as much as the idea of a branch change (and we know it does), it wouldn’t be the worst idea to allow yourself to indulge in the little joys of campus life as well.

Hear it from them

Vansh Uppal, 2nd Year, Branch Changer from EPh to MnC

“I would say that interest was the major deciding factor for me. And this is also what I would advice, especially in the case of Mathematics and Computing. Since I was interested in Math, I find the branch both easy and engaging. Some people do have apprehensions regarding going from a BTech degree to BS/MS, but personally I don’t think it’s that big an issue in the long run. Overall, a very noice experience with noice people”

Chinmay Nagpal, 2nd Year, Branch Changer from Chem to ECE

“Why did I change my branch? The pros include the fact that ECE has more opportunities in core (Placements and internships) than Chemical and plus,I was less inclined to the core side of chemical, compared to that of ECE. The cons include the fact that it was very difficult to adjust and start the process of mixing up once again with new people where already friend circles had formed. We had to leave our previous friend circles and comfort zones. l, I would say it took quite a lot of time for me to adapt and adjust with everything, but I really feel at home now, in this branch.”

Aditya Tiwari, 2nd Year, Branch Changer from Metallurgy to ECE

“I just hated metallurgy as a subject and as a branch I guess that’s about it lol. Anyways this point is true to some extent but Meta and mech mei hoke bhi acchi intern aur placement laga sakte. It’s just a matter of your dedication and whatever. But yes circuital mei it’s far easier. I still get asked about my cg and when I tell them my cg they are like “f**k kitna drop hua” and there’s obviously the “online mei branch change ki isne toh” But imo still the plus overpowers the minus definitely.”

Saiyam Arora, 2nd Year, Branch Changer from Chem to EE

“Why electrical- My SGPA for the first could at best make me upgrade to electrical. MnC could also be an option but I like math upto a decent level, not enough to take a branch dealing with math only. There is just 1 major problem, Considering the hectic schedule of circuital branches and also side by side doing some tech stuff, doing extracurricular becomes tough. But pros outweigh the cons.”

Gauri Garg, 2nd Year, Branch Changer from GPT to Economics

“I had no interest in core geophysics. I got a cg high enough to get to mechanical but I didn’t want to choose a more difficult and hectic degree since I did not want to take up conventional engineering jobs. Economics always seemed interesting and I wanted to pursue higher studies in this field, I felt this was the best option. Also I sucked at physics but I loved mathematics so economics seemed like a great option for me.”