Vinay Kumar, MD and CEO, Rao IIT Academy (extreme right), Arjit Jain (Centre), and his mother Kamal Jain (extreme left)
Interview taken by Free Press Journal
Q. How and when did you decide that you want to study engineering?
Ans. Back in class 8 and 9, just out of my own interest I built two websites on my own. I learnt html on my own, and that’s when I developed a liking and interest in the subject. Slowly , I started researching and reading up the other computer languages used for coding and decided that I want to pursue a career in computer science engineering. I stay in Ghatkopar, and used to pass by IIT Bombay (IITB) in powai very often, and since class 11, I was aiming at securing admission to the computer science programme at IITB. So, of course, IITB is my first choice, my second being IIT Delhi for the same programme.
Q. How did you come upon the decision to join Rao IIT Academy for your coaching ?
Ans. At the time when I needed to enrol for the coaching, my parents and I were extremely confused as to how to go about the whole process and which institute to choose. Around that time my father came across an advertisement for the Maharashtra Talent Search Examination (MTSE) that the Academy conducts every year. My father asked me to take a shot, and I qualified all the three levels, which progressively got more difficult, and ended with a personal interview with a panel. In that interim, my family and I had put in out best to get feedback on the Academy, and we looked at the internet, asked people we know and asked them to ask more people! From each sphere we got a positive response, and that’s when we decided that it is the best Academy for my training. Since the Powai branch was closest to my house, I chose that branch for the Two Years Integrated Programme, where I was enrolled in Chandrabhan Sharma College of Arts, Science and Commerce in Powai.
Q. Did you get any scholarship at Rao IIT Academy?
Ans. Yes, it was a very generous scholarship based on my performance at the MTSE, since I got an 80 per cent fee waiver. I had to pay only 20 per cent of the fee.
Q. What was your experience like, learning at Rao IIT Academy?
Ans. I had a wonderful experience. Since all the faculty there is not only knowledgeable, but also very helpful. The Academy holds about six hours of regular classes every day, followed by a two-hour session for clearing the student’s doubts. Although attending the doubt clearing sessions was optional, I used to sit for them since it opened up a new world of information. For instance, if a student brought in a query from a new text book that I didn’t have, I would come to know about it and perhaps invest in that book. Likewise, if a student asked a query from a website on the internet, I would come to know of it, and then visit that site. It was one of the advantages of attending these sessions.
Q. How did the faculty at Rao IIT Academy help the students who were weak in a particular subject?
Ans. The faculty were always available to students to talk to and solve queries at any time. They also conducted special lectures for students in the subject they were were weak in at the convenience of the students. They were always ready to help in every way and they are highly motivating.
Q. How does the system of mentoring work at Rao IIT Academy?
Ans. Certain teachers were dedicated in counselling the students through their two years of study. They would encourage students to follow their passion and opt for courses accordingly. Even if any student faced any family problem or peer pressure or any kind of external stress, the mentor would be there to provide a practical and doable solution. I have seen that even if a student went to the mentor with simple problem like there is construction work going on around his house which was a hindrance to his studying, the mentor at Rao IIT Academy told him to come to the centre and study there. My mentor, among other things, taught me how to study for certain exams and how to tackle differently worded questions.
Q. How did the frequent tests at Rao IIT Academy help you?
Ans. I was in a regular batch at the Academy, and after taking a few specialized tests, based on my results I was promoted to the elite batch called the Super Zenith Batch. It was in this batch that I was challenged with healthy competition among my batch mates who were extremely intelligent. That provided me with a benchmark of how hard I need to work if I want to make it. It motivated me. Other than that, there were focused subject tests which enabled me to tackle the tricky questions as well.
Q. What message would you like to offer aspirants of the JEE?
Ans. JEE is a very conceptual test, so their concepts need to be really strong. They need to devote time to study a subject deeply. I spent most of the time in class 11 delving deep into the topics rather than writing tests or solving questions. I also want to clarify that there is no short cut to score at the JEE or no substitute for hard work. In fact, I used to complete my studies at the centre itself, and at home used to complete my homework. What helped me a lot was that I read up on the topic to be covered the next day – I would read it from the text books, study material and also view the video lectures provided by the Academy on that topic. It helped understand the topic much better in class. I also took out time to pursue my hobby for speed cubing and reading up different kinds of articles on the internet. This helped me manage my stress, since a student taking up IIT JEE can never be stress free!
Q. What did you do if you felt low or stressed?
Ans. I wasn’t too stressed since my parents were easy going, but if I ever felt low, I was sure that I didn’t want my parents to know it. I tried to work upon it myself by reading motivational stories about personalities like Albert Einstein, or even watch one of the numerous motivational videos available on youTube.