“Why did I NOT branch change despite a high CPI?” – Ajinkya Dhepe

“If you pursue what you love, you’ll never have to work a day in your life”. 

Hey there, My name is Ajinkya Dhepe, presently in my third year of BS. I am writing this blog to tell why I didn’t change my discipline after my first year even after securing more than sufficient academic credentials to switch my discipline. Looking back at my decision in retrospect, it feels absolutely great to have stood firm on my decision. The journey has been more than rewarding over these years. 

My Motive to take up BS Chemistry 

I wasn’t inclined towards office jobs and thus wasn’t very much interested in taking up Engineering. Although research in engineering was a possibility, I really liked chemistry during my JEE preparation and loathed mathematics A LOT (still do at times). My JEE score in math wasn’t good which made me think that engineering (or anything that included very complex math) might not be my cup of tea. And as I was interested in chemistry and wanted to pursue research, I thought that taking up chemistry as my major would be the best way out of all of this.

I then had two options before me, either to stay in Pune and complete a BS-MS program in IISER or take up BS Chemistry in IIT Bombay. I consulted a lot of people at that time and finally came to the conclusion that I’d be joining IITB (and I am so glad I’m here). Although there were some doubts in everyone’s minds at home as to what opportunities would I get in the future, they had faith in me and thought that I would do well in whatever field I chose. So leaving all apprehensions aside, I came to IITB to start this amazing journey.

My Insti fam

First year @ Insti

It was overwhelming in the beginning as there were so many new things to try out, a lot of other things in the insti to catch up with and in such less time. But after I got accustomed to life at campus, everything went very smoothly. After a few weeks, I got a rough idea about the things I wanted to try out during my stay here. My friends and my ISMP mentor Nirant made the journey easier than it would’ve been without them. 

Apart from academics, I mostly spent time with my wingmates(Insti Fam). I used to have NSS sessions weekly in which I went to teach students of class 12th in the NGO Vidya. I also tried a few other stuff that every freshie does in the insti. Now that I look back, I had many cherishable moments in it, ones that cannot be expressed in words but are only worth reliving.

Academic strategy

I have had only one answer to this question, and I try my best to stress upon it every time I get the chance to. I used to attend lectures regularly and make notes. No matter what the attendance policy for the course was, no matter what professor was teaching that course, I tried my best to attend all lectures and take notes from it. I strongly believe that this habit has helped me a lot and I’m still benefiting from it. Even though I used to revise only a few days before the quizzes, I had to put in less effort at that time as most of the concepts were easy to grasp and could be recalled easily from the lectures. Before the exams, I used to solve tuts and past year papers with my friends (I would personally recommend it especially for MA and PH courses). 

Group study was also a key factor for me, as it helped me understand the topics in-depth and also had a bonus benefit of bonding even more with my wingies :D. I was glad all of the hard work paid off as I wasn’t expecting such a high CPI at the beginning of the semester.

Treats are an integral part of First year 😀

Branch Change Dilemma ?

As I said earlier that I was quite interested in chemistry, and that interest grew stronger after my first year. I really liked the DIC and thought that maybe I have a chance at pursuing research in chemistry. This then led me to start looking for a project for my first year summers. When I approached Prof. Arindam for the same, he suggested that I do a project at my hometown Pune under Dr. Sayan Bagchi of the National Chemical Lab. I had gained an interest in spectroscopy, thanks to CH 107, due to which I had decided to read more on it in summers. So I then asked Dr. Bagchi for an opportunity to work with him and was allowed for the same. As I worked with him in his lab, I started realising that whatever I was doing was exactly what I wanted to do, and felt immense pleasure after each day of the internship. This finally led me to make the decision that I would not change my branch after the first year. I also spoke to seniors of various branches and my mentor and they too had the opinion that it’s not necessary for me to think about a branch change if I am sure that I want to pursue chemistry in the future. Although I did have a lot of brainstorming at my house with my relatives, I was sure that I wanted to continue with this.

In Retrospect 

I have not regretted this decision of mine for even a single moment. Although there were quite a few people telling me that there might not be good job opportunities ahead, etc. now when I see my seniors performing so well in the core sector, it motivates me and makes me work harder each and every day. I am extremely happy that I am completely focused on one goal and am doing the thing which I like the most and hopefully heading towards a bright future.

 I have already taken steps in that direction by taking up in semester projects in our department and wish to go for higher studies in the field of biochemistry. I always feel that if a person is doing things out of his/her own passion, (s)he will definitely succeed in that job and reach great heights in that field. With this ideology in my mind, I always try to strive hard and give my best in whatever things I have taken up.

My 2 cents to Upcoming Juniors

Firstly, never ever underestimate yourselves. You might not have had an extremely amazing JEE rank, but that’s not the end of it, you can always work hard later and break your own records. In a more general sense, do not have preconceived notions about ANYTHING.

 Many such notions that I had, for instance about me not being able to solve math at all, were proved wrong after the first year, and I have tried my best to be unbiased towards all opinions ever since. Secondly, (and I guess this will be much more relevant to the upcoming freshies who’ll be facing a lot of new things), do not panic about anything new that has come in your way. It might seem really confusing or overwhelming, but if you give it time and try your level best, things do smoothen out.

Adapting to this new semester might seem a bit hard but with the help of your friends and ISMP mentors everything will go by and in that journey, you’d make some unbreakable bonds. Get along with your buddies, and you’ll find out that you’re all facing the same issues in one form or the other. And who knows, you might even find the optimal solution to it. Also, we should always remember to see where our passion lies. In most cases, that is where we can flourish and prosper the most, and that is exactly where we can bring about a new, progressive change.

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