It is time.
I write this the night before my Orientation Day at NUST-SEECS. I’ve been waiting for this day for a long, long time. The story, my story, from Garrison Academy to National University of Science and Technology’s School of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science (kaafi lamba hai ye tou [that’s what she said]) is quite interesting.
It involves crying man-tears up in my bathroom (confused over which career path I should choose), taking evening classes at a entrance test preparation center, studying for 12 hours straight in preparation for the entrance tests, getting into FAST-NU and, finally, getting selected for SEECS.
Read the full story, after the break.
I won’t get into mundane details about how I prepared for the tests and how I actually did at the tests; that shit is boring. Instead, the primary focus of this post shall be on the juicier bits.
Also, the title of this post is “inspired” by this piece from Express Tribune.
Aap Baray Ho Kar Kya Bano Gay?
Discussions over which field of engineering I should get into started as early as SSC-II. I always wanted to do something related to computing. I live and breathe computers and have a little experience with programming. Keeping this in mind, the only fields suitable for yours truly were Computer Science or Software Engineering.
My parents and my g-parents, of course, suggested going for Electrical Engineering since it has the highest scoring requirements (from which, it was incorrectly concluded that it has the best after-graduation job scene). Other fields, such as Accounting & Finance, Chartered Accountancy and even Mass Communication were considered but ultimately struck off the list.
This confusion, of whether I should go ahead with my parents’ choice or go for CS/SE, was unusually stressful for me. There were days and nights where I’d silently cry man-tears since, well, I just couldn’t make my mind up. I had the academic record that was needed to be an Electrical Engineer, but had no real interest in it. Computer Science, on the other hand, would, I thought back then, be riskier because it has less “scope” in Pakistan (this turned out to be false; there’s plenty of scope if you’re skilled).
Computer Science has never been considered a good field in Pakistan. One of the prime reasons for this is that it has one of the lowest merits in universities like GIKI, NUST, UET so it is automatically assumed that students who go for CS are those who couldn’t get into any other higher-merit waali field (I have found this assumption to be mostly true, sadly).
Still, after a lot of convincing and some pretty heavy research, I finally managed to convince my father. It wasn’t easy, but I managed to do it, thanks to considerable help from friends and older relatives. CS/SE has plenty of scope: it is a skill-dependent field, where employers tend to focus on your skills, rather than the university from which you graduated.
Matric-FSc waalay read this: Choosing which field to get into can be very difficult. If you’re in Matric or have just started FSc, visit the websites of different national universities to see what programs they offer and see if anything ‘clicks’ with you. Take your time, look around different blogs, ask people older than you, shortlist the programs you like and, once it is decided, work your butt off so you can get into a good university which offers said program.
Life In The FAST Lane
I was selected for BS(CS) at FAST on July 23rd. Classes started on August 8th. Ramzan k din thay, so getting through the 7-hour day felt quite difficult at the beginning, but I made friends pretty quickly and, as such, time kaafi aasaani say pass hojaata tha.
I was sent to Section B, where I met plenty of great people: I would particularly like to mention Qabas, Raees, Saad, Shaan and Zeeshan. Despite thinking k hamari class farigh si hogi and that I’d find no one who I’d able to share interests with, I found folks like Sachal (he likes hacking Android smartphones), Saad (writes dukhi English poems) and Maria (writes great anecdotal articles, one of her posts was published here).
As you all know, NUST’s Entrance Test for Engg/CS students was leaked out and so they decided to take it all over again. Because of this, I spent a whole month at FAST (instead of, you know, a week or two MAX). This turned out to be a very good thing as I got a taste of the semester system (which is radically different from the annual system) and had the experience of, what is often called, life in the FAST lane.
The teaching ishtyle at FAST was quite different. There was a pretty strong focus on building concepts which, honestly speaking, I wasn’t all that used to in FSc. Students’ knowledge was heavily tested by putting them in different scenarios, out of which they could only pass if they had solid concepts.
I R NUSTIAN
I was selected for NUST on August 29th. There was a minor screw up, sadly, as I was selected for Computer Engg. at EME and not Software Engg. at SEECS. The reason behind this was how I, back in May, selected CE-EME as my first program preference because back then, I had this plan to go for EME’s legendary CE program.
Thankfully, after a little guidance from I R NUSTIAN, Muneeb Khan and Irteza Ubaid, Baba and I went straight to the Registrar the next working day to get my preferences changed. He wasn’t too hopeful about it, saying keh janaab, you got your first preference and that NUST’s “computers” won’t entertain your request to go for 2nd preference.
The next seven or so days proved to be quite difficult for me. The thought that those five seconds that I took to choose CE-EME would potentially change where I spend my next four years disturbed me deeply. Bhai sad-sad sa hogaya tha. As a consequence, my first sessional at FAST didn’t go well (yes, I like playing the blame-game ).
Still, Allah ka shukar hai k, against all sorts of odds, I was selected for Software Engineering at NUST-SEECS in the 2nd list that was published on September 13th.
I remember the exact moment: I was hanging out with my chuddi-buddy Mujtaba at Gelato Affair when I received a text message from fellow NUST hopeful and my 6th-7th ka dost Ahmad which read, “start jumping up and down ” and another one, “Check NUST result”.
I did actually start jumping up and down… like a little girl. Mujtaba was the only person around me at that moment, so I picked the bastard up and started shouting, “YES YES YES, HOGAYA MUJTABA. HOGAYA. I GOT INTO SEECS!!” while he said, “Put me down kameenay, log dekh rahay hain”.
After spending a week down in depths of despair, I got what I wanted. It was the happiest moment of my life.
Choosing NUST over FAST
SEECS at Night (via Bibrak Qamar)
Choosing between a university known for its Computer Science program and a university which is still relatively new to the Computer Science / Software Engineering game but is ranked in the top 300 Engineering & IT universities worldwide wasn’t the easiest decision to make. Both universities had their set of pros and cons… I just had to choose the set which suited me.
I eventually went for NUST. Besides having plenty of personal reasons for this, just way too many people both in the industry and in higher academic positions suggested I go for SEECS. Some of these people include: a PhD (CS) student in Stanford (who did SE from NUST-MCS), an MBA student from University of Toronto (who did CS from FAST), a Nuclear Physicist who once served as Rector GIKI, friends who are themselves doing BS(CS) from national universities and a handful of folks who actually work in the industry.
I start my four years in NUST-SEECS’ Software Engineering program this Monday. I’ve already made friends with a couple of seniors who, I hope, will save me from being ragged like I was in FAST (where, on my first day, I was asked to pole-dance in front of three senior ladies).
There’s a lot to look forward to in life. And that is as good as it gets. Shukar Alhamdulillah.
Reader Discussion: If you’ve already decided on a field, it would be great if you’d tell us how you made up your mind. Looking forward to your comments! (Also, be sure to click on the ’like’ button if you found this article interesting) :)
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