Minor Degrees: Worth The Time And Efforts?

Minor Degrees: Worth The Time And Efforts?

K Aditya | Feb 03, 2020

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Amongst all other academic reforms introduced in the session 2018-19, one of the most profound adaptations was the introduction of the minor degree program for UG students. Since its inception, there has been a lot of speculations and criticism pertaining to the new system. Initially commenced to enhance the knowledge set of UG students beyond their branch domain and encourage multi-disciplinary expertise, the program primarily aims at amplifying the employment scope of students.

In spite of all this, the trends over the past two years have been out of sorts whereby it has been observed that a majority of the students opting for minor degrees have dropped out in the subsequent semesters. Team Monday Morning surveyed to analyze the various aspects behind students dropping out of minor and to seek suggestions from students regarding the implementation of a minor degree. We bring forward a complete analysis of the effectiveness of the minor degree program and its implementation, citing experiences of students and words of the authority.

Eligibility Criteria:

The provision of pursuing a minor degree is limited to students having a CGPA of 8 or more and without having any backlogs at the end of their second semester. Minor degree brings with itself baggage of 18 credits in the complete 6-semester tenure with 3 credit courses being offered in each semester. 

Since its inception, the program has been very popular among the 1st year students who after the completion of their 2nd semester eagerly enrol for the minor degree subject to fulfilment of the above-mentioned criterion. But as the trend suggests by the completion of the 3rd semester a hefty number of students deregister the minor courses. Let's see what reasons NITR Junta has to cite in this regard.

Whether the minor degree program is effective?

57.1% of the NITR Junta was of the view that they found the minor degree program to have a weighty impact on their academic development and found to be relevant in some sort or the other.

On the other hand, 42.9% of the populace were critical of the implementation of a minor degree and didn’t seem to be impressed with its vitality.

Vindications leading to de-registering of minor courses

Time Management:  

Devoting time for minor courses along with the departmental courses isn’t a cakewalk for everyone adding to it is the time devoted to club activities and fests. A majority of the NITR populace feel that the prime reason behind students deregistering from minor courses is the inability of students to manage their time properly to devote additional hours for the minor courses.

Tarun Verma a 3rd year Electronics Undergraduate pursuing a minor in Electrical speaking on the issue of time management

It's not that hard, as  almost everybody waste time a lot so instead of that we can devote that time for studying minor courses and just paying attention in the class would solve a majority of such problems.

Harsh Mohan a 3rd-year Computer Science Undergraduate pursuing a minor in ECE feels that-.

I would opine that if you can give an hour a week towards a subject you should do fine with any subject at NIT Rourkela let alone the minors. I have spent only the yesternight to examinations for preparations and have done beyond satisfaction. Nevertheless what counts is the stress coefficient which of course is higher since you are doing an extra 3 credit course whose faculty does no better than usual and you are forced to find your way out. If you can handle that time management is not an issue.

Encumbered Academic Rigour: 

Students who don’t get an opportunity to pursue a carrier in their desired branch due to rank constraints are often seen to choose minor degrees in the branch of their choice. On the other hand there a handful of students who opt for a minor degree to broaden their domain of knowledge in the subjects of their passion or interest. More than half of the populace is of the view that carrying an added baggage of 3 credits each semester alongside the usual branch courses becomes too much of a thing.

Harsh Mohan further adds:

This would be extremely beneficial when I’ll be (if I ever apply) applying for MS in the future or when I am in an interdisciplinary field of service. Furthermore, I did opt for minor to suffice my interests and to broaden my knowledge of the electronics underlying computer systems, hardware that provides the base to the operating system and the crude mathematics and equations behind the networking rather than the superficial protocol layers.

Debi Prasad Sen a 2nd-year Electrical Undergraduate pursuing a minor in CS feels- 

 We get a preface to learn a lot of important stuff like Data Structures, Database, etc.. Basically, we get a pre-image of those courses through the Minor classes.

Incompetent Teaching:

Students mostly complain about the below-par teaching standards being implemented for minor degrees. The teachers assigned to teach the minor degree courses aren’t well experienced and don’t have a sound knowledge of the subject. There have also been reports that the different teachers are being appointed for teaching the same course to major and minor degree students with a huge difference in experience. Usually, less experienced teachers are being appointed for taking up minor degree courses which acts as a major spoilsport for the students, who as a result don’t develop an interest in the subject and eventually deregister from the course.

Srujan Dash a 2nd year Civil Undergraduate who opted out of Mechanical Minor cited his reasons for the same-

When a student decides of pursuing a minor degree in a particular branch, he/she usually hopes to get a piece of good knowledge about that course. But the structure of a minor degree in our institute isn’t compatible, it's just a mere wastage of time. Our professor just came and did the best thing he could do that dictates what is written in his paper and went away. So at that time of exams, you need a lot of cramming. There is no scope of improvement in that thing.

Improper Course Structure:  

The administration needs to relook at the structure of minor. The courses covered under a minor degree is a thing to ponder upon as a large section of the students opting for the minor degree aren’t satisfied with the courses on offer. Even there are certain cases, where a particular course that needs to be covered in depth has to be looked up overall by the minor degree students due to time and credit constraints, in this regard one may say that even the teachers don’t have much to help on their parts.

Siddhartha Nanda a 2nd-year Ceramic Undergraduate who opted out of Metallurgical and Materials Minor expressing his grievances over the minor degree structure said-

As we are given only 3 credits per semester so we have to complete the major part of metallurgy in a very short period. For example, the metallurgy branch students have iron making itself of 3 credits in one semester and steel making of 3 credits in the next semester. Also without knowing the basics, we have to study such an important subject in one semester. As a result of which the professors have to complete the syllabus in a very short period which makes it very difficult on our part to understand the concept. 

Koustav Kumar a 2nd year Civil Undergraduate pursuing Physics and Astronomy minor highlighting the loopholes in the curriculum-

I choose physics and astronomy minor because of my interest in astronomy. I know it has no relation with my branch courses but still, I look forward to deepening my knowledge in the subject of my passion. But the problem is that our minor doesn’t offer any significant number of courses pertaining to astronomy, which disappoints me.


Will minor degree credits be added to the main grade sheet?

The concerned authority, unlike the previous year, has cleared the air regarding this issue by clearly mentioning the fact that there will be separate grade cards for minor and major degrees and the performance of minor courses will not reflect in the major grade sheet. The major grade sheet will be the same for all students irrespective of whether they have enrolled for a minor or not. The students opting for the minor degree will be provided with an additional grade card which will reflect upon their performances in the minor courses.

A majority of the students were dissatisfied over the fact that why the minor degree performance reflected in the overall GPA in the last semester and how much time will it take for preparing different grade sheets for major and minor courses.

Team MM brought this issue to the notice of the Dean Academics, Prof. S K Patel and here is what he has to say in this regard-
Team MM: By what time can we expect different grade sheets for Major and Minor courses?
 

Prof. S K Patel said:

 It's for the first time we're implementing this. So a completely new computer software is being developed which requires some time. But I assure you that in the end such students will be given two different grade sheets and will be facing no problems. Probably by the end of this semester, we will be done with this.

Will having a minor degree increase employment opportunities?

This is a question that has been haunting most of the students who have opted for minor degrees. 

According to the words of our Dean Academics, Prof. S K Patel-

These days companies are looking to hire candidates with multidisciplinary expertise, as a result, their employment opportunities get widened. But it depends solely on the company what kind of skill sets they aspire a candidate to possess. We are hopeful, that the minor degree will play a key role in improving the placements.

Whether a student having a minor in a particular branch sit for placements for the companies of that particular branch along with students having a major degree in that branch?

Anshuman Bebarata, the Placement Secretary (2019-20) had to say the following in this regard-

It is completely the companies’ call, whether they wish to allow or not. As a minor degree was introduced 2 years back, so the students pursuing a minor degree are still in their internship season. Last year it was observed that a few of the companies like WIPRO, UHG Optum, and SAP Labs, allowed students from non-circuital branches who had a minor in CS to apply for internships.

TIME FOR A REFORM

NITR Junta when enquired about the necessary reforms to be implemented in the minor degree system highlighted upon the following aspects-

ATTENDANCE CRITERION-

Minor degrees shouldn’t have the same attendance policies as that of the major degrees. As these are the courses opted by students out of their own interest so one shouldn’t be compelled to attend classes. A relative more flexible attendance policy should be regulated for minor degrees.

AMENDMENT IN CLASS TIMINGS

A large section of the populace is facing issues due to the present schedule of minor classes that are being held from (11 AM-12 PM). An amendment in the schedule timings may be beneficial for the students.

 PLANNED EXAM ROUTINE

Lately, it has been observed that the students opting for minor degree face difficulties during semester examinations due to lack of preparation time for the forthcoming subject. The students usually get less than a day off for preparing for the next examination, which hampers their performance in the parent branch subjects.

Alongside all the above-mentioned proposals there is a dire need for an improvement of the course structure and improving upon the teaching methodologies.

Team MM through its survey tried to pinpoint some of the other departments apart from the existing ones in which a minor degree may be proposed. The bar graph below gives a list of departments in which NITR Junta is willing to pursue a minor degree.

 

Team MM hopes that the issues highlighted pertaining to students deregistering from minor courses will be addressed by the authorities and necessary amends be made in the minor degree system to ensure the fulfilment of the objective behind the implementation of minor degrees.

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