I’m Siva Kumar Lakkoju and this is my story. (Sorry for a lonnggg post)
(You’ll understand the first half of the title after reading this)
A journey started 3 years ago, when I just realized a non CS student can study CS formally, there were two options, go to the US for an MS or GATE CS which I came to know accidentally that non CS students do take up GATE and study MTech CS at various institutions. The first option soon becomes impossible, bcoz of my low cgpa and lack of projects/internships within the CS domain(except some experience learning DSA)
I decided GATE is the only option to pursue my passion i.e. CS, and I had to convince my parents about this, especially my father, since he is in academia himself, he tried bringing in his colleagues from CS dept to try and convince me to not take up GATE CS rather finish my btech and prepare for GATE Chemical and for other govt jobs. But I was adamant, and stuck firm to my decision.
This was mid Nov 2018 just finished my end sem exams and started preparing for GATE using gfg notes but I felt something missing and thought of opting for video lectures(didn't know about of GO yet) I did take one continued with gfg notes, could only study dsa(from gfg) , toc, cd(covered from those videos) and maths ofcourse prog i used to practice easy ones on spoj etc. I only scored 37 in GATE 2019, ranked 7823.
While I'm not happy with this, my parents were, because they thought despite being non CS I scored this much, little did they know that majority of the score came from apti and maths.
While many of my friends are getting placed through on campus placements, my graph started coming down, since I didn’t attend many lectures from Jan to mid Feb(75% required), although many professors accepted my GATE CS reason for skipping classes, one faculty put a W grade(backlog) . So I had to repeat one lab in the 2nd semester of the next academic year.
Back-to-home I was laughed at by my own aunt’s family bcoz being from such a good college let alone getting placed I didn’t even graduate.
While my parents also got angry, there’s nothing that can be done. I have to prepare for this entire 5 months before going to college(in Dec) and finishing the damn lab and getting that piece of paper(read degree).
I came to know about GO this time, and after going through few blogs and hearing to Arjun sirs’ video on youtube, I decided this time I’ll study entirely from standard books(I purchased 2nd hand), also ordered my GO books, started preparing one subject after the other, making notes, although studying from books is taking a lot more time per subject. Come the month of Oct, my grandfather was hospitalized, and I couldn't touch the book for almost a month. Nov I wasn’t getting back on track, I could not just study anything, while my parents thought I was studying seriously. Went back to clg in Dec 2019 and attended the labs while still not getting back on track.
Result, I didn’t qualify for GATE 2020. That day, since I was away from home my parents didn’t say a word but told me to finish the lab and get the degree. The pandemic has started and is rapidly spreading, 21 days lockdown. I was stuck in Nagpur, finished the lab but left with the submissions and exam which happened online, passed the lab. But the lockdown kept extending, with only 2 people in our flat,me being the cook :p, somehow we safely stayed till the lockdown partially opened and trains for stranded students started. I applied for PGEE MS(despite knowing my profile won’t suit the program) in the month of march but the exam was postponed, so alongside cooking I was just practicing apti and revising some technical subjects. When I returned via the special train, I was taken to a quarantine center(with a bunch others who came from the same train) 50 KMs away from home, with our bus escorted by 2 police cars and not knowing where we were being taken. Although we came to know when we reached the center but it has 0 amenities, anyway this is an entirely different experience, I was there for 10 days tested negative and returned home on May 15th, studied for a month staying away from family(coz of the covid fear) June 25th was PGEE but I wasn’t shortlisted.
My father saw CCMT spot round notification and thought I will get UOH(based on my GATE 2019 score 433) and asked me to apply and take it. But bcoz my cgpa of 5.94, I was not eligible for CCMT. I didn’t inform anyone about the eligibility but said I’ll prepare for GATE 2021.
GATE 2021 and beyond….
This was the month of July and I started again preparing for books, this time I only took one test series(Applied GATE), updating my previous notes. solving from standard exercises, making short notes for revision, giving topic tests, till September. Then I had to look after some repairs at home for almost a month and a half which was important and I was the only one available for the task for 45 days. I hardly studied an hour or 2 these days, but that was it, no test series.
Everyone knew I had to study but no one was actually free to take up the task. Remember last year it was a similar story, I was studying, a month of gap, not being able to get back on track. I felt this was going to repeat this time too. Anyway mid November after the task finished, I started revising utilizing as many hours per day as possible. I gave all the left out topic and subject tests till December but scored only 10 - 12 on avg out of 25. On Jan 1st my first Applied-All India Mock, I scored 27. I felt even this time I’m not gonna get anything good in GATE. But I kept pushing , trying to solve 1 full mock a day, and noting my mistakes, 32, 45, 40, 46, 57(this was the easiest mock of Applied this time, highest was some 90+), these are the first few scores. Anyway I didn’t bother much about comparing my marks with others, but kept revising from the short notes I made before, score slowly started improving on average every mock I’ve given from Jan 2nd week till the last All India mock on 7th Feb I scored in the range of 50 - 70 mostly north of 60 but I’ve score some 50s too. 7th to 12th Feb I was only revising from the short notes and my error book.
D-Day, Set 1, yes I got lucky, but it has slightly trickier MSQs than MCQs. Although I got most of the MSQs and NAT right, I did blunders in some of the easier MCQs, I scored only 55/100(actual score). AIR 834, Score 688. My parents' instant reaction was not congratulating but saying they expected me to rank around 3k, but not under 1000.
Then again I was only eligible for IISc, IITK, IITM, IITH, IIT Ropar, IITGn, IITTp (IITs only coursework program, while IISc I was eligible for both the types). I was rejected by IISc(MTech(R.)) and IITGn(MTech). I belong to OBC,so, I got IITRopar CS in the first round and kept retaining till 3rd. Now I had to make the decision whether to reject and wait for IITH or accept Ropar. Till 3rd round only thing I knew was IITH is possible in the additional rounds, but these rounds also carry Risk with them, which I can’t take bcoz I clearly don’t have other options in hand at that time. I accepted Ropar happily. I had also applied for IIITH and ISI, although after GATE I was preparing for interviews and written tests for IISc and other IITs, after I was not sure of getting these. I started focusing on ISI prep after COAP round 3. I am also allotted IIITH MTech CSE :) but still I’m waiting for the ISI results. Hopefully I get that.
For all the future aspirants, I want to say: If you keep pushing yourself, good opportunities will definitely knock the door.
ALL THE BEST!!!
Thank you for reading patiently :p