Exit Survey 2021: Lifestyle

Edited by Rohini Dikshit

Note: T5E’s Exit Survey 2021 was conducted in the month of June to study graduating student’s perspectives on life at IIT Madras. The survey had a total of 374 responses across the entire 2020 graduating class (UG + PG) of which, around 65% of the participants were UGs (B.Tech + DD+ MA) and the remaining were PGs (Msc + MTech + MBA + PhD + MS).

The survey explored various aspects of a student’s life such as Lifestyle, Personal, Career, Academics, Extra-curricular and Opinion.

This article delves into the lifestyle of respondents, both in insti and at home.

The four pillars of physical health

A consistent sleep routine, a varied and balanced diet, regular exercise and good hygiene are the pillars of physical health. This section looks at how well respondents fare on these four metrics. 





The most common time to go to bed is between 1am and 3am, with 56% of respondents choosing this option. More than a third of respondents say they never exercise, and roughly a third say that they exercise between one and three times a week. Only 12.5% claim to exercise everyday. Fortunately, more than 66% of males and 73.7% of females claim to take a bath at least once everyday. The others, well, let’s not talk about them. Roughly two thirds of males and females claim to skip breakfast three times or less per week. Interestingly, the proportion of females saying that they almost always skip breakfast is significantly larger than males (33% vs 19%). 


Compared to UG students, PG students perceive the overall lifestyle in insti to be healthier (3.1 vs 3.7). This could be because PG students are older and hence more likely to have developed healthy habits compared to the fresh-out-of-school UG students. Another possibility is that PG students do not take part in insti activities that might happen late at night as much as UG students. Perhaps, insti standards are higher than what they experienced in their previous college life. However, this is all just speculation.


The survey also aims to gauge how these metrics changed for respondents after leaving campus due to COVID-19. The results of this are clear: a majority of people lead healthier lives at home than on campus (at least in terms of physical health). Around 45% of respondents say that their sleep improved, while only 25% say that their sleep worsened. 63% say that their hygiene improved after going home, while only a tiny 6% say that it worsened! A whopping 70% say that their nutrition has improved since leaving insti, while only 11% say that it worsened. The only exception to this is exercise, with 45% saying that their exercise worsened, which is expected given the restrictions on movement. Overall, the data suggests that respondents eat better, sleep better and keep themselves cleaner at home than in insti. 



The conclusion here is clear: compared to postgraduate students, the much younger undergraduates care less about how they dress for classes. 






A vast majority of respondents never smoked cigarettes or drank alcohol during their time in insti. Among those who did, the most common time to start experimenting is after the second year. 

Expenditure and eating out




Food is the most common expense by a longshot, with supplies/services coming a distant second. It seems from the data that male respondents eat out more often than female respondents, with precisely zero female respondents claiming to eat out everyday. 




Insti is a very linguistically diverse place. A significant proportion of respondents (37%) say that they faced language barriers in making new friends and joining new groups. However, two thirds of this group say they managed to overcome this language barrier. It is evident that English is an important language in such a linguistically diverse environment, as a majority of respondents said that they were able to make new friends because they had english as a common language.

Interaction with counsellors



Around 30% of respondents took or thought they needed counselling services. Strikingly, 40% of them avoided insti counselling services due to public perception. A third of the 30% were disappointed by counselling provided by insti while one fifth said they had a very positive experience.

Note: A more comprehensive survey of students’ mental health will follow in a later endeavour by T5E.






  1. Two-thirds of the respondents who said they felt pressure to take part in multiple extracurriculars and PoRs, also said that they felt pressure to collect ‘resume points’.
  2. Among those who attended every Shaastra, 87% also attended every Saarang. On the other hand, among those who attended every Saarang, only 57% attended every Shaastra. 
  3. Among respondents who have visited aerowell, 94% have put a full night out, 66% have visited insti lake, 79% have played contact/wolf, 73% have cycled to Bessy beach, and 48% have partied at Westin, compared to 77%, 46%, 52%, 51% and 30% respectively in the general population. This seems to be an adventurous bunch!

To wrap things up, we asked respondents to pour out their thoughts and feelings about what they missed out on by spending their final year at home. Here are some select heartfelt responses:

Writing my thesis with my friends. Losing our heads over jobs, applications, thesis and coursework together. Ticking off a few more things from my insti bucket list. Chilling tf out in my final sem: drinking, going out, movies, board games, etc. 

Missing the zeal and enthu which I had in insti !! Missed it especially while watching Alma Matters. I think we are growing old faster by staying at home both mentally and physically. 

I had a lot of things planned for final year. I had to spend a lot of time in my second, third, and fourth year to make a good profile and all. Wanted to get rid of this frustration in the final year and put real peace. 

Playing badminton, late night hostel conversations over a pack of Maggi. During my research (mostly in home), I found it difficult to learn new things just over the internet as peers would have helped me easily had we been in insti. And of course the heavenly campus. 

Wanted to burn my HTTA and intern stipend in a final do-it-all last sem but right now it’s just sitting unspent in the bank.

The stress of placement, and the joy of parties afterwards. Both times you get to know a-lot about yourself and others, makes you more close friends or separates you from some people.

All the final year travel plans. Just being with my closest friends in the hostel. Fieldwork for the final year project (the biggest disappointment so far). My hostel room — which gave me a space of my own, something that I do not have at home.

Hostel, classes, sports and so much more”, “Night walks, CCD’s espresso and lab”, “Late night walks, Party, stress free semester in campus”, “Dates and trips.

Take a look at other articles in the Exit Survey 2021: Exit Survey 2021: Opinion – The Fifth Estate, IIT Madras (t5eiitm.org)

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