To put my thoughts on this engineering counseling briefly, just in case some body is doing a last minute google search on what group to choose (Far better than asking the next person in counseling or the computer operator itself)
1) If "experts" are professors. They know nothing.
Group Vs Brand Name:
2)"Group" is far more important than "college brand name". Don't be deceived by brand name. What may be popular in your 18 taluks may not be popular in Chennai, Bangalore or San Jose. I chose a top private college in Madras. Rejected an REC other state and a Govt Aided College (Dote 1 in those days) to be in Madras. Was worth it. Nobody who mattered would have been able to recognize all three colleges.
3) From personal experience, I can say people who took funny groups like "production engineering", "civil engineering", "Bio-technology", "instrumentation", "leather technology", "naval architecture" and "printing technology" in super brand name colleges (College of Engineering, Guindy, REC, Trichy) are now one big flop. Self-confessed that too. They confess it themselves and point the bad decision to the engineering counseling.
4) In my days people who didn't get COE, Guindy, REC, Trichy, PSG, Coimbatore rejected all the other Govt Colleges and started choosing Venkateswara, Crescent, SRM etc. I think the only change I see nowadays is that Venkateswara has moved above PSG, Coimbatore. The bottom line is Govt-aided college has no meaning now. Group choice and location choice takes precedence.
5) Under some circumstances -- It makes sense pick a college near your place. So if you are living in Madurai or Coimbatore picking the Govt college close to your house makes sense. Anybody who gets in that orbit -- should pick REC, Trichy or COE Guindy above everything else (unless you are an IIT admit).
6) Being in a City helps. Always! being in Madras, Bangalore, Hyderabad, Pune, Bombay helps a lot (it helps you develop a cosmopolitan outlook towards life which is zero in other places). When I was in a place in TN South of Madras, I used to think place does not make a difference. I used to get into arguments saying "no xyz is better". After I moved from Thanjavur (sorry Anti! but Thanjavur is a very sucky place, but then again that only makes you look better) to Madras, I realized that it was not true. The kind of people you move with usually changes radically. I am not saying everybody else in any other place are bumpkins but the chances are more that you will meet aggressive people who constantly talk about higher studies. I think in entire Thanjavur jilla, I was the only person to have subscribed to that stupid Brilliant Tutorials correspondence JEE coaching.
7) The govt is partially right about coaching centers in the City areas. If you want to do higher studies, Madras is certainly a better place to be in TN. Madras is one of the biggest exporters of students to foreign countries, IIMs, IISc and IITs. The statistics (read The Hindu's report on Muffasal Vs City statistics every year) is not even comparable. Cities far outweight Muffasal places. The IMS, Datamatics, USEFI and the general awareness among students about higher studies makes Madras a far better place to study. People from southern parts of Andhra also prefer Chennai to their own native place.
8)The state-firsts and other medalists may appear to contradict points (6) & (7) but scratching the surface might give a different picture. (Source "The Hindu" again) On an average I think City students have better infrastructure that maximizes their probability to succeed.
9) Did I say Govt Aided colleges like Govt. College of Thirunelveli, Salem have no meaning? If you live in Madras there is no point relocating there for a non-existent brand value. Compromising on a group to be there is harakiri.
10)I took, what in my days was a new-fangled thing called ECE. I didn't have much respect for ECE also. But off-late I have stopped saying that because it has become a "popular" group. ECE syllabus is a funny syllabus in that it doesn't prepare you for any sort of industry. It is increasingly becoming more funny (I looked at the syllabus again some 3 months before). And now legends have been developed by ECE fanatics that ECE will prepare you to be even an astronaut, walk on water etc. Maybe I am misinformed, I think all ECE students end up doing software jobs just like EEE (and mechanical, naval architecture, production engineering, civil engineering , B.Com, B.A History ) students. Just because you get to say things like "interrupts", buses, PSW registers, and microprocessor once every 3 months does not make your job a non-computer science job("machaan I work directly on assembly language machaan" doesn't make it any better). I think people who are in embedded systems are more deluded about this than anybody else. So any ECE folks out there who are doing stuff other than signal processing domain, please send me a mail/drop comment telling me such ECE job exists. Let everybody's world knowledge develop.
I have unfortunately lost faith in 12th std students who claim they have a field of "interest". It is because on deeper probing the "interest" is wafer thin superficial. Seriously.... at 12th std only very few of Mandolin Srinivas and Bhakta Prahaladan ilk have real interests...rest have something that they picked up after a 2 minute conversation with a cousin or a friend's friend.
If you don't have any "interests" think of yourself as a cinema distributor who wants to invest in a movie. Invest in the Rajini movie (computer science) even if you don't like him. It will run for 100 years. While a small few may end up in super jobs in other career paths, for most other groups, career paths are much much more difficult, less rewarding and more frustrating....that is until they land in a software job.
Or think of this other favorite analogy of mine. Chosing a group is like "arranged marrying" your daughter. If you marry her off to a person who may look like a a Bollywood hero (super brand name college) but is not well-qualified (group has poor commercial value).He will struggle to make both ends meet (no career prospects). Then by marrying your daughter to him, his problems become your problems. You have to unnecesarily learn about and worry about career prospects for his qualification. Why? Why this unnecessary trouble. *In this situation* looks dont matter (that much). Go with what works.
Yeah! right! I have watched too many K.B films