Most often, when we hear success stories of people-we get inspired. It seems the protagonists of these stories work hard, get into their dream b-school and waltz under the sunlight.
Hardly. Having spent over a month at my very own dream b-school; I can tell anyone that is hardly the case.
Let’s start with the process itself. You gave CAT, scored a decent percentile, appeared for interviews and then you got waitlisted! Believe it or not, it’s actually worse than getting rejected. It’s the anticipation that makes it worse. You didn’t get in, but they say you might. Meanwhile, how about joining a lower ranked b-school as a bargain? Caught in a limbo whether to give up on your dream b-school for a different one, you yearn for the dream b-school more than you probably did before. List after list gives no hope of chances, you pack your bags and take up your next available option.
So in my case, I was waitlisted at IIM Indore (dream school) and joined IIM Raipur (next option).
Now I know a lot of folks out there would rather reappear for CAT next year than join a new IIM this year. I think I can change your perception, to some extent at least, with this article. (Disclaimer: I am not against any of these institutes)
When I joined IIM Raipur, I too, like most, rued the lack of a sprawling campus, the facilities - the kind of infrastructure most of the top 10 Institutes boast of. But I decided to make the most of what I got. During the first few days, I took part in everything, networked extensively. Then I met THE PEOPLE. Why I highlighted them? Because it’s the people who make IIM Raipur. Not the infrastructure, not the ranking, not the placements. They were, by no means, any less than any of the top B schools students and worked hard day in-day out to build the brand of the Institute. But what I liked most about the place was that that the whole batch was one big family- these 180 odd people ate together, studied together, partied together. Maybe it was because everyone was confined to a rather smaller space. You would walk along the hall and most likely bump into someone you would end up chatting with. Birthdays, farewells, every occasion was a “large group celebration”. The more time you spend in a place the more attached you start getting to it. I had only spent around 15 days here and it already felt like home.
Now, here’s the thing about life. Your ambitions and life’s plans for you have a negative correlation. You think you’ll go one way and life pulls you and throws you in the other. So, I converted IIM Indore. Yes, after 20 days of setting up, getting used to a new place - I had to start again at another place from scratch. But this was supposed to be my dream from the very beginning. Funny, how our preferences in life change. Twenty days ago, I was yearning to get into IIM Indore and now I was actually considering leaving it for IIM Raipur (yes, readers I base a lot of my life’s decisions on emotions. Judge me all you want!)
But clear logic eventually won over emotions and I decided to switch bases. I currently I am a PGP 1st year student of IIM Indore and it has been a month since I have been studying in a top 10 institute with a sprawling campus, world class facilities housing some of the most competitive students. Things are different here. The kind of culture, the atmosphere is different than IIM Raipur. The bigger campus leads to a certain degree of segregation among students. There are people you befriend obviously. Some you just meet once and never hope to bump into again. You bump into your classmates in the mess, but probably not in the streets of the campus. There are different things to look forward to- Saturday movie screenings, a pool within the campus, the various eating joints. It’s like living on a tiny hill station where you get to hitchhike to classes every day. There is definitely a lot more diversity - you have IITians, BITsians as your classmates and it is easy to lose your identity in such an over-achieving batch. You trudge along exams, quizzes to end up neither first or last.
It’s hard to compare. I fell in love with both these places…. and I do believe it’s possible to fall in love twice. One place made me fall in love with its people, the other with its beauty and opulence.
So wherever you end up this year after CAT results are out, do remember: It’s what YOU make of your b-school that matters, not what the b-school makes you!