8th of May 2020, IIM-Ahmedabad declared its shortlist. I hadn’t told anyone; I secretly checked the result and yelled the F-word. My parents rushed to my room to check what had happened. There I was, gawking at my laptop screen and sweating. I told them I had converted IIM-Ahmedabad. What I got as a response was a simple ‘Congratulations!’, my inability to verbally communicate emotions made sense and certainly seemed genetic.
I hadn’t even completed my undergraduate degree then, there was complete chaos around final semester examinations. Moreover, I had lived the 20 years of my life in one city-Nagpur and was exposed only to the limited opportunities Nagpur had to offer. All these factors made me question if I was ready for b-school as a fresher, IIM-Ahmedabad on top of it.
The availability of the option to defer my admission and the thought of making a more informed learning decision prompted me to consider deferring the admission. Fortunately, I had an offer for the position of an analyst at a Fortune 250 company. I realised that a year's worth of experience at a well-established firm would help me broaden my vision and refine my learning objectives while pursuing the management program at IIM-A. And if thought, I was just a 21 year old and could afford to explore, understand and see where my interests lay. Initially, I was just looking at deferment to enhance my profile. But I had to look at the bigger picture and ask myself what I truly wanted and what is my meaning of success. So I tried to align my time at b-school with my future goals and pave a path for myself.
IIM-A follows the case-study pedagogy and I felt that for me to be able to contribute to the discussion, I should at least have some real-life experiences to draw analogies.
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I also looked at the cons, what if I lose the zeal and enthusiasm over the year? As a fresher, I’d be able to bring a raw perspective to the table. Whereas, as someone with work experience, I might think in some restricted and conventional patterns. But the crucial factor was seeking clarity around my career goals, and I wanted to try things out rather than theoretically deciding for myself. So finally, I decided to defer my admission by one year. Hence, I am joining IIM-Ahmedabad in 2021 instead of 2020 (The title wasn’t a clickbait :p)
How I spent my year of deferment?
To be honest, I was all over the place and that was the plan. I tried my hands on a start-up venture, interned at a few places in different roles, attended multiple webinars and masterclasses to understand career options post M.B.A. I even talked to some professionals in those fields to get an insight into their roles and everyday responsibilities. I started working full-time at a financial corporation. I also travelled a bit (in between lockdowns), tried learning a sport, created memories, simply went beyond my risk appetite and tried all sorts of things that I usually wouldn’t have. I also failed at some of them, but the year of deferment allowed me to experiment and understand my likings and interests like nothing else.
I didn’t have any fixed idea of what I would want to pursue during/post M.B.A. Hence the year of deferment helped me eliminate some options and further narrow them down. Now, as I enter IIM- Ahmedabad, I have some work experience in a financial services company, some internships, and much better clarity on my goals.
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More about the provision of deferment in India
Deferment of admission is a common practice in foreign universities, in various fields of studies but majorly in management studies. 2+2 M.B.A. programs offered by some renowned universities are famous amongst aspirants. But this isn’t a popular provision in India, primarily because not many universities provide this option.
Among the top Indian B-schools, IIM-A and I.S.B. are two institutes that offer deferred admissions to their flagship programs.
Indian School of Business (I.S.B.) Early Entry Option is similar to the 2+2 program. It provides a deferred admission offer to their Post Graduate Programme in Management. It allows recent graduates with less than 24 months of full-time work experience to secure their admission to the ISB PGP. The candidates are eligible to join the P.G.P. upon completing at least 24 months of full-time work experience.
Whereas at IIM-Ahmedabad, post securing an admission, freshers and candidates with work experience of less than 1 year are given an option to defer their admission by one/two years. 10% of the batch i.e. approximately 39 students can avail this provision. There is an application process where one needs to justify their intent and how they plan to utilise their deferment period.