First Year MBA Survival Strategy From An XLer
If you thought getting through to a b-school was difficult, surviving it comes very close to it. Today, I have completed my first year at XLRI, and it was not easy. From failing at a subject to excelling at some, I have received grades which are spread across the grade spectrum. First-year MBA brings in a lot of drama, every day. In the midst of so much that is happening around you, there are some things which can help you stay focused, and I am jotting them down below.
Dealing with the dreaded first term
Ask anybody pursuing an MBA, which term was the toughest for them, most probably their reply will be the first term. It is that period when you are fresh and excited for a new way of life, but by the time the excitement sinks in, you would have missed a couple of deadlines and performed poorly in a few quizzes. This is followed by multiple gyaan sessions with seniors and also the committee selection process. By the end of your first month, you may be completely drained out of energy and heavily sleep deprived. All this affects your studies and your scores may drop substantially.
The key to dealing with the first year is to know clearly what you want out of your MBA. Putting your hands everywhere in a b-school eats away your sleep and leaves you confused. Fortunately/unfortunately I was not part of any committee on campus. But I think it turned out for my own good as I was able to handle time better.
The summer placement process is very competitive and students in b-schools invest a lot of time and effort to make it to their dream company. Right from the CV making process until the end of the process, the amount of effort required is too taxing in general. Some students feel that it is easy to get through the process while some face a very hard time dealing with rejections. Some students end up shedding tears because of the pressure.
Here, it is very important to remember that a two-month internship, does not necessarily define your entire future. Handling rejections is a key learning from the process for most of my friends. By the end of the process, you have a fair idea about your competition at b-school and helps you be better prepared for all that lies ahead.
Dealing with Failures
During the first year, a typical MBA student has to study around 24 subjects. Each subject has score components of quizzes, PPTs, group assignments, group projects, class participation etc. Ultimately you end up giving at least 3 exams per subject. That makes a total of 72 exams in the entire year. With everything that happens around the year in college, you are bound to mess up some of those exams. I managed to mess one complete subject and it affected my overall score badly. At one point in time, my scores dropped so low that it was below the cutoff to make it to second year. Reality struck me hard and I somehow managed to survive by putting in extra efforts. You need to sacrifice your sleep, party, hangouts etc. and many students who are living on the edge (score-wise), still do that.
The best way to keep your scores out of danger is to study when you are taught in class. Paying attention to classes actually is sufficient to help you score well. But your schedule each day stretches late in to the night and you end up sleeping in class on the next day. Some students are very clear about their approach towards an MBA. They focus on grades if that is what their expectations are. It is very important to be clear on what you want from an MBA.
Extra and Co-Curriculars
I am a Cricket lover and a part of the Cricket team at XLRI. Because of the academic rigor of XLRI, our team practiced at the oddest of hours. Our practice sessions were held in the lunch break from 12:30 PM to 2:00 PM. On most days during the past one year, I have skipped breakfast or lunch. Whenever I skipped both of them, I used to miss a class just to eat. Almost similar was the story of every XLer who was into sports or a committee occupied with a lot of work.
It is difficult managing everything, but some of my friends managed it pretty well. They made it a point not to miss breakfast on any day. If they knew that they will have to miss lunch, they made sure that they had a heavy breakfast.
So there is always a way to manage your schedule, but it requires you to be at your 100% throughout the day. Procrastinating anything in a B-school is a crime, and repercussions are manifold.
A lot of other things also happen on campus such as competitions, events, bonding with seniors, parties, traveling out of campus etc., but how well you manage it depends on your priorities and the sacrifices that you are willing to make. They say the workload during second year is far lesser. I hope I am able to manage my time better than I did during the first year.
In my opinion, for all those who made it to a b-school this year, the success mantra is going to be how well you manage your time.