The Curious Case Of IIM Dropouts

Dropouts from IIMs?!

Bill Gates- attended College (1973-1974), awarded an honorary doctorate in 2007. Mark Zuckerberg -attended College, created Facebook as an online directory for Harvard students in his sophomore year and soon left afterwards to expand the company. Kareena Kapoor- attended the summer school. These are some of the names from the Harvard University’s list of Non-Graduate alumni. IIMs, the premiere B-schools of India are also on the roll to join the league of making the list of Non-Graduate alumni.  

‘As per the data obtained by STOI from the IIMs under a Right to Information (RTI) query clearly shows that hundreds of students have dropped out of the two-year postgraduate program in the past decade.

The highest number of dropouts have been from IIM-Calcutta, with 286 students (equivalent to almost a whole batch) leaving the program between 1995 and 2008. The number of students leaving has risen over the years. Thirty-seven MBA students had quit between 2003 and 2005 and the number had nearly doubled to 69 between 2006 and 2008.’

The above extract is from a TOI report dated 16th November 2008.

Though IIMs haven’t gone on record to provide honorary degrees, but one would surely wonder what makes students dropout from the MBA program of the prestigious institute in which they had been enrolled after their Herculean efforts :-

Poor academic performance

In spite of the consistent efforts that the IIMs have made in the past in order to modify their selection processes they always end up admitting more number of engineers thereby deviating from their goal of having a diverse batch. Supporting this fact, not many eye-brows rose when the new director of IIM-A specified that his first goal would be to have diversity in the upcoming batches. Many a times the reason that is cited for the dropout of the student from the management school/program is their inability to cope up with the academics. Several professors have attributed the reason of dropouts as poor academic performance and they are of a strong opinion that when students are a part of the institute, they are a part of the same platform like others; it is expected from them to perform and restore the requisite amount of grade points. Several IIMs rule the decree that a student who does not score the required number of grade points at the end of the first year may have to repeat it or may have to defer the course. The engineering students are also sometimes not able to sustain the competition and land up getting low grades; same is true for the students from other streams, they are also competing to sustain in the rat race. The relative grading pattern is another factor that makes it difficult for you to sustain. Adding to the spree are other factors like peer pressure, monetary liability that one has taken for the course fee, family concerns, declining jobs in the market and several others. Among all these factors it is possible that one may not be able to survive academically.

In order to check this growing number of student attrition due to poor academic performance, IIM-A at first came up with the buddy program.  Under this program every second year student mentored the entrant. The institute also conducted three week orientation and coaching sessions for weak students. The trend has been taken up by several other IIMs as well. IIM Indore also has faculty mentors for the students. The mentoring by professors help the students to recapitulate and get back on track.

Passion to move ahead and start one’s own venture

IIMs are like an open field, as cozy winds rush in from any direction, similarly opportunities also spurge from all sides. And amidst all these opportunities that one gets at IIM, he/she strives to make the best from these. Learning saturation and exhausted expectations from the course are prevalent experiences of the participants of MBA program. During the tenure of the program, they realize that they shall discontinue the course and move ahead with their own venture. They intelligently set up the base with the repository of tremendous learning experience and exposure that they bank during their stay at the institute. They also become monetary stable with the funds that they garner by winning competitions or from stipend of the summer placements. In order to support the students to live their idea and also enable their entrepreneurial instinct several IIMs have come up with their incubation centers. These help the students to realize their dreams and also enable them to continue with their course.

Frustration with the System

In the world around, you will find variety of people and variety of issues. It may happen that not everything goes your way. The strict norms over academic conduct and other such rules at IIMs often spark frustration among the student community. The situation is not limited only to IIMs, it is also applicable to several other organizations. Although the case of a student wishing to drop out due to conflicts with the authorities have been low, but definitely it is also attributable to be one of the reasons for attrition. Student councils at IIMs intervene to resolve such conflicts and try to turn around the situation.


– Barleen Kaur


Barleen Kaur is an alumnus of IIM Indore (Class of 2015). She did her B.Tech degree from GGS Indraprastha University in Computer Science and Engineering and worked as a training manager at a consulting company and also started a coaching center. She has a strong affinity for writing and is an avid orator.


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