To B-School Or Not To B-School – THAT Is The Question

If the title made you want to read more, first off, I’d like to tell you what Ford Perfect told Arthur, to see what the cover of The Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy says – “Don’t Panic.”

When you are finishing up your graduation, everyone has an opinion about what you should do once you’ve been toughened by the Tartarus of graduation. And you? You feel like Jon Snow, since you know nothing, or at least that is what it feels like.

After three/four/five years of graduation, it is taken as a given that you would have somehow figured out what you want to do for the rest of your life. You had all the time in the world that you obviously did not waste on binging on books, TV series, and movies, and hanging out with your friends, honing a hobby, or just taking it easy and trying to figure out about what you are and the meaning of life (which by the way, is 42, as we all know it).

In two weeks I will be done writing all the exams to wrap up my undergrad. Little trivia about yours truly – I am pursuing Hons. in Business Economics from the University of Delhi. The only reason I took up this course was because everyone had me convinced that it was a good choice – career wise. We had an entrance – DU JAT, people were shortlisted and called for GD-PI. I went with the course leaving Political Science and English- my first preferences, because any course that required the students to jump through so many hoops HAD to be some kind of good, the course had economics in its name and I always liked Economics in school (the only research I did about the course), but mostly because one of the panelists during my interview had told me off, saying being a Humanities student, I would never be able to cope up with the requirements of the coursework, and I so wanted to prove her wrong. It turned out to be a bad idea. I didn’t love what I was studying and very soon lost interest. However, I would not take it back as college and the people I met and befriended did teach me a lot of things, and helped me grow as a person, especially with making me get out of my comfort zone of just sitting on the sidelines. I got involved with other extra-curriculars and volunteer work, and other activities. I also got to meet and brainstorm with a lot of great writers who helped me realise that a writer is not what I wanted to become.

Since the start of my final year, everyone in my class has been very focused about future and careers, so I decided I’ll just take up the easiest of the options amongst whatever they are picking amongst (All of them couldn’t be wrong, trust me, I’ve spent close to three years with them, they are pretty smart and resourceful when need be).

A couple of them want to go for civil services which I ruled out instantly because I just do not have that kind of dedication or perseverance in my life (hats off to everyone who does), some decided to take up campus placements – an option I had to dispose knowing the kind of profiles that are offered – consultancy, accounts, research analysts, and the likes.

Now let me be honest – the companies that came for placements – EY, KPMG, Deloitte, and other big names had their charm of working for a big brand, but the kind of work they offered, I knew that it was not what I wanted to be doing with my life. And lastly, there was a much larger sect of classmates and friends – the ones who were preparing for MBA.

Seeing that our undergrad course papers are basically a prep-work for a B-School curriculum (something that I was questioned upon during my IIM Shillong interview, but that’s a different story) it made perfect sense. So I decided that I’d try out the much talked about CAT. I got ready with all the preparation material and filled out the forms for different entrances and institutions and time passed, entrances came close by, as did the semester exams and I just kept panicking about how much I had to study and get done, along with my extra-curriculars and deliver the work that my position at different student bodies entailed. I think I burnt out before the entrances even started.

I had a semester exam the day after CAT’18. So despite having little hope (since I knew I had out in the bare minimum of my effort into preparation for the entrances, and still (somehow miraculously) a little bit cocky from having done decently in JAT and during undergrad exams when I didn’t take my subjects too seriously and didn’t study as much as I could have or should have, I gave CAT and I knew I had not done very well. And then all the other entrances that followed- IIFT,SNAP, XAT, and MICAT. I didn’t put in a lot of extra efforts into the preparations as most of these happened during my exam time and passing the semester was my top priority.

Knowing how hard my peers had been working on preparing for the entrances and how little, especially in comparison to their efforts, I had prepared, I didn’t hold my breath for the results. Still, as the CAT results were declared just the day before XAT, my despondency after the CAT results (which weren’t that big a surprise to be honest), I attempted XAT with the mind set of ‘I really don’t care anymore’ and ended up attempting a lot of questions (I left only 6 questions unattempted to be precise). I still somehow, fared much better in XAT and even got a call from XLRI.

Though I realise that the way I attempted XAT was a big mistake and had I attempted the questions with a little more precision, I’d have done much better. I wasn’t overjoyed with my results but wasn’t disheartened about not getting as many calls as a lot of people I know (except IIFT where I didn’t get a call despite getting a 97.2 percentile – my personal best this season).

As the results rolled in, I got calls from a couple of decent B-Schools and didn’t prepare much for GD-PI as with the final semester rolling in, I had a lot of work from college and classes. So I gave my interviews and after getting through into a couple of colleges I had to make the toughest call yet- should I or should I not go for an MBA? Especially keeping in mind that it is probably going to be one of the most expensive decisions I have to make.

According to the Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy (which happens to be the only fiction book Biswa ever finished reading) rats are much smarter than humans. But somehow, being stuck in a rat race is something that is looked down upon. The thing is, if your other alternatives are- getting stuck in a rattrap, or being chased and eaten by a cat, joining the rat race is probably your best alternative.

In no way am I encouraging people to not give their best efforts or push their limits and work hard. I know those are all important and very necessary but there is no denying that we all make our choices. My college, classes, extra-curriculars, writing, reading, social media – none of it took a backbench because I think of them as equally important. My lack of competitiveness, no interest in finance, and my nonchalance towards extreme academic rigour make me very inapt for an IIM.

So dropping a year just to prepare for the top 5 makes no sense even though people keep suggesting that if I did so well in my first attempt when I wasn’t taking my entrances’ preparation seriously, I could do much better and perhaps get into a better B-School. The only thing I did have working for me perhaps was that having been a frequent reader, I did score 95+ percentile in VA-RC in all the entrances.

Long story short, am I sure about MBA? No. But do I have any better alternatives at this point? Also no. Especially since I want to get my post-grad done before I start working as knowing myself, I am pretty sure once I get out of this habit of being a student, it’ll be hard to get back on this ride. And knowing myself, I know that I don’t have the kind of perseverance it will require to drop the year and just prepare for the entrance, risking wasting the year seems like a terrible idea. As undergrad just hasn’t given me enough skills to make me employ-able.

If there’s anything I learnt in Economics – it was the cost-benefit analysis. Applying it to my current options and VOILA! I know what I got to do.

So,  after much thought, I will be joining MICA this June. Post deciding if MBA or not, ‘WHERE’ was  an equally stressful question. And even though IIM Shillong is probably my best convert this year, having mulled over if going to an IIM would be good for me, I have decided against it. As someone who is laid back and has anxiety, I feel like going to an IIM, even if I drop the year and prepare for the top 10, it wouldn’t be what I want to do. Pushing your limits to achieve success is one thing, and pushing yourself off the ledge is just a mistake. In my case, I believe going to an IIM might be that mistake.  I am glad that I found PGDM-C to pursue. I have always been interested in language and communications, I feel pretty happy about my choice since this time I am signing up for a course that I have learnt about and taken some papers as elective during graduation already.

Surviving a B-School with anxiety is a whole different ball-game, the one thing that has me worried. But I guess I’ll see how it goes and hopefully just learn to roll with my anxious mind.

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You may also be interested in reading – Why I Chose MICA Over NMIMS Mumbai

Image sources – Psychology Today, Interaction-Design, Cheezburger

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A little unsteady.

Comments

5 comments

Subham Vasistha

Congratulations for MICA. Not everybody has the clarity in life that you have ….even I have been confused as to whether to join IIM Shillong or drop one more year but after reading this I feel I can give my best in Shillong too….. best of luck for your future endeavours ( a fellow DU passout).

Chirag Shukla

Though your decision doesn’t resonate with me (partly due to my inexplicable ‘IIM’ obsession), such clarity of thought makes you ideal for any B-school. Congratulations on MICA! All the best.