Curious to know about MBA campus life, after ISB Hyderabad admissions are over and a few fortunate folks head over to the Gachibowli or Mohali campus? From day one to the day, that the exciting news of placements hits the newspapers, there’s a lot of action going on.
MG, one of the best MBA consultants from the MBA Crystal Ball team (with a phenomenal track record of getting folks into the toughest internatonal MBA programs in India and abroad – from ISB to Wharton) , shares his experiences as a student at ISB Hyderabad.
Many candidates here are frantically trying to prepare their applications, getting the scores submitted, chasing recommendors and writing essays. In this mad rush, getting a real feel of what it means to devote a year of your time, which is much more than just academics or placements, is left out. This post is an attempt to give a glimpse of what that year can hold in store for you. The school puts a lot of stress in creating your own experience, so be mindful that this is told from the perspective of a narrator.
Instead of the typical day-in-the-life format, I am going to describe three days at ISB for the obvious reason that no one day is the same at ISB. There is hardly any time to brood over the day gone by or plan for the day ahead. But you start getting a hang of it as days go by. Without much further ado, lets start our peeking session:
The otherworldly campus, the swarm of classmates, the mind numbing processes to get registered and the comfortable dwellings notwithstanding, you are always trying to fit in during the first few days. There is no ‘typical’ day as you try to process the breathtaking amount of information – from understanding how the library works, to getting your laptop, to get astonished at the fact that your ‘house’ is actually a serviced apartment managed by a five star hospitality partner.
You marvel at the imaginatively names hostels – Student Villages and make friends starting from your quad-mates/neighbor, then those in your class and then to the various activities you choose to partake in. The entire incoming class is divided into sections and there are activities that bring the section closer together including section t-shirts, outdoor activities and the likes.
This is, as they say, the proverbial ‘honeymoon’ period. You are astonished to learn that its only 4 days a week classes and are confused at the same time – how will I learn a 2 year course, in an year, but only with 4 days of classes? The immaculate recreation (read rec) center confuses you further – will I ever have time to use it? There are sufficient events and parties in the first week itself to break the ice and form the first slivers of year long friendships. A bit confused, but largely content at the richness of diversity, you enter into the next phase of life at ISB.
The honeymoon over, and suddenly you are jolted back to reality. The day or your life begins with collecting the coursework for the courses and the term. You start getting emails and notices regarding the ‘pre-read’ that you need to do to be prepared for the upcoming classes. The audacious ones, in the first few days, disregard the notices, and sit completely blank throughout the class. The 4 days quickly creep into the remaining 3 days as you try to be prepared as best as possible for the next week’s classes.
As the term progresses (there are 4 common terms btw), you are inundated with assignments. The respite in all this rush is your study group. The 5 or 6 member group with whom you will eat, breathe, live, love and hate with. And no, you don’t choose the group, the college does that for you. Some groups are ridiculously heterogeneous – my group had a philosophy student, a Taiwanese, an IT professional and a banker; while others can be more homogenous. But by the end of Term 4, most groups are close and surprisingly, like a bollywood movie, all is hale and hearty.
The other big aspect of your life, after you have finished the day’s classes is the myriad student clubs and activities. Almost every day there is a club meeting, an external speaker or some company visiting the campus. It is tough to remain focused and most students experiment with trying to eat more than they can swallow – the temptation of ‘learning’ is just too much to resist. The club elections, largely non-political, weekend parties, mid-week parties and such occupy the rest of the whatever time that remains.
The service levels and amenities at the ISB Hyderabad (Gachbowli) campus continue to impress you though. If you get tired of the mess food, you can always have a maid cook food in the kitchen provided with each accommodation. You also end up celebrating most festivals on campus as there’s hardly any time or possibility to take vacations.
On the academic front, most get their first taste of Class Participation (read CP) – the practice of allocating marks for promoting participation in class discussions. This is the single biggest reason why you will put any energy into the pre-reads; but it does help enhance learning eventually. And well, it is also a source of fun and amusement in the class with people resorting to all sorts of tricks to seek the professor’s attention.
By the time you cross the halfway mark, your corporate life seems a thing of distant past. You feel like you have been at the campus for eons and will be here for a long time to come. Before the 5th term starts, your days are occupied with the intense planning. First up, you need to decide the areas you want to concentrate on – marketing, operations, strategy and the likes.
Then you need to choose from a plethora of courses, read up about the professor if he/she is a visiting one, decide on whether you will go for exchange or concentrate on placements, decide on whether you’ll do an industry project, decide on whether entrepreneurship is your cup of tea and most importantly, start rationing your points so you can bid for courses or the exchange programs. This is a pretty interesting system by which, everyone has a shot at everything depending on how many points you’d like to bid for a particular course – everyone starts with a fixed points balance.
Just as you are about to find method in the madness, you have another choice gaping at you – the study group is thrown wide open. You are now free to form your own group and you need to grapple with old loyalties vs new prospects. The pace of the program really picks up as you have been around for six months and there’s no mercy now. The curriculum gets even more complex and you wonder how is that possible.
Club activities pick up steam and there are all sorts of people coming on the ISB Hyderabad campus – from industry dignitaries’, to alumni to the companies making pitches. You are faced with the now age-old challenge: choice. Add to that is another dimension of various inter-college competitions and you begin to live ISB in your waking and non-waking hours alike. Depending on where and how you choose to spend your precious time, you can chart your career in any (almost) way you like.
As the year long roller coaster ride comes to an end with the graduation gown black clouding your vision on the day of convocation, you look back and wonder how the year flew past. You leave the campus with some bitter, some eventful, but mostly cherished memories for a lifetime.
Also read an international student’s perspective here in International MBA student’s life in India and ISB.
Disclaimer: Some of the information in this post may be dated as the author attended the college a while back. Though this post is related to the ISB Hyderabad campus, the life at ISB Mohali campus is not be very different.
What aspects of campus life are you looking forward to? Or getting intimidated about? Looking forward to your thoughts in the comments below.