What a whirlwind of a week it has been. It was only last Saturday (19th June) that I set foot on the hallowed IIMA campus. I had fallen in love with the campus first time I saw it when I came here for my interviews. Loius I Kahn definitely created a masterpiece, its a unique building not just in Ahmedabad but all of India. The heritage campus is definitely a sight to behold and has been copied by quite a few other b-schools as well.
So yes, for all those people who think CAT was the biggest hurdle in getting to IIMA, well you are wrong. Come here, feel the pressure and you will know that getting through CAT was nothing compared to facing the daily life at IIMA. You can have classes till 4 AM in the morning and then a submission at 8, so forget sleep. You will sleep for no more than 4 hours a day, and that a optimistic figure. On some days you won’t get to sleep at all. With 3 subjects per day plus quiz and of course preparation for the case study for next week, rest and sleep are luxury that you just can’t afford here at IIMA. Yes you get that huge salary at the end of two years, but you are put through a grind for that.
You cannot, for example, be late for a class, not even by a second. If the class starts at 2:30 PM, it means you have to be inside the class by 2:29:59 PM. Any later and you won’t be allowed in and you may get an ‘I’ (incomplete) grade and therefore you will have to repeat a whole course, and therefore a whole year, which means you will complete your MBA in 3 years instead of two. Academic Discipline is sacrosanct here. That means you can not copy your friends assignments, and there is a software to check that. Coming late to class is unacceptable and by no means should your phone ever ring during a class. Keep it silent or better switch it off (even if your phone is in silent the static on the speaker caused by an incoming call can piss off the prof and he/she will refuse to come to your class again which means you entire class repeats the course). You cannot be found in the class without preparing your case material. You will have surprise quizzes here. If you are late for an assignment by even a second, it won’t be accepted.
In the first 3 days itself, I only had 2 proper meals at mess because I had to submit assignments or prepare case-mats, or attend some class or session. I slept for an average of 4 hours. The pressure is tremendous. Sleep here is an afterthought. Rest and relaxations do not exist in the IIMA dictionary. In fact it is said that if you want to relax, you should better join some other IIM. The A in IIMA stands for Acads (and which I have to admit is not one of my strengths). IIMA does not teach you how to handle pressure. And neither does it tell you how to relax. You learn it. There is no “acclimatization” period. You are thrown into the fire and expected to come out without any burns.
IIMA claims that its goal is to produce leaders, not managers. The academic rigor you face is just to ensure that. You will learn to be punctual, always meet deadlines no matter what, maintain the highest standards of integrity at all time, and all this without even knowing how it happened. People enter IIMA after a stringent selection process, and nothing but the best of the best is expected from them. Its not just a question of IIMA reputation but that of the whole country. When an entire country looks upon you, you have to put you best foot forward every time, without fail. In fact, failure is not acceptable here. Also when profs , who could otherwise earn millions working for a company, come 15 mins early to class to teach you, that too for every class day after day year after year, there is no reason why any student should be late.
From the orientation session itself the pressure builds up. After the orientation class, we have to submit an assignment within 3 hours, and needless to say you cannot copy from others, not just your friends but even from seniors who have long passed out, the software detects all. Then there so many other things going on which you have to attend. You also have to prepare for your class. So bottom line, life at IIMA is gruesome, only a military course (preferably special forces) can be more gruesome than this. Already 2-3 students have left in the first week itself, yes its that cruel. The ones who are left will face the most challenging one year of their life.
While I am slightly worried, but I am looking forward to it. Hope I survive. Will keep you updated.
PS: Its 2:33 AM and I am just back from a party where we did rain dance, got totally drenched then came back to our dorm and partied more. I am lovin’ it. I am slightly drunk now. So if the above post is slightly incoherent, don’t blame me, blame the booz