I believe, when a person chooses to get elite education it is not about one exam but his entire life and life choices preceding it that matters. It is not only about that one entrance exam but his personality, his achievements and the consequent amount of confidence that matters.
In India, the much revered and elite education universities and institutes are Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) and Indian Institute of Management (IIM). They have one of the most rigorous standards and low acceptance rates in the world (between 1% to 2% acceptance rates). For IIMs the admission process includes a written exam, a group discussion, and personal interviews. You will see the top amongst the top student at your school while growing up finally making it to these colleges.
I have been fortunate to be a part of one of these institutions. Throughout my childhood and under graduation I believed I was amongst the top few of my peers in terms of accomplishments and academic performance. It was only when I crossed the hallowed gates of IIM Lucknow that I got a taste of a different world- where there is nothing called an overachiever. Everyone is an overachiever! It is, of course, an incredible opportunity to be amongst and pick the brains of such brilliant peers. The opportunity changes you inside out.
For me and a lot of colleagues it was our first time away from home, living independently. This is such a big change when you are expected to make decisions right from what to eat to what career choices to make! I think it accelerates your growth by ten times. What helps though, is being on such splendid campuses which are mostly very safe and well maintained.
At these MBA programs, the first year is a lot more intense and hectic than the second. There is a summer internship where you have to compete with your batch for a good placement. This internship goes down on your resume and more or less impacts your final placement. The objective of coming to these institutes on a practical note is to crack good placement to start ahead of the curve and to secure a good network for future growth. The process of preparation for placements also includes getting into clubs and committees on campus as an added “CV point”. However, at a human level, I feel a lot of noise about placements is about insecurity and making your name in the crowd. The strenuous preparation, attendance requirements, quizzes and exams, clubs, projects etc. will consume a lot out of you but if you survive it, you will never be intimidated by any amount of work or obstacle ever in your life again.
The second year is relatively less loaded or probably, we are more experienced to handle it. There is an option to go for a student exchange program for a term which is basically a ticket to get away and travel intensively! The program finishes with final placements which is a ride of insecurity, stress, anxiety and finally, accomplishment as a majority of institutes achieve 100% placements.
Apart from all this madness, there is a great party scene at these institutes. There are great canteen and mess facilities. It is a place to build life-long friendships with people who challenge and inspire you. And if that’s not enough, many end up finding their life partner while they are here! It leaves you a different person from the time you started here.