One Year in a B-School

 | August 22,2013 10:52 am IST

In the words of James Packer, the illustrious son of Kerry Packer, "Knowledge is like electricity. The latter lights up everything, while the former lights up a human".

It is this quest for knowledge that takes us into a B-school (atleast this is the reason given by one and all). But most people still look with awe at the term 'B-School'. Ironic as it may sound, the name exists and haunts distraught souls like me. I still haven't understood why they call it a school. What a transition - school to college to school. Wow, but don't let the word school fool you. The 'B' before the school changes it all.

As many of my peers, I too had landed up in a B-school with a baggage full of hopes, aspirations and dreams, enough to last me for a lifetime. I am not saying that the baggage is lost, but it certainly has got a bit lighter. I am sure my peers would excuse me for saying this. My reason for saying this is not to demotivate people but to demystify the truth. A B-school in itself is not a panacea.

After spending a year in a B-school, my efforts are to capture it for you. I hope your precious moments sacrificed on this article, would help you to appreciate a B-school better and not otherwise.

The first year started with a bang with all those classes, presentations and assignments with not even Sunday coming to our rescue. Engineering college seemed like one long vacation. The CGPA's (Relative grading for the uninitiated) were made public after each term forcing me to take refuge in some obscure corner in campus. It brought out the Davids and the Goliaths. The campus belonged now to those stalwarts on the top with the others still coming to terms with this disaster, though for me it wasn't unexpected. It is this devil, the CGPA, which has the power of turning friends into foes during examination time, with everybody vying for that extra half mark which would bring them a higher grade. But for non-academically bent people like me, who aspire to bring up the rear end of the academic roster, all my friends remained that way.

Numerous exams, projects and presentations later, we have the measure of how things work in a B school and know how to scrape through with the minimum possible effort. At least that's what we like to delude ourselves into believing. I would like to take this opportunity to express my heartfelt gratitude for Google, the messiah for all of us. Terms like cash cows, activity based costing and PERT don't hit us with a bang. We were supposed to be good at all subjects, which is just like expecting Sachin Tendulkar to represent India in all the sports. A poor engineering soul as I am, with the grace of the Almighty, I managed to scrape through Accounts, which was the most horrendous of all. Submissions have changed in nature. Initially there was a concerted effort by all the group members to make a contribution but this fizzled out with time. The new mode of submissions entails writing down the names of some lost members of your group who suddenly spring up just before submitting them to the Professor. But managers are known for springing last minute surprises, aren't they??

After zigzagging in this maze, the annual festival happened to lift us out of this quagmire and re-incarnate us. It promised to set the soul free and give it a lift. It was as if the heavens had opened for us. The descendants of Eve who descended down made us remember once again the famous saying by Keats - "A thing of beauty is a joy forever". Not to deride the womenfolk in my B-school - they carry a beauty of their own. But as we humans are, a change is always welcomed with more than two hands rushing to the occasion. The music had still not stopped ringing when we had to go back to the mundane task of hearing the good, old Professor (assuming everyone listens to the Professor in class). It required no less than a superhuman effort to do this with Keats's beauty back to its original abode.

Then the Summers appeared to augment our troubles. By this time we had become adept at using the B-school lingo for anything and everything. It was something like using something as abstruse sounding as "Bib-Label Lithiated Lemon-Lime Soda" when "7-Up" would have sufficed. After all, George Washington once said, "When you do the common things in life in an uncommon way, you will command the attention of the world." We weren't fools to let go of such an opportunity to tell the world that the future managers of the country had finally arrived.

How can any talk of a B-school be complete without a mention of the "home away from home"? Yes, our very own HOSTEL. In the hostel, life begins after dinner. The din starts to take off and becomes vociferous as the night deepens. Don't go away, the day has just begun. Then starts a cycle of endless inactivity.

The summers proved to be a great experience. I realized the vagaries of not being academically bent. As unlike popular belief, a lot of alien things we were supposed to learn in the first year did come across to me. And it seemed to me like I have been told to face up to Shoaib Akhtar's bouncers without wearing a helmet. Fortunately, I was able to escape unscathed. So all those first yearites reading this, do not commit the folly, which this pour soul committed. You might not be as lucky as I was.

All said and done, it was a great first year in a B-school. I learned the tricks of the trade, hopefully I did. The trade was to survive in a B-school. I was bruised, battered, but like those warriors of yore, refused to give up and rose back again the next day. There are poor souls like me who are still in the same state of ignorance as we were when we came here, but there are others who claim to have undergone a lot of value addition, whatever it means. Its time I should end my day as its already 4:00 am. And I have to get up tomorrow to live yet another day.
Contributed by -
Amit Gupta,
PGP 2003-05,
IMI, New Delhi.