Saturday, December 16, 2006

Bschool Life

A few things that distinguish academics in IIMs from what I experienced at my undergraduate institution -

- You can use a stapler to attach additional sheets in term exams. This is definitely a refreshing change for me after having used those slimy tags throughout school and UG.

- Objective questions (MCQs) in midterms and endterms. This has to be the most heartening aspect of Bschool education. It precludes the need to mug definitions, diagrams et al.

- Over half the evaluation is based on group-based assignments in some subjects...
This means that even the woresssht student will get a decent grade provided he has the requisite political skills to squeeze his way into a stud group.

- Relationships matter! Blokes with a steady intimate set of friends have it easy, since they can have the same group for all subjects. This makes it a whole lot easier to free-ride, since the course work can be apportioned amicably among the members. Guys who get into too many groups don't have that luxury.

- You're never short of an excuse to freeride, given the impressive number of engagements to keep you busy at any given point in time (interest groups/committees/ bschool competitions etc)

- Semicircular classrooms endowed with a 'slope'. The inclination ensures that the backbenchers don't indulge in nefarious activities.

- 'Soft' courses involving specious fundae where everyone starts at the same level, be it an IIT 9 pointer or an Arts graduate.

- The occasional 'open-book' exam

- Professors at IIMs wield considerable discretionary power (actually an understatement), unlike the ones at my engineering college. No complaints from my side. That's how it should be.

- Group activities compel you to interact with people whom you would otherwise have never spoken to during the course. This is again welcome as it helps you develop a threshold tolerance for temperamental incompatibilities.

- Insightful Class Participation from some of my more 'gifted' classmates, which leaves me assured after every class that the future of India is in safe hands.

What I don't like about Bschool Life -

- The soporific HBR cases, which revel in ambiguity. I'm yet to read even a single case at a stretch in the first two terms.

- 'Early to bed, early to rise' hardly finds any takers. Moi probably the only one who dozes off before midnight.

- Inordinate emphasis on presentations, which I happen to loathe. Presentations conceal more than they reveal, IMNSHO.
Added later -
Presentations were infact pretty useful as a teaching aid in some subjects, especially Macroeconomics, Operations Research and the like. Our Macro professor did a wonderful job of covering almost the whole of macroeconomic theory very succinctly in a set of six presentations! A novice can actually get a good grasp of the concepts by just going through his slides without ever having attended classes/read Dornbusch. Too good.
By the way, what I was objecting to was the indiscriminate use of presentations as an evaluation criterion in just about every subject. Because of this, the emphasis is more on preparing snazzy slides than on understanding the subject. It is all the more infuriating since majority of the class is going to be least interested in your presentation.

- Needless hype about Placements. The inter-Bschool rivalry wrt placements is unwarranted. I feel there ought to be greater stress on 'seeking jobs on one's own'.
We're a pampered lot at IIMs. Also, it will be tough for the institutes to assure 100% placements in the coming years what with the increasing batch size and OBC quotas.


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