It is often debated whether B-schools are actually an effective platform to build future leaders. That is an entire controversy in itself. Yet, one debate left untouched is the difference between a day boarding B-School and a residential one.
A day boarding B-school allows one the opportunity to lead a dual life- To be a part of the ‘college’ life as well as have a life beyond that. For most, it allows the opportunity to live with their families and continue with the pampered lifestyle that they have grown up with. Having spent half of my undergraduate years as staying in a PG and half staying at home, I made a conscious decision to opt for a residential B-school. Though, a day boarding in my hometown Delhi would have allowed me to stay with my family, have my friends nearby and eat wholesome meals at home, why did i decide otherwise, you ask?
Me, I prefer the concept of a residential institute. They often say in their pitch that it is only in the wholesome experience of staying 24 hours in the campus, that one does learn the skills required as a manager. Though I am person who compulsively argues with any stated fact, I have no choice but to agree this time. The true education a B-school lends is not in the classroom. The days are filled with endlessly long lectures interspersed with yet another presentation given by the students themselves. But the true take-away of B-schools is not knowledge of Maslow’s theory or the Ps of Marketing (Whether they are 4…or 17 as I think last argued). The true take away is the spirit of team-work. It is the art of managing and understanding other people and at the same time, getting your work done.
Some may argue that projects are a part of the life in day-colleges too. But there is a difference that I have noted in my interactions with others. In a residential college, making presentations often took us into the wee hours of the morning. Not only did we need to manage schedules, we also needed to juggle moods, appetites and priorities of every one in the group. My learning was not in the books I read to make that presentation, but rather in the making of those long presentations in the library at 1am and grumbling about that at the canteen at 2. Living with all those people was not easy, there was a lot of cut throat competition and associations were often for interior motives only, but it was a sense of kinship that developed in little things like waking the entire hostel if you are the first to get up or being woken everyday if you are the last; in attendance proxies (and getting caught), in controversies and in friendships. It was in the understanding that everyone needs their space but no one minds a smile either.
To every coin there are 2 sides. Campus life was not exactly hunky-dory. There were days when the cafeteria food was so bad that we would rather venture out to the nearest dhaba 20 kms away. Also, as I have grown older, I have noticed that friendships have gotten more artificial and this hit me in my post-grad. Most of one’s batchmates would take the 1st opportunity to side-step you and move forward even if it takes underhand means. There were a few people I thought to be good friends, but they turned around and betrayed my trust. Friends turned enemies and enemies turned harmless. All these instances and more may be generic to all B-schools or particular to mine. But MICA was a unique experience for traits that are particular only to it. It is the only B-School (we often argue that it is a C-School: Communication School) that has an equal proportion of both genders. Thus, not only was the equality discussion thrown up in all classes, but on a lighter note, we also attracted the maximum number of attendees for fests and sports matches too. IIM A with its meager population of women was always a ready contender be it cricket, volleyball or even basketball despite being defeated more often than not. Also, largely due to the Director Prof. Atul Tandan, MICA viewed its students as grown up individuals and did not impose overt rules like hostel wardens, no-smoking, hostels cut off for the other gender etc. It recognized that the individuals moving into the MICA campus were capable of making their own decisions responsibly. Responsibility was handed out for those who wished to take it and students managed everything from contractors for the cafeteria to being allowed to choose their professors on the basis of feedback.
My 2 years in a Management school taught me more than I had bargained for. School had taught me the importance of friends, of unconditional relationships and that there could be nothing worse in life than getting caught by the teacher bunking class. Then came college where I learnt that it takes all sorts to make this world; where for the first time, I could choose to study what interested me and I learnt that learning can be fun too. But my real education happened during post-graduation. Not because of what the faculty taught me. Frankly, very little of what was taught in those 4 walls has been used by me at my workplace. But for the fact that it geared me for the real world, a world where you have to compete to stay afloat, one where the person who helps you out of a tight spot turns out to be the last person you expected. When I look back, I do not see the projects I made, but instead remember the preparation of those projects-working day and night in a group, taking it for a fact that everyone is not going to give it as much priority as you will, and yet getting them to do the best they can. I have also found that brainstorm sessions are much more effective when they are over a cup of hot tea in the middle of a cold night than they are in lazy afternoons. I don’t remember the people who cut my path for their own good, but instead recall how I learnt to deal with them-and eventually rise above petty retaliation. I do not think about the few sleepless nights I spent pining for home or the grumbling about the café food. Instead, what comes to my mind are friends who dropped in for a chat-just like that, and those who brought back goodies for me from their outing for no apparent reason. All this and much more I learnt only because I chose to live with those 68 people day in and day out.
Education, to me, is not about classrooms and grades. In terms of my CGPA, I would probably have done just as well if I was a day scholar. Education, I believe, is about gaining a mature outlook towards life. About understanding human relationships and in the process, getting to understand oneself too. For it is in these 2 years, that I truly grew up. But for the bird to learn to spread its wings and fly, there is one thing it must do--it must step out of its mother’s nest.. and take those first steps towards uncertainty..and that, it must do on its own.