It is often debated whether B-schools are an effective platform to build future leaders. It is an entire controversy in itself. Yet, one topic 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 part of the 'college' life, as well as have a life beyond it. It allows most the opportunity to live with their families and continue with the pampered lifestyle they have grown up with. Having spent half my undergraduate years as a PG, and half at home, I made a conscious decision to opt for a residential B-school. This, despite the fact that a day boarding in my hometown Delhi would have allowed me to stay with my family, have my friends nearby and wholesome meals whenever I needed them.
So, why did I pick a residential school?
Because I prefer the concept of a residential institute. They often say, in their pitch, that it is only in the wholesome experience of staying on campus for 24 hours that one learns the skills required as a manager. And though I am compulsively argumentative, I have no choice but to agree with this.
The true education a B-school lends is not in the classroom. The days are filled with endlessly long lectures interspersed with presentations given by the students themselves. The true take-away of B-schools is not knowledge of Maslow's theory or the Ps of Marketing. The true take away is the spirit of teamwork. It is the art of managing and understanding other people, while getting your work done.
Some may argue that projects are a part of life in day-colleges too. But there is a difference. In a residential college, making presentations often took us into the wee hours. Not only did we manage schedules, we had to juggle moods, appetites and priorities. Living with all those people was not easy, and there was a lot of cutthroat competition. Still, it was a sense of kinship that developed in little things like attendance proxies, in controversies and in friendship. It was in the understanding that everyone needs space, but no one minds a smile either.
There are two sides to every coin, of course. Campus life was not exactly hunky-dory. There were days when the cafeteria food was so bad that we would venture out to the nearest dhaba 20 kilometres away. Also, as I have grown older, I have noticed that friendships have gotten more artificial and this hit me in my post-grad. People I thought were good friends 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. Mudra Institute of Communications, for me, 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.
Also, MICA viewed its students as grown-ups and did not impose rules like hostel wardens, no-smoking, hostels cut off by gender, etc. It recognised that individuals moving into campus were capable of making their own decisions responsibly. Responsibility was handed out to those who wished to take it and students managed everything from contractors for the cafeteria to choosing their professors on the basis of feedback.
My two 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 being caught 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 that learning could be fun too.
But my real education happened during post-graduation. Not because of what the faculty taught me, little of which I have used at my workplace. It geared me for the real world, a world where you have to compete to stay afloat, 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 remember the preparation involved instead.
I have also found that brainstorm sessions are much more effective when had over a cup of hot tea in the middle of a cold night than on lazy afternoons. I don't remember the people who cut my path for their own good, but recall how I learnt to deal with them and eventually rose above petty retaliation.
I do not think about the few sleepless nights I spent pining for home or the grumbling about café food. Instead, what comes to mind are friends who dropped in for a chat, and those who brought back goodies from their outings for no apparent reason. All because I chose to live with them 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 as 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. It was in those two years that I truly grew up.
For the bird to learn to spread its wings and fly, it must step out of its mother's nest and take those first steps towards uncertainty. It must do that on its own.
Harnoor Channi, 23, is a brand management specialist from Mudra Institute of Communications (MICA) and currently part of the corporate marketing division of HCL Technologies in Delhi. The views expressed here are personal.