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Harshveer Jain graduated from IIT Bombay in 2014 with a B.Tech. in Engineering Physics. He is currently pursuing his PGDM at IIM Calcutta. Harshveer had secured a perfect 100 percentile score in his CAT in 2015.

CAT’s done.

The thing is, that was the part that didn’t require much thinking. It required brains, but that’s about it. It was you, a question and some options. All of it goes through the machine and churns out a number. Again, a definite, objective number. The trouble is, nothing from now on is going to be that straightforward.

Your timeline from now on would have multiple parts. We can divide them into pre-college, in-college and post-college. There is a lot that a lot of people have written about what comes post-college – life. What happens in college is a bit unexplored, but it’s located conveniently far off in time. So that brings us to pre-college.

Within pre-college, what you have to do now are two things:

1. Get through the interviews

2. Make your choice from a possible bouquet of colleges

Most people focus heavily on the first task. It’s important, yes. There are general guidelines as to how to do that. But in my opinion, the second task is equally important. Of course you want to end up in a good college. But you don’t want to end up in a college you are not fit for.

What college ARE you fit for?

While preparing for the interviews, any candidate does a lot of introspection. You make a story out of your life. You try to justify your failures, defend your choices, and explain your opinions among a lot of other things. While doing all this, you get a good sense of who you are, what you like, what you dislike, what you are good at and what you are not good at. This is where one must start focusing on the question of – what college?

On a broad level, anyone doing an MBA does it for the value add that the degree provides and the final placement. Assessing the two gives you an idea of what college you want to get into. Coming to the first, the value add depends on a lot of factors like professors, peers, brand and such. Again, this is something a lot of students look at when judging a college. The second reason behind doing an MBA is something quite a few people miss bothering about.

Where will I get a better placement?

Being placed is not a simple, straightforward task. There are two steps in this

1. Internship

2. Final placement

The more important, and the immediate step, is the Summer Internship.
Now, this is important. When making all your calculations about what college to get into, you must incorporate this – where are my chances of getting an internship of my choice higher? Because the right internship affects not only your 2 years in the college, it pretty much defines your career path.
To asses this, you should

1. Take a measure of your CV

2. Estimate your relative position in the college you are going into

3. Understand the placement statistics of the college over the years

4. Try and understand how the job market works

You don’t want to be the 3rd quartile person in the best college in the country and neither do you want to be the best student in a mediocre college. You want to be in that sweet spot that ensures you a fair shot at a career as close as possible to a career you want to get into. This analysis can give you any answer – from the traditionally obvious ‘I want to get into IIM A’ to the difficult to swallow ‘I am not ready for an MBA’. But you must do this analysis, because between the two extremes, lie dozens of other options.

This is just the beginning of a massive task ahead of you that requires you to think and ponder as deep as possible – not because you want to get into the best college, not because you want the best job but because an MBA is probably the last time you get to experiment with your life for a long, long time. You will pay a massive fee, you will spend two years of your prime away studying and you will make a lot of first decisions of you adult life, both personal and professional. Do not take this decision lightly. The campus you get into will affect your life in a manner important enough for you to devote hours of thinking time to.

I will end this here. This was just to make you realize the importance of the decision that lies in front of you and the different parameters and tasks you must keep in mind while making that decision. Be smart and be open to opinions, but in the end, you MUST think as much as possible by yourself about yourself, for yourself.