This one question unnerved me for quite a while during my CAT preparation. Every now and then, I got worried thinking about my average profile.
And today, I get this query almost every day from the aspirants. So I feel I need to share my views on this topic based on my experience in the last three years.
There is a lot of hype around this topic. Most of the aspirants think that if they haven’t done anything extraordinary in their life, they do not stand a chance to get into an IIM.
Do you really think that all the students who study in IIMs have great extra-curricular achievements to their names?
If you think so, you are utterly wrong. Ask it to anyone who has been a student in an IIM, they would agree with my point. I think you have such a perception because you might not be knowing many IIM students with an average profile. You might not have interacted with them yet. The ones you have seen and interacted with are the people who have these feathers in their CAP.
But having studied in an IIM and interacted with students from other IIMs, let me share my experience with you.
The Ground Reality:
I know many IIM students who are nerds. Majority of the IIM students have not bagged any national award. I know many IIM students who have not been at any leadership position. Yes, many such students do not have any extra-curricular activity in their resume.
Still, they made it to an IIM!
Let me try to explain it to you.
Components of the Admission Criteria:
If you carefully look at the admission criteria of the top b-schools, they do not award marks for extra-curricular activities explicitly. The admission criteria of the b-schools generally give weight to the following components.
- CAT score
- Academic score
- Work experience
- Academic diversity
- Gender diversity
Now you may ask –
When there is no direct weight for extra-curricular activity, why is it considered important for admission in an IIM?
It is because extra-curricular activities allow you to differentiate yourself from others in an interview. Extra-curricular activities give you a topic to talk about in an interview. You can leave a lasting impression with the help of your extra-curricular activities.
So, the main point is – Differentiation!
- How do you differentiate yourself from others?
- How do you stand apart from the crowd?
- What is it that you have and others don’t have?
- Why should they induct you when they have thousands of other potential candidates?
I hope you are getting what I am trying to convey.
You need to differentiate yourself from others in the interview. Extra-curricular activity is a great way of doing that, but it is not the only way. You can differentiate yourself in many other ways also.
- You can talk about your extraordinary academic records.
- Some substantial project that you undertook in office.
- Any extraordinary achievement in your office work.
- You can talk about your other interests in which you have gained proficiency.
All that being said, I would advise you not fret too much just because you have not gone the extra mile concerning your extra-curricular activities. If you are average in extra-curricular achievements, focus on being extraordinary in some other way. And the best way of doing it is performing extraordinarily well in the CAT exam. It is mainly because the CAT score generally carries the highest weight, and it can compensate for your average profile.
And even now, if you are worried about your profile, don’t fret too much about the extra-curricular achievement, you may not be able to do much in that aspect now. Instead, focus on finding ways to differentiate yourself from others in the interview. And you can do it with, as simple as, your attitude also. So, don’t fret too much. At the moment, focus on getting an extraordinary score in the CAT exam. It is because all these qualms about your profile are meaningless if you don’t get an interview call, for which a great CAT score is a must.
All the best!