Do people peak in performance at class 10 and 12?
Should poor performance in these exams haunt you for the rest of your life?
The IIMs certainly seem to think so. And particularly, IIM Ahmedabad. The institute recently released a document which laid out the selection process it is using for the 2009-11 intake.
In the general category, you would need to score at least 98 percentile overall and 94, 94 and 94.5 in sections 1, 2 and 3 respectively.
Now 1160 candidates from the 2.46 who appeared for the CAT this year qualified under this criteria. That number was further whittled down to 609 based on your past academic performance - in class 10 and 12.
The bottomline is that the institute needs to use some kind of tie breaker and it has opted for class 10 & 12 marks.
Unlike IIM Bangalore or IIM Lucknow, IIM A does not consider work experience, graduation marks or any other factor at the tie-breaker stage. I guess that is IIM A's prerogative - they basically want all the 'toppers'.
But there are two issues with this profiling
One is a technical one. Ankit Doshi is a BCom graduate from Mumbai with 3 interview calls, but he missed out on A. He believes it is because marks across different boards were not 'normalised'.
Giving his own example, Ankit states that he cleared the pre-screening criteria but probably lost out on the Academic Performance score as he scored 85.86% in class 10 (SSC) and 85.13% in class 12 (HSC). According to which his AP = 12
But in the ICSE or CBSE board (or even a state board like Andhra) scoring above 90% is common and those students would have an unfair advantage and score an AP of 16.
I think this is a very valid point and the institute should take this into account!
Ankit adds, "If you study the marking and scoring patterns of students, such a criteria completely closes the doors on students of Arts and Humanities across India . How many Arts std XIIth toppers even cross 85%?"
Well, that is a whole separate Pandora's box. At the 15th year reunion of IIMA's class of '93 held two weeks ago, we had a raging debate with some of the faculty on the changed student profile. From a 70: 30 ratio (70 being engineers and 30 being 'other streams'), we now have 93% engineers in the batch.
The faculty says it's because most smart kids in India gravitate towards engineering and hence more engineers crack the CAT. But factors like 'AP' make it that much more difficult for even the smartest of arts and commerce grads out there to get that interview call.
The second - and more fundamental - issue is should the past be given so much importance at all? Is it really an indicator of 'success' in the future?
One way to look at it is that if I am successful at an early age, I get a lot of positive strokes for it and therefore remain motivated to continue succeeding in the future.
But the other side of it is that now that I have the label of being 'successful', I no longer really need to peform. To do something more, or better. Because I am already 'there'.
Psychologist Carol Dweck has written a book on this subject called 'Mindset: the new psychology of success'. Which inspired Guy Kawasaki to make this post explaining why most 'hot' companies eventually drift into mediocrity.
Let’s say a startup is hot. It ships something great, and it achieves success. Thus, it’s able to attract the best, brightest, and most talented. These people have been told they’re the best since childhood. Indeed, being hired by the hot company is “proof” that they are the A and A+ players; in fact, the company is so hot that it can out-recruit Google and Microsoft.
Unfortunately, they develop a fixed mindset that they’re the most talented, and they think that continued success is a right. Problems arise because pure talent only works as long as the going is easy. Furthermore, they don’t take risks because failure would harm their image of being the best, brightest, and most talented. When they do fail, they deny it or attribute it to anything but their shortcomings.
I think those two paras precisely explain why we've seen that enormous mess on Wall Street! The sub prime mess is the ghastly creation of bschool bred minds who firmly believed they could do no wrong. And even if they did, the safety net of being part of an elite club would save them.
Carol postulates that people have two kinds of mindsets: growth or fixed. People with the growth mindset view life as a series of challenges and opportunities for improving. People with a fixed mindset believe that they are “set” as either good or bad.
The issue is that the good ones believe they don’t have to work hard, and the bad ones believe that working hard won’t change anything.
As far as I can see the past performance, topper-centric intake of our most wanted bschools is only reinforcing the fixed mindset. A mindset which is certainly not suited for an increasingly unpredictable world.