Why I chose SZABIST over IBA and LUMS

Published: April 8, 2015

SZABIST was as much of a formal university as IBA or CBM or even LUMS. PHOTO: EDUCATION INN


That’s where I studied. It is also the one word response I am most-likely to give in professional get-togethers because it is the most common question to be posed at me.

During grad-school, at dinners, get-togethers, meet-ups, internships, interviews – in fact, wherever I meet new (or even old) people, this word is my go-to response, my safe haven. This one word is my identity. And because of this one word, I have come across many varied responses.

For instance, my friends from the University of Karachi (KU) would say:

“Ah! That place is just like my nani ka ghar (maternal grandmother’s house). Is it even a campus?”

While my IBA and LUMS friends would comment:

“Oh the Sindhi place? Jeay Sindh dude, Jeay Sindh. I obviously got into Szabist but obviously obviously obviously why would I take it up when I got into IBA/LUMS?”

These comments are not uncommon for a Szabistian. We are often taunted on how our campuses look like gali muhalla schools, how we’re tagged as the place that all the Clifton waderas (feudal lords) go to or worse, the place that everyone who doesn’t get into IBA/LUMS goes to.

At the time of my school graduation, I kept hearing about the different universities people were planning to apply to in Karachi. There was a lot of talk about IBA, followed by CBM (IoBM) and Szabist back in 2008-2009. And the pressure of choosing the right university was, and still is, considered a matter of life and death.

Reluctantly, I sat for the IBA admissions test, which was followed by Szabist’s test and then CBM’s test. I was confused at first. My family and friends – like every other Karachiite – were all sold to the idea that an IBA Bachelors in Administration (BBA) degree was the key to a happy life. If you belonged to the fortunate lot that actually got into IBA, your life was settled. If you didn’t, you could go to Szabist. It’s ugly sister. Or even worse to CBM!

That was a typical trend I observed back then.

But I wasn’t convinced; I did not wish to do what everyone else did just because it was market-friendly. I wanted to do something that helped the person that I was growing into and not just get me a crazy salary. I picked a degree in social sciences. Back then, IBA didn’t offer a social science degree (which it does now, ahem! Doesn’t that already say more about Szabist and its academic vision?), so I decided to let go of the classic IBA BBA degree and chose to go pursue Szabist’s Social Sciences degree instead.

Crazy right?

But I had made my choice.

I got into the social sciences program and was pleased with my decision.

Right after graduation was the time I realised what an honour it was to be associated with Szabist. I went to the country’s largest NGO to find Szabistians already there, fitting in perfectly with foreign graduates. I saw Szabist at incredibly huge advertising agencies, multinationals and what not. What else do I need to feel proud of the ‘little place’ that has given me so much to be thankful for?

Every now and then I’d hear fellow students, in the freshman and sophomore years, whining about how the 100 campus fountain has become an old hag or how the teachers in the social sciences department weren’t the fairy godmothers they were all expecting, and how there are cats in the canteen! But all of that is secondary to what you experience once you get done with your degree.

I’ll admit though, when I first joined Szabist, I was expecting the ajrak draped all across the walls of the campus and big Bhutto/Zardari pictures peeking from every corner and, thanks to my crazy imagination, I almost believed that the political party that Bhutto and his likes were associated with would be all over the campus, greeting us from 8am in the morning till 9:30pm when the campus bids farewell to its last lecture/session.

As outrageous as it might sound to people, none of that happened. Szabist is as much of a formal university as IBA or CBM or even LUMS. There was no political drama as we witness in the case of some state-run universities that flaunt their acres and oodles of land. Yes, there are millions of students who come to Szabist from interior Sindh and rural areas, but that is something we are proud of. It only goes to show how far Szabist has come in making a name for itself and actually maintaining it.

All in all, Szabist has literally been my second home. It has been a place that has taught me many things. It has been a bumpy ride, yes, but I am grateful for all the good things this university has done for me.

Once you graduate, my dear little Szabistians, you will realise what the small campus, the nonsense canteen, the cats purring at your biryani, the makai wala (corn stall guy), the administration, the cranky bookshop walas, the bizarre class schedules, the 154 campus that resembles the ghetto at times, the teachers who did their best and the constant checking the guards had in store for you and what you truly learn.

For those stuck in the application rut, and considering universities in Pakistan, don’t dismiss Szabist because it is not IBA or LUMS, Szabist is Szabist and it is fantastic. So sure, IBA and LUMS may have the reputation but Szabist has the package. It is my pride and joy, and I would choose it over IBA or LUMS all over again.

Would you choose Szabist over IBA?

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Fatima Azeem

Fatima Azeem

A Social Sciences student at SZABIST. She is passionate about all things that aim for the heart - specially books, music and movies.

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.