Alexandra Shaban is a first-year student of GSOM SPbU studying Management. She graduated from a high school in Kaliningrad with honors and was dreaming about getting into a business school. Alexandra passed the Unified State Exam with 295 points out of 300 possible in total and got into both MGIMO and GSOM SPBU, in the end she chose GSOM in Saint Petersburg, where she is a recipient of a special GSOM scholarship. She has shared some of her first insights in this interview.
The average Unified State Exam score for the Bachelor programs of GSOM SPBU in 2021 is 95 out of 100. Compared to the previous year, 33% more students have chosen fee-based education at GSOM.
In the academic year 2021-22, there are 62 students who graduated from high school with honors, 18 students who got 100 out of 100 on the Unified State exam, 26 people who have notable athletic achievements in the class of 2025. GSOM has become the home for 279 freshmen from 58 regions of Russia and 72 international students from 23 countries.
There are three Bachelor programs at GSOM SPBU: The Management program, The International Management Program, and Public Administration Program. Upon graduation, GSOM alumni can choose different career paths: public service, working for Russian and international corporations, small- and medium-sized businesses, and start-ups or following education at Master Programs.
Why did you choose GSOM SPBU?
It was a long process. I was choosing between Saint Petersburg and Moscow because I wanted to study only in Russia. I was interested in management, economics, and everything related to business, so when I started looking for a university, GSOM SPBU immediately caught my eye.
What did you like the most about our business school at that moment?
Firstly, the website is impressive: you immediately understand that people there work a lot to make everything look presentable. Secondly, there is an opportunity to study abroad. My eyes literally lit up when I read that! And finally, there is the opportunity to study a second foreign language and to land an internship in large Russian or international companies after the second and the third years of education. And it is also great to see how GSOM SPBU alumni are seen as professionals in the job market.
I have read a lot of reviews on GSOM SPBU, and talked to students and alumni. There is also a group for prospective students of the business school that published a list of applicants. I think I texted at least 10 of them saying, “Tell me everything!” Everyone told me that GSOM SPBU is a great community: alumni, professors, and students. It made me even more confident about my choice. It is important for me to be surrounded by the right people who inspire me to achieve new goals.
GSOM SPBU is the whole picture, from the website to the campus. This helps during the hard moments of education, and even inspires you to move forward.
What was the key factor when you made your decision?
The most important thing for me was the fact that GSOM alumni get job offers while still students. It is obvious that you need to put a lot of effort into creating a successful career – there are a lot of managers and businessmen. But their high-quality knowledge and practical experience help GSOM alumni to beat the competition.
Did you have any difficulties while applying to a university?
It was a hard time for me. It was a case of a person who is not sure whether she is going to get a government-funded place even though she has a solid knowledge of her school subjects. But every time I opened my school books, I felt doomed.
While preparing for the exams, I felt obliged to apply for a government-funded place. I checked last year's statistics and saw that I would need to get 280+ points, which when divided by 3 meant that I would need to score 93-95 points for each exam. I was really nervous about it…
I was too nervous. At the start, I was sure that I would easily pass each exam with 95+ points. But as the days passed, my confidence slowly faded away. I was changing subjects and trying to remember everything. One day I told my parents that I wouldn’t pass the Russian language exam, and the next day I would say that the Russian exam isn’t the biggest problem – the English language exam is… The same thing happened with mathematics. Why? Because I would pick 5 random problems, and my self-esteem relied on how well I would solve them. I realized that the real exam could have some tasks I was unable to solve.
After each exam, I felt like the maximum score I could get was 70 points, and when I ended up being wrong, I was the happiest person on earth. When I received all my results, I knew I could get into any university, so I didn’t even consider other options. I applied only to GSOM SPBU and MGIMO to see how far I could go. In the end, I chose the business school.
What came off as a surprise during your first days at GSOM?
At the very start, our timetable was determined 2-3 days prior to the classes, and I had 1 class on Tuesday and two classes on Thursday. I was like, “Wow, that’s exactly what I need!” And I really believed that. Well, when I checked the timetable right before the first day, I found out that I had classes from 10am to 8:45pm. I was so shocked! Of course, I had a lunch break and another small break, but still, the day was really long.
I also remember the first Business History class. Students from my dorm warned me that I would need to do a lot of reading for this class. I was like, “Okay, a lot is doable.” But when I saw the list of literature that I needed to go through before the end of the week, I realized that it would be impossible to remember even a half of it. The very next day, though, my groupmates told me that they had almost finished reading. So even though I’m more interested in practical problems, I realized that nothing is impossible, and that I just needed to complete the task. After finishing reading on time, I had a feeling that I already had qualified for a master’s degree in Business History. So that’s how I learned that anything is possible if I really want it.
What does a typical day of a GSOM freshman look like?
I wake up an hour before classes and feel hungry. But then I understand that I still haven’t finished all of my homework, so I read school materials while having breakfast. After the first two lectures, I get the feeling that I have been studying for a year straight, so I have no energy left. After that we have a break, but no one relaxes. The lunch break is created to get ready for the next class. The second half of the day feels easier, though. After the classes, I have 3-5 hours of spare time. I spend about an hour worrying about the fact that I can’t meet the deadlines, and for the next 2 hours I study. After that, my friends from the dorm and I get together to play board games, listen to music, or to talk. Basically, we take our minds off school. The next morning, I feel like a brand-new person.
Looking back, what piece of advice would you give to yourself?
I would tell myself to stop procrastinating and thinking about whether I could pass the exam successfully. I was studying non-stop, I didn’t even have time to go for a walk. And now I understand that I should have blocked negative thoughts and my fear of the future – I can panic later. So, if I could go back, I would tell myself, “Do not listen to anyone and follow your dreams – your hard work is going to pay off.”