B-School admissions, made easier
Hi-tech classrooms are of prime importance to an MBA aspirants
There are over 4,000 B-schools in India, offering more than 62 different variants of an MBA programme. So selecting the right school is a Herculean task for any aspirant. If one scores a 99 percentile and gets calls from all the top IIMs, then there is obviously nothing to choose. But as one moves down the pecking order, a range of factors creep while deciding on your final choice. With the cost of an MBA being 6-8 lakh rupees, it is a costly decision too. Let us look at a few preliminary factors that would influence your selection...
So far, it has been observed that about 30-40% of the candidates who get into top management institutes in India have prior work experience of one year or more. It appears that some top management institutes are taking in a higher proportion of candidates who have over a year’s ‘work experience’, in most cases, defined as “full-time, paid, work experience after completing graduation”.
The fee charged by management institutes in India varies a great deal between institutes. It is as little as Rs. 20,000 for a two-year postgraduate programme in university departments funded by the government while premier institutes may charge between Rs. 4 lakhs and 12 lakhs for a similar programme.
A foreign MBA?
The ‘abroad’ option appears attractive to those who can afford it. The main attraction seems to be the fact that admission into them is relatively easier than getting into a top management institute. However, those who are on the lookout for education abroad should note that work experience is a ‘must’ for most of these management institutes and that at the end of the course students ‘might’ not get the kind of placement that they desire.
Even students currently studying at the institute may not always give the true picture
Degree or diploma?
The value of the management course pursued by them does not depend on the fact whether it is a ‘degree’ or a ‘diploma’; rather it depends on the ‘reputation and standing’ of the institute that is offering the degree or diploma. A ‘degree’ is not always better than a ‘diploma’. The converse can well be true. In fact, the most sought-after IIMs offer only a diploma!
Look at these parameters carefully, then decide on what B-Schools to apply to.
A large number of management institutes boast of a 100% placement record for their students. With management institutes mushrooming all over the country these claims should not be taken at face value. You can enquire about such claims with the students currently studying at these institutes. But you should note that the students of the institute may not always give the true picture. They could exaggerate the placement performance of their ‘own’ institute.
An important factor most students miss in the excitement of high average salaries is the average number of offers each student gets. This indicates the choice that a student typically has in terms of companies and jobs on offer.
(b) Quality of faculty
It is essential for any good institute to have a judicious mix of full-time and part-time faculty members. The full-time faculty team provides the continuity and monitoring that is needed over the two-year period, apart from any hand-holding required.
One way of getting to know the quality of the faculty team at these institutes is to speak to those who are currently studying at the institute.
It is essential for any good institute to have a judicious mix of full-time and part-time faculty
(c) Quality of students
This makes a very big difference on account of the interaction that a student has with his peers. Much of the learning that takes place at any B-School is on account of the group activities like group work and group projects. Hence, if the students are brighter, the learning experience gets richer. The quality of the selection process (the difficulty level of the written exam, the rigorousness of the GDs/Interviews) adopted by the institute gives you an idea about the quality of the students it admits.
(d) Quality of infrastructure
A state-of-the-art computer lab, a high-speed Internet connection, a well-stocked library with subscriptions to management literature, and duly furnished classrooms - institutes not having these cannot be called top class.
Students are advised to visit the campus of the institute in question, particularly one they do not know much about, and gather first-hand information about the facilities available before deciding to join. The fully residential programme of the top B-Schools fosters all round development as the period of interaction with peers and faculty is just not restricted to the class hours but is an ongoing 24/7 process where the scope to learn and imbibe is multiplied many times over.
(e) Image of the Institute
A factor that need not specially be emphasised is the reputation a given management institute commands and the image it perpetuates in the industry. While it can be said that it is natural for older institutes to have a better reputation than the ones that have started recently, it cannot always be generalised. Also, remember that it is often possible that a recently set up institute has been established by an older, well-established institute. In such cases, the “parent/guardian” institute certainly helps the new institute through its formative years. This help may include, but may not be limited, to faculty support, support in the selection procedure, and, more importantly, placement support. If an institute falls into this category, even though it is a newly-established one, students can be assured that the institute is a good one.
The placements are better in institutes located where there is a concentration of industry
(f) Location of the B-School
Location refers to the geographical location of the B-School. The location indirectly affects the placements on the campus. The placements are better in institutes located in places where there is a concentration of industry. This happens because companies find it much easier to recruit management graduates from institutes located geographically closer to their own headquarters rather than go to an institute which is located far away. For this reason, other things remaining the same, institutes located in Mumbai, New Delhi, and Bangalore always score better than institutes based in other cities. Chennai, Pune, and Hyderabad make up the next level of cities. The impact that the location has on an institute is very little for the top ten institutes, while it becomes more and more pronounced as you go down the ratings list.
They can be classified into two categories - General Management Programme and Specialisation-based Programme.
A General Management Programme (GMP) gives a student the flexibility to join any sector and thus affords maximum diversification and placement opportunities as opposed to a Specialisation-based Programme. (SP). All the IIMs and most of the Ivy League schools offer this programme to students.
Some B-Schools offer programmes catering to a specific sector or specialising in an area. Institutes like XLRI, MICA, IRMA, IIFT, and TISS, are the best in their respective sectors and students should be keen to join them.
However, there is a plethora of programmes emerging now catering to specific sectors and needs of the industry like those in actuarial science, retail, and insurance. The placement opportunities in these specialised programmes are restricted to companies in that sector and as such do not lend the kind of flexibility to one’s career that a GMP offers.
What should you do?
The first question: “How many B-Schools should I apply to?” The first factor is your budget. With the application fee for each institute being in the range of Rs. 500 to 1600, you may not want to look at more than 7-8 institutes. But, whatever be the number, it is always a good practice to select institutes across categories/tiers.
The second pertinent factor is what you are doing:
(a) Pursuing final year of graduation: In this case, you may be very keen on getting into a management institute but can afford to try again next year if you do not get into an institute of your choice. So, you may apply rather selectively.
(b) Completed graduation in last academic session, not pursuing any higher studies, and not working either:
In this case make sure that you get into some institute (a reasonably good one), come what may. So, the number of institutes that you have to apply, will be more than in the case of the first category.
(c) Completed graduation and currently working: You can be very, very selective unless you have been working for more than 4-5 years in which case, you may not want to lose further time in getting into a management institute.
The third factor is your performance in the entrance exams. Depending on what the performance is, you may want to hedge your bet by applying to more institutes – particularly, to institutes across categories that we discussed above.
Now let’s see how you will go about deciding which institutes to apply to. The cardinal rule is that in order to safeguard your interests and reduce your risk, you should apply to institutes in at least three different tiers.
Let’s say that you have decided to apply to seven institutes. First, check how you have performed in your mock CAT series and what your percentile score is.
Let’s say you are in 85-95 percentile range. Then apart from the IIMs, you will need to apply to three institutes in the next category and two institutes in the category after that. It is also worth applying to XLRI and/or FMS. Additionnally, if you are interested in specialisation courses, apply to some sectoral institutes like IIFT, IRMA, MICA or TISS.
Finally, it is always a good idea to apply to as many institutes as possible. This will widen one’s scope and help to maximise one’s chances of making it to a B-School as one is never sure as to what criteria each institute would follow to shortlist and select students.