Factors that drive your selection
Admission processes and standards differ from institute to institute. Getting accepted by a college is a big challenge. Students don’t get selected in colleges based only on highest grades or test scores. There are several factors which make you eligible. These include special talents, personal characteristics and ability to afford costly fee. Here’s a breakdown of what colleges take into account.
Q. What are the top concerns while selecting a candidate?
A. The selection process varies from institute to institute. The common requirements by all institutes are: a good entrance score, academic record, analytical and communication skills. Every institute looks for a versatile student who is also well versed about global business and has leadership ability. “The applicant must be focused and confident about his or her decisions,” says Prof. Ashok Sharma, Amity Business School, Noida.
Q. What is the ideal background for pursuing MBA?
A: According to the eligibility criteria of B-Schools, the candidates should be graduates in any discipline from a recognized university. Eligibility criteria of some of the MBA entrance exams like CAT and SNAP state that the candidates must obtain minimum 50% in graduation. Work experience is not mandatory, but preferable. Due weight is given to overall profile of the candidate such as past academic records, work experience, education background diversity etc. Along with these, you should have the zeal that communicates your leadership and managerial abilities. Dr. Debashis Chatterjee, Director, IIM Kozhikode, the B-School which is known for introducing diversity factor in the admission process says, “An inquisitive mind, ability to analyse as well as synthesize a broad range of data in multiple media makes one an ideal candidate. We also look for the quality of the candidate’s presence by way of communication and social skills.”
If you wish to go for a niche ‘sector-specific’ MBA, you should have the specific skill set for the same. Unless you have an abiding interest, such programmes might not work for you in the long run. Dr. Jeemol Unni, newly appointed Director of Institute of Rural Management Anand (IRMA) mentions, “IRMA looks to attract and admit students after judging the student’s ability, aptitude, attitude and adaptability for the specialized discipline of Rural Management and to serve the rural sector.”
Q. How much weightage is given to graduation marks?
A. This depends upon the institute. Some institutes may give 15% and some others up to 50%. Many institutes do not consider graduation marks for selection but they place a threshold as an eligibility criterion - say 55% or 60% marks, below which one cannot apply for admission in that institute. But it is advisable to do well in your graduation as it will always give you an edge during your interview. In many top B-Schools, CAT score is given 30-50% weightage. Other assessing parameters are your academic performance, communication skills (written and oral) and record of social service.
Q. How to prepare for GD and WAT?
A: Group Discussions, Personal Interviews and Written Ability Tests (or Essay Writing) are the three main components of the final selection round of B-Schools. In many institutes, PIs are held once you fare well in the former.
GD usually comprises a panel of eight to 12 candidates who discuss a topic given on the spot The topics are generally on current affairs that encompass issues of politics, economics or society. There are some abstract topics as well which often confuse the candidates. The best way to prepare for GD is to gain as much knowledge as possible on current affairs. This can be gained through newspapers or by watching TV news channels and information-rich programmes. The point is to keep oneself abreast of general awareness and frame an opinion around it. Ideally one should create a group of like-minded friends and conduct mock GDs. Listening is an important skill in a GD. This helps you to put counter arguments and also get an idea in case you are not much aware about the topic of discussion. According to Prof. Shekar Chaudhri, Dean, Shiv Nadar School of Management, a candidate must make his or her point without dominating or eating up other’s time. Another key aspect is participation, which should be displayed in such a manner that it creates an impact but is not seen as overbearing.
WAT preparation is similar to GD. In many B-Schools like IIM Lucknow, GD and WAT topics are the same. The difference is in writing your thoughts in a structured manner instead of speaking. Practise writing essays in a stipulated time. IIM Ahmedabad gives just 10 minutes while XLRI Jamshedpur allows you to write the essay in 20 minutes.
Q. How to prepare for Personal Interview?
A. Personal Interview (PI) preparation would consist of four broad types of questions: about yourself, academic background, your work experience (if applicable) and generic questions, say from current events or general knowledge. You can be asked any question, even unexpected ones. Brush up your graduation subjects. Also prepare well for answers on your hobbies. Know about your current or previous employers and your role in the company. While responding, avoid beating around the bush and be precise. After listening to the query, take a few seconds to comprehend and then answer.
Q. What should be my budget for pursuing MBA, right from preparation cost to MBA fee?
A: The budget would depend upon four factors: MBA entrance exams, coaching, B-School application and finally the B-School fee. The application fee of the major MBA entrance exams range from Rs. 1000 to Rs. 2000. The next is the fee of the coaching institutes (if you are keen on one). Fee at top coaching institutes range from Rs. 25, 000 to Rs. 35, 000 for regular classroom coaching of a particular session. The fees for correspondence courses range from Rs. 3000 to Rs. 5000. The application fees for the B-Schools are similar to that of the MBA entrance exams, Rs. 1000 to Rs. 2000. The average fees of B-Schools range from Rs. 5 lakh to Rs. 18 lakh. While at top B-Schools like IIMs, XLRI fee are not less than Rs. 10 lakh, FMS, University of Delhi which is one of the apex B-Schools of India has the lowest fee for its full-time MBA programme (annual tuition fee is Rs 10,480). Hence you can calculate the budget on the basis of these four factors.
Q. How can I get a student loan for pursuing an MBA?
A: All the nationalized and private banks offer education loans for pursuing an MBA. You will have to choose a bank on the basis of the interest rates offered. The bank will not fund the entire amount; hence you will have to calculate the amount of loan you can apply for by factoring the tuition fees and other expenses. In majority of the banks, the quantum of loan offered is Rs. 10 lakh for studying in India and Rs. 20 lakh for studying abroad. No collateral security is required for loans up to Rs. 4 lakh, however, co-obligation of parents or guardian is needed. The maximum loan tenure is 7 years. There is no margin up to Rs. 4 lakh. However, 5% margin would be added to loans above Rs. 4 lakh for study in India and 15% for studying in a foreign nation. Some banks offer 0.5% concession in interest rate for girl students availingof education loans. The average interest of the nationalized and private banks is 10.5%.
Q. Does quality of faculty matter?
A. Yes , if one goes by what the faculty says, as Prof Gupta comments below. But very few students really have the ability or passion to examine the quality of faculty and decide. But it does make sense to ask your peer group as to the general tone and tenor of faculty in the school you wish to go.
Prof. M P Gupta,
Q. What’s the criterion to pursue an MBA abroad?
A. You must have a good GMAT (Graduate Management Admission Test) score and proven knowledge of English, which will be evaluated through tests like IELTS or TOEFL. For some institutes abroad, the minimum eligibility criterion is two years of work experience. The range of work experience, however, varies from two to about nine years on an average. “An excellent academic record, along with skills in computing, extra-curricular potential and knowledge of foreign language will help clear admission easily,” shares Aashish Pawaskar, SIMSREE, Mumbai.
You must start the ground work at the undergraduate level itself. You will be evaluated amongst candidates that come from across the globe. For the preparation of Statement of Purpose (SOP), you can ask for help from your professors, admission consultants, or friends who have already applied and cracked the admission interviews. In order to identify a good institution, you must connect to alumni for their reviews; check admission cut-offs, placement records, location, infrastructure, in-house/visiting faculty and corporate/industry interface. According to Dr Nilanjan Chattopadhyay of IMT Ghaziabad, “For overseas, always target institutions which are well recognized and reputed. It’s not necessary to do an MBA from the US only. There are fantastic institutions in Asia, which are much cheaper than the US.”