IT is not just about location, facility
GRADUATING FROM a good institute jump-starts one’s career prospects
More than two lakhs of students apply for MBA every year, but only few are chosen for IIM. And for the rest, it’s a big challenge to find the “best fit” B-School. There are plenty of institutes to choose from, but getting the one that would suit your personality and career goals is the prime challenge. Parents and students think that ranking is the only basis to judge an institute. Interestingly, there are several other sources which help in assessing the institute. Everything counts – visits to campuses, interaction with current students, alumni; checks on placement record, salaries, profiles offered by companies and more. And location does matter. Much more than what you think. So how do you know if a particular B-School is right for you? Should you choose the programme or the school? In placements, does a Tier-2 school help at all? Read on. Know how to get it right.
Q: How to choose the right B-School?
A: Choosing the right B-School is one of the most important decisions you have to take once you decide to pursue MBA. You must select the B-School on the basis of the following thumb rules.
Recognition: The recognition of the programme by AICTE (or in case of autonomous institutions by University Grants Commission or Association of Indian Universities). For example, owing to their autonomous status, institutes like IIMs, IITs, IIFT, ISB etc., do not have AICTE approval. However, if you are opting for private B-Schools, you must check their AICTE approval status. If the B-School is under a university, it should be approved by UGC or AIU.
What is the standing of the B-School? B-School Rankings can be a useful tool for you to decide whether the institute is worth studying at. The performance and rank of B-Schools can be assessed on broad categories, for instance: input, process and output. The inputs include information on students, faculty, admission process and resources. The MBA course (structure, design, delivery, evaluation) and learning associated with the same constitute the process. The output comprises details about graduate students, their placements and job profiles as well as research outcomes such as publications, consultancy and industrial projects, training etc.
Return of Investment: While choosing a B-School, the ROI factor depends on the fee and the placement statistics. While the B-School fees are soaring high, the placement statistics are affected by the economic downturn. Analyse the fee and the placement statistics of the last year to gauge the Return of Investment of the B-School.
Cut-off marks: Before applying, you must be aware of the cut-off marks of the B-Schools for the MBA entrance exam in the previous year. Make your discretion based on your expected marks in the exam you are taking such as CAT, XAT, MAT, CMAT or others. While the cut-offs for top B-Schools range from 90 to 99 percentiles, for the mid-rung schools it is around 75 percentile.
Infrastructure: This is another important factor. Ensure that the B-School campus offers you the requisite facilities such as library, computer and Internet etc. If you are an outstation candidate, look whether there are good hostel facilities on the campus.
Q. How much of homework should I do before selecting a school?
A. Before choosing any institute for MBA, take the following steps:
Go to the institutes’ website
Check out the courses being offered
See whether it matches with your expectation
Check about the teaching faculty, infrastructure and placement reports
Also check the status of the institute on career and education websites
Try to contact alumni and current students of the institute
Always visit the institute before joining it, interact with faculty and students
MANY FACTORS play crucial roles in the selection of the right school
Q. Does location of a B-School really matter?
A. The Dean, Public Relations and Chairman-Admissions of TA Pai Management Institute at Manipal, Prof Chowdari Prasad says, “In today’s technologically advanced world, there is no geographical limitation for sources of learning. All the players of management education, including students and B-Schools, have got to face stiff competition to come together in a highly ‘quality-oriented’ learning environment. With the emergence of concepts like Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs), gone are the days when learning was confined within four walls of a classroom. Resources like Internet, Wi-Fi and Video Conferencing have already replaced the lecture method. Moreover, corporates would always like to travel to campuses to study the B-School environment to assess employability of students. In the process, B-Schools located in remote areas may have an added advantage of serene environment for learning.” Dr. Ramakant Kulkarni, Director of Global Business School, echoes similar views. He says, “Proximity to communication is one of the factors besides faculty, infrastructure and academic rigour in deciding a B-School for education and in placements.”
According to Prateek Didwania, a PGP candidate at IIM Kozhikode, “Studying in a metropolitan city is very different from studying in a not so well known city. Placements for any institute depend to a large extent on the alumni and ranking of the institute than the geographical location. Exposure and opportunities do not depend on the location in a world, which is virtually connected via Internet. According to me, a B-School should always be at a very serene and a remote place where the students get to explore themselves, staying disconnected with the pollution and noise of a city. When we do not have options to go outside the campus, we end up having a CAMPUS LIFE. And this is called MBA.”
Q. How to analyse placement records?
A. One must carefully scan the previous year’s placement record of an institute. “Placement records are often easily judged by the CTC figures. You must try to find out the job roles that are offered and the profile of companies visiting for placements,” shares Prof. Abhishek Kumar, BIM, Trichy. Another best way to analyse is through its alumni. Prof. Kumar emphasises face-to-face interaction. “You must visit campus and take reviews from current students,” he says.
Q. Should students go for MBA programmes being offered by institutes which are not that well known?
A. Yes. Homework done by the students on alumni, their job profiles; accreditation of the institute, nature of faculty, placement data, and future goals of the school concerned would come in handy and would be authentic as it is first hand information. Rankings do play a role. When selecting an appropriate B-School, ranking is considered an easy option to eliminate the ‘undesired’ schools according to individual considerations. Reputed rankings are often seen as reliable, but one should refrain from judging a B-School on its ranking alone. Dr. SK Singla, Director, GNA-IMT (Phagwara) says, “The top B-Schools in India are IIMs, XLRI, Symbiosis, IMT, etc., however, there are enough students with low scores in the management entrance examinations who do not qualify to get admission in these institutions.” Does this mean the end of the road for such a student? No. Dr. Singla says, “Good management institutes do exist in smaller towns (like GNA-IMT) which provide a platform for students to shape their careers with emphasis on industry-institution interface.” Sometimes lesser-known institutes could address your needs and aspirations better than the top institutes. That could be a better choice than expected and help you in bagging a good job.
Q. Are the Indian campuses of foreign B-Schools good bets for students?
A. With the recent notification by Ministry of Human Resource Development (HRD), even these campuses are considered as foreign and their degrees need to be validated by the Association of Indian Universities (AIU), as equivalent to Indian offers. The HRD ministry has laid down stringent conditions for foreign universities to enter India. Having a ranking within top 400 institutions of the world and a minimum corpus etc, are some of them. But the learning one gets from interacting with global cohorts and living in an international campus may not be available to those studying in a domestic campus. So unless one has compelling cost advantages, it does make sense for you go for the real thing, so as to say.
Prof. R K Mishra
Prof. Aashish Pawaskar
Q. How to use rankings to select the best B-School?
A. Ranking provides a great deal of information. If you are interested in doing an MBA degree, it is likely that you have reviewed a number of rankings. Make no mistake, these rankings provide adequate information on B-Schools. The rankings use certain parameters to help you figure out the standing of the B-School and also get information on placements, quality of faculty and students, infrastructure, accreditation, approval, locations etc. The ranking of best Indian B-Schools are put out each year by Careers360 magazine.
Q. Should I pursue MBA from India or abroad?
A: Many MBA aspirants want to pursue MBA from abroad. This decision should be taken before you decide which MBA entrance exams to take, as the admission process is quite different in India and abroad. There are various parameters based on which you can take the decision such as standing of the B-School in a global perspective, quality of faculty, relevance of curriculum and placement opportunities.
Dr. Jeemol Unni, Director, IRMA states, “Students have to make a choice based on their ability, aptitude, interest and adaptability. While the brand value of the B-School where they obtain a degree is important, the choice should be made based on where and what kind of organisation and sector the candidate wishes to serve. A degree from abroad alone may not make the candidate suitable for jobs in India. Indian MBA from good institutions is excellent and better suited for jobs in India. Foreign MBA may hold a charm for some students, but with global recessions, they find it difficult to get a job in the Western market and they have lower value in India. So many MBAs from less known foreign institutions are left high and dry without a job after an expensive education.”
Mansie Dewan, a professional Admission Coach says that budget and career aspiration play a big role in the decision. “Foreign MBA degree is much costlier than Indian MBA. Be very sure about your career aspiration. At the end of your MBA you must work for at least 5 to 6 years abroad in order to make your foreign MBA degree fruitful. If you are keen on pursuing your career in India with a specialisation relevant for the Indian market, then it is better to pursue an MBA from India. Moreover, since foreign universities are coming to India such as Schulich School of Business in Hyderabad and SDA Bocconi in Mumbai, you can get the experience of studying international MBA curriculum here in India.”
Q. Which institute offers the best MBA course abroad?
A. “Obvious favourites are Graduate School of Business at Stanford, Harvard Business School, Asian Institute of Management, Makati, Philippines; Ivy Leagues and INSEAD,” shares Prof. Aashish Pawaskar of SIMSREE. Mumbai Besides these, one must not overlook other reputed institutes abroad, which are low-cost but offer high quality education. Your institute selection should be backed by good research on country/region, fee and programme methodology. Another key area where information must be sought is the alumni.
Q. How crucial are placement and infrastructure?
A. “Rating the college only in terms of visible traits is not a good idea,” says Prof. Ashok Sharma, Amity Business School, Noida. There are institutes, with large buildings but bad academic infrastructure. Besides placements, find about pedagogy, faculty, library facilities, infrastructure and corporate exposure. If an institute is well equipped, then target it for getting admission. “There are numerous surveys, but rely on those published in reputed magazines/newspapers,” says Prof. Nilanjan Chattopadhyay, IMT Ghaziabad.
XLRI, IIM Ahmedabad
IIM Bangalore, IIT Delhi, IIT Bombay, NITIE
IIM Ahmedabad, IIM Bangalore, IIT Delhi
IIM Calcutta, IIM Bangalore, IIT Delhi
IIM Ahmedabad, FMS Delhi
Institute of Rural Management (IIRM) Jaipur
IIM Ahmedabad, IIM Lucknow
FMS, Goa Institute of Management
Source: As listed by Prof. M P Gupta, IIT Delhi, Department of Management Studies
Q: What is the fee at top Indian B-Schools?
A: The fee structure of the B-Schools varies from institute to institute. MBA is considered to be one of the most expensive courses. However, there are university B-Schools like FMS, Delhi University that have fee below Rs. 1 lakh. The following Table looks at the tuition fee of top B-schools, which may be revised in the academic year 2014-16.
Rs. 16 lakh
Rs. 17 lakh
Rs. 10.8 lakh
Rs. 13 lakh
Rs. 9.75 lakh
Rs. 14.75 lakh
Rs. 15 lakh
FMS Delhi University
Rs. 21, 000
Rs. 11.5 lakh
Rs. 12.75 lakh
Rs. 1.3 lakh
Rs. 8 lakh
Rs. 9 lakh
Rs. 9 lakh
Rs. 9.6 lakh
Rs. 10 lakh
Rs. 8 lakh
Rs. 8 lakh
Rs. 9.90 lakh
Rs. 7.2 lakh
Q: What are the selection criteria of top B-Schools?
A: B-School selection is a two-step process. The first round is shortlisting of candidates based on entrance scores, which the B-Schools accept. The final selection round includes interactive and interpersonal rounds like GD, PI and/Essay Writing. Certain B-Schools also conduct Group Exercise, like MICA Ahmedabad to test team-working skills.
The number of years of work experience also matters since more than three years of work experience may not be considered relevant at certain B-Schools. Bharat Wadhwa, a student of IIM Kozhikode says, “Work experience surely helps you earn a few brownie points for admission to esteemed B-Schools. It also makes you more confident in facing panel members during interviews. However, experience beyond a certain number of years really does not make much difference to the attractiveness of your profile for admission.