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The B-school that's just perfect for you

 

You need not apply to numerous B-schools just because they are top-ranked. You have to keep in mind certain parameters and then narrow down your choice as per your requirements and interests. In this article, we showcase the factors that you need to consider.

 
 

Finally! CAT 2018 is just two months away and you are almost at the end of your exam preparations. You have registered for the CAT because almost all top schools accept it and everyone’s preparing for it. But there are a handful of B-schools which conduct their own tests. Now is the time to pause and ponder upon a few critical questions—which is the right B-school for me? What are the tests that I should take?
In this article, we provide you a list of parameters, which you can use as a filter to find the schools that will fit you perfectly. This will help you to register for their tests accordingly. So, let’s get started.

Why MBA?
Before anything else, you need to revisit the reason why you are doing an MBA in the first place—for a particular career track, a definite position in the corporate hierarchy, big bucks or just what everyone else is doing. Once you figure that out, ask yourself the following questions

  • Are the B-schools you are planning to apply to, provide the specialisation you are interested in?
  • Is the institute known for placements in your chosen career field?
  • Will the MBA from a particular B-school facilitate you to enter your chosen career or take up a completely new field, be it as an entrepreneur or expanding an existing business?

So, it is important to define your objectives clearly, according to your background and motivation and then choose the b-schools that will help you achieve your goals. Always keep this firmly lodged in your mind, as it will help you make the best choice for yourself.

Profile and Ability
This is the second most important filter. The list that you have just created needs to be filtered by checking the eligibility and selection procedure of the institutes. Do you meet the basic requirements? Then you need to work towards the required test score. Take SimCATs to get a measure of your abilities. Analyse your tests and work out the average score that you could end up with. This will provide you with a basic level or grade of schools that you should be looking at since test scores are the first selection criteria for most schools. Previous work experience, if relevant, will also help in getting you a good placement. Most recruiters would prefer employing students who have some work experience, especially if it is in the same sector that they eventually want to be in. Extra-curricular activities go a long way in portraying a balanced persona. Be it in school, college or classes, make sure you have cultivated other interests besides academics. Though extracurricular activities are not taken into account during the first round of the admission process, they can play a crucial role in your personal interview. But that doesn’t mean that in the next couple of months you start a hobby or interest just for acing your PI. Check the institutes’ batch profiles and honestly see whether you will be the correct match for these schools. If yes, then continue to the next filter. If not, then go back and get a new list of schools.

Specialisation
There are some institutes in India that offer a highly specialised MBA programme, apart from the smaller degree of specialisations offered in general management programme. A school that does not enlist the specialisation you want will not suit your purpose. Interest in a particular field or subject is a vital ingredient in the choice of a B-school. Some B-schools have become tantamount to the specialisation they offer. For instance, XLRI and TISS are well known for Human Resources, MICA for Advertising, IRMA for Rural Management and NITIE for Industrial Management. But there are other MBA programmes that are known for general management with a focus on finance or have excellent placements in consulting, etc. Nearly all general management programmes offer far more than the core management skills. Therefore, it is important to know what field you want to be in. Once you know which skills you want to focus on, you are in a better position to consider which MBA is right for you.
Be sure to research each school thoroughly by going through their curriculum and their placement data. The return on investment is only going to pay off if your school is known for being one of the best in your desired field.

Placements
After picking a specialisation, consider placements. What most students look at is just the average salary for the passing out batch. But there’s much more that you need to figure out.

  • Keeping your specialisation in mind, make a list of companies you would like to work for.
  • Check the placement records of the schools in your list and see whether these companies recruit from them
  • If possible, talk to current students to find out the kind of roles offered by these companies and the salaries that are offered. It’s more important to find out the salary range in the sector that you want to work in rather than being happy about the average salary of the overall batch
  • Also, check the number of offers per student. This signifies the amount of choice that a student has in terms of companies and the jobs they offer at the top B-schools.

Placement details, which are generally available on the school’s website, provide placement information about the last batch in a comprehensive manner. You get to know how many students were placed, which companies came to recruit, how many offers were made per student, what was the highest and average salary offered, etc. Additionally, you will be able to see how many graduates obtain a position in your own field of choice in a given year, and thus adequately assess if that institute is the right fit for you. But to get the real picture, it is necessary to check placement reports of the last 3 years at least. Read the names of the companies that regularly recruit from them to see if any of these interests you. A key point to keep in mind here is that an MBA is worth doing if it at least doubles your current worth. So, check the post-MBA salary under this light.

Check the rankings
Since rankings take into account many parameters like faculty, salary, placement, alumni feedback, etc, it is important to read a few ranking charts before making a list of your desired schools. MBA Rankings from top publications like Business Today, Economic Times, etc or from NIRF are great tools to compare business schools for placements, alumni satisfaction and value for money. Rankings in India differ largely from those for international institutes, wherein the programmes are also given a lot of importance in their ranking. However, apart from a few institutes that offer a high degree of specialisation in their programmes (which we shall discuss later in this article), most MBA programmes in India are generally management focused. The practice of ranking the programmes is, therefore, not too prevalent in India. Hence, the first stop on your way to selecting which B-school you would like to study in, is the rankings. However, do not base your decision completely on rankings, as the methodologies used in each of the rankings might be completely different and the percentage of responses might also differ. In some surveys, only 60-65% of the alumni will respond. It is incorrect, therefore, to gauge the quality of an MBA programme only by their ranking but it is a great tool to get an overview of the top MBA programmes. A factor that need not specially be emphasised is the reputation a given management institute commands and its brand image in the industry. While it is natural for older established institutes to have a better reputation, it is not always the case. Many students opt for the newer IIMs for their brand name even though they might not be highly ranked. Ultimately, what matters is the impact the institute has over one’s entire life and career and not just one particular job.

Location
This is important only if you have reservations about studying in a city or if you need to study in a particular city. The location of an institute is not important for the premier institutes. Employers seek out the best institute irrespective of its location. However, for the others, it would be better if the location is near a commercial hub, so that even if employers do not visit the campus, the student has an opportunity to come in close contact with potential employers. If possible, talk to people who live in the cities that house your selected B-schools and ask about the things that matter to you—safety, transport, culture, etc.

Fee and ROI
Some of you are thinking that this filter should take precedence over the others, especially if you feel the fee is beyond your current means. However, what you need to understand is that costs for your Post Graduate Studies should no longer be borne by your parents or guardians. Most MBA education can easily be funded by loans and scholarships, especially if you are getting into a top notch school. One of the most overrated factors that many consider is the return on your investment. If you graduate from a top B-school, your salary post placement can take care of the loan amount easily. And, it is not just the salary that you get immediately post your graduation that matters, the professional network you build and the push that your B-school’s name can give you are vital factors to be considered. 
Even after this, if you are looking at just the ROI then there are some top schools that do not charge an exorbitant amount of fee. In this case, the loan can be paid off in half the time frame than it usually does. So, an FMS-Delhi or a JBIMS-Mumbai or any of the IITs are your best bets. So, if you are going to take an education loan, researching on ROI might be helpful but do not decide only on the basis of ROI.

Faculty and Infrastructure
A judicious mix of full-time and visiting faculty is crucial for any good institute. The full-time faculty is required to teach students the fundamentals of management and oversee development of their skills. The visiting faculty gives students the much needed industry exposure and valuable insights into the corporate world. The best way to know about an institute’s faculty is to get in touch with the students currently studying there. Infrastructure also plays a crucial part in this process. The presence of adequate and state-of-the-art infrastructure is an important determinant to judge whether the school offers qualitative environment conducive to learning. A fully residential programme fosters all-round development as peer group and faculty interaction is not just restricted to the class hours but is a 24x7 process where the scope to learn is multiplied.
We know that everyone’s list features the IIMs at the top, but it’s always prudent to know your strengths and weaknesses and have other choices as well. More importantly, it’s about finding the right B-school to catapult your career.
For that, you need to shortlist the B-schools, choose the tests to take, get the right scores in the tests and build the correct profile that includes your previous academic scores, your extracurricular activities and relevant work experience,
if any.