MBA is probably the last stop in formal education for majority of the students. The investment of two years of your life, plus a significant fee makes it critical that you take the right decision.
How to Select a B School?
There are more than 4000 B Schools in India giving out various versions of an MBA. Call it an MBA, MMS, PGDM, PGPM, PGDBM, PGPX, EPGP or a host of other such Two year and One year MBA programs. Choosing from these myriad B-Schools offering a variant of an MBA while ensuring that the two years/one year of Bschool education gives the right benefits for a growth oriented career becomes even more daunting.
Almost every BSchool claims 100% placement, world-class education, industry exposure and unique curriculum! How would one choose the right school then?
If you get into the top ranked schools, the decision would be far simpler. However, when it comes to institutes that are not ranked AND/OR not in the top 20, the selection is much more complicated and requires thorough analysis of various factors that go into making of a top class institute.
In this article, we look at the various parameters one has to look into before taking a decision to apply and subsequently join the B School for your MBA!
Type of Program
Firstly, choose a Full time program. Data shows clearly that placement and long-term career growth are far better for Full Time programs while Part time programs are still viewed with suspicion by the industry in terms of quality.
The choice of a 1-year (Exec MBA/PGPX) Vs. is a two-year (MBA/PGDM) program is based on two factors. One is the age and work experience. As a thumb rule, students with 0-36 months of Work Exp should consider a 2-year program while candidates with 36+ months of experience should opt for the shorter program. The second factor: Do you wish to move into a management role in the same sector or would you like to change functional areas. The PGPX program assumes that you would like to leverage your experience and that you have a clarity on your career plan. People who would like to shift sectors or those who are not very clear on their career plan might find the 2-year program better suited. Fundamentally the 2 year program gives you the basics of all functional areas like Marketing, Finance etc. in the 1st year allowing you to make an informed choice in the second year.
Thirdly, You can choose a general MBA/PGDM program which allows you the luxury of selecting your specialization in the 2nd year. This is best suited for fresher’s/0-15 months work experience
Those who are very clear about specialization can opt for specialized programs where specialization is decided from day 1. E.g.: XLRI HRM, MDI PGPHRM, and SP Jain etc.
Lastly DO NOT repeat DO NOT choose sector specific programs. Say, Telecom Management, Textile Management, and Aviation Management etc. Please note that no top B-School offers such programs. Tying your career to one single sector severely limits your career choices and constrains your growth.
The single most important parameter considered by the student in selecting a B-School is the Placements at that institute. All good B-Schools give detailed reports on their placements. Lets look at the key parameters that you should consider.
Average Salary and Median Salary: While Average salary is an important parameter please note that most B-Schools have a wide range of salaries from minimum to maximum.
Let’s take an example If Bill Gates walks into a bar, on average, everybody in the bar is a millionaire. Hence averages don’t really tell you what you want to know and what the actual scenario is.
Where as the Median salary gives a better picture, because it tells you the salary that an average student (middle of the batch) is able to get.
Recruiters: For a fresh MBA, perhaps getting into the right company would be more important than the salary. So do check the list of companies that recruit from a B-School.
Specialization/Job Roles: A good B-School should be able to offer placements in all specializations, Marketing, Finance, Human Resources etc. Also they should be able to place students in sectors like Market Research, Consulting, and eCommerce, Banks etc. such that students can get into areas that they are interested in. If say, 80-90% of a Bschools placements are in Sales and Marketing or if a B-School doesn’t share a details of specialization and job roles, you should be cautious.
100% Placement: While lot of Bschools claim it, it isn’t easy to achieve. How to identify if a Bschools claim is genuine. Check the data.
E.g.: B-School claims All 102 students got placed. But you know that their batch size is 120. Or the report claims that 12 students have opted out of placement (more likely pushed out by the Bschool). These are tricks that Bschools use to claim 100% placement.
Quality of Students
This is another parameter that a student has to keep in mind before taking a decision. The better the quality of students at the institute, the better are the chances that you would learn from them and compete.
A simple yardstick for ‘Quality of Students’ in any institute is the percentile cutoff that the institute considers for calling students to the Interview stage. IIMA and IIMC have cutoffs close to 99.7 percentile for General Category students. It can be safely assumed that the quality of the students at these institutes would be of the top order.
However, there are Bschools, which have a lower CAT/XAT cutoff but give a higher weightage to parameters like Academic record and Work experience.
Return on Investment (ROI)
The whole idea of doing an MBA is to better your ROI in terms placement package received to the fees paid, as well as the opportunity cost of the two years of doing your MBA.
Is an IIMA or IIMC expensive yes? Their Fees is 15 lacs+. But then so is their placement. However, what if a B-School has fees of 12-14 Lacs but placement is about 5 Lacs. Is it worth it? Can you even repay your education loan?
So a simple calculation is Avg/Median Placement/Fees should be 0.8 or higher.
Quality of Faculty/Faculty-Student ratio
Given that Faculty is the key to what you will learn in a B-School, this is critical parameter. However, it is not easy to judge the quality of faculty. And B-Schools find it very easy to fudge data on faculty student ratio. So what can you do?
1st, consider only teaching faculty, ignore all Academic council and board or advisors etc. They are on the website/brochure for name only and a B-School student may never meet them in 2 years.
2nd, look at qualification from top B-Schools like IIMs, XLRI etc. A PGDM from an IIM is way more value than a PhD from an average university.
3rd look for Corporate Experience. I have a simple rule. If you haven’t practiced management, then you have no business teaching it. Those who learn Management from books tend to teach from books and are out of touch with reality.
Location of the Institute
Barring IIMs and XLRI, the location of the institute does matter. However as you go a bit lower, it matters. Corporates prefer to go to Pune than Bhubaneswar even though XIM Bhubaneswar may be as good or better than SIBM or SCMHRD (in Pune).
If you are choosing an institute that is outside the top 30 brackets, then it may be wise to choose the ones in Mumbai, Bangalore or Delhi/NCR over the ones in other cities.
A corporate friendly location helps in many ways.
- Better quality Part Time faculty and Guest lectures.
- Better Projects and internships
- Better placements
Most important, Finance, HR and Operations are Head office functions and hence, B-Schools in Delhi, Bangalore and Mumbai get more job offers in these areas as compared to B-Schools in other cities.
While the basic infrastructure should include a decent campus, fully equipped (audio and video) classrooms, high speed internet connection, library and computer resources, there is no need for larges acres of land for a Business School.
Unlike an engineering or medical college, there is almost no requirement of any labs (say a computer lab) for a Business School. If the B-School subscribes to the latest journals from across the world and has access to the best databases for getting economic and business data, it would be more than sufficient for the two years of study for a enthusiastic and sincere student.
For example, Jamnalal Bajaj, a top 10 Bschool operates out of 1 building. So does NMIMs. So don’t worry too much about the campus.
RANKING of B Schools
Lastly, Bschool ranking is a specialized task and should be done by experienced people. The best rankings come from CAT training centers like TIME, CL, VistaMind and specialized guidance sites like Career Anna .
Do not trust rankings done by magazines are they seem to be either uninformed or biased (in favor of B-Schools that give full page Ads). Please note that for years IIPM was given favorable rankings by magazines and evenTV channels. And today of course IIPM is dead and buried.
Rahul Reddy, Director
Vanguard Business School
Rahul is an IIMC Alumnus who has worked both in the Corporate (HLL, ONIDA) and Education (TIME, Vanguard B-School) sectors. He has been a practicing manager, Entrepreneur and teacher. As Director Vanguard Bschool, Rahul teaches Marketing and drives the Mentorship program at VBS.
He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
We thank Rahul for taking out time on our request to help the MBA Aspirants take an informed and wise decision on How to select a B School.