This is the time of the year where you find lots of notifications from various B Schools. Some of them just give the exam date and ask you to apply (like the very reputed IIMs) and there are many others who would desperately try to sell themselves by crying hoarse over why they are the best in this area or that.
It definitely is a Herculean task to ensure that you sift through the humungous amount of data and/or claim that is provided by each B School and then selecting the correct one for you.
Selecting a B School also appears insurmountable as there are no universally accepted parameters that one can use to measure the 'worth' of one B-School against another. The idea of this article is to give you some method by which you can make sense out of the madness.
There are many a time (read everyday), when my students call me ask how is such and such (let's call it X) institute? When I tell them that X is a good institute, they are not at all happy to let go. The next inevitable question is - What is the average package at X? Well here they are clearly asking what they would get as a salary package at the end of two years so that they can take a decision whether the amount is lucrative enough or not.
One sincere advice I would like to give here to all students is that these B Schools including of course our IIMs are not Placement Agencies. Though it looks like the only purpose why you want to get into an MBA (well, well, I know some of you have grandiose plans), it is important to note that the placements of the last season are not the only indication of a good B School. However, the first criterion that is always taken into account before taking a final decision would probably be the Placement Track Record of that School.
While a large number of B-schools claim to have achieved a 100% placement record for their students, the best way to find out is to talk to some of the students / alumni of the institute.
That said, let's see what it is that makes a difference to ensuring that you are well placed once you have completed your MBA.
Two major factors come readily to mind - Faculty and Student Quality.
Often, what distinguishes a really good institute from a not-so-good institute is the Quality of people who train the students. Management institutes have a mix of full-time and part-time faculty members. The full-time faculty members are usually academicians and researchers who give students the theoretical foundation that is necessary to make them good management professionals. Part-time faculty members are normally from industry and provide students with the necessary exposure to 'real life'. In addition, the faculty members who either use Case Studies from situations that they have encountered in their work Or make students to go through live projects in their courses make sure that the quality inputs are provided to the budding managers.
However, in some of the lower rung management institutes, the quality of the faculty members would be abysmal as these institutes are unable to attract good talent either because of remuneration or reputation (rather lack of it!)
It is but natural that to supplement the teaching, students get access to good support facilities, or in other words: Infrastructure. A well-stocked library, a modern computer centre with the latest software and hardware, and a set of well furnished classrooms are a must for any B-School worth its salt. We see now-a-days that a two storied building with a few classrooms carry themselves as top class B Schools. It is therefore very imperative that you check the Infrastructure facilities at the School that you plan to join.
A very important parameter that you have to consider before selecting is the kind of Student Quality that a particular B School has. Though is it not in your control to be able to do that, it is easy to decide that depending on the percentile scores that these institutes take for selection. As a thumb rule, the higher the percentile cutoff for a B School the higher the chances of this B School being better than the one that takes students at a lower cutoffs. Exceptions to this rule could be those institutes which also give heavy weightage to Work Experience and Past Academic record like IIM Bangalore and SP Jain Mumbai.
Another parameter that can be looked at while deciding a B School with all other things being same is the availability of Hostel/Residential facilities. The real learning at a B School occurs after the class hours where the peer to peer interaction is very high, projects, presentations, seminars and a host of extra and co curricular activities are planned in the after class hours. The interaction during this time also builds a lot of rapport and gives a chance for learning more from the experiences of the peers.
And last, but certainly not the least, is the Reputation of the institute. The reputation that the institute enjoys, especially among potential recruiters, is another factor that you should look at. While a company may not visit a campus regularly, or might not have visited in the last couple of years, if the company thinks that the institute is a good place to recruit from, you can be sure that the next time there is a requirement, the company will be back to that campus.
I hope this will give you some parameters to look for before taking a decision to apply and then finally to join any institute.
(ARKS Srinivas, Director, T.I.M.E. Mumbai)