Tips to choose the right B-School

Tips to choose the right  B-School

Many bright young graduates seeking admission in B schools have a typical thought process of many MBA aspirants in India. They either look up the net or discuss it with their study group.

There’s a problem of plenty. With 3,500 schools offering about 4,00,000 seats annually, quality has taken a severe beating forcing one-in-eight seats to go empty. Only the top 3% of B-schools that guarantee good infrastructure, faculty, academic rigour, and placement.

A structured and well-researched shortlisting of B-schools can be valuable in minimizing possible dissonance after joining a school. One can ill afford such mistakes given the steady rise in cost of MBA, bank loans to finance the degree, and the lost earnings for students with work experience.

A typical B-school shortlisting process starts with a study of rankings published by the MBA prep schools that most aspirants go to. This list is compared with popular online forums. A second-opinion, though infrequently, is sought from business magazines to generate a final list of about six B-schools. But, before applying to these schools, here are some pointers.

n  First, visit the school in person. It is a great opportunity to get a first hand experience of the place you could be spending two important years of your life in. While at the school, drop into a few classrooms, visit the library, auditorium, and the administrative block as you take in the buzz of the place from the notice boards. You’d like to go to a school with minimum ‘gap’ between your actual experience and what is shown in the admission brochure.

n  Second, connect with the alumni. Many B-schools have dedicated social media links. Good ones have comprehensive newsletters. Though you should chat with the students while on campus visit, you’d get a more balanced opinion from alumni. But, be on guard to discount extreme comments. 

n  Third, seek most recent placement data. Industry is the largest consumer of the B-school graduates. Therefore, this is a fairly reliable yardstick of recruiter perception of the school’s value-for-money. In the placement data, look for recruiter diversity across functions, industries, sectors, and geography. Check if a majority of the marquee recruiters listed in the admission brochure has indeed recently recruited from the school. And, be wary of institutes that don’t share the latest placement data despite follow up.

n  Finally, do your math on the cost. A popular measure is ‘payback’ – or how soon the degree would pay for itself. The measure is a usually a function of tuition fees and gross salary at the time of graduation. Computed this way, payback for tier-1 schools averages at 3 years. But this is far from the truth as the computation suffers from three fundamental flaws. While not capturing all costs (tuition, loan interest, lost salary), this method ignores the time value of money – notion that money is worth more now than it is in future.

Also, the entire gross earnings are committed to repayment but in reality only post-tax, take home is to be reckoned. Adjusting for these, payback for tier-1 schools averages at least 8 years.

Because an MBA could be the last formal education for many aspirants, a structured and objective process in shortlisting of B-schools will pay rich dividends.

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