Gear up for an international MBA


Gear up for an international MBA

The dust is just settling on this year’s MBA admissions and students have already started gearing up for the next admissions cycle. There are various options with respect to management courses. The fundamental decision that needs to be taken is whether to pursue the course in India or abroad.

If you are planning to pursue an international MBA, then again there is a whole lot of planning to be done specifically for this purpose.
Before starting your preparation, you need to have a certain amount of clarity on your immediate goals and what you hope to achieve with an MBA degree.

Several questions come up with respect to selecting the right college — which specialisation do you wish to pursue; where would you want to study; what is the kind of student profile in the college you choose; what is your budget; would you want to work in that country after your MBA; what are the visa rules and immigration policies?

Here’s a quick overview of the general application and admissions process.

Application process

Almost all colleges outside India require GMAT scores as a part of the application process. GMAT stands for Graduate Management Admission Test, and it tests students on Maths (Quantitative) and English (Verbal). It is a computer adaptive test which can be taken throughout the year. Some colleges additionally require TOEFL and IELTS scores. A few colleges also accept GRE scores. Your first priority would be to do these tests well.

Most international MBA programmes require you to write anywhere between 3-6 essays. These essays are used to understand your goals and personality. The essays are a very important part of the application process. Additionally, each college will also require references for your candidature. Most colleges prefer students with a minimum of 2-3 years of work experience. Colleges look for people with diverse profiles so that they add to the diversity of their student profile and add value to the class discussions.

Admissions are conducted in cycles. Colleges usually have two or three cycles of admissions. Each cycle will have a deadline to submit the applications (this will include  GMAT scores, essays, recommendations and other information that is a part of the admissions form). Those who are shortlisted are then interviewed and admission decisions are made.

Choosing a college

You need to research the different colleges in different parts of the world and the courses that they offer. Many students take the help of educational consultants to get this information. However, most information is also available on the internet. There are several online forums which provide a lot of information about colleges and courses.

Another way to get information would be to attend MBA fairs. Many college representatives travel to India to attract students to their colleges. MBA fairs are occasions for prospective students to meet representatives of colleges to learn more about the courses on offer.

Interact with both alumni as well as current students of the colleges which you have shortlisted. Contact information is usually available on college websites.  A logical way of going about college selection is to start with the basic location preference: which countries would you want to study in and why? There are 3-4 major destinations that can be considered — America, Europe, Asia and Australia.

In each region, a student can look for colleges which fit his/her profile and budget. The rankings, published by various magazines, are often used to aid college selections.
Many colleges are reputed for courses in certain areas like marketing, finance, entrepre-neurship etc. If you have a clear idea as to what you want to do, then it simplifies the college selection process.

Money matters

Funding is another major concern. Most MBA courses tend to be very expensive. You need to think about how you are going to fund your education. If the college offers scholarships, information such as the amount of scholarship granted and the scholarship criteria will come in handy.

You would also need to consider the social and economic climate of the country where you wish to study.  The entire exercise of college selection is to find a few colleges where there is a good fit between what you are looking for and what the colleges expect from their students. It must be a case of each benefitting from the other. At the end of this exercise, potential candidates will have a list of colleges where they wish to apply to.

This list would usually consist of some dream colleges (those that might be beyond your reach), some safe colleges (not your first choice, but you stand a relatively good chance of admission) and some good fit (optimal) colleges.

Recommendations and essays

If you thought this was a lot of work, the next phase of the application process is even harder!  Essays and recommend-ations form an important part of the application process. Essays tell the college panel more about the applicant. The topics usually revolve around your goals, career progression, leadership skills and reasons for pursuing an MBA. The aim of the essays is to find if your profile fits the needs of the college.

The more diverse your profile, the better your chances of bagging a seat. IIT graduates form a major chunk of the applicants and are by far the most competitive applicant pool. If you fall into this category, you need to justify how you are different from the rest. Most essays would require you to quote instances and experiences from your life to substantiate your views.

Recommendations form another important part of the application process. Recomm-endation questions are usually directly sent to the reviewers you nominate. It is advised to select recommenders who have actually worked with you and know you well. This is because many questions tend to be detailed and need a good understanding of the candidate. It is advisable that you choose recommenders from your work place. The recommenders must be superiors, and peers are usually not favoured.

The entire process of higher education is a very thought intense experience. It is disappointing that many students do not pre-empt some of the issues discussed here and end up making the wrong choices.

Why pursue an international MBA?

*Exposure: You will get to interact with people with different world views.

*Better faculty and facilities: Many colleges have very good faculty and excellent infrastructure. This will aid in better learning.

*Diversity: Since the class would consist of people from different cultures, the learning would be much more wholesome.

*Different approach: Innovative teaching methodologies do foster better learning.

* Cross-cultural learning: This provides an opportunity to learn about different cultures to enable you to work in cross-cultural domains. nOpportunity to work abroad

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