Here are some important points that will help students to choose the right B-School.
Recently, two months back, I was planning to buy a pair of sports shoes. As everyone does these days, I too first browsed Flipkart, Amazon, Snapdeal, Jabong and few other e-commerce sites to perform an initial virtual window-shopping. Only then I learnt that simple sports shoes are no more only sports shoes but sports shoes are of different types viz. running shoes, walking shoes, football shoes, badminton shoes, basketball shoes, hiking and trekking shoes, boxing shoes, tennis shoes, training and gym shoes and more than such 20 different types of sports shoes only. I was totally shocked and confused. When I was in school it used to be only one type of white canvas shoes, which used to be my running shoes, football shoes, cricket shoes, gym shoes and everything. These days, it's different sports shoes for different sporting activity. This made me to think to narrow down my requirement and to be very specific about “Why do I need sports shoes now or what is the purpose of me buying a sports shoes?” The answer was very simple and it was for walking purpose. Now I knew my purpose/objective very well.
I re-visited these e-commerce sites but with the specific objective set in my mind that I’m buying walking shoes. I clicked on walking shoes, this time it listed down the options according to the relevancy. Since it was not listed in descending or ascending order of prices, the relevancy listing showed varying prices from Rs.300 shoes to Rs.1, 00,000! I was again shocked to see shoes priced so high. I never imagined there could be shoes so highly priced and it was even more shocking to see that someone who was verified as the customer had rated and reviewed. It means that not only there are such costly shoes but there are customers too, to buy such highly priced shoes. This made me think again and listed in ascending order of shoe prices. Now, the shoes priced low were listed first and those priced high were listed last which I didn’t even bother to check. Once again, at this stage, I refined my objective to “I want to buy walking shoes, price ranging between Rs.1000 to Rs.1500”. I did not wish to spend too much on walking shoes. Narrowing down to this specificity eased my decision making of buying my sports shoes. Though after initial virtual window shopping almost for 15 days, I bought it offline in Bata showroom as I wanted to feel them before buying, and of course, y wife also insisted that I do wear and feel fine before buying.
Just to decide upon a pair of walking shoes, I had spent a month’s time in carrying out online and offline research. Hope you guessed what my next question would be. Imagine the efforts, energy and resources required and expected from you to choose a right B-school. I would like to guide you, help you to an extent only, through this article. But finally its horse which has to drink the water, I can only take the horse to water. Before I start my guide, I would like to assume certain aspects like you have sufficient time on-hand before you finalize upon your B-school.
There is definitely a difference between joining some B-school without doing any research and joining after doing some sort of information gathering. This type of decision making would be on the basis of rational thinking and not on what we love to call as ‘gut feeling’. This article explains the five-step process of rationally choosing the right B-School:
ii) Information gathering
v) Choosing the right B-School
As in the case of buying a pair of shoes, best step to start with is to set your objective. Be as specific as possible. You should know your limitations and potential obstacles. But let them not overpower your wish or objective. For ex.: If you are a girl/lady searching for right B-school as a stop-gap arrangement between your completion of graduation and marriage, then choices are limited as the objective is different from a girl searching for right B-school for her long-term career perspective. Her entire life would be dependent on that decision. Objective differs from aspirant to aspirant but it should be clear. Do not let the objective be a B-school with cheap tuition fees as pursuing a management course is not same as selecting a pair of shoes. There are many students who are confident about this aspect. Come what may, they make up their mind that - I want to pursue my MBA/PGDM in INSEAD, Singapore only or in ISB, Hyderabad or in NUS, Singapore only or in IIMA only or in Acharya Bangalore B-School only etc.
Such confidence is required at this stage and does not forget this is going to decide your entire future. Tuition fees should be your secondary objective or no objective at all. If you feel your bank can provide you educational loan to a large extent, then you should never consider tuition fees as an objective at all. Once you complete your MBA in the good reputed institute, you can return your loan (investment) as soon as possible as students from such good institutes always end up with jobs with quite fat pay-cheques. So, if you ask me, investing on tuition fees of good B-School should never be a constraint at all. Rather it should be getting into best of B-schools irrespective of tuition fees.
Once you decide your objective, next step is to carry out an extensive information gathering process from all the sources that you can think of. The very fact that you are reading this article shows that you have are moving in right direction with respect to collecting information. I will mention few good information sources which you can target for your mission. Few sources, not an exhaustive list, are: a) Google for articles in highly reputed magazines and sites on selecting right B-school; b) talk to your seniors, relatives and acquaintances who have completed MBA/PGDM from best B-schools or pursuing in one; c) attend educational ‘melas’ on career choices where most of the institutes would showcase themselves and provide free counseling and guidance; d) look at various B-school rankings published by so many reputed magazines and educational sites;
e) Your teachers and coaching centre counsellors etc. You should know what to filter and how to filter the information so that finally it helps by providing you with proper information. From the information gathered you should now at least be in a position to decide upon the criteria that you are going to adapt to select the right B-School.
Different magazines who publish rankings of B-schools basically rank using a certain set of criteria. These criteria will definitely be best ones for you to consider to judge a B-School. At the same time, you should keep in mind that you should have independent thinking and consider these criteria given by magazines only as supporting tools and should not be totally influenced by them. Finally, you should have your own set of criteria. Some of the criteria which you might have considered on your own and if not, criteria which you should be considering even without looking into magazines are:
a) Faculty: the Intellectual quotient of B-school is more important than placements. I strongly believe in the fact that placements are a by-product of good faculty intellectual capacity of any institution. I also believe that it implicitly gets reflected on the face of students too, in the form of CONFIDENCE.
b) Placements: do Definitely placements should be one of the criteria but not the only criteria. This is because there are institutes where the placement office does bring in several companies on campus as part of their drive, but students would not perform and the placement performance of that institute suffers. Placements is like clapping, you need two hands to clap. So, for placements to happen students’ performance also matters. So, at this point, just ask yourself “Do you need complete support of placements or just a gentle push that would help you fly on your own?” I hope you would need only a gentle push. What you should be looking at, with respect to placements is what kind of companies are visiting the campuses for placements.
c) Infrastructure: Infrastructure with respect to library, hostel, canteen, food, IT network, sports and gym facilities, transportation facility. This is sum total of comfort you get if you select that institute, to pursue the course smoothly. High comfort levels help you to concentrate on your sole purpose and that is – to get placed or to start your own venture.
d) Location: of late, I have come to conclusion that the place you pursue would definitely increase the chances of you getting placed in a better way. So, do consider location as one of your criteria.
e) Tuition Fees: Tuition fees should be the last criteria as per me. This is because several banks provide you educational loan for you to pursue in institution of your choice. In fact, banks will also be willing to take risks by providing loans of higher amount if the institution is well-known, reputed and branded institution. So, aim for reputed institution and tuition fees will fall in place by default. There could be, well, several other criteria you can consider but these are the ones which will make easy for you to judge and are easy ones to collect data on.
From the information gathering process, you might have collected information with respect to the criteria that we had listed in the previous section about few institutes which are on your radar. Filter/screen the institutes as per the criteria that you have chosen. It is advised to have at least five institutes as your alternatives/choices. Screening of the institutes and to filter down to only five from the list of thousands of institutes is a difficult but necessary task. This is the reason why information gathering process must be rigorous and thorough. Let us say, you have shortlisted five to six institutes from the list of thousands of institutes, next step is to evaluate these five to six institutes on the basis of criteria you have chosen. Either you should be doing it mentally or put that in a sort of matrix form as shown below:
- Tuition Fee
Choosing the Right B-School
There are two ways of, as I can think of, going about choosing the right B-school. One way is by collecting sufficient information regarding this five institute with regards to the five criteria: faculty, placements, infrastructure, location, tuition fees. You should be getting this information from all the sources like magazines, friends, relatives etc. Then evaluate on the basis of collected information using the matrix given in the previous section. Give them points on a scale of 1 to 10 and whichever institute scores high, you can be sure it must be the right choice. This is a rational and scientific method. But if it looks too theoretical then there is the second method which is highly practical and recommended.
The second method of evaluating these five to six institutes is to personally visit them even if they are located across the width and length of India. It would be slightly expensive but I can assure you that it would be worth it. Visiting the campuses and getting a feel of an institute makes decision-making process of choosing the right B-School very convincing and easy too. Better to visit the campuses and to talk to existing students and authorities.
There you are, in the right place to pursue your MBA. If you have not followed these five steps thoroughly, though not exactly in the manner that I have written, then, may be, you have ended up in a wrong place. I’m sure, following these steps, not necessarily in the manner presented in this article, in your own way would certainly land you up in one of the best B-schools and you pass out with the best offer letter in your hand. Happy MBA!!
Article Written by Prof. Ellur Anand, who is an Associate Professor in Acharya Bangalore B-School, Bangalore.