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The Insider’s Guide To Choosing a B-school

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

An MBA should not only get you employment in a good company but should also make you employable so that you do well at the work place. You should also be able to successfully move to your next job in a couple of years. This means that the B-School needs to build your aptitude and skills & not just impart management theories. Here's what you should keep in mind while selecting your B-school

By Akhil Shahani, Director of the Shahani Group and Thadomal Shahani Centre for Management (TSCFM)

A recent study reveals that 90 per cent of Indian MBA students are not ‘industry ready’ by the time they graduate. This means that after spending two years of their lives and lakhs in fees, MBA students are no better than their contemporaries who have just done a bachelors degree. No wonder many companies are hiring more undergraduates for the jobs originally given to MBAs.

The problem is that many colleges use academicians to teach business. They have never worked in the corporate world themselves and cannot teach through experience. So they are limited to rote teaching via textbooks and powerpoint. This is like asking a vegetarian to explain how to make the best butter chicken! So what should you look for?

Rankings Mean Nothing:
Business school rankings are great money-spinners for magazines. After listing the top 10 which contain the usual IIMs, XLRI, FMS etc. other positions usually go to the highest bidder. This is why you see such a variation in B-School magazine rankings. So if you aren’t part of the 1 per cent who get into the top 10, do not blindly choose the next 10. Research online to find out a college’s real reputation among students and companies. Check the college’s Facebook page to see what activities they are doing. Connect with some of the students on social media to see how they like their college.

Placements, Placements, Placements:
Often B-schools talk about the jobs their students have got. Many large finance, insurance and retail companies hire second tier MBA students for low paying sales jobs, which also go to fresh undergraduates. Don’t get fooled by this type of placement profile. Dig deeper to see if their graduates have got high quality internships and jobs. Sometimes, a smaller company will give you the chance to get more responsibility and higher salary than an entry-level job in a large company. Insist on speaking to an alumnus of the college. Ask them how helpful the college placement department was in getting their job.

Industry Exposure:
The amount of industry exposure students get while doing their MBAs is also an indicator of how well they will do in the corporate world on graduation. Check with the college on how many classes do industry professionals teach? How many industry visits or guest lectures do students get per semester? Does the course reflect the latest industry developments or are they still using new editions of old textbooks?

International Focus:
A typical B-School graduate would be working for at least 40 years. Today’s connected world means that they should be ready to do business across cultures in any country. Many multinationals prize managers with foreign experience. Check how internationally focused your prospective B-School is.  Do they have global case studies? Foreign faculty coming to teach? International study tours? Tie-ups with foreign universities? Also, many Indian PGDBMs are not recognized outside of India. Check with the college if their Diploma or Degree is recognized globally.

Innovative Teaching Methods:
An old saying goes, “I hear and I forget; I see and I remember ; I do and I understand.”  The closer your B-School experience matches life in the corporate world, the better you will learn. There are no textbooks and exams in real life. Managers learn through dealing with constant challenges. Check what sort of teaching methods are used by your prospective B- School. Are there only lectures or do they also teach through simulations, games, industry visits, live projects and other action focused learning? Are they using the latest technology like online collaboration or social media. Is evaluation only through written exams or live company projects?

Your choice of B school will play a major role in your future career success. The bottom line is that you shouldn’t blindly follow the herd and join a business school just because you’ve seen the ads or rankings. Make the effort to do your own research and make the choice that is right for you!

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