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10 Parameters to evaluate before selecting the right Business School

24 May 2017 | Business Blog

The task of choosing a right Business-School has become even more difficult today because there is no standard parameter or universally acceptable criteria in our country. Of late, a number of surveys have been carried out by leading magazines which further aggravate confusion in the minds of the student.

Management courses in India were synonymous with IIMs, this was the scenario of Management education, about 25 years ago. With time several good Business-Schools have emerged to cater to the growing population of Management. The reason is that, these institutes offer innovative courses to satisfy the needs of all sections of students. The well-known management institutes of India i.e. Indian Institutes of Management (IIMs), the Management departments of various IITs, NITIE, and various other government universities offer MBA/ PGDM degree/ Diploma courses. Some other reputed and favorites of Management aspirants are FMS Delhi, Indian Institute of Foreign Trade (IIFT) New Delhi and Kolkata, MDI Gurgaon, JBIMS (Mumbai University). Majority of Management institutes fall under this category. Some of the other leading private Management institutes are XLRI Jamshedpur, IMT Ghaziabad / Hyderabad / Nagpur, IMI New Delhi, SPJIMR Mumbai, and FORE School of Management, New Delhi.

Besides the above, there are about more than 3000 management institutes in India. In the present scenario, the way by which a mushroom growth of MBA/PGDM schools has occurred, it has become very important to understand your needs and select the right business school.

Since you will be spending a lot in your management programme, it is important for you to select the right Business-School. The question arises, How can we differentiate between these schools? How to search and choose the appropriate management institute for yourself

Following are the 10 parameters laid down by Dr. Anupam Narula, Marketing Faculty of FORE School of Management, New Delhi which every student should critically analyze.

Step 1: In-depth analysis of your goal
It is very important to know your inward appeal and motivation for taking up Management course. Are you a career switcher or a career progresser? Is a hike in salary more important to you or do you need international experience?

Is your goal to broaden your mental horizons through education or to hone your skills for career enhancement? Answers to these questions are very important while selecting a Business-School. It will help you chalk out the type of career you like to pursue vis-a-vis your interest. Once you are clear about your career options, then self-assessment of your abilities and skills come into prominence.

After becoming aware of every aspect of your strength and weakness, then investigate the B-Schools’ area of specialization in relation to your career goal. It brings companies to campus to recruit students with desired specialization. See which B-Schools are famous for the specialization you wish to pursue in your Management. Does it fulfill your requirements?

Step2: Accreditation
Out of the 3,500-odd B-Schools in the country, just over 1,000 are accredited B-Schools. Accreditation assures quality education, financial aid opportunities and credit transfer etc. There are higher chances of getting a job in reputed companies if you are a student from an accredited B-School.

The quality of education in these schools is much better than unaccredited schools. Without accreditation by the national recognized organizations such as AICTE, AIU, statutory body of the University Grants Commission, the institute is not eligible to participate in government student assistance programmes. You can’t opt for PhD or any research work if the institution is not accredited and your degrees will not be recognized, they won't hold much value especially if you're seeking jobs in the public sector.

Step 3: Profile of Faculty
The quality of education solely depends on the caliber of the faculty members, so the profile of Faculty assumes a greater significance while choosing a B-School. It plays a pivotal role in preparing a student to face the challenges of real life and come out triumphantly.

You can get information about the faculty from the institute’s website and brochure. All institutes have detailed profiles of their permanent and visiting faculty members. The permanent faculty members are usually academicians with or without industry exposure, who impart theoretical knowledge to students whereas visiting faculty are normally working professionals who provide students with the necessary exposure to the practical way of working. Find out how often these faculty visit and the hours they devote to the institute. A good institute needs a blend of faculty - academicians with industryinterface or exposure.

Step 4: Pedagogy and Curriculum
One of the key strengths of the B-Schools is the variety and flexibility in the teaching pedagogy used to infuse the scope for innovation and experimentation. Blend of course learning requirements as well as the overall focus of the management programme is important.

So check the teaching pedagogy whether it combines lecture cum discussions, cases, simulations & games, role plays, self-learning projects, field visits, Brain storming group projects and also independent research etc or not. A good Management institute teaches you how to think, cross functional competence, functional domain knowledge and team work.

Step 5: Infrastructure
Infrastructure is important but it should not be the sole criteria in selecting a B-School. A five-star ambience is not required. You want a B-School to study, not a resort to enjoy. See the usage statistics for electronic resources.

A ‘Prowess’ (a database on listed Indian companies) has nothing to do if half of the faculty does not know how to use it. A well-stocked library, a modern computer center with the latest hardware and software are prerequisite for a management institution. Besides this, hostel, mess, playground, well-equipped first-aid facility to be considered before choosing a B-School.

Step 6: Enticements
In the age of cut- throat competition, institutions have made enticements one of the important tools to attract students. Enticements include giving laptops, text books, free lunch and taking for few days on foreign tours (which they call Study Tours!!).

Don’t let yourself carried away by these kinds of freebies because at the end of the day they will make you pay. Do research to avoid swindlers. Don’t let attractive advertisements make house in your mind. See the veracity of advertisement before any move. In addition to it, never select a B-School by its ranking because it varies to a great extent. There is no authentic body in India doing a survey of the best B-schools.

Step 7: Scholarships
It is important to look for a scholarship scheme while choosing a B-School because management education is getting costlier every year. So, availability of bank loans coupled with scholarship schemes will make even costly programmes affordable to the common student. Students are advised to make enquiries about funding options.Does a B-School offer guaranteed loans with low interest-rates? Do you need a co-signer to get loan sanctioned? Does the institute have a tie-up with banks? What are the scholarship options?

Step 8: Placements and Alumni
Placements do matter but it should not be the only criteria in selecting a B-School. Do not consider B-Schools as placements agencies! B-Schools are responsible for imparting knowledge and preparing you to deliver in an adverse position.

Ask institutes for names of companies that visit their campus and the number of placements in each year. If they give you name of companies that do not come regularly, be cautious. An institute that gives you a detailed list and claim placements up to a decent percentage is the one to look out for. 100 per cent placement may be a myth with students dropping out or not eligible for sitting in placements. Even IIMs may not provide 100% placements.

Management Development Programmes (MDPs) are a very good indicator of future placements. It establishes good relation between corporate and academics. Higher and well-attended MDP indicates that the faculty is sought after by firms, the potential recruiters.

Alumni are the mirror of any institute; the profile of alumni determines the reputation of an institute and makes it stand tall. Find out who have already graduated from the institute and see what they have to say. They can give you invaluable information as well as suggestions that you will not get from anywhere. See whether there are enough alumni in your field of interest. If you are not satisfied with the profile of alumni, be cautious.

Step 9: International Exposure
In the era where businesses have become global, International exposure is the key to success in today's economy. It is important for students to appreciate cultural differences and gain insights on foreign policies. This gives them a better understanding of the global marketplace. Premier B-schools have an international recognition and build international networks with partner institutions to give students an opportunity to study for one/two terms at other leading business schools through exchange programmes. Students who come from other countries during an exchange programme bring a unique flavor to the campus with graduate degrees in various fields and international work experience which add to the diversity and peer group learning. This intercultural dimension provides real life practice of professional situations requiring to manage multi-cultural teams or multi-site projects. Check the MOU/ bi-lateral agreement of B-school with foreign Institutes.

Step 10: Campus Life
Campus life is very important. It plays an important role in instilling versatility into a student's character. Before choosing a B-School, one has to look at the student community, their profiles, work experience and background. A good institute should have a healthy mix of people. If you take classes with a diverse group of students, it will give you an opportunity to befriend people from different backgrounds. This social interaction can enhance your overall academic experience and help you develop social skills you will need to be successful in your career. Moreover, it helps add value to the course by way of different perspectives the students bring with them.Education is not only about classroom learning but also taking responsibility, getting involved and managing events. These extracurricular activities help evolve the character to the full bloom. However, a good part of management education involves team work including a large number of team projects. It means that if other students at the institute are of high quality and caliber, then the learning process would be richer. In the nutshell, campus life provides environment for the seed of talent to be sprouted.

Beware of illegal rules like no refunds, submitting of original mark sheets and degrees and impossible withdrawal deadlines. The only document the institute can rightfully hold is your migration and character certificate.

“As for selecting a Management Institute, Seeing is believing”. Visit the campus, visiting a campus before taking the admissions gives you an idea, whether the institute fulfills all the above parameters or not.

Now the question arises….
Will the right Management Institute choose you?

Getting admission to B-School is not one way but a two way process. Along with you choosing the best management institute, the institute should also choose you. As each and every institute wants to have the best brains. All of you have been dreamed about and would like to join the top management institutes but what if you don’t get selected by these institutes?

Dear aspirants, the fact is that, everyone wants to get through IIMs but the top Management institute doesn’t have enough number of seats to cater to all the management aspirants of India so, if you can’t make it to IIMs, it would be a wise decision to join a good Management Institute, which is AICTE and AIU approved and have good ROI and proves to be good on the above ten parameters.

Prof. Anupam Narula, is associated with FORE School of Management, New Delhi as a faculty Marketing. His area of interest being, Consumer Buying Behavior, Service Marketing, International Marketing, Indian higher Education. He is on the Editorial review board of two International and three national journals. He conducts Management Development and Faculty Development programmes in the area of his expertise.

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