How to Choose a B-School

Darpan Saxena (PGP Batch 2017-19)

June 12, 2019

There are about 5 most important B-school admission tests in India. Important in regards to the opportunities they open up for you. And if you have done well in one of them, chances are you would’ve done equally well in a few of the others.

From there arises the problem of plenty. When you have many B-schools to choose from and you don’t know how to select a business school.

I have been one among you’ll who’re reading this right now, most likely trying to figure out How to Choose a business school.

Selecting a business school shouldn’t be hard, normally. But, anxiety coupled with naivety made me skeptical just like you are now.

Sure, while some of the times the options to choose from are pretty distinct and you just know where you should be going. But most of the times, this process of how to choose a B-school is nerve-wrecking.

Determining the right place to spend the next 2 years of your precious youthful life can be taxing.

Now, while selecting a business school has largely been driven by placement figures and the perception of the college, I’m attempting to give a structure to this process.

This thought process of mine comes from my over two years of experience at premier test preparation company where I have seen thousands of students go through the same process of how to choose a B-school.

I have listed below some of the parameters I believe you should use in determining which B-school is right for you.

  1. Placement:  You shouldn’t depend on only what the college quotes as the average salary figure of their placements. Most placement figures are inflated by a figure of anywhere between 1-3 LPA.

    But if I said every business school does it, that would be a bad case of generalisation. The very fact that some B-schools inflate their packages while some don’t (because they are stringently audited by reputed auditors) makes it really important for you to look beyond the placement reports.

    Get in touch with a few of the alums and take a complete overview of the placement scenario in that college.

    Also, check if reputable companies from the particular field you desire have recruited any student from that institution in the past or not. This way, you will have slightly better chances of getting your industry-targeted, niche specific placement.

  2. Alumni Network Size:  Networking is an essential part of MBA you can not take with levity. Consequently, the alumni network is a rich pool of network you can tap into.

    They are sometimes responsible for the companies and live projects coming to the campus. The alumni project the goodwill of the college in the job market. In addition, the reputation of the college built by the effort of the alumni can rub off on you too.

    Therefore, a quick to-do in this regard will be to search LinkedIn for your college name and check all the alums. Read through their LinkedIn profiles and see the kinds of work they are doing, the kinds of companies they have worked at and what body of work have they done.

  3. Batch Size:  Logically, the more people admitted into business school together with you, the more diversified your batch is. There are a lot of people who know a lot of things you don’t even know, which is a great opportunity to learn by meeting them.

    But then, when the batch size is large, the competition amongst your peers is immense which directly affects your placement. Make sure that you compare the business school’s batch strength along with its average package. Choose a college that will not reduce your chances of getting into a good company purely because of the batch strength.

  4. Your Interests and Preferences:   You should understand the subject and field that pique your interest. If you are getting into an IIM, ‘specialization’ in itself doesn’t matter. That’s because at an IIM you usually prepare for a General Management profile.

    B-colleges offer 2 types of programmes:

    • General Management Programme (GMP): Here, students have the flexibility to join any sector, hence, giving access to broad range of placement opportunities. E.g. IIMs, XLRI (BM) etc.

    • Specialized-based Programme (SP):This one caters for a particular sector or specialize in a specific sector. E.g. MICA Ahmedabad, XLRI (HR) etc.

    Always bear in mind that whatever specialization you pick must be such that you enjoy your work.

  5. Fees and ROI:   Carefully analyzing this determines if you will get the right ROI (Return On Investment) or not. If the business school is known for awesome placements, then you may give it a shot. There are many banks that give education loans without attaching stringent conditions you may not be able to meet.

    ROI is calculated by relating how much is spent on acquiring the degree to how much you can make when you start working and earning salaries.

    But, while I mentioned ROI as a point to be considered, I must tell you that a college with a better ROI is not always a better college. I have seen many friends making this mistake of choosing a not so good B-school over a much better B-school just for the sake of ROI.

  6. Infrastructure:  Many students joining the business schools often look through the fact that the college they are going for doesn’t have a campus. This is understandable for a college that started only a couple of years back. But how does one justify it for colleges running for over 8-9 years under reputable brand names?

    It should be a big turn off for any aspirant who is planning to join any such B-school whose hotel is like 9 km away from the campus!

    My stay at IIM Udaipur affirmed this in my head that the campus is the most important part of the quality of life you have at a B-school.I am very sure my memories of the B-school would have been significantly different had we not had such a beautiful campus.

  7. Culture:  This point is extremely understated. But in quite a lot of decisions where the B-schools are really comparable and it’s tough to really differentiate basis the other parameters, culture comes in as a good factor to evaluate on. What is the culture of the B-school like? Is it oriented majorly towards academic excellence or does it allow you to have time for yourself to do the things that you want to do. How do you determine this? You do that basis sub factors such as how many hours of classes are there each day. While IIM Udaipur has around 4 hours of classes each day, most b-schools has it around 9 hours, from morning to evening.

Factors that I didn’t mention

There are two more factors that most people suggest are important factors. Sure, they are but for me they come at the very end of this process of decision making. These factors are: Faculty and Location.

I, personally, haven’t seen or heard off any one joining a business school, out of all the options that the person had, purely on the basis of the quality of the faculty. It could definitely be the perception of the college which makes you believe that they have good faculty but there isn’t much evaluation you can do even if you know who the faculty are.

Secondly, when we are talking of the premier institutions such as the IIMs, XLRI, SP Jain, FMS, I have, again, never seen anyone making a decision hinged upon the location. Location is a parameter best used as an eliminator. That is, when you have two extremely similar B-schools to choose from. In that case you should choose basis the location.

Conclusion

As stated earlier, your entrance exam score is the chief determinant of the B-school you may end up going. But, the fees of the B-schools shouldn’t dissuade you from going for it, since you now have easy access to scholarships from the institutions or loans from banks to finance your education.

Moreover, I would urge you to communicate with the students studying in that B-school. It will not only give you information about the veracity of the facts and figures that the B-school mentions, it will also tell you everything about the culture of the B-school.

I hope you make the BEST choice!

About the Author

Darpan Saxena is a marketer by profession and a blogger by hobby. Darpan is working as a Product Manager at an edu-corporate in New Delhi. He runs a Marketing blog for MBA students, by the name Super Heuristics, which is popular among students of the top B-schools.

He has also worked at a multinational business process outsourcing company in their Marketing & Artificial Intelligence business. He is an engineer by qualification and pursued MBA from Indian Institute of Management (IIM), Udaipur (2017-19).