MBA has been a cherished dream of most ambitious young people for over half a century. When the IIM's pioneered management education, dozens of other good B-schools established themselves all over the country, offering a wide choice for admissions. And further catering to the growing demand for management education, many mediocre B-schools sprouted everywhere, some of them offering below-average standards, causing frustration to students who invested their time and huge amounts of money to acquire the cherished qualification.
After a shake-out, we have some highly reputed institutes, and the selection process is generally based on ranking in the entrance exams. It is inevitably those who prepare continuously and systematically on how to crack the entrance tests obtain a seat, and not necessarily those who are most deserving and intelligent. Unfortunately, not many students have sufficient information or awareness on how to select the right school for a good management education. Too much emphasis is given on impressive infrastructure, campus recruitment, cut-off ranks or percentages. Rankings of B-schools by many independent surveys and publications vary considerably creating further confusion in the minds of prospective students.
There is no doubt that a post-graduate program in management can certainly boost an individual's career, especially when an individual aspires to take on leadership roles. A domain specialist, hardcore technologist or a professional, who wishes to stick to his expertise, can benefit more by acquiring specialized learning rather than a general MBA.
Similarly, one now has a choice of colleges offering management programs in specific areas as wide as pharmaceuticals, aviation, plantations, petroleum, health care, insurance, media etc. It has been observed that not many candidates are seeking these specialized courses as compared to those in a mad rush to simply acquire an "MBA" at any cost.
There is also significance attached to people with work experience for pursuing management program. Many are of the view that those who go for higher management studies after sufficient work experience, not only know what specialization and which institute to select, but also benefit much more from the course since they can relate their studies to actual work conditions. Most reputed foreign B-schools also give importance to work experience (and in many cases also to extra-curricular work, social causes, and sense of focus of the candidate). Since management education in India has evolved considerably in the past few years, it is no longer true that a foreign degree (barring one from an Ivy League university) has an edge over an Indian one.
A few institutions that have acquired very high reputation continue to face tremendous competition for admissions. There is no harm in any candidate aiming for such top B-schools because the brand name itself ensures a better start in career (though eventually the advantage is not so high after a few years, since performance and track record beats the reputation of the college where a candidate studied). Yet, candidates need to be realistic in their evaluation, and explore various other institutions that are more recent, and hence not as high in reputation, but are making a mark in their respective field. Following are the factors to be given maximum weightage:
ï¿½ Curriculum: particularly its constant upgradation and relevance to industry
ï¿½ Quality of teaching staff, healthy mix of academic and industry background, and the attrition rate of teachers leaving the institution
ï¿½ Location: proximity to corporate establishments, constant interactions, visits, internships and convenience for guest faculty
Personally I would give limited importance to good infrastructure (though not necessarily luxurious buildings and facilities), or the ranking by various surveys. Fees could be criteria only as far as affordability is concerned. Knowing that industry always faces ups and downs, running up huge debts to pay fees would not be advisable. And finally, I am a strong believer that if the B-school provides a good education, its graduate should be able to find a job anywhere in the open market, and hence campus placements should not be a deciding factor in selecting where to study.
The overall scenario is very bright. There are plenty of opportunities and variety to pursue higher education leading to very rewarding careers.. However, as it happens in any area of multiple choices, one needs to be careful in selection. The right course at the right time, with the most suitable specialization from a fairly reputed institute can lay the foundation for many decades of successful career.