Albeit late, but the admission process for MBA/MMS program has started in Maharashtra. Big relief for MBA aspirants and to MBA Institutes too. We are all aware that even if the Institutes start in January the MBA course will be delayed by at least 2-3 months for the batch 2021-23. While interacting with the walk-in MBA aspirants who visited the campus for general inquiry, I understood few of them were confused about whether to take a drop or take admission this year. In my opinion, for a 4-semester course delay of 2-3 months in completing the course is not a big issue. Most of the companies ask the students to join in June which may be delayed by 2-3 months. Therefore, the students should now focus more on doing their research to finalize their choice of Institute. Being in academia for the last 17 years, I thought of sharing my views which may help the aspirants in choosing the right business school for them.
It will be prudent to envision your career path post-MBA before you select your b-school. Some of you may want to pursue a corporate job while others may want to start their business. You may also want to start your business after working for a short stint of 4-5 years with corporate. This will help you pick up the right course or the right b-school where the foundation for your career path could be laid down well.
The following aspects are indicators of quality education in a business school:
- Quality of faculty – qualifications and experience, teaching pedagogies
- Placement training and life skilling – Industry – academia interface and co-curricular activities
- Courses/specializations offered
- Life on campus – Infrastructure and extra-curricular activities
- Quality of faculty – qualifications and experience, teaching pedagogies:
This is the most important aspect of a successful b-school. The aspirants should check the qualifications of the faculty teaching in the b-school. Although AICTE mandates MBA with 1st class as the minimum qualification for the faculty’s position; it’s an added flavor to the teaching-learning processes if some of the faculty have done MBA/PG courses from top b-schools like IIMs, etc. MBA is a career and skill-oriented program. The industry experience definitely comes in handy and makes classes interesting for any faculty teaching in a b-school. The students should also check about the teaching methodologies used by the faculty to deliver the courses. The best b-schools use interactive and participative pedagogies like case discussions, presentations, simulations, videos, classroom activities and exercises, experience sharing by industry people, etc. Now, the question is where do you check these details? The Institute website is the best source of information. Most of the Institutes showcase the faculty profiles on their websites. You can also check the prospectus or enquire with some of your senior students studying/studied in the Institute.
- Placement training and life skilling – Industry – academia interface and co-curricular activities:
The students look forward to building a career incorporates or start their own business or join a family business after their MBA. The corporates follow a particular process while hiring a Master of Business Administration graduates on campus. The process includes a combination of aptitude tests, group discussions (GD), personal interviews, etc. These initial rounds require a separate preparation which may or may not be a part of the curriculum. The students should definitely check what the b-school does to make the MBA graduates corporate ready. Only the classroom learning may not sufficient to give a practical understanding of business and the challenges involved therein. Most of the top b-schools have a strong Industry-Academia interface which ensures the interaction of the students with top business leaders through seminars, workshops, guest lectures, internships, and events and conferences. Students can seek the information on these aspects on the Institute website in the news and events column, or the website may have a separate tab for this.
The placement record of the Institute is another strong indicator of the inputs and training given to students. Most of the Institutes display their records in terms of percentage of students placed, highest package, average package, no. of companies, details of companies visiting the campus, etc. Out of these parameters, the highest package could be a misleading factor as very few students (countable on fingers) would have got placed with this package. The aspirants should look at the percentage of students placed and the average package offered more than anything else. If you are keen on a specific sector, then looking at the companies visiting on campus is also advised.
MBA or any master’s degree is a turning point as most of us don’t come back to the formal education system after a Masters’s degree. Life’s challenges are much more difficult sometimes than the challenges involved in your career. Rather it’s important to balance other aspects of life with your career. Holistic development is a buzz word nowadays and involves training the students to handle and balance other challenges of life while pursuing their career. Students should definitely check if the b-school offers opportunities for life skilling. Best b-schools also work on the Emotional Quotient (EQ) and Spiritual Quotient (SQ) of the students while sharpening their Intellectual Quotient (IQ).
- Courses/specializations offered:
Most of the Institutes offer conventional specializations like Marketing, Finance, and Human Resource Management (HRM). But if you are looking for contemporary streams like Supply Chain Management, Business Analytics, or sector-specific specializations like Retail Management, Agribusiness Management, Healthcare Management, etc.; then you must check the website and ascertain that these specializations are offered by the Institute.
One should also check about the electives being offered within the specializations and flexibility for cross-discipline electives or dual specializations (i.e major-minor combinations). If the Institute is offering multidisciplinary courses in music, performing arts, mathematics, home science, etc. and you want to pursue your hobbies, and they are good in all other aspects, then it’s the icing on the cake.
- Life on campus – Infrastructure and extra-curricular activities:
2 years of your active life are important and you should enjoy the learnings on campus. Only academic classes without any recreation or cultural activities or management events could be boring. Look for a college that gives space for your creativity and hobbies through extra-curricular and cultural events. Check the infrastructure of the college by personally visiting the college or in the photo gallery on the website. A good b-school will have well-equipped classrooms, library, auditorium, residential accommodation, cafeteria, indoor and outdoor games facilities, etc
It is worth visiting the campus and interacting with the senior batch of the b-school to understand these details in particular and their experience at the Institute. Definitely check the notice boards as those are reflections of what is happening in the Institute. You will find a lot of information on notice boards.
Also check the vision and mission of the top management and constitution of various bodies like the Governing Board, Advisory Board, Board of studies, etc. Your overall impression of the details and the approach of the Institute in communicating the information on the website is also a good indicator of the quality of education being imparted by the Institute.
There are 2 major bodies that accredit academic Institutions for quality. A) National Assessment and Accreditation Council (NAAC) and the National Board of Accreditation (NBA). A good grade in NAAC or NBA accreditation is fairly a good indicator of some standards of academic quality in the Institute. Another good indicator of quality is the National Institutional Ranking Framework (NIRF) ranking. There are many private publications that publish B-school rankings every year. If you look at these rankings, you will get confused as different publications would put different Institutes under the top 50 B-school category. I would advise the students not to heavily rely on these rankings and check all other aspects as mentioned above apart from these rankings.
Dr. Padit Mali