How To Choose A B-School!
I often get asked by MBA aspirants on various platforms including Quora and LinkedIn as to which b-school is better – and it’s often a comparator between this versus that?!
With the increasing number of institutions offering various management programs, it has become a difficult decision for an individual especially as this decision would shape their careers for the years to come. To add to the dilemma is the entrance of the Global Business Schools turning the environment more competitive and challenging to choose from.
While everyone knows the inherent need for making an appropriate decision (I am purposely not using the term right!), here are my thoughts on why this decision goes a long way:
- It becomes a part of your future social identity through alumni groups etc.
- It has evolved as the single biggest major educational milestone today
- Your career trajectory often depends on this decision as it significantly influences your career path and potential
- Your ability of choices depends largely on the choice of B-School that you graduate from.
So let’s get straight at it – The story begins with the assumption that you have two or more options to choose from and how can you make a choice between them that’s well thought, structured and logical. Sounds too much – let’s break this down into what I call as two pillars of the decision-making process – the institute and the individual (YOU).
The Institute – worth depends on these three factors – impact, influence and the impression the industry has for that specific institute.
Industry Acceptability – A finishing school is as good as its industry association and industry exchange interventions it carries out. Whether you choose a Global B School Program or a reputed Indian B-School, it all boils down to what the industry thinks about the institution. The credibility of an institute in the Industry will most significantly influence your career progression. The more an institute is associated with the corporate world and draws experiences and opportunities from the corporate scene, the better the acceptance and worth that the institute creates for itself.
Look for corporate associations and empanelment’s of the B-School that you are applying for – In the form of case studies that they have engaged in, holding corporate sessions, consulting practices with corporates etc.
Professors and their personal reputation – What if I said,” I have been taught by Daniel Goleman or Marshall Goldsmith?”. Who you learn from matters! It helps you win personal credibility and at least up your chances in terms of perception and acceptance until you can prove your worth. It gets you – the opportunity. I am not trying to say that it will be long lasting for eternity, but it will open doors for you! It’s that moment of willingness that you get to capitalize on other than the actual body of knowledge and upgrade that happens to you as part of being with great teachers.
Look for the professors empanelled with the institution you apply for and what’s their individual reputation in the market. These days, professors are key influencers and do recommend bright students of theirs to corporate groups which are more than willing to consider them. Putting at least 2 references of teachers in your specialization area while applying for an intern or management trainee role will change the game for you especially if they are well-known for their contribution.
Placements – don’t get lost in the numbers, get lost in the value!
Look at the value proposition and what’s the placement philosophy of the institute. Speak to previous batch mates to ascertain the placement scenario.
Alumni network – The kind of cohort you build or alumni leverage you can seek after pursuing your course from a well-established or reputed management college as a professional far over-weighs anything else. You see – you are as good as your network or contacts!
Look for strong alumni ties, look for major alumni names from the institution, where are they today and what kind of opportunities are they able to attract in the market.
The Individual – What’s your position on these defines what you should take up?
- Aspirations – I mention this as internal motives or drives differs from an individual and everyone has a different mindset of achievement orientation. Everyone doesn’t want to become a CEO, nor do all HR aspirants want to retire as a CHRO. Matching your aspirations with what the institute can provide or further leverage can be a game changer in your life.
Look at your internal purpose, goals, drives and what’s important to you personally while you make a choice.
- Stage of Career – Different people pursue an educational program at various stages in their career. The choice you make as a fresh graduate would be different from a mid-career professional from an executive level professional. The needs are also different and hence this needs to be given some serious thought.
Look at your current position, stage in career and how will the course help you better in comparison to your current state.
- Personal Ability – We are all differently abled – one is a fish, while another is a monkey and just as we can’t expect a fish to climb the tree nor would a monkey be great at swimming, it’s not right to expect that everyone gets into the best institutes available.
Look within yourself and realize your unique ability, it could be in terms of your intellect, efforts, financial ability, support systems etc.
- Marrying value systems – One of the most overlooked aspects is the culture and value system that an institution stands or represents and how it aligns with your personal value system. Each institution has its own way of practising their values which is often documented and represented by Value Audit. These values once inculcated stands the test of a lifetime and it would rather cause a lot of personal stress to a student if not aligned correctly.
Look for what the institution stands for, represents and values. Do they seem relevant to you?!
The ultimate value is when you bring both the Institution & Individual aspects together to figure out the compelling factors when compared to two or more institutions that you are evaluating.
These compelling factors could be personal ability versus placements, Industry Acceptance versus Value Systems, stage in the career versus alumni networks etc. These factors differ from individual to individual and are relational in nature.
When you put these aspects together, you will yourself see the investment versus return comparison and will be able to make your most suitable choice.
All the best!