The biggest dilemma for aspirants arises when they get admission to a college which was not their initial target. For instance, if you were targeting A, B or C (referred to as “ABC” henceforth) and end up getting calls from L, K, I and others - what does one do then?
I will take up different scenarios and hopefully, most aspirants get covered:
I) A stellar academic record but a lower than expected percentile: This is quite common. CAT is after all just a 3 hour exam and luck may go against you. If your mock tests were indicating your scores to be in the range from where you could get ABC but you under-performed in the test finally, there could be two further scenarios:
- You are desperate to leave your current sector and are sure about what sector you are targeting. In that case, if you are in a hurry to get ahead with your new career, joining other B-schools like L or I makes sense.
- There is no urgency as such. In such a case, wait for another year. Continue with your current job and attempt CAT again next year. If your mock tests had indicated that you are in range of scores that would get you to ABC, it is very much likely that you will get it in the next year. And ABC is indeed a cut above the rest and worth waiting another year, given you are confident that you are in the required percentile range and that this year was a one-off.
II) A stellar academic record and a lower than required percentile: There is a difference between this scenario and one above. In this case, you yourself were not expecting to secure a very high percentile. There are two further scenarios here:
- You were acutely under-prepared and you are certain that with some preparation, you can enter the percentile range needed for A, B and C. This needs pragmatic self assessment on your part. If you feel yes, then wait for another year and involve yourself in sufficient preparation
- You gave it a good shot and with reasonable practice but your percentiles in the mock tests also were not in the required range. Here again, you have to take a tough but honest call. CAT is an exam where there is not much incremental difference in percentiles beyond a point of effort. If you feel that even your best is landing you short, then it is wise to go with the next best colleges this year itself
III) An average academic record and a great percentile: While a college like A makes it very unrealistic to enter it with average academics, C still allows for it, given that you score a very high percentile. Let us say that you scored 99.6 percentile this year while the last call for general merit for males was 99.7. In such a case, I would advise you to give it another attempt next year. Anybody who is in the range of 99.5 can easily be 99.9 as well next year
This is a broad framework that I have developed keeping in mind the various profiles of students in my college. There will be always be additional factors like personal matters and work experience gained (beyond 3-4 years of work experience, it starts to make more sense to get an MBA from abroad than one here).
In a nutshell, if there is no urgency as such and you are confident that you can score the required percentile in your next attempt, it is worth waiting a year (while continuing with your job, of course) for ABC.