Apart from placements, there are a lot of things that go into selecting a B-School. The process of shortlisting a B-School starts way before even we have got the CAT results. The mocks and last year papers give us a glimpse of where we stand and where we can be.
Few months into mocks, we do understand our capability and the potential we can harness further. As a good practice, depending on these, we should fetch out the data on scores & cut-off expected at tier 1 level colleges, followed by tier 2 and tier 3. Next, it is also advisable to understand four more things concerning every single college. These being - What tests scores do they accept, such as do they even take GMAT/XAT/SNAP etc., what kind of profiles do they prefer – work ex/non-work ex/co-curricular/marks etc., what is the entire process of selection – GD/PI/AWA etc., and finally what were their last year process dates. To be prudent in our efforts, we should maintain an extensive excel sheet that will come in handy as and when required and prevent last-minute miss-outs.
This process also enables us to demarcate the colleges into DATA zones of – Dream - Attainable - Try – Avoid. Dream & Attainable zones should be in the bull’s eye, and we should keep Try only as a back-up. Avoid zones are below our potential and must be avoided.
These zones get further refined when we move further in our process.
Further, after the first round of college shortlisting, which roots ultimately from our mocks, profile, and previous scores, the next round should entirely be based on alignment with our aspirations. The aspirations could be in terms of what kind, of course, the college offers i.e. if it offers a specialisation or a general management course. Colleges such as XLRI, SPJIMR, MICA offers specialisation courses, and IIM's primarily offers General Management course. Even other aspects of post-graduation coursework do play a part here. Colleges such as SPJIMR have courses such as DOCC, Global Fast Track, ADMAP, and Abhyudaya that provides a holistic development resulting in a leader with strong cultural and global values. Subsequently, the kind of companies coming to the college also falls under the gambit of our aspiration. The last two-three years of placement report helps in the same. These reports are available either on platforms such as D2C/Inside IIM/College websites and many other MBA prep websites.
Although our performance in mocks and our aspirations are two central points to merit our college selection, however, a couple of factors need to be tethered to make our selection wise. First, the location of the college. Colleges situated in the main metros or closer to them have their advantages. Network and Industry connect to name a few. Second, the fees. It would allow you to plan your money better to fund your education and do the investment cost-benefit analysis. Next, the average placement offered and the percentage of students placed. It is always better to be prepared for the worst-case scenarios.
On a concluding note, we all aspire to be in the best and undoubtedly work hard for it. Still, there are many randomnesses that function in the universe; the best we can do is be aware of the known and prepare for the worst by stitching in the thread of practicality in our cobweb of dreams.