July 10, 2019

How to shortlist a business school for your MBA applications?

I recently shared my critique on the Financial times business school rankings, and shared how some of these numbers can be misleading when it comes to picking global brands. Harvard Business School is roughly 200 points (weights for each of the factors) ahead of the rank 100th school. However, these points span across research, PHD rank, and various other factors that may not directly translate into your reasons to pursue MBA.

Working with Indian MBA admission consulting candidates, I often realize that the sensitivity to perceive the marketplace is missing. Not all of us really go deep into understanding the changing patterns of the various parameters. Rather, we look at the abstract “#Ranking Digit”. The Indian buyer is more cautious when buying an automobile than when deciding to buy a seat in a business school. You are paying 6-8 times more money to make a lifetime decision- You ought to dive deeper into the analysis.

Here are some of the factors that feel will strongly complement the business school rankings:

  1. Absolute Rank Vs. The Cluster: I believe that there are 7-8 business schools in the TOP 5, 13-15 business schools in TOP 10, and 25+ business schools in the TOP 20 Ranks. One needs to assess the cluster in which a business schools falls rather than the absolute number. This is same as buying an automobile. One does not look for the maximum economy. The leg space is as important as the miles per liter.
  2. 3-5 year performance: How has the business school faired in the last 3 to 5 years will make a strong case in the robustness of the MBA program. If a business school jumps a cluster temporarily, that may not be representative of the intrinsic value that you are seeking in a MBA program.
  3. Architecture of the Curriculum (Most of the MBA applicants ignore this): What is the flexibility that the business school provides when it comes to picking courses. Am I signing up with a particular stream (Marketing, finance, Operations etc.) or will I be allowed to move around different courses? If I generate an interest in marketing companies, will I have made a wrong decision of picking up the finance orientation in the beginning? ( and Vice Versa ): Classic case of SP Jain Vs. IIM-A. In IIM-A, everyone will follow the same curriculum for the first 9 months, and people explore all types of employment opportunities. In SP Jain, you need to identify your preferences before the first day at business school.
  4. One Year MBA Program Two Year MBA Programs: Think about IMD Business School (Ranked 17) Vs. Tuck School Of Business (Ranked 20) : Where as both are strong MBA programs, IMD may not be meant for you if you are not certain of the career choice before your MBA as it is a compressed one year MBA program. Tuck on the other hand will not punish you for conducting experiments in the first year, and picking up internships in the areas that may not be your soul mate. A lot of rankings put these two categories within the same bucket. I feel it is a strong injustice to the MBA applicants who are oblivious to the differences between these two. I have seen many MBA applicants heading to one year MBA programs just to save time (YOU WILL NOT SAVE TIME ! If you are not meant for a one year MBA program, you will waste time and MONEY): remember, you need an internship- Once again-YOU NEED AN INTERNSHIP. The sooner you realize, the better it is.
  1. Nature of your employment Vs. Location of employment: What is more important to you? A Country or an Employer? For example: Would you prefer to work with Goldman Sachs anywhere in the world, or would you prefer to work in Chicago with any boutique Investment bank, consulting firm, e-commerce? What is more important to you? The firm or the city? When you dissect those rankings, you ought to find your target employers and cities/countries. ISB is a great school and so is Tepper School of Business – however, they are meant for different MBA applicants. While ISB is for someone keen on establishing a career in India, Tepper is a great business school on the East coast of the US. ISB may not give everyone an instant access to a McKinsey recruiting in New York. Similarly, Tepper may not get the ROI if you are looking for a job in Mumbai.
  2. Immigration Friendly Countries: Some countries will have more relaxed rules than the others. You do not want to spend money in EUROS and come back in INR. Some of you probably want to come back to family businesses and will understandably do so. However, many MBA applicants apply to international business schools with the hope of gaining strong international exposure and earning the high $$ Salaries. Rotman School of Management in Canada has not faired very high in rankings. However, Canada has been more receptive to internationals as compared with UK. Even though UK has been a great place to Study, statistically speaking, your chances of earning in Pounds is not as high as earning in Canadian Dollars. And it can be tough for an MBA applicant to spend money in international currency, and come back and earn in INR.
  3. Financial AID: Is your business school generous enough to provide no-cosigner loans or scholarships. Affordability should be high up on the list. How much are you willing to pay for the business school?
    1. Are you looking for business schools that will provide loans but no scholarships?
    2. Are you more keen on business schools that will provide only scholarships and you will manage the remaining 30 lacs from India?
    3. Are you keen on taking the education loans in $$ or INR? Would you be rather exposed to the fluctuation of the INR?

These are some of the important factors that an international student should consider while assessing the ranks. Other factors such as the class size, teaching methodology, culture, renowned faculty, and the alumni presence are very important too. Do a comprehensive analysis while identifying your soul mate.

We wish you an amazing luck in identifying your target destination.



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