15 Aug 2016 19:52 IST

Look at more than placements while selecting a B-school

Do your homework to ensure that you end up at a B-school that’s right for you

Have you ever tried raising a polar bear in the deserts of Atacama? Or sustaining a fish in a cage? Obviously not, because neither would sustain.

Similarly, if ideas and aspirations are not nurtured in a favourable ecosystem, they too fizzle out. Education has a bigger role to play in the world than just equipping people to earn a livelihood.

If you subscribe to this line of thought as well, then you have to think extensively and research judiciously before you zero in on your choice of B-school. What are the factors that you would consider before you pick one?

Though it is one of the decisive elements that structure the matrix and plays heavily on your mind, placement should not be the only consideration. There are a number of factors that should guide your choice of a B-school.

Know your specifics

But first, you must know what it is you really want. Introspect your calling. Each B-school has its own forte and at times, a few A-listers might have a clutch of these.

Study these in sync with your plans and visions. Do the two dovetail? Understand that there are things that can be put up with for bigger gains, but there are things which you should firmly stand for.

If you are interested in making a career in finance, a B-school that is noted for its excellence in that domain will obviously suit you best. Even if the other factors stand a shade less, it can be still a good choice for you, considering its far reaching impact on your career.

Practical orientation

A very marked shift in the top players is the practical orientation of the course. Not one or two but students do countless numbers of live projects of their choice in good B-schools. How does your favoured institute fare on that front? Visit its website and see.

Then there are B-school forums under different names that talk about the institute’s positives and negatives, along with micro details of the entire ecosystem. B-school themselves have their own blogs. Run your eyes through it.

Collaborations and linkages

Since we are living in an increasingly hyper-connected world, see how effectively the school you are considering is connected with institutions across the globe. Equally important is its link with industrybodies. Such associations not only help students gain relevant industry exposure, but also aid them in a number of other ways.

These may include live projects done in collaboration with the corporate and government, with internships and placements springing from the same.

A lot also depends on how you look at the future. Would you want to work in the corporate sector or be an entrepreneur? Answering such questions chisels your choice further.

If you choose the latter, there are educational institutes that provide good forums for start-ups. With tie-ups and collaborations with bodies of venture capitalists, angel investors and other corporate leaders, they put together a complete structure for start-ups to take off.

Faculty

Let’s continue with you choosing to pursue your management studies in finance. Visit the B-schools’ websites with an eye for detail in the context of that particular discipline. Study the professors and their profiles not just on the institute’s website but also on other professional networking sites like LinkedIn.

Alternatively, you can search the web for them. Usually, senior professors and deans would have earned lot of name in their respective domains and could be known internationally for their achievement in society and academia. This knowledge will ensure that you are being shaped by the best in the industry.

The best B-schools have a rich faculty — they have the best of intellectuals, social scientists, luminaries from diverse fields and globally acclaimed professors on their rolls. Check for visiting faculty from globally reputed institutions, who can help you in your career by sharing their expertise. Similarly, faculty from the industry who knows the latest developments, can help train the talent accordingly.

All these details are easily available on most B-school sites.

Affiliations and recognitions

This is something that needs careful homework — what is the use of investing your time, money, effort and aspirations on an institute which does not even have the required recognitions and approvals?

Do your homework well. Talk to friends and faculty of your current college and others in your circles. There are also government sites which warn tentative students against these bogus institutes.

Full time or distance?

Another very important factor to consider is how you want to pursue the programme. Do you want it in the weekend mode, a hybrid distance learning mode or full-time mode? Everything depends on your current liabilities, professional and personal.

Industry connect

An extremely important (and decisive) factor is the B-school’s industry-connect. Ultimately, you either have to join the industry or set up your own business. Either way, you have to know the industry and its requirements like the back of your hand.

A well-connected school will make things easier and streamlined for its students. This will impact not only their learning but live projects, internships and placements as well.

Number of entrepreneurs

While it is not a very conventional yardstick, it is an effective one. If a B-school has a growing number of entrepreneurs to its credit, then it speaks for the institute’s success.

Equally important is the alumni list. If it has a number of ex-students in leading positions of power and responsibility across industries, it is proof enough that the institute is a good one.

Reality check — on yourself

Lastly, you have to do a reality check on yourself. Your percentile and performance during the selection process will also determine your choice. And then, there is the bigger truth — you might have chosen a B-school, but it must choose you too. If it clicks, you are there. Make the best of it. And fear not about anything once you have made a decision.

The upshot

If you think deeply, you will realise that placement is not an influencer at all — rather, it is an outcome. If you pragmatically weigh elements that comprise effective management education and decide accordingly, it is highly likely that you will land the right role/job.

Good placement has, on its side, all the elements that we have spoken about. There can be hardly any choice between the two. This might be a lot of research, but a good homework will not only guide you, but also help you make the right choice.

I will now leave you with a thought from Swami Vivekananda: “Take up one idea. Make that one idea your life — think of it, dream of it, live on that idea. Let the brain, muscles, nerves, every part of your body, be full of that idea, and just leave every other idea alone. This is the way to success.”

(The author is Group Director of Prin. L N Welingkar Institute of Management Development & Research)

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