Selecting the right Business School – Interview with Dr. Anupam Narula

Management courses in India were synonymous with IIMs, this was the scenario of Management education, about 25 years ago. With time several good Business-Schools have emerged to cater to the growing population of management aspirants but IIMs continue to be the best B-schools in imparting business education in India. The reason is that, these institutes offer innovative courses to satisfy the needs of all sections of students. The well known management institutes of India i.e. Indian Institutes of Management (IIMs), the Management departments of various IITs, NITIE, and various other government universities offer MBA/PGDM degree/Diploma courses. Some other reputed and favorites of Management aspirants are FMS Delhi, Indian Institute of Foreign Trade (IIFT) New Delhi and Kolkata, MDI Gurgaon/Murshidabad, JBIMS (Mumbai University), Banaras Hindu University and University Business School, Chandigarh.Majority of Management institutes fall under this category. Some of the other leading private Management institutes are XLRI Jamshedpur, IMT Ghaziabad/ Hyderabad/Nagpur, SPJIMR Mumbai, FORE School of Management, New Delhi and IMI Delhi/Kolkata/Bhubaneswar.
Besides the above, there are about more than 5000 management institutes in India. In the present scenario, the way by which a mushroom growth of MBA/PGDM schools has occurred, it has become very important to understand your needs and select the right business school.
Since you will be spending a lot in your management programme, it is important for you to select the right Business-School. How can we differentiate between these schools? The task of choosing a right Business-School has become even more difficult today because there is no standard parameter or universally acceptable criteria in our country. Of late, a number of surveys have been carried out by leading magazines which further aggravate confusion in the minds of the student.
Here are some tips that you can follow to select the right Business-School for you. Now the question arises, how to search and choose the appropriate management institute for yourself. According to Dr. Anupam Narula, Marketing Faculty at FORE School of Management, New Delhi following ten parameters should be analyzed before joining anymanagement institute. 
Step 1: In-depth analysis of your goal
Step 2: Accreditation
Step 3: Profile of Faculty 
Step 4: Pedagogy and Curriculum
Step 5: Infrastructure
Step 6: Enticements
Step 7: Scholarships
Step 8: Placements and Alumni
Step 9: International Exposure
Step 10: Campus Life
Step 1: In-depth analysis of your goal
It is very important to know your inward appeal and motivation for taking up Management course. Are you a career switcher or a career progresser? Is a hike in salary more important to you or do you need international experience? 
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Is your goal to broaden your mental horizons through education or to hone your skills for career enhancement? Answers to these questions are very important while selecting a Business-School. It will help you chalk out the type of career you like to pursue vis-a-vis your interest. Once you are clear about your career options, then self assessment of your abilities and skills come into prominence.
After becoming aware of every aspect of your strength and weakness, then investigate the B-Schools’ area of specialization in relation to your career goal. It brings companies to campus to recruit students with desired specialization. See which B-Schools are famous for the specialization you wish to pursue in your Management.  Does it fulfill your requirements? Take all these aspects into consideration before choosing a B-School.
Step 2: Accreditation
Out of the 5000-odd B-Schools in the country, just over 1,500 are accredited B-Schools. Accreditation assures quality education, financial aid opportunities and credit transfer etc. There are higher chances of getting a job in reputed companies if you are a student from an accredited B-School. 
The quality of education in these schools is much better than unaccredited schools. Without accreditation by the national recognized organizations such as AICTE, AIU, statutory body of the University Grants Commission, the institute is not eligible to participate in government student assistance programmes. You can’t opt for Ph.D or any research work if the institution is not accreditedand your degrees will not be recognized, they won't hold much value especially if you're seeking jobs in the private sector.
In addition to this if the B-school is accredited from any one of the international bodies like Association of Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB), Association of MBA’s (AMBA) and European Quality Improvement system (EQUIS) which is seal of approval and shows that B-school has taken the effort to follow the best practices and standards that the accrediting bodies demand. International recruiters mostly value a B-School with international accreditation over the one without any and this also helps in faculty exchange and student exchange programmes with leading global B- Schools.
Verify everything before choosing a B-School because it’s your life that's going to be affected in the long run.
Step 3: Profile of Faculty 
"The empires of the future will be empires of the mind. With great power comes great responsibility", said Winston Churchill while delivering speech at Harvard University way back in 1943. The quality of education solely depends on the caliber of the faculty members, so
the profile of faculty assumes a greater significance while choosing a B-School.It plays a pivotal role in preparing a student to face the challenges of real life and come out triumphantly. 
You can get information about the faculty from the institute’s website and brochure. 
All institutes have detailed profiles of their permanent and visiting faculty members. A good institute needs a blend of permanent and visiting faculty. Apart from this you can talk to faculty members by visiting the campus and take their opinion also.
Step 4: Pedagogy and Curriculum
One of the key strengths of the B-Schools is the variety and flexibility in the teaching pedagogy used to infuse the scope for innovation and experimentation.  How each member of the faculty is encouraged to make use of rich basket of pedagogy consistent with the course learning requirements as well as the overall focus of the management programme.
So check the teaching pedagogy whether it combines lecture cum discussions, cases, simulations & games, role plays, self learning projects, field visits, Brain storming group projects and also independent research etc or not.A good Management institute focuses on experiential learning and teaches you how to think, cross functional competence, functional domain knowledge and team work.
The faculty, teaching pedagogy and the relevance of the course curriculum influences the B-Schools’ reputation. When recruiters are aware that most of the courses are experiential learning oriented and student’s gets to apply what they have learnt, they overlook the Pre-MBA job function and select students who have proven their expertise with real projects and internship.
Step 5: Infrastructure
Infrastructure is important but it should not be the sole criteria in selecting a B-School.A five-star ambience is not required. You want a B-School to study, not a resort to enjoy. 
A well-stocked library with digital resources and modern computer center with the latest hardware and software are prerequisite for a management institution. Besides this, hostel, mess, playground, well-equipped first-aid facility to be considered before choosing a B-School.
Step 6: Enticements
In the age of cut- throat competition, institutions have made enticements one of the important tools to attract students. Enticements include giving laptops, text books, free lunch and taking for few days on foreign tours (which they call Study Tours!!).
Don’t let yourself carried away by these kinds of freebies because at the end of the day they will make you pay. Do research to avoid swindlers. Don’t let attractive advertisements make house in your mind. See the veracity of advertisement before any move. In addition to it, never select a business school by its ranking because it varies to a great extent.
There is no authentic body in India doing a survey of the best B-schools. Students are advised not to consider all these enticements while selecting a B-School.
Step 7: Scholarships
In a developing country like India, where almost one third of the population is still living below poverty line, it is important to look for a scholarship scheme while choosing a B-School because management education is getting costlier every year. 
In India, the annual cost of management education is about Rs.4 to 5 lakhs in regular courses. So, availability of bank loans coupled with scholarship schemes will make even costly programmes affordable to the common student.Students are advised to make enquiries about funding options.
Does a B-School offer guaranteed loans with low interest-rates? Do you need a co-signer to get loan sanctioned? Does the institute have a tie-up with banks?What are the scholarship options? Take all these things into consideration before choosing a B-School.
Step 8: Placements and Alumni
Placements do matter but it should not be the only criteria in selecting a B-School. Do not consider B-Schools as placements agencies! B-Schools are responsible for imparting knowledge and preparing you to deliver in an adverse position. 
Ask institutes for names of companies that visit their campus and the number of placements in each year. If they give you name of companies that do not come regularly, be cautious. An institute that gives you a detailed list and claim placements up to 60 to 70 percent is the one to look out for.
Management Development Programmes (MDPs) and consultancy to corporates are a very good indicator of future placements. It establishes good relation between corporate and academics. Higher and well-attended MDP’s and consulting assignments indicates that the faculty is sought after by firms, the potential recruiters. 
Since corporate are the major recruiters of management graduates, a few corporate people will be able to give you right advice what they think of the B-School, so try to get in touch with the industry people whom you oryour friends know and get their candid opinion.
Alumni are the mirror of any institute; the profile of alumni determines the reputation of an institute and makes it stand tall.You can talk to students who have already graduated from the institute and see what they have to say. Interact or establish a good relationship with the alumni.They can give you invaluable information as well as suggestions that you will not get from anywhere. See whether there are enough alumni in your field of interest. If you are not satisfied with the profile of alumni, be cautious.
Step 9: International Exposure
In the era where businesses have become global, International exposure is the key to success in today's economy. It is important for students to appreciate cultural differences and gain insights on foreign policies. This gives them a better understanding of the global marketplace. 
Premier B-schools have an international recognition and buildinternational networks with partner institutions to give students an opportunity to study for one/two terms at other leading business schools through exchange programmes. Students who come from other countries during an exchange programmebring a unique flavor to the campus with graduate degrees in various fields and international work experience which add to the diversity and peer group learning. This intercultural dimension provides real life practice of professional situations requiring tomanage multi-cultural teams or multi-site projects. Check the MOU/ bi-lateral agreement of B-school with foreign Institutes by contacting the international cell or by visitingthe campus and interacting with Professor –In- charge international relations.
Step 10: Campus Life
Campus life is very important. It plays an important role in instilling versatility into a student's character. Before choosing a B-School, one has to look at the student community, their profiles, work experience and background. 
A good institute should have a healthy mix of people. If you take classes with a diverse group of students, it will give you an opportunity to befriend people from different backgrounds. This social interaction can enhance your overall academic experience and help you develop social skills you will need to be successful in your career. Moreover, it helps add value to the course by way of different perspectives the students bring with them.
Education is not only about classroom learning but also taking responsibility, getting involved and managing events. These extracurricular activities help evolve the character to the full bloom. However, a good part of management education involves team work including a large number of team projects. It means that if other students at the institute are of high quality and caliber, then the learning process would be richer.In the nutshell, campus life provides environment for the seed of talent to be sprouted.
Beware of illegal rules like no refunds, submitting of original mark sheets and degrees and impossible withdrawal deadlines. The only document the institute can rightfully hold is your migration and character certificate.
"As for selecting a Management Institute, Seeing is believing". Visit the campus, visiting a campus before taking the admissions gives you an idea, whether the institute fulfills all the above parameters or not.
Now the question arises….
Will the right Management Institute choose you?
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Getting admission to B-School is not one way but a two way process. Along with you choosing the best management institute, the institute should also choose you. As each and every institute wants to have the best brains. All of you have been dreamed about and would like to join the top management institutes like the IIMs, XLRI, etc. but what if you don’t get selected by these institutes?
Dear aspirants, the fact is that, everyone wants to get through IIMs but the top Management institute doesn’t have enough number of seats to cater to all the management aspirants of India so, if you can’t make it to IIMs, it would be a wise decision to join a good Management Institute, which is AICTE and AIU approved and have good ROI and proves to be good on the above tenparameters.
*Dr. Anupam Narula is Marketing Faculty at FORE School of Management New Delhi and has taught in various premier B- schools in NCRand had undertaken various institutional building activities with up-coming and premier B-Schools in NCR. The views are personal.
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