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Top 5 Parameters for Shortlisting Business Schools

F1GMAT: What are some of the parameters that an MBA Candidate has to evaluate before shortlisting their top 5 Business Schools?

Sameer(MBA Crystal Ball): Deciding to apply for a B-school is a life-changing decision, something like deciding to get married. You never know if it’s the right decision. Once you have decided to take the plunge then there’s no looking back. So what’s next? You need to decide where to apply and how many to apply; you want to stretch your net wide enough so you do not have to go through the grind again. Needless to say, you do not want to compromise on quality – though that’s a very subjective matter. So, in no particular order, here’s a sneak peek into some of the process one should adopt while coming up with the coveted list:

1) Career aspiration: Though most global B-schools are arguably well-rounded across faculties, there are some clear leaders. For instance, if you’ve made up your mind on the finance industry post graduation, you want to gun for Columbia University (CBS) while a marketing career would get a fillip with a Kellogg brand on the CV. These examples are considering you are on top of the game, but with a little effort and guided research, you would be able to figure out the prospect school’s prowess in any given field of study. This research will help you avoid the jitters during placements.

2) Education Pedigree: Your undergraduate/graduate program’s reputation could play to your advantage or otherwise. Do a candid assessment on the college’s brand name locally as well as globally. This will help you decide how realistic are the ivy leagues for you and how well you need to hedge your chances – in short, which schools to aim for and which ones to omit. The GMAT is another very important aspect in your overall education profile. While a 700+ GMAT puts you in a large competitive pool, a 730+ score starts to give that edge to it. Anything below 700 or above 740 constitutes outliers – no rocket science to figure out which outlier means what for your profile.  

3) Professional Qualifications: Now comes the time to be true to yourself. Think back on your career and reflect on your achievements. Can you claim them to be one in a thousand or one in a hundred? The answer will give you another confirmation on whether that school you are aiming for is within grasp or not. Needless to say, you will have to prove a clear spike in this area if you are to have a realistic shot at a top-ranked school – after all, you go to a b-school to achieve corporate super stardom, whether through your own firm or through someone else’s.

4) Non-professional elements: While not a single human being is uni-dimensional in real life, b-school essays turn out to be surprisingly exactly that for many candidates. In most instances, the fallacy is a lack of self-awareness leading to sub-optimal results. This is the hardest part for many applicants as they give a far higher importance to their professional/educational life than required. Tough as it may seem, do not fret and come up with a list of your non-professional achievements. Once done, take the same acid test as that for the professional qualifications to assess your profile against the top b-schools.

5) Return on investment: Though you may have a one in million credentials but do you have the risk-return appetite? This is the single biggest factor in deciding the school once you have a first cut list. You need to study the average compensation post graduation and the tuition fee involved. Then do a quick back of the envelope on the estimate return on your investment and decide whether a given school is worth the opportunity cost of your intellectual capital. A top league b-school could set you back by $100K+ while you could look at raking in upwards of $130K post graduation. These are of course broad numbers and there are huge variations in both these numbers from school to school. So we recommend doing your research or ask an expert.

In summary, the parameters to consider in coming up with your list are the parameters you would judge your career/life on – remember I told you it is a life-changing decision. So go ahead, reflect hard and do not shy away from talking to the experts.

About Sameer

SameerSameer Kamat completed his MBA from the University of Cambridge on a double scholarship and managed a complete career transition from IT to Corporate Finance/Strategy Consulting. In his post-MBA role, he has managed many multi-million dollar deals in the area of Mergers & Acquisitions. He has been helping out Indian MBA aspirants for the last 5 years and is active on several discussion forums.


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