10 things you should know before joining an MBA programme

Have you been thinking a lot about your MBA plans lately?
It is perfectly normal… after all, MBA is a craze among graduates these days. For many of these young aspirants, MBA is the key to a bright future where there is a lot of money, opportunities to enhance their qualification, or maybe just a right-footing for their entrepreneurial goals. Although, most of the students hardly have any idea why they are doing this, and more importantly what they must do to make this particular investment (of money & time) fruitful.

Let me ask you something. As a student, do you think you are going to the right college or programme? Really?? Just think again.

A young aspirant invests a vast amount of wealth and time on the B-School, and it is important that the student knows very well what he will get from the institution. An excellent institution will guide you in the right direction while the wrong one might send you on a downward spiral. It is alright to read inspiring stories of those who have reached where you are aspiring to reach, but you should also be aware of scavengers who are merely trying to sell you a blank product in the form of a business degree programme.

So, how do you identify which one is the right B-School for you and which one is not?

To help you with this, I will be posting ten things that you should know before joining an MBA college. Few things that you should ponder about before choosing an MBA college are as follows:

• Understand why you want to do an MBA
• The investment that goes into the two-year course
• Are there financial aids available for the programme?
• How is the MBA programme ranked in the region?
• Ensure the credibility of the placement figures
• Do you want an actual internship or a ‘photocopy’ internship?
• Who will be teaching you in reality: Gurus or ex-students?
• Is the MBA programme internationally accredited?
• Why should I study abroad?
• How can I recover my costs?

I will be explaining each pointer in reasonable detail so that you know what you are about to do.
How a two-year course can either be the rock that ignites your path or the one that drills a hole and sinks your ship.

Understand why you want to do an MBA
Imagine you are sitting in front of a panel during your admission interview; this would be the first question that will be thrown at you: ‘Why do you want to do MBA?’. Aspirants often cram up answers from the web and try to appear smart in front of the panel. Now, a clever chap who knows to present the most impressive answer might get through.

However, before you respond to that question, think twice and think well… do you really want to do an MBA? Do you know what goes through and what comes out of it? Do you have any idea if the B-School is equipped to turn your dreams into reality… or if it was just another advertising propaganda penned down by some creative writer in an agency that has nothing to do with your MBA aspirations or B-School?

Right now as you read this post, start asking… start thinking deeply.

 

Why do you want to do an MBA?
Answers can be as simple as the following:
• To get placed in a huge company
• Up to 3x Higher Salary than non-MBA graduates
• Excellent Networking Opportunities with successful Alumni
• New Skill and Knowledge Acquisition and helps you go beyond comfort zones
• Acquire Problem solving skills
• To fulfil one’s ego

If your answer included the last point, then your MBA is going to be a waste of time. There is nothing in this world that can quench the thirst of pride. In case your motivation to pursue MBA is solely driven by promises of placement and 7-digit salary figures, then you must move to the next section.

 

How will I recover my investment?
There was a time when most of the students who graduated from a reputed B-School would earn back their investment after working for a couple of years. The amount of money invested in an MBA program is comparatively high, and you must plan how to fund your studies and how you will recoup all that you have spent. Since this is an investment, let us talk about the Return on Investment (ROI). To understand ROI in an MBA program you must know about the following three factors:
• Tuition Fee & Other Costs
• Opportunity Cost
• Salary after MBA

Let us assume that you are a final year engineering student of Information Technology in a top Bangalore University. The programme that you have applied for costs around… say Rs 5 lac per year. So, if it is a two-year programme, then you will be spending 10 lac. You will be missing out on two years of employment. Therefore, two years’ worth of salary, let us say 20 lacs. So, the total Investment is around 30 lacs in 2 years. Most of the MBA graduates will earn back this amount within a few years, but it depends on where you had done your MBA. So, wouldn’t it be better if your MBA college gives you financial aids heartily.

 

What kind of financial aids are provided by the b-school/university/government?
As attending an MBA programme at a reputed college is a significant investment of the student’s time, energy, and most importantly money… Therefore, it is critical to ensure that you do not go broke financially. So, it would be wise to go to a college that provides a variety of financial aids in the form of scholarships, grants, internships, waivers, etc. Before you sign up for the course, make sure that you have understood all kinds of expenses involved in it. A good college will give financial relief to its students without any hidden agendas.

 

How accurate are the official placement figures?
Most of the students choose their B-School based on the placement figures flashed by the institution. Some of you might have already made up your mind after falling prey to that awesome 10 % placement offerings in the newspaper (that is known for publishing paid advertorial articles shamelessly). Do not fall prey to such traps laid by money minded institutions to squeeze all the money out of you and give you a piece of paper that is worthless. My words might sound harsh on the fragile mind, but you will thank me one day for writing this post. Do you know that most of the colleges bloat their placement and salary figures, and some of these colleges are top-seeded ones?

Did you know that a top B-School in India often club domestic and international salaries together and generate a single annual salary figure which looks far more impressive than the real one? Inflation of salary and stipend figures is not a new thing, most of the B-Schools around the world have been doing this to keep themselves in the big league. Just imagine, a candidate who has been offered a salary package of 25Lpa in a country like Canada where the cost of living is, at least, five times higher than India. Isn’t that package equivalent to a 5Lpa package offered in India?

Some colleges are so smart when it comes to improving their marketability that they add up all the salary figures received by students from multiple job offers. To put this in perspective, let us assume that you are given five apples when you can only consume one, rest have to be dropped.
Did you know that even reputed names like IIMs use cheap tactics to improve their marketability? You don’t have to believe every word I say, but I advise you to read this article (after you finish reading this post) written by an IIM graduate: http://iimcplacement1.blogspot.in/2013/07/iim-placements-true-story.html

 

Do you want an actual internship or a photo-copy internship?
When it comes to internship, be it summer or winter, students prefer big names where they can flaunt their id cards proudly in front of their less fortunate peers. Few students go after the stipend, and that’s probably because most of the companies do not offer any.

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As for interns, it does not matter if you get into a big company, what is important is the kind of work you get to do there. What is the point of getting into a Fortune 500 when all you do there is make entries of email addresses in an excel spreadsheet or worse- make photocopies for some random associate at the workplace?
Do you want to end up making photocopies for some lazy associate? No, right? You would naturally want some real tasks to perform during your internship. Make sure you consult ex-graduates or counsellors about the internship opportunities provided by the B-School.

 

Who are teaching you in reality: Gurus or ex-students?
Like I said earlier, these two years are very crucial. It can make or break you. Throughout this time, you will be under the supervision and guidance of your professors. So, it is vital for the professors to be well equipped to handle and guide each and every student correctly. An experienced teacher is always calm and patient while an inexperienced teacher can create havoc for the distressed student. As the number of B-schools increase, there will be more shortage of teachers… and more importantly, a shortage of good teachers.

 

Before you choose your college, make sure you know who are going to teach you: Would you be under the guidance of experienced teachers or be shepherded by a freshly graduated student from the same college?

Some colleges keep the best teachers in their panel at the time of your interview, to make you feel like you are going to a world class institute. Others actually hire professionals to do the job. The poor student is impressed by the panellists, gets into the college, pays all tuition and then realises that the people who interviewed him appear him only during the next year’s interview.

 

How is the MBA program ranked in the region?
The next important thing that you should know is how the MBA programme that you chose is listed in the region where you are studying or want to work. What is the point of doing an MBA from a college that is located in some village outside Haryana (unless and until the government is coming up with a huge business park right next to it in two years)? If you are planning to work in a city like Mumbai, then definitely you will get a higher pay and, therefore, studying in that region will always give you the best opportunities.

 

Is your MBA program internationally accredited?
Choosing an MBA school is just like choosing toothpaste for your dental care. This analogy might seem like an absurd, but that’s how it is. You will know why…

Since you are planning to study MBA, it is possible that some of you might think to study it abroad as well. Here, it is imperative to know the importance of accreditation. Let me ask you something first. If you are at the supermarket looking for toothpaste, then the chances are that you will skip everything until you reach known brands. A known brand will have attractive packaging and advertorials, and it will also have accreditation from an agency like the IDA which is the Indian Dental Association. This certification improves the confidence of the customer and pushes him into buying that particular toothpaste. Similarly, the accreditation of your MBA is at times what the employer looks for in candidates. The accreditation increases the confidence of the employer, and he knows that a student who has done an internationally accredited course must have been imparted the necessary knowledge and skill that is required for the job. A B-school that is associated with AACSB is the one that you must go after without any second thoughts. Click here to know about Internationally accredited MBA courses.

 

Should I study abroad?
There are thousands of MBA courses to choose from over 800 prestigious institutions located in 5 different continents. Studying abroad has always been a dreamy area for Indian students. Some of us are just lured by the charm of studying in an international environment. USA, Canada, UK, New Zealand and Ireland used to be the top destinations for International students. However, in the past three years, South Africa, Singapore, Germany, and Denmark have taken center-stage. As an Indian student, it will be easier for you to settle in a country where English is the lingua-franca. The second important factor is the cost of living which also affects the tuition fee charged by the institution. This is the reason why countries like the USA have the most expensive MBA courses in the world, with the tops ones like Harvard charging as high as $69,593 per year (2014-15 figures). When you add accommodation and food expenses, the figuring will shoot up significantly. Of course, the graduates also end up pocketing salaries as high as $300,000 (2014-15 figures), but that might not happen to everyone who graduates from there. Some of the students might come back to India and look for a job here. How long will it take for them to make up their money with a top job in India?? That is the question which needs attention.

Studying abroad has its set of advantages, which includes international exposure, competitive faculty, global job opportunities, etc. The only thing that stops an Indian student from pursuing MBA abroad are the expenses. So, is there any way we can solve this problem?

What if I tell you that there is a way… Will you gift me a pack of Swiss-made chocolates if I show you that way? Well, keep your money ready, for this is a golden advice for all you MBA aspirants.
Opt for an MBA programme in a B-School where the fees are nominal and is located in a country where the cost of living is moderate and opportunities are plenty. Johannesburg is one such city where you can find the best MBA courses taught by heavyweight professionals, and since the Rainbow nation’s economy is booming, the chances are that you will end up with a high paying job after two years. To know more about studying MBA in Johannesburg, click here.

 

To conclude
MBA digs deep into your personality and brings out the best in you. It prepares you to face any challenge in life, to lead from any corner and to put on your best face at the harshest times. But for all that you must fall in the right hands. The right hand will mould you into the leader that you have to become.
Always remember, doing an MBA is not a difficult task, but finding the right place to do MBA is…

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