Things to look before applying to colleges….

Most of the important entrance exams are either over or about to finish and now is the time to fill college applications. So, deciding which colleges to fill must be one of the simplest decisions you will have to make. Right??

Not really. You have too many options (terms and conditions apply) and estimating the test scores is as simple as understanding women (hint: very difficult). So, how do you go about selecting colleges to apply for. Here are a few basic guidelines or rather tips that would help you filter your choices. So, the most important criteria for nearly all the students is:

1) Placements.

I know. I know. Your first reaction on seeing the heading would be: “Haha.. I already knew that, sparky. Tell me something new.” Believe me, this is not as simple as it looks. There are many FINE PRINTS that the colleges do not want you to see. Do not worry though. I will help you understand those fine prints. (Been there, seen that )

a) The placement figures include many variable costs. (People with experience can skip this point) – The salary figures that you see in the placement reports of most colleges includes many variable components. So, if you see an average package of, say, 12 lakhs per year, you would assume that you will take home 1 lakhs in cash per month. However, this is not the case. How much cash you get depends on what the company sets. On average, it is 60% – 70% of the figure you see. Yes, I understand that 60k – 70k looks good enough, but how many colleges do you know that had 12 lpa as their placement average.

  b) Look for median instead of mean. – Amongst the first thing that you will learn after entering an MBA programme would be a simple logic. ‘AVERAGE is misleading. Look for median figures.’ Apply this logic while looking at the placement figures of the institutes you wish to apply to. Let me explain how averages can be misleading.

Let us take an example of an imaginary MBA institutes. Say the institute has 100 students and 5 of them secure packages of 1 crore each. Another 5 get 50 lakhs each. 5 more get 25 lakhs. 60 get something aroung 10 lakhs and remaining 25 get 5 lakhs.

The average comes out to be something around 16 lakhs per annum. However, as you can see, 85% students get 10 lakhs or less. However, if you look at the median, it comes out to be 10 lakhs which is what 60% of the students get. As you can see from this example, you have much higher chances of getting the median package than or getting the average package.

  c) Check if the institute is reporting its figures according to IPRS (Indian Placement Reporting Standards). IPRS is a placement reporting system started by IIM A. Though it would not make a drastic difference, but it would help you make sure that the placement figures reported have been audited. Do not make this point as the sole criteria though.

  d) Check the UPDATED list of companies coming to the college – Make sure that the company or companies that you wish to work in come to the institute you are applying to. There have been many instances when colleges have included names of companies that visited the institute some time back in the past. There have also been cases when the name of the institute was put even when the HR visited a personal friend in the institute. (I have heard these cases but would not testify. ) Make sure that the list is updated. If required, call the companies and ask them if they really do visit the institute FOR PLACEMENTS

  e) How many days/months does it take for the students to get placed. – As a rule of thumb: The sooner the better. (Terms and conditions apply)

2) Pedagogy and quality of education.

The quality of education that you will get from the institute is one of the most important things that you should be looking for. There are a few things that you must note in this regard.

  a) Number of core faculties (full time professors) – Everything being equal, learning from a full time professor is superior to learning from visiting faculties. There are many reasons for this. First of all, full time professors are available are easy to get in touch with. In case you need any help in a subject, you can personally meet a full time professor during his time in the institute. This is not the case with part time professors.

  b) Updated syllabus – Make sure that the institute is constantly updating its syllabus according to changing industry needs, regulations, etc. It would be futile to learn something which is no longer applicable in the industry. You would be surprised to know that there are hundreds of institutes that are using syllabus designed many years ago.

  c) Method of teaching – There are some institutes that teach using the case study method while there are others that use theory method. Many others use a combination of both. Though I would not say which of the methods is better, I would say that I find the mix of case study and theory to be best of student development.

  d) Student to Faculty ratio – The higher the ratio, the better it is..

3) Cost of education (and availability of credit)

Most of you would already be aware of this and some of you might have already corrected me………

Its called Return on Investment, you fool of a writer.

However, it is not correct to call it Return on Investment. Why? (Read this article on Return on Investment (ROI): A flawed Concept to measure effectiveness of B-Schools). In short, I would say that calculating the ROI as placement divided by fees is not the correct measure for analysis.

  a) See if the fees is justified – You must make sure that the fees you are paying for the institute is justified and that you get your money’s worth from the institute.

  b) Education Loan – Must sure that the institute you are applying to has link up with some bank which helps you get cheaper loan with minimum processing time. If not possible, at least make sure that you would get the required funds from a bank.

4) Number of students in the institute

The number of students in the institute or rather, the number of students that you would compete with during placements is very important to note. Everything being equal, an institute that has lesser students is better. Why is it so?

  a) Competition in placements – So, there is a company that has decided to offer a package of 15 lakhs to 10 students in your institute. Wouldn’t it be easier to compete with 120 students than to compete with 420 for the 10 spots?

b) Scarcer resources – In an institute with more students, there would be scarcer resources for each student to use. If you do not think of it being important, consider that the internet speed would be divided amongst all of you. This means slower FACEBOOK and music downloads for you.

There are many other things to be considered too… But the above points are the most important ones. Best of Luck in this second phase of this MBA season..