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7 tips to interpret b-school ads

7 tips to interpret b-school ads
Now is the time of the year that your email and SMS inboxes will start getting flooded with advertisements from private business schools. For many of you, these advertisements may also uncover options that you hadn"t considered or heard of. But beware, as this is also the time that b-schools go on an overdrive to fill up their seats, often making claims that are roundabout or sound too good to be true. Here are some clues that you can use to call their bluff so that you know what you are getting into.

1. Ask for explicit disclosure of the nature of the degree offered - Many private b-schools offer a 2-year fulltime course (with lectures and placements) but give you a distance-learning degree affiliated to private or state universities at the end of it. These degrees are usually correspondence MBA degrees from universities such as Sikkim Manipal University, Yashwantrao Chavan Maharashtra Open University, Madurai Kamraj University and many more. If the b-school hasn"t been explicit about the exact nature of degree it is offering, ask it. If you feel that the school is avoiding being upfront about the degree, stay away from having anything to do with the school.

2. Beware of university-affiliated PGDM - All recognized Universities and Deemed Universities in India have the legal power to offer full-fledged Master"s degrees. So if any b-school is offering a Post Graduate Diploma in Management affiliated to a University, something is definitely amiss. An example is the Pune University PGDM that is offered by several b-schools in and around Pune. Unlike the AICTE-approved PGDM, the Pune University PGDM is not a full-fledged MBA-equivalent Master"s degree. Its eligibility requirements clearly state that you don"t even need a Bachelor"s degree, either of passing class XII or having an engineering diploma is enough. So you may join a b-school that offers this degree and even get placements in the end, be aware that this degree will not allow you to pursue further studies.

3. “100% placements assistance", “Placement partners" - Even the IIMs have stopped talking about guaranteed or 100% placements, so for a private b-school to do so begs for skepticism. These days, a lot of b-schools are tying up with job consultancy companies or job-portals to find jobs for their MBA students — something you can do independently too. Others have the audacity to list every corporate visitor to their campus as a recruiter. There are also horror stories of b-schools bribing junior HR staff of companies to take their students as trainees for a couple of months under the gard of a placement. For these reasons and more, it is best to check the placement claims of a b-school with existing students or alumni.

4. Check faculty credentials - Beware of b-schools that rely too much on visiting faculty. A b-school that is shying away from hiring a healthy amount of fulltime faculty is basically pocketing your money without giving you the rigour expected of a post-graduation program. Also, ask the b-school clearly how many of their faculty are fulltime and how many visiting. Among the visiting faculty, ask how many attend for just one lecture and how many teach for an entire course. You might end up being surprised how ill-staffed the b-school is. Stay away from b-schools that are being ambiguous about their faculty breakup.

5. Specialised MBA - Any good general MBA program offers elective courses in the second year wherein you can study advanced subjects about a particular industry sector. Which makes the specialised MBA (such as retail MBA) a scam of sorts, because you can study specialised subjects in the second year even in a general MBA. The trouble is, that a specialised MBA forces you to narrow your career choices from the word 'go". Unless you are extremely passionate about a particular industry sector, there is no good reason to join a specialised MBA. Actually, a lot of private b-schools offer Retail Management MBA in order to hide their inability to hire anyone other than marketing faculty. Since marketing faculty are available aplenty (mid-level sales managers of companies acting as visiting faculty and making some money on the side), b-schools find a convenient way to spin off a Retail Management MBA and make some additional money from the fees. So unless the b-school has a history of commitment to a particular sector (such as Mudra Institute of Communications, National Insurance Academy, etc), chances that you"ll get good education in a specialised MBA are less.

6. Direct GD-PI call - Often, you might get a call from a b-school saying that they are offering you a direct jump to the GD-PI stage. The b-school has probably gotten hold of your contact information from your coaching institute or from the database of entrance tests sold illegally in the black market. In case you do attend the GDPI and find that everyone around you is clearing the various stages, then the GDPI is clearly an eyewash. Do realise that by joining such a school you may not be satisfied with the quality of your classmates as the school gives admission to anything and anyone that walks.

7. Scholarships - In the olden days, scholarships used to be given to the very select few who had achieved something very exceptional in their past. But for several private b-schools these days, scholarship is another name for 'discount". You may want to think why a b-school is treating education like an electronics outlet treats washing machines, and whether it in any way also reflects how it will treat the two years that you will spend in it.

Remember, b-schools that fall in the above mentioned categories may not be bad options. But if the schools aren"t transparent about the limitations of what they are offering or are being ambiguous by hiding behind sweet-sounding marketese, you know you need to be careful.

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