Are B Schools Serious?

Every time I hear someone is doing an MBA, I am just frightened to give any advice. In fact I did dissuade a few people over the past few weeks given that they were in a better position and well just wanted to do an MBA for the heck of it. Same way, I did guide a couple who were fixed on what to do and where to go post MBA, but just needed a jolt of confidence.

I am scared to suggest someone to do an MBA or rather PGPM as some B schools call it just because of two reasons 1) The aspirant is unplanned 2) The schools are just mushrooming everywhere and have everything to offer which might not be trustworthy.

The former case is just out of frustration, people are frustrated with the monotonousness in their current role and want to do something big. They just thing they can do big by doing an MBA. It does take a lot of patience and time to convince them that its no use doing an MBA for the heck of a degree in any Tom Dick and Harry B school. No school can be an IIM, XL or an ISB whatever the founder(s) claim(s)! But well, many fall into the trap and hardly get any improvement over their previous jobs or realize later that they would have grown way higher had they put up or been patient with their current jobs.

The second, except the top B schools, read the IIMs, XL and ISB, I am losing trust in the rest. Neither do they have proper industry backing that they claim nor they stick to their promise (Of course there are a few like one of them in Mysore, which openly quote that we are not a job factory, join for learning). Quote Unquote “I will increase the seats in this school over my dead body!”, said a dean of one of India’s still upcoming B Schools, but of late, I saw the same school increase its intake a couple of batches later and well above all change its offering. The school was known for its one year program, but looked like it decided to ditch its own premier offering for a 2 year program. Do understand this might be considering the market dynamics, but well the way it was branded and communicated, it looked like we are ditching our premier offering, which was a key differentiation. So the initial offering seemed like just a platform to build the brand and then….

The B schools go a long way promising placements, hiding the real facts on placements and falsely boost students’ confidence, but well the truth will be a lot different. In fact I know a dean who has claimed for three consecutive years (I did speak to ppl form three consecutive batches), that Mc Kinsey, BCG, Tata Administrative Services and Meryll Lynch would come to the campus for recruitment, but well except for a guest lecture from one of them, the statement has been a damp squib. In fact when I did my Masters as well, I was promised a certificate which authorizes me to do a 6 month Masters in US in a B school, haven’t seen the certificate till now! Glad that I got my degree certificate :).

My word to those who are aspiring any of the B School set up in the past decade or so – Don’t trust the advise given in Meet The Deans/ Admin Directors or any B School Show offs! Visit the school first and get first hand information. Then speak to the alums – who were there 2-3 years back preferably one from each batch and compare the information you have on hand. If you are studying in India, check the placement stats, very much in person. And yes, please do not take decisions in a haste – Not all B Schools are serious.

PS: Some opinions are personal, some shared within a group, expect the reader to visit the schools and take a call. I am still trying to understand why people want to do a Fast-Track MBA (I did as well) or rather an MBA without plans. The article has been written after my interactions with a few aspirants over the couple of months, who just wanted an MBA and probably will get one too…

GMAT Essays

Thanks to Manoj, Adi who had mailed their essays for review and a few more who visited the Great Lakes campus in Manamai, His Laziness, finally decided to list out how he scored a 6 on 6 in AWA and rocked some B School essays last year (Yeah do not ask the rest of the scores, you may stop reading the post right here :)). So here it goes, as to how I had planned out my essays to ISB, Great Lakes, Nanyang and well to the almost applied NUS. Credit to Mrs. Shyamala Shankar, Gokulam, Mysore also for her inputs at various stages (I mostly bunked the classes I had picked up with her, but sad that had to do it, a choice between la franciase and the queen, and finally settled for the french kisses (Jokin!!!) – Missing ’em has not added much value as I am not using french anywhere – even on my resume! to show off)!

Most of the B School/ GMAT/ GRE essays are either issue based or argument based. Some are open ended, but mostly can be fit into either of the two! So here is my take on how to fill your pages up…

Issue based essays:

If the question is an issue based one, read the stimulus which presents the issue carefully considering every aspect.
– Take your stance or position and jot down the points for or against the issues with clear examples
– Jot down the words relevant to the issue which will add clarity/ variety to the essay
– Restrict the essay to 4-5 paragraphs max. Usually you will have a 300 word restriction.
– Structure paragraph 1 with your general stance on the issue and your comments on the subjects as such
– Paragraph’s 2,3 and 4 – start with a topic sentence to introduce your argument or point in-favor or against and substantiate with relevant examples
– Paragraph 5 – Sum up your essay with words that reinforce your position with conviction
– And finally proof-read!

Argument based essays:

If the question is based on an argument, read and spot the topic and scope of the argument
a. List out the conclusion(s)
b. List out the evidence available supporting your conclusion
– Sum up the argument in your own words
– How does the argument use its evidences – are there any assumptions, gaps between evidence and conclusion.
– Under what what circumstances can these assumptions be valid or improved
– Is there anything relevant that has not been discussed?
– What would make the argument stronger or valid?

For execution, again split up into 3-4 paragraphs. Lengthy ones may not prompt the reader to pick the prime points.
– Let the first paragraph flow in with general comments and assessment of the argument
– Let the next 2-3 state the reasons or the evidence presented for the conclusion and critique them as weak (if they are) and load with the assumptions made. Question the words and expressions used (From my past practice essays lots of them usually follow this pattern)
– In the final paragraph give suggestions to improve and strengthen the argument whereby the conclusion can be made more forceful and credible.

Cheers,

Amar – http://www.amarharish.in