What is your criteria for B-school selection?

I want to understand what is the most important criteria used by applicants in selecting a B-school. Please provide your inputs in the poll below. The poll will be closed in 6 days.

Update: As some of my readers rightly pointed out, there is no single criteria based on which you select a B-school. It is a mix of various parameters with varied importance. The objective of this poll is to get an idea what is the most important criteria in your selection. If you were to prepare a matrix to assign scores to each parameter, which parameter would get maximum weight.

Most Important Criteria in B-school Selection

ISB is ranking higher every year globally

Recently, Career 360 ranked ISB as the no. 1 B-school in India. Career 360 is part of the Outlook group. This ranking followed a methodology where the parameters for rankings were quite exhaustive. Looking at the parameters, one can easily guess that ISB deserved to be ranked higher. Although I am delighted with ISB earning this achievement, in my personal opinion, these rankings should not be used as a means of comparison among B-schools. Other schools IIMA, IIMB, IIMC and others are equally good. It all depends on your personal and professional preferences.

In late January 2010, the Indian School of Business was ranked 12th in the Global MBA Rankings by the Financial Times of London. This is an amazing accomplishment for a school that just started 9 years ago. ISB has been featuring in the top 20 continuously since the last 3 rankings. Starting with a Global ranking of 20 in 2008, it moved up to 15 in 2009. This year's 12 is definitely a positive testimonial to the fact that ISB has tremendous potential to compete globally. While it gives a sense of pride and achievement to the whole of ISB community, the fact that it is ranked above global programs such as Kellogg, Stern, Tuck and the likes prompts readers to look into the FT rankings deeply.

The criteria used

As per Financial Times, "Three main areas are analyzed to create the top 100: alumni salaries and career development; the diversity and international reach of the business school and its MBA programme; and the research capabilities of each school." Digging deeper, we understand that "Weighted Salary" and "Salary percentage increase" each have a 20% weightage in the overall score, and the salaries are measured in terms of PPP adjusted dollar value. This skews the results a bit in ISB's favor considering most of the students are placed in India, where incoming salary is quite low. Post MBA average salary was Rs 19 lakhs per annum in 2008 and 15 lakhs in 2009, while the incoming batch had an average of Rs 7 lakh CTC. On an average the salary percentage increase is 166%, where ISB scored the top. Is it because MBA is overvalued in India, or is it that undergrads are paid very less? This is something to think about.

Another factor where ISB scored higher was the percentage of students placed, recorded as the % of students employed within three months of graduation. The figure stands at 97% for ISB, which is excellent for ISB. This is just because of the difference in placement culture between India and other countries. While in US and other countries, students find their job on their own, using their own networks, the school of course facilitates the process. In India, the school takes the responsibility to help you find recruiters, arrange for your interviews on campus and ensures that the whole batch gets placed. Well, it worked for ISB, isn't it? J

Where ISB ranked lower

Alumni Recommends. ISB is ranked 53 in the "recommends" criteria, which is saddening. But it is understandable, since the softer aspects of an MBA program may be more desirable, like International Students (3%), International faculty (16%), International Experience (rank 78), etc.

It has been repeatedly said that in an MBA program, you learn as much in class as outside from your peers. This makes the peer group requirement as diverse as possible to promote outside classroom learning from each other's experiences. Although ISB does maintain diversity to some extent, it still does not attract as many international students as a global B-school should. I have been close to ISB for so many years and I can see that the factors that attract international students (placements, Indian living standards, ISB brand, infrastructure, etc) are becoming much more favorable to foreign students, and the trend is changing.

What it means for ISB

The FT ranking sure provides credibility and global awareness to brand ISB. As someone said, "ISB should not just be an Indian B-school, but a global B-school located in India." With international faculty increasing, more international students joining the program and working for ISB, more cutting edge research, and increasing dedicated alumni base, ISB has a great potential to compete with Global B-schools, even if any rankings criteria change.

Having said that, I repeat, prospective MBA students should not use these rankings to compare B-schools. These rankings are just a mere tool for a B-school to prove credibility in the global space and are just an indicator of their potential.

thinkISB.com - A venture to guide ISB Aspirants

Recently, I had a chance to interact with some of the ISB alumni who have started a venture called thinkISB.com. I feel that is a very good initiative, coming from someone who has gone through the process, and more so, gone through the ISB journey. There are many applicants who are clueless regarding how to best project our personal story to the admissions committee. I feel that for admissions, more than a thorough understanding of the admission process, it is important to understand the MBA program and what the school has to offer. This is where initiatives like thinkISB.com come into the picture to provide accurate and targeted information.

Delving into the history of how, why and by whom thinkISB.com was started, I found that thinkISB.com, was born with an aim to guide aspirants (both, fresh and re-applicants) through the admission process of the Indian School of Business (ISB). The founders, all alumni of ISB, have diverse industry experience and have worked in close coordination with ISB Admissions committee in past.

The admission process of ISB might appear daunting and overwhelming for fresh applicants and may not be clearly understood by the re-applicant pool. It is believed that only the best make it to best b-schools like ISB. But a lot of brilliant aspirants, for the lack of personalized guidance or unclear understanding of admission process, fail every year to project themselves well to the admissions committee. Quite undeniably, in many such cases, professional admission guidance can make the winning difference. thinkISB provide that guidance to ISB Aspirants.

For more information, feel free to reach them at

EMAIL: info@thinkISB.com
PHONE: 9010917222 / 9010918222
WEB: www.thinkISB.com
BLOG: http://thinkisb.com/blog

ISB Application 2009-10 Essay Analysis

The Admissions for the One Year PGP for the class of 2011 is now open. The application portal is also LIVE. Here is the link for the same. http://pgpapp.isb.edu/user/default.aspx

The application deadlines are:

Cycle 1 Application Deadline September 15, 2009
Cycle 2 Application Deadline December 1, 2009

I had written a note on previous years’ Essays:
* Essay Analysis for Class of 2009
* Essay Analysis for Class of 2010

I did a simple analysis of this year’ essays and provided a personal opinion on the same. Take this just as my personal opinion and ISB has no official connection with the same.

Essay 1: Give 3 reasons as to why you should be selected to the class of 2011. These reasons should ideally differentiate you from the applicant pool and should be backed with some data. (300 words max)

According to me, this is the most simple and at the same time, the most important question of all. You simply have to differentiate yourself but remember: You do not have to be an overachiever to differentiate yourself. You do not have to do something away from the normal to achieve differentiation. Just sit back, reflect on what you have done and you will find the answers. Here are some tips to find the answer:

1. Just imagine that all people from your industry or company are put in a room together. ISB has to pick one person of them. What selling points do you have?
2. Jot down everything that you have done since graduation, be it extra-curriculars, achievements at work, involvement in social clubs, etc.
3. Use post-its: Write one bullet point about yourself on one post-it each. This point need not be an achievement, but can be rather normal (to you). Spread them out. Now make three boxes marked “Personal”, “Professional” and “Community”. You can make different boxes, according to your needs. Now classify each post-it to a box so that you have 3 clusters in front of you. In each box, start removing the least important post-it. Repeat this activity for each box until you are left with only one post-it in each box. Here is your answer.

Some general pointer on the purpose behind this question

The batch strength of ISB is 560 and every B-school wants each student to bring something worthwhile to the community that he/she can contribute. Consider the fact that learning in an MBA environment is not limited to classroom. Peer learning forms an important part of education here. To achieve this, a B-school must ensure that its batch is diverse enough that each person contributes as much to in-class discussions as to outside classroom interactions. These diversity factors can be in terms of international work experience, excellent academics, good leadership initiatives, start-up experience, and so on.

Structure of the essay

In my opinion, do not give any introduction or ending summary. Just come straight to the point, considering 300 word limit. If you really want, just give a one-liner introduction mentioning the three factors that you are going to talk about. This introduction is important if you are blending the three points in the essay and not separately listing them out under different headings. There is no one right approach. Just write it with your heart and make it either a story like essay or 3 points under 3 headings. Both are fine. The important thing to remember here is to be precise.

Essay 2: Describe a challenging assignment you have handled (at work or outside) to date. What were the challenges and how did you handle them. What were the personal learnings you derived from this assignment. (300 words max)

Challenges contribute significantly in developing professional and personal maturity. Answer this essay with a story to describe a challenge that helped you gain a mature approach towards life and work. Just pick one story, keep it simple and short and focus more on the learning part. This is a great opportunity to highlight your resilience and ability to learn from even the most difficult circumstances. Basically, you have to highlight how you grew either because of the experience or in spite of it.

A suggested structure to this response can be

* Story – Describe the initial challenge
* Comment on your thoughts and actions in response. If applicable, comment in internal thoughts as well as external reactions to display the nature of the challenge

It is not necessary to have overcome the challenge. You may still be in the process or have failed to overcome it completely. But the positive change did that bring in you is more important. Remember that your thoughts and response to the challenge should display maturity, and a common theme of sincerity towards improvement should come out.

Essay 3: Briefly assess your career progression till date along with your assessment of your future career goals. Discuss how your career goals will be met by the ISB’s one year program. (300 words max)

This is a very simple factual question. But the challenge here is put your story and future plans in 300 words. This exercise will take a lot of time and effort. In my opinion, the steps to structure this essay are:

* Jot down everything you have done till now in your professional life
* Answer a why to every decision that you took
* This should result in a chronological story with reasons for every step
* You have to tailor some things to show not that your decision was a consequence BUT because of your original plan, you took a decision. Basically, your decisions should be a consequence of your master plan
* Finally justify how an MBA fits into the overall plan regarding the next steps
* Now when everything is in place, put everything together. Make an attempt to bring out an interesting story that answers the reason of all your decisions and brings certain qualities evidently. Make sure that those qualities are coming out clearly and the user should not have to struggle to find those out.
* If space allows, you may also add a line or two about how an MBA from ISB specifically will help you. This answer will require some amount of research from your side regarding what ISB offers and how it fits into your expectations from an MBA program.

All the best for your application.

MBA Journal Writers for Businessweek.com

Businessweek.com has posted requirements for MBA Journal writers. This is a good opportunity for people who want to become part of the team that will share their MBA experience with the rest of the world. They need people who are, or will join, the class entering 2009-10.

For one, I know for sure that there are many good writers out there who are anyway sharing their MBA journey through their personal blogs. This will be a good platform for MBA writers to come in the mainstream. This will also be terrific for any reader who would want to read about MBA experience of various B-schools, all at one place. Sad to see, there is no journal from ISB. So let me see if I get motivated enough to contribute (read: get time out of my busy schedule here at ISB).

Best of Blogging - Best MBA Advice

The Clear Admit Best of Blogging 2008-09 results were declared 6 days ago. Too bad I could not make it to the top 10 Applicants blog for the Clear Admit Best of Blogging 2008-09. But I'm honored to receive a mention in the Best MBA Advice Category. The judges, including Clear Admit staff and other bloggers included celebrity judges Dawna Clarke, Director of Admissions at the Tuck School of Business, Eric Bahn of Beat The GMAT, and Brad Garrison (a.k.a. Hella).

As I said earlier, this is a motivation for me to write more on the topic.

Thank you Clear Admit.

Nominated for Best of Blogging 2008-09

April has been a month of surprises and events for me. I joined the Indian School of Business (ISB) on 11th April and began my MBA. As many have heard, an MBA can be too hectic. So I wanted to enjoy my share of free time before starting the stressful year. I traveled to Goa and got tanned on the beaches. Then I went further down in Kerala (God's Own Country) and visit the tea estates of Munnar and the back waters in Alleppey. It was indeed a holiday well spent and got me ready for the MBA.

2 days ago when I got my laptop back from the local IT guys from ISB, after they made sure that my laptop is ready to use here, I got another pleasant surprise. I have been nominated by Clear Admit for their Best of Blogging Awards 2008-09. I feel honored and motivated at the same time to update my blog more often.

For those who do not know, Clear Admit is an admissions consulting company that also have an MBA Admissions Blog that helps share information by other applicants and current students. In addition, they also keep updated on various activities happening in B-schools all over the world.

I really feel elated and proud. This goes out to all my readers who are my real motivation. I wish to keep updating my blog on application process and life at ISB.

Last day at ISB - Graduation Day '09

Today, 4th of April, 2009, was the Graduation Day at the Indian School of Business (ISB) for the class of 2009. Today also marked my last day at ISB as a spouse. Today, my wife, became an MBA, an ISM alumnus and my senior.

Today the campus was abuzz with high activity. Families have arrived on campus to attend the Graduation Day, people are busy packing their stuff as most would be leaving ISB in a day or two. Coming back to the G-day.

The Chief Guest of the evening was Arun Sarin, ex-CEO of Vodafone. The other distinguished guests were Rajat Gupta, chairman ISB and ex-McKinsey head and Dipak Jain, dean, Kellogg School of Management. The evening started with a speech by Ajit Rangnekar, current dean of ISB. He talked about what ISB has achieved in the 8 years of its existence, what ISB is all about and what ISB plans to achieve in the short and long term.

His speech was followed by the guest of honor, Arun Sarin. He talked at length about what leaders are, the importance of integrity in business, and what a dream job should be. Considering the gloomy placement scenario this year, he did motivate by asking the students to follow their dream and not just run after 'any' job. He also mentioned that luck is definitely a factor in your life. While everybody knew that they will get a job soon, it was good to hear it from someone and of course, a boost is required.

After Arun Sarin, came Rajat Gupta. Although he too talked about the same motivational thought leadership stuff, but he accompanied that with his story. Let me share it with you. He went to Harvard Business School right after undergrad from IIT. But the year he graduated was in the middle of an economic slowdown, so jobs for student visa holders were less. Since he was there with 0 experience, hardly any company offered him any interview. He heard from McKinsey, did 2 interviews with them but then was turned down because he had no experience. After a while, at a chat with one of his profs, he came to know that his prof was the McKinsey interviewer's past colleague. On knowing that Rajat did not get an offer, the prof wrote to McKinsey, asking them to interview Rajat, recommending him and thus Rajat secured a job with McKinsey. Rest everybody knows. It was quite motivational.

This was followed by the awards/certificate distribution ceremony.

At the end, Kellogg dean Dipak Jain came to speak. He also serves on the board of ISB. I must say his speech was the stealer of the night. I have never heard such an influential speaker in my life who can grab the attention of audience of all ages. He impressed not just me, not just hte students, but everyone sitting there including the parents. That man, is so humble that you will never feel small. He will connect with you and make you feel empowered. He shared with us stories of life and that was what made us connect with him. While talking about the economic recession, he also touched upon the luck aspect but accompanied with an analogy.

He said life is like a game of playing cards. You can get very bad cards every time they are dealt. But, if you know how to play them, you cna be a winner. A person with very good cards can also lose. So just know how to play your cards and you will do well in life. Moreover, talking about the mood of students which was obviously not very good, considering the placements, he gave another hit.

He said humans should follow the refrigerator principle in life. If things are kept cool, they stay fresh for a longer period of time.

Isnt that the ultimate mood booster? With that the ceremony came to an end and everybody had photo sessions and a sumptuous dinner.

It was not over yet. A late night party continues and is going on as I write. This party is required my everyone to say the final goodbyes. Tomorrow, I am also leaving the campus and will return when there will all be new faces to make new friends. I will go now to say my goodbye to the friends I have made over the year. ISB is just not a good school by itself; it is made good by its people, who are amazing. I am sure the next batch, my classmates are amazing too.

It is 1 am and I am off to the party now.

Don Loper publishes his entire HBS Application

There is this guy called Joshua Steimle who applied to Harvard Business School (HBS) and got rejected without even an interview call. While MBA applications are considered private and personal by most people, this guy took a bold step and published his entire application in pdf form to the public for comment. I must say that's a very bold step and in all my sanity, I would never do that. But if you read his applications and then the comments section, you will get many different points of view and will develop a fresh perspective on leadership and management.

Here he publishes his application. Although he does a preliminary analysis himself before opening the application to the public, there are more aspects for improvement than he ever imagined. An interesting read. Go here for his entire pdf application.

Contact Me

Your Name
Your Email Address
Image Verification
Please enter the text from the image:
[ Refresh Image ] [ What's This? ]