Here are some valuable tips for aspirants of MBA and MCA degrees. Colleges selection is the most crucial aspect of their career. Students who pursue higher education in professional courses such as MBA and MCA do so for earning a decent livelihood and for accelerated career growth. Indicators of good placement record are – number of students placed, percentage of placements achieved, average salary, highest and lowest salaries, quality of companies visiting the campus, variety of companies participating in placement drive, number of companies visiting the campus, etc. Good institutes offering MBA and MCA programs have well organized placement department and transparent information system.
1. Placement Record: Most professional colleges make tall claims on placements. One should not trust the empty promises made by such institutions. Prospective students and their parents should validate the claims made by the colleges on the placement performance in the past by having a word with some of the alumni. There is no harm in meeting the HR department of a company and making an independent enquiry too. While doing so, it is important to understand the type of jobs which the students of a particular college are landing up, the kind of salaries paid, professional progress of the alumni, etc. Students should shy away from schools that do not provide placement support.
2. Learning Experience: Good placements are not possible without good academics. While communication and soft skills paly a very vital role in campus selection process, good companies focus on domain knowledge of the students too. Hence good academics are at the core of a good educational institute. Good placements are only a manifestation of good academics. Good academics means contemporary curriculum, effective teaching, using multiple learning methodologies, qualified and experienced faculty members, research output of the faculty members, adequacy of faculty members or the faculty student ratio, industry exposure or experience of the faculty members, contribution of the faculty members to industry through management development programs, consultancy assignments, sponsored projects, etc. Presence of a well established communications and soft skills department is very important for coaching the students to do well in their placement drives.
For a good college at higher degree level, 1:10 faculty student ratio is considered to be the best. But due to faculty shortages, most institutes do not comply with this requirement. These days, faculty student ratio, up to 1: 15, is being practical. But it is not so much of a number game. What is more important is the quality of the faculty members. This would mean, their academic qualifications such as a doctorate in the relevant discipline, certifications in specialisations, relevant industrial experience, continuing research activities, published papers in journals of repute, etc. Good institutes generally make the faculty profiles available on their website. Prospective students should browse through these websites and understand the availability and quality of the faculty resources.
Often institutions show the profiles of well-known professors on their websites as visiting or adjunct faculty resources. This could be quite misleading. For all you know, the Professor may have taken one odd session during the course of a year. But to lure the students, the school might use it as an information item. To validate such information, get connected with one of the existing students. Talk to them for a few minutes. You will be able to make a judgment on the veracity of the information given by the institute.
Another important aspect is the teaching methodologies used by the college. There are a plethora of methodologies used in MBA education such as case studies, role plays, industry projects, internships, management games, etc. While most institutes claim that they use case studies, often they lack the competency to handle such a methodology. This information can also be validated by the prospective students by getting in touch with the present students or the alumni. For the MCA students it is very important to have licensed software to practice applications. Many institutes/colleges lack this facility.
Academic rigor is another important aspect that prospective students and parents should focus upon. While some institutions follow strict academic discipline and implement the classes and evaluation components, certain others pay lip service to academic delivery and integrity of evaluation. While the former way is tough on students in the short run, it leads to effective learning by the student. On the contrary, the later way is easy for the students, but makes the students hollow.
Hence there is a need to have a comprehensive understating of the learning experience in an institution of higher education while taking a decision of joining a college.
3. Internship: Internship is highly valuable to both MBA and MCA students. It is the equivalent of ‘house surgeon’ for a medical doctor. It is the period of time when the student learns executive skills or programmer skills, as the case maybe, by undergoing an intensive training in a company. While some colleges implement internship with all the seriousness it requires, most of them neglect this important component of training the budding managers/executives and programmers. These days there are some unethical consultants who are out there, selling project reports, there by making a mockery of internships and projects. Look for schools that have structured approach for internship with faculty/company supervision and measurement of progress made.
4. Return on Investment: Money spent by a student/parent in higher education should be treated as an investment. Investments are evaluated on the return. This return has to be measured and benchmarked, lest students and parents may end up in unwise educational investments. Professional education in MBA and MCA is expensive vis-à-vis many other post-graduate courses. Hence the return on investment is all the more important. Parents and prospective students embarking on such expensive educational programs should look at the return on the investment. In educational parlance, this simply means calculating the pay back period.
To understand it better, let us take an example. Student A has invested two years of time in acquiring MBA degree at a program fee of Rs.1.00 lakh. At the end of the program, he had to wait for more than 9 months to get placed as the college did not provide placement support service. Eventually A got placed in a company on his own effort and after considerable hardship with a salary of Rs.96,000 per annum. Here the payback period is just about one year, with an opportunity loss of 7 months equivalent to Rs.56,000. On the other hand, another student B studied the same MBA degree in a university paying a fee of Rs.2.60 lakh. But his placement was enabled by the university even before he completed the program. B walked out of the university with a job in hand paying a salary of Rs.4.75 lakh per annum. His payback period is just about 6 months. Although the A paid lesser fee for education, eventually it is B who got better return on investment. When a student/parent can afford, don’t look for just the fee payable. Rather calculate the return on your educational investment and take a wise decision. If the payback period for your higher education is more than one year, you really need to take a hard look at the options. Further you must also benchmark for a minimum salary at the end of your studies.
5. Holistic development: Commercialisation of higher education and the craze for business and computer education led to mushrooming of colleges offering MBA and MCA education. Some of them are no more than teaching shops with a couple of classrooms and faculty members. Such schools cannot contribute to the development of a student either academically or otherwise. The aspiration of a student to evolve into a manager or a software professional to take on future challenges requires careful cultivation of the right attitude and managerial and leadership skills along with adequate knowledge. This balance of knowledge, skill and attitude can be achieved in colleges that have this culture, backed by competent Professors. Thus prospective students should look for colleges that offer holistic development. Good educational institutes offer lots of learning opportunities outside the classroom through projects, assignments, internships, industry interaction, etc. Schools having these learning opportunities are more valuable for an aspiring student than others.
6. Governance: The top management team of the college is another important factor. Their commitment to education, respect for academicians, their reputation, etc. may be checked through available contacts. Students surely should be cautious of the promoters who have dubious academic credentials.
7.Regulatory and Statutory Approvals: Graduates from the professional colleges primarily cater to the private sector requirements. Corporate bodies normally value competence, capabilities and result orientation more than just a valid degree certificate. However, since the student is investing his/her time and hard earned money, it is important to check whether the college has required statutory compliances in place. In addition, students may also check if the college has any rating and/or accreditation.
8.Campus Infrastructure: A sound mind needs sound environment to concentrate on the studies. Facilities such as a good library including subscriptions to online databases, adequate computer lab including latest software, modern classroom facilities, audio visual aids including LCDs, hostel, recreation, sports and games, etc. should also be looked into while selecting the college.
9. Location: It pays to study in a metro or urban location, even if the living expenses are higher. Locations where the industry is well developed will have additional advantages for the student in terms of value additions such as guest lectures by experts; industry based live projects, short-term assignments, summer internships, etc.
10. Alumni Network: This is very important for a student aspiring to be a manager. One of the key success factors for a manager is network. Hence a strong alumni network augers well for a good college offering management education. If a college does not bother about its alumni in general and in Management College in particular, such college is not worth pursuing MBA education. For other professional programs such as MCA too connect with alumni network is valuable.