Introduction Even when the number of IIMs have gone up by leaps and bounds, and some IIMs have more than one campus, and the next thirty best B schools are also trying their best to play catch up, it is absolutely essential that you take all the three examinations -- the CAT, MAT and the XAT. Be very careful if you get a call from some odd institution from some remote corner of the country, offering you a very bright future. For this, you need to be updated on how many of the top fifty institutions accept CAT scores. That is, apart from the IIMs.
The top thirty are a very competitive bunch and they are: Janmalal Insitute of Management Studies, Mumbai; IMI New Delhi; Fore Institute of Management, New Delhi; Narsee Monjee Insititute of Management Studies, Mumbai (now a Deemed University); Balaji Group, Pune; Symbiosis University, Pune; IMT Ghaziabad; XLRI, Jamshedpur; XIM, Bhubaneshwar; TA Manipal Institute of Management, Manipal; Bharadhadidasan Institute of Management, Tiruchirapalli; the Great Lakes Institute of Management, Chennai; the LIBA, Chennai; Christ University, Bangalore; Jain University, Bangalore; Sydenham Institute of Management, Mumbai; Wellingker's institute of Management, Mumbai; FMS, University of Delhi; Kolkotta University; Madras University MBA from the main campus; Thiagarajar School of Management, Madurai; the PSG Institute of Management, Coimbatore; the Goa Insititute of Management, Goa; GITAM University, AP; ITM group; Amity University, New Delhi; NITIE, Mumbai; the Management Development Insitute, New Delhi; Punjab University; The Institute of Rural Management, Anand, and of course, ISB. The latest mentioned accepts only the GMAT score and is ideal after three to four years of experience.
The aforesaid list is still not complete. There could be additions in the past two or three years. Yet, these are the country's best institutions with one hundred percent placement record, in core companies. Of late, the competition to get the best MBAs has become very hot. For example, the IMT, Ghaziabad, and Symbiosis University have many campuses. The former is recognized by the AICTE, and its quality is very good.
Be that as it may, if your scores are not so good or your resource position is not so good, you could consider the next thirty in the pecking order. These could be from any city. However, you must be updated on a) The Quality of Placement b) the infrastructure facilities c) The standard of students d) The reach of the placement team and e) The avenues for growth, given the constraints.
The Quality of Placement What are the next thirty in the pecking order? The VIT B school and the SRM University B schools for example, from Chennai. The Sona School of Management, Salem. The Karunya Insitute of Management, Coimbatore, and the rest of the big names from New Delhi, Mumbai, Pune, Hyderabad, and so on. These are somewhere in between B and C. They are positively not B in the pecking order. Neither are they C. They are somewhere in between. They are the ones who are not so bad but are finding it so difficult to find the teachers. They are not so good in quality research and lack the environments that prevail in the IIMs. Yet, they do have industry support and are somewhat inadequate when it comes to coming up with the most innovative courses. For instance, apart from the Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Mumbai, and the XLRI, Jamshedpur, there are no Master's Degree Courses in HRM from entire South India. The VIT University, for example, with its vast resources and huge managerial strength of Chennai companies, the branch of the HRD National Network and so on, could have started a very innovative course. But it has not done it. The quality of research is not so good and the institutes do not have a national presence in terms of the quality of their MBA degree. Still, the local companies that are growing do visit these campuses for some sort of campus placement. All you need to do is to dig deep into the quality of placement of these institutes.
The infrastructure facilities This is vital too. If they have quality books and are also good in terms of library and internet facilities, good hostels and so on, you can easily join such an institute. However, do not ever venture beyond the sixty mentioned above. The best are the IIMs and the next thirty. If you can afford it, you can even crack the CAT the next year, and get very good scores. There is no point in going below the top sixty, apart from the IIMs. The best names have already been given above. However, do not join the distance education program from any of the institutes. They are not equivalent to the best of full-time courses, anywhere.
The standard of students Go through the previous year's composition of students. If you find out that the majority of students are from arts and science, do not join. If there are at least twenty engineers who have joined the institute in the past one year, there is something in the institute. At least, you will have divergent thinking. It is not that only engineers are the best. But you need a peer community that will start debates, ask intelligent questions and so on.
The reach of the placement team If the placement team is able to reach out to big corporates if they have good support from the Top Mangement ( in the VIT B school and the SRM B school this is possible), then you have hit the sweet spot. However, even after a PGDM or an MBA from these institutes, you must compulsorily do the Executive MBA from a good institute in the particular city you are based in. Mumbai and Pune have the best facilities in this regard. This is because the course is always taught by practicing managers, who are too good and have all the support from their organizations to share their rich knowledge.
Avenues for growth, given the constraints This works at two levels. For example, if you have resource constraints and have taken up a job with a good FMCG in Chennai, your aim should be to jump to Jyothi Laboratories or Dabur within three years. You have to do this by migrating to Mumbai. Till 35, even after your marriage, the stint in Mumbai will give you a big boost. The second consideration is whether you can at least get some good jobs, given the previous year's placement records. Though there is no guarantee that the same organization will come to your campus, you can still rest assured that you can trust the Institute for a fairly good level of learning. However, never join a University MBA. Most of these are only BA and you can forget the M from the MBA.
All the very best.
Conclusion Some points, relevant to your choosing the right MBA college, have been discussed above. Never go beyond the first thirty and the next thirty. Never ever. The University B schools are a sham. Never join them. And if you get a job, an Executive MBA part-time is a must, three years down the line.