What’s in a Ranking? It Is Just a Lack of Clarity of Thought!

– By Abhinav Kanagat. Abhinav is an alumnus, class of 2012 (IBS Hyderabad). He has just started with his first job. Abhinav is a budding musician and was part of the band, Diatribe. He was also the President of the Sport Club – V.A.P.S at IBS Hyderabad.

Education should never be thought of as a one-sided affair; teachers teaching and students learning. That never happens. Even at school, it is the students who are driven and focused, who score well and make something of themselves. Clarity of thought has to exist to enable learning and application. Without clarity of thought, we’re simply no-good.

There is this lack of clarity that I have seen among our generation. I dare not generalize it, albeit I have seen it, so I know it exists, and in a large chunk of the population. I have met students during my time as an MBA pursuant, who had absolutely no clue as to why they jumped to an MBA right after their under-graduation.

This trend is increasing, and thus is becoming a cause for concern for not just other students, but also managements of various b-schools spread across the country. What doesn’t help is the lack of career counselors in the country or the lack of will of the so-called torch bearers of education to do something about it.

It could still have been easy to tackle had the quality of education being provided to these young impressionable minds been of certain standards. This however has become the Achilles’ heel for the higher education system in India, as more than 2000 institutes have sprouted up for MBA alone, with no set principles on quality education to hold them back.

We have regulatory bodies in place who are probably (and hopefully) working overtime to ensure that certain standards and parameters are met or the colleges which do not meet the requirements are either forced to meet them or are closed down (like many in the recent past). But even they become helpless when students start enrolling into colleges, based on the rankings given by the various consultancies, magazines etc.

What are these ratings/rankings based on? The placements, infrastructure, faculty pool and student pool in general, right? But then how is the rating done? How are the benchmarks set? Who defines what is good or bad, if the benchmarks are worth being benchmarks or not?

I ask these questions because there are many institutes in India which, though not recognized by the governing bodies, still manage crazy placements. These however, won’t even get a mention in the rankings! Why? The answer lies in what the target audience wants to see.

I say this with so much confidence because of the comments people post on the online versions of these ratings and rankings. Wherever one feels the ranking/rating is not up to one’s expectation, it becomes easy to claim bias.

If this is the case, and everybody knows it at the back of their minds, why do people still check rankings before enrolling into institutes? It is simply because the ‘system’ has become as such.

There are hundreds of ‘coaching centers’ across India which declare they know the tricks to crack competitive examinations. Some, no doubt add a lot of value in terms of the new approach they set their students on, but many others are just in it for the money – which mind you is HUGE!

The whole shebang of “watch out for the rankings” starts here. I’m not saying that the system is wrong and should be done away with. I’m saying we need more forums for students to express the kind of a value addition the institute has provided to them since they joined it. What has been their experience, and in their view, if a) they are now clear about what an MBA stands for and b) if they think that the learning were worth it. This, to not discount how the institute treated them, rather to open up to future students a platform in order to provide them a better insight and understanding in order to set their expectations right from the word “go”. For it is only the ones who have gone through the grind of an MBA degree course who know and truly understand if they were right in taking the plunge right after their under-graduation or not.

Such interactions promise to provide confused young adults with some sort of clarity on what an MBA actually is all about and whether or not it is better to learn the ropes of the corporate world first before jumping on the bandwagon and storming into b-schools. There is a reason why ‘freshers’ are not allowed to enroll in well established b-schools abroad. The is a sense of certain maturity that the course demands, and such maturity comes only after one has been responsible for earning his/her own bread for a while.

Nothing changes over-night for sure, but we do have institutes in India too which follow the same principle. B-schools like ISB Hyderabad are held in such high repute because they take in students who are aware of themselves and their surroundings. This not only helps the employers when they come for campus placements, but the students as well; as their expectations are more or less set based on the market environment and based on their experience.

All I’m trying to say through these examples is that we are in dire need of educational reforms in the country. The fact our society is dependent in nature still, just presses the need more.

When a student joins an institute, s/he picks the best option not just as per them, but also as per the exposure and the opinion others have about it. When a fresher joins an institute, until and unless s/he has an inherent talent to lead, s/he cannot expect packages in the millions. There is always a learning curve involved. Sure most will get into the millions a few years down the line, but that will only happen once they prove their worth to the organization(s) they work for.

Imagine yourself as a recruiter who goes to any campus for recruitment, will you pick a person who has no experience, solely on the basis of his/her grade point average? No. You will want to know if s/he can fit into the work ethic of your company. Agreed it is a little easier to mold freshers into the working environment of most businesses, but it is relatively smarter to hire ones with work experience, because they will bring an aura of maturity along with them to the organization.

Experience teaches one how to live and survive in the toughest of conditions. It is this experience that most MBA pursuants and graduates lack. There have been many comments from CEOs of top Indian and Multi-National companies that the standard of Managers being churned out from the thousands of B-Schools across the country has gone down considerably. This has a bull whip effect on campus placements, and preferences and priorities change.

It is therefore ESSENTIAL that one asks oneself why s/he wants to do an MBA. If the answer to this question is simply to make more money, then I request such individuals to reconsider. Even the best of the best b-schools don’t promise millions of rupees to freshers. It is up to the individual to prove their worth.

If one is so naïve as to think that just because s/he joins an IIM or an FMS, that one’s placement with a 7 figure starting salary is guaranteed, one could not be more wrong. Which brings us back to the first point made in this Blog – Teaching can never be one way traffic.

While deciding which college to enroll for, if one knows their reasons for pursuing MBA and has set practical expectations, I guess it becomes immaterial what the college one is joining is ranked, for even a college ranked 100th on the list has recruiters coming to them. If the aspirant is worth it, s/he will get what s/he deserves.

The only consideration one should have during the admission process is whether or not the institute one is joining, is going to add value to him/her or not. If the aspirant is confused about the answer, it is best s/he look elsewhere.

Ratings may be a guideline that most aspirants go by, but it should not become the sole directive for joining a b-school.

If you know what you want from life, apart from things not under your control, nothing can stop you from achieving your goals. The going may be tougher in some places, but all experience is good experience, as you will then hold an edge over others who have always had a smooth sailing and are put in a tough spot. Going through tough situations makes one sharper and smarter. It opens one’s mind to new ideas.

Such is the kind of managers the world wants, people who can literally think beyond the boundaries of the books, and become visionaries of the future. If average is what one wants to be, then there is no help anywhere for you.

There is another thing that I would like to mention here; once you have made a decision in life, STICK TO IT. There is no point cribbing about what could have been if this or that had happened. You took a decision based on the circumstances you were in, and now is the time to back yourself. Cribbing is very easy, facing difficulties is tough, but true winners and leaders are not born out of easy lives. Strive always to get the best out of wherever you are and add value to yourself.

There is no turning back in life, and there should never be the need to turn back. If you believe in yourself, that is all that the world cares about and respects.

So when you decide to get a post graduate degree in management, be selfish and think! No matter where you go, keep adding value to yourself and your future shall be bright. Laziness has no place in the 21st century.

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