Is a B school education worth it?

March is that time of the year when B school fever is at it’s peak. Most of them have had their placement season’s, leaving some outgoing students ecstatic and others rather forlorn with the job options they have landed. Throughout the country, a lot of activities are going on with the new admissions. Finally, the first year students are looking forward to the summer internships – their first exposure to significant money in corporate world.

To several students and their parents, B school education is like a holy grail that promises a lucrative career like nothing else does. The type of admission seekers we have to the B schools can be roughly divided into the following categories:-

  1. Students just graduating from college who are looking forward to earning more qualifications that will lead to better job options.
  2. Young people in the first 1-2 years of their careers and not liking it much.
  3. People in their careers for 4 plus years who are not able to see much career growth in the future – this is especially true for IT professionals.

If we simply go by available data then there is no doubt that an MBA degree from a B school of pedigree will definitely help in terms of getting the kind of initial breaks like no other alternative. People in all 3 categories listed above will see significant benefits to their careers and exceptions are rarely there. However, there are a few caveats which these people will need to keep in mind:-

  1. Selection of the right set of B schools and your ability to get into one of these are important considerations. Remember, the top 20-30 B schools will give wings to your career, the rest may not be so hot.
  2. Irrespective of which B school you get admitted to, you have to evolve as a professional manager and present yourself well in corporate life, both at the time of interviews as well as thereafter.
  3. Learning is a lifelong activity, a good B school will set you on the path but you have to traverse it through your career.

So if we broadly agree on the efficacy of doing an MBA from a leading B school, the question is where do you do it from? Let me try to answer it by a ranking hierarchy I have for the B schools when I advise students and others who seek my counsel.

  • IIM Ahmedabad, IIM Bangalore, IIM Calcutta.
  • IIM Lucknow, XLRI, FMS
  • IIM Kozhikode, IIM Indore, SP Jain, MDI, IIFT
  • IIT B schools, IIM Shillong, Other IIM’s
  • Newest IIM’s, Good private B schools

If you are able to get your MBA done from any of these you should be fine. Any other places can also be OK but then you are depending more on your ability as an individual to do well and not so much on the institution’s brand power to get you started.

How much will all this cost? Well, the figures can range from 10 lacs to 25 lacs for a 2 year education. FMS is the cheapest among the lot and XLRI is currently the most expensive. Fortunately, this is not too much of a problem as there are many banks which will give you loans covering the entire cost of education. The pay back will really not be a problem even if you are able to get a reasonable paying job and, for most people, the loan can be squared off in the first 3 years of their careers or so.

How much does one earn? The range can be quite wide and is obviously depend on which B school are you from. For the top B schools an average or median salary can be around 20 lacs per year in India. The highest domestic salaries can go upto 50 lacs or so and the salaries outside India can be 1 crore and above. More importantly, even the lowest salaries in a good B school will rarely be less than 10 lacs a year.

So, if you have the aptitude and the ability to get into one of the top notch B schools of the country, it is always a good idea to try for it. Remember, it is hugely competitive and ,unless you are blessed with the benefit of reservation, the elimination process is rather brutal. I was just in an IIMC panel the other day and we could recommend only 3 out of the 20 general category candidates we interviewed. This was after all of them had scored more than 99.5 percentile in CAT.

But that is life for you – to get the best you have to be the best too, more often than not.

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4 thoughts on “Is a B school education worth it?

  1. One should strive for the best but it is not necessary to get the best to live a good life . Financial independence can give one a good life and it can be achieved with average salary if one lives a simple debt free life . While it is good to compete , the world today has gone crazy with parents forcing there children to compete from birth – not allowing their child even the joy of living his childhood .
    Also designation and status come with government job but hardly with corporate ones – in private jobs one is hardly sure how much duration his high paying job will last and that is why retirement is taken early or forced .

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    • Surya private jobs also have designation and status and are much more performance oriented. Do you support a govt job system where people have security but hardly have any performance standards?

      These people get the money as they are the best in the country and are in demand. The money is the outcome, just getting into a good B school requires years of effort.

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      • I am mentioning what I see in our own country . After 15 years in corp with good designations and pay I feel that the moment you are outside the job those have little meaning in society and you are on your own . Compare this with government jobs and designations where people loiter around for entire life hardly doing anything worth value yet have to never worry about financial planning as salary never stops till death of self and spouse .
        My point is whatever one earns in corporate jobs he has to manage it to last his lifetime as there is no social security – so saving and investing is much more important than big salary only .

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  2. I think the management education is overly inflated – it cannot replace the experience you gain by doing the job. It is a western fallacy that an outsider with a management degree can do wonders to a company. While they may get the numbers in the short term, rarely do they create long term value. Please give examples to the contrary. In my experience Hewlett and Packard made a big mistake in bringing a Harvard graduate that started HP’s downfall if you really look at it. He couldn’t lead the researchers and engineers at HP to find the next big thing. I wouldn’t hire a pure bred management graduate to lead a company, I would value their experience more than their degrees. Look at sports, can you name a few Managers from sports management institute ? Very rare almost zero.

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