International MBA: Making the decision Part 2

As stated in previous post will mention the next two Ps of the four Ps of b-school decision making"

Having spelt out the critical determinants, the value proposition and the payoff, I decided to flip the coin and take stock of the constraining factor -- the moolah! What price would I be paying for the payoff?
Expectedly, the schools higher on the rankings tended to command a higher price. With US schools dominating the rankings, they happened to be the most expensive at least in terms of tuition fees. The European schools, in general, were more cost effective because of the shorter durations of programmes, which also offset the opportunity cost of an extra year of education that one would go through at North American schools. However, they were more expensive in terms of living costs (think London [Images] or Paris). The Australian and Singaporean schools were, by far, the cheapest options.
Funding options only at the best schools in the US, UK and Europe were sympathetic to international students. That also meant tougher competition, with every candidate vying for the handful of MBA scholarships, teaching assistantships or university jobs. At the very least, I had to get an acceptance to be eligible for a loan under the funding programmes co-sponsored by the schools and reputed banks. Schools with these options got additional points on my personal ranking system.
I also did a quick calculation of visa requirements, fees and timelines for visa processing. Australia [Images] suddenly started to seem more distant, courtesy the stringent visa norms. Of course, USA had not got any friendlier to students in the aftermath of the September 11 bombings. I remained apprehensive about the US schools but retained a couple on my shortlist.

Finally, I had to rely on my overall feel of the programme. In my research on B-schools, I had made it a point to speak with as many alumni as I could contact from as many schools as possible, to understand their own motivations for doing an MBA, especially from the chosen school. Most times, I contacted the schools directly to gain correspondence details of alumni and/ or current students. From the responses that I received from schools (some were very prompt and open, others elusive and guarded) and the actual conversations with the ex/ current students, I learnt about the culture and the people, apart from the typical programme-related information, at the various schools. After all, an MBA was not meant to be only about study; it needed to have a 'fun' element too.
In my book, one of the greatest take-aways from the MBA experience would be the alumni network that I would become part of. One impact of this conclusion was that the school needed to have a sizeable alumni network. Also necessary was the composition of my class, an important factor in determining whether I would thrive or not. Having learnt through personal experience that a diverse group usually makes for greater learning, I championed the diversity cause at every opportunity I got. Having a fairly diverse profile myself (non-engineer ie economist, law graduate, financial services professional, female) made the cause seem even more worthy.
I, therefore, assigned high weightage schools that had a high 'diversity quotient'. I defined this score based on an amalgam of several factors such as the ratio of men to women in a batch, the proportion of international students in the batch, the number of countries represented in the class, and the type of backgrounds students came from.
In general, the European schools tended to score much higher on these counts than North American or Australian/ Singaporean schools. This was partly due to the fact that the small size of the home country mandated attracting larger proportions of students from outside the country. However, a more interesting and important characteristic was that these schools had slightly older students than the others -- the average age at a European school being 29 or 30 years as compared to 26 or 27 at others -- which also meant that they had greater work experience. Although I would have been an outlier on the (lower) range of ages in the class, I was more attracted to the mature profile of students at the European schools.
My interactions with alumni showed that this factor played a great role in the way applications were evaluated by the Admissions Committees of schools. In general, at schools with a younger candidate pool, the relative shortage of work experience and work-related achievements forces the AdComs to focus more heavily on academic performance and GMAT scores of candidates. However, at schools with a more mature candidate pool, there is more for applicants to talk about in terms of their experiences at work, and a sharper articulation of their motivations for pursuing an MBA. Thus, the AdComs indulge in a well-rounded evaluation of the entire application.
This realisation meant two things to me: (1) that a more mature class would provide me with a wider opportunity to learn from and share with my peer-group and (2) that my application would get a balanced reading, improving my chances of acceptance to the programme


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  • COBBLED - Repair or mend
  • ABHORRENCE - Hate coupled with disgust
  • INCUMBENCY - The term during which some position is held
  • MITIGATE -Lessen or to try to lessen the seriousness or extent of
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