Waning B-school Lucre

Has the allure of graduation in management worn off of late? If yes, is this for good, or will the MBA degree repossess its magic appeal soon? And what is it that has made the once covetous program lose its sheen?

What led to the diminishing of the B school shimmer?

The education sector has lost its classroom sessions to the global pandemic. And the faculty in most institutions have been struggling to deliver virtual lectures. Right from preparing fresh content to delivering classes on a web-based platform, professors and tutors seem under prepared to face the behemoth of online classes. Tutors are trying to pick up notes on online content preparation and execution of virtual classes.

Do B-schools continue to get admissions now?

The MBA degree has been oversold by B-schools with lavish marketing. Many students opt for an MBA without understanding the impact of the financial burden that a B-school education brings, and without realizing the limitations of the degree. An education loan comes with an interest component and the repayment of the loan is a huge financial burden.

Campus recruitments in most B-schools do not attract the package required to withstand the monetary strain, leading to long periods of amortisation. And students realize this only at the time of campus placements, and by then it is too late to do anything about it. All the fees is paid, and the time to repay the loan starts with a job that does not pay as expected.

How does a person decide on the worth of a program?

Some questions you must ask yourself before you enrol in a program:

  • What will I take home from the program? Is it academically worth the fees I pay? Is it just theory that is easily forgotten?
  • Does the program come with industry exposure? Are the faculty experienced to impart the subjects, or do they just teach something bookish? Is the B-school tied up with experienced people from the industry, even as visiting faculty?
  • How relevant to the field of study are the boot camps, workshops, and internships in the program?
  • Is the B-school tied up with the best of corporates in the industry? How many industry visits does the program provide, and how relevant are these to the program?
  • What is the campus recruitment scene? What is the average and median package the graduates here attract? (The maximum package is less relevant to your decision. Just one person in the class gets the maximum pay, and chances of you being this person is one out of x, where x is the total number of students in the class.)

If the above parameters are met satisfactorily, you can think of engaging in the program.

How have B-schools fared in fulfilling their responsibilities?

Reports of B-schools’ performances have not been favourable. Many graduates have not procured job offers, and some of the companies who had given offers have revoked them owing to the pandemic crisis. This has only resulted in an increasing number of jobless MBA graduates.

The other side is not great to hear as well. Many companies who had hired MBAs in campuses are not very happy either. They complain of graduates with low skill sets, and little or no industry exposure. They feel B-schools aren’t doing enough to prepare graduates to be ready for working. These schools seem to concentrate more on glitz and ignore the core principles and practices of business management.

What is the global scene?

Even internationally top ranked B-schools have fared poorly. Here is a glimpse:

Source: https://poetsandquants.com/2020/03/19/this-years-mba-job-market-how-bad-will-it-get/?pq-category=b-schools/

Poets and Quants Rank Name of the school 2007 vs. 2009 MBA Job Rates at Graduation 2007-2009 Decline In Percentage Terms 2019 job rate at Graduation
1 Stanford 93.5 ↘ 69.1 26 % 68%
2 Chicago Booth 89.2 ↘ 73.2 18% 87%
3 Harvard 94.3 ↘ 76.8  19% 87%
4 Pennsylvania (Wharton) 85.6 ↘ 65.8 23% 81%
5 Northwestern (Kellogg) 91.9 ↘ 68.1 20% 79 %
6 MIT (Sloan) 86.9 ↘ 69.5 20% 79%
7 Columbia 81.6 ↘ 61.1 25% 78%
8 UC Berkeley (Haas) 82.5 ↘ 65.3 21% 76%
9 Dartmouth (Tuck) 90.1 ↘ 69.2 23% 85%
10 Yale SOM 77.4 ↘ 69.3 11% 76%
11 Virginia (Darden) 87.9 ↘ 72.4 18% 90%
12  Michigan (Ross) 86.1 ↘ 65.8 24% 88%
13 Cornell (Johnson) 87.1 ↘ 61.5 29% 86%
14  Duke (Fuqua) 80.5 ↘ 68.5 16% 83%
15 UCLA (Anderson) 79 ↘ 51.3 28% 76%

Is there any hope or should one give up on an MBA now?

Asking everyone to drop the idea is uncalled for. The premier institutes still do a good job of churning out good, industry-ready graduates, with sufficient exposures too.

What about recruitment, is it a dead end for fresh graduates?

While some sectors like hospitality and tourism are not hiring readily, there are also some like IT, Healthcare, and Education that are still recruiting from campuses. Depending on the institute and the specialty, one may still get to grab that lucrative offer.

Where do B-schools fail?

It is not possible to pin-point one element, but a combination of factors have contributed to the present scenario. The following figure illustrates the situation:

Many are far removed from the real scene. While the industry expects graduates to fit like a glove, graduates themselves visualise themselvesas the cream of the lot, and institutions project their graduates as the lion of the jungle; in reality, they are smaller than a bug, and are hardly prepared to face the corporate world. 

What is the current scenario at B-schools?

While people are trying to grapple with the pandemic crisis, they are apprehensive of committing to a program that will entail a financial drain for two years. And the lucre of a good placement has dwindled too with companies shying from recruitments.

Many B-schools, especially those institutes that are not in the top 20 rank, are struggling to fill in seats. They try to project a rosy picture, but prospective students are guarded in viewing an MBA program for now. Wait and watch, exercise caution is the word that is in the air now.

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