Cheshire Puss, would you tell me, please, which way I ought to go from here?" said Alice.
"That depends a good deal on where you want to get to," said the CAT.
This excerpt from Lewis Carroll's 1865 classic Alice in Wonderland, beautifully sums up the dilemma most MBA aspirants grapple with once the results of the written entrance tests are out, if not before.
Just imagine that the Cheshire cat in this anecdote to be the actual CAT, and the student will find himself asking similar questions, "Which way to go? Which institute to chose?
The one with the lower fee, strong alumni base and excellent proclaimed placements? Or the one with good residential facilities, excellent faculty and a great research culture? Or should I simply go for the B-School in my hometown in which it is relatively easy to gain admission?"
Myriad questions like these zip across his mind but the answers lie within him only. One has to clearly ask himself (as the cat asks Alice), what do I really want from an MBA? Is it merely placements? A brand with higher equity? If the answer to these is 'Yes', then all he needs to do is collect the placement statistics of the institutes, sort them in the descending order and the preference list is ready.
Thereafter it is a question of seeing the cut-offs and going for the one with highest average placement salaries which you can get into with your scores.
Or is one looking for a great learning experience which can only be provided by interacting with the best brains?
Is one looking to enrich one's personality and pick up essential skills which will help him perform in the corporate world for a lifetime? Is one interested in the social/rural sector? If the answer to the last one is 'Yes', for example, then one needs to consider the likes of IRMA-Anand, TISS-Mumbai, MANAGE-Hyderabad etc.
In fact, if the answer to any of the questions in this paragraph is 'Yes', then you need to do a little more research, find out from your teachers, and of course, seniors. Visit the college websites, as well as neutral ones like www.careers360.com/bschool, to get a clear insight into what life is like in the various institutes so as to know the key statistics.
To help you make an informed choice we have presented here a very practical listing which will help you chose MBA institutes to apply to, clearly based on the CAT percentile (or equivalent) that you have obtained.
For example, let us say you have obtained 75 percentile. Now, this lies exactly on the border of Tier 6 and Tier 7 institutes we have presented here.
Therefore, one should choose a few institutes from Tier 6 and a few from Tier 7 based on your answers to the questions asked earlier in the article. As a safety net, we would also advise you to apply to at least one college from Tier 8.
Overall, applying to 10-odd colleges should be good enough if you have the requisite breadth in your selections. As another example, if you have obtained 82 percentile, you are in the plump middle of Tier 5. In this case, you should apply to about 5 institutes from Tier-5 and 2-3 each from Tier 4 and Tier 6.