B-school essentials

In response to competitive demands of corporations and increasing globalization both of which require tomorrow’s business leaders to be flexible, manage workforces and internal structures that cross cultural and political lines, graduate business programs are diversifying and redefining themselves. You will still graduate with a firm grounding in staples of business education-finance, strategy, operations, management, marketing and the like-but you will also learn how to work in teams, how to motivate others, and how to look at the ‘big picture’ when solving problems. What should you be looking at in order to choose the right B-School given the current trends?

Have a clear objective before beginning your MBA (Master of Business Administration) or even applying for an MBA in the US. The best way to maximize your return on investment is to first choose a school that is consistent with your passion. Different schools have different strengths. Your objective may be to maximize real life learning, build a network and/or get a diversity of experiences. It is understandable that you would want to attend a ‘top’ program, but what’s more important is that you find a school where you will blossom. The school has to be a good fit for you and vice versa.

For the admissions committee, the essays determine whether you are a good fit for their institution. Remember, your undergraduate performance and GMAT scores are only a part of the application. Don’t give up on applying to a school you really want to study at, just because your GMAT is below their average. Schools place a lot of importance on work experience and extra curricular activities. As such schools don’t have cutoffs of any sort, but rather look for passionate, intelligent, innovative leaders who will contribute to the class and to the business world.

There is a terrible myth out there that most MBA programs require or expect five years of work experience, and unfortunately many people believe this myth. This means that wonderful candidates with no, one or two years of work experience assume that they can’t get in, which is untrue. Please remember that an average includes many numbers, so if the school has an average work experience of five years, there are many below that figure and many above it. What’s more important is what you have done with what you were given.

Cross-Functional Interdisciplinary Curricula:
Across the US, graduate-level business schools are reshaping curricula to teach students the importance of solving problems by synthesizing a variety of subjects, such as marketing courses with information technology to prepare marketing managers for using data mining, customer relationship management and other IT-based tools. Faculty members from different disciplines coordinate their syllabi and teach in teams.

B-Schools in the US are tapping into the talents of an increasingly diverse workforce to form a heterogeneous student body. There are faculty members who affect out of the box thinking and come from a variety of ethnic backgrounds. Students from diverse cultures are viewed as a resource that will complement what faculty members know and what other students bring to the program. The result is a rich exchange of students and faculty members with partner schools in other parts of the world, offering global perspectives.

Schools are working hard to encourage the same environment of ‘team work’ that graduates will experience in the working world. ‘Cohort structures’, for example, have gained in popularity. In a cohort structure, you are placed with a specified number of fellow students- for the first few weeks of the class or for the entire first year. Together with other members of your cohort, you will solve problems as a team, resolve conflicts, sustain morale and learn to achieve your goals by becoming interdependent, like in a corporate setting.

It’s not uncommon to hear business school professors refer to students and companies as customers and to treat their needs with the same respect. Many schools are applying the very business principles taught in those institutions to operating the schools themselves. They are becoming more customer focused, reducing the cycle time for admissions processing and curriculum development.

With such evolution occurring everyday at business schools, today’s program aim to prepare you for the real world of work, where you will work in teams, adopt a global view and analyze problems from a multitude of perspectives. To accomplish these goals, business programs intend to equip you with the ability to embrace change, accept ambiguity and lead others with the vision and confidence gained from continuous learning.