B-School Selection
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IIMs versus FMS, XL, MDI and other top schools

Now that the first round results of almost all the b-schools are out, we get regular queries about which b-schools to join. There is rarely any confusion about A, B and C but after that it seems as if aspirants are having a lot of trouble choosing between the IIMs L, I and K and other top b-schools such as FMS, XLRI, MDI and others. How does one go about making the right choice between the IIMs and other top schools? One of the terms thrown around a lot these days is ROI.


How you should really calculate ROI

A few years back an aspirant I was speaking to after an ISB info session said

  • Sir, these days even IIM-A does not offer a great ROI, the average salary and fee are more less close to each other.

A lot of aspirants tend to use ROI to evaluate colleges. They tend to use ROI in conjunction with batch size to decide which college to join where ROI is simply taken to be Average Salary/Cost of Education.

Well once you do an MBA you will realise that more than an ROI, the better tool to use will be a Cost-Benefit Analysis since you are not investing in a pure financial instrument or land or gold.

Whenever one does a cost-benefit analysis one has to consider not just the tangible but also the intangible costs as well as benefits.

The intangible benefits or the benefits to which you cannot put a number are the ones that most aspirants on the verge of joining an MBA program, those who are doing their MBA and those who have just graduated are unaware of. This post will deal with all of these intangibles that might help aspirants to make a decision.



The three letters I-I-M carry more weight than you can imagine

Firstly, no aspirant should forget that the second most prestigious & valuable prefix that an insitituion in this country can carry is IIM. When most aspirants start preparing for the CAT, they do not tell themselves that they want to crack XL or MDI or FMS, it is always the IIMs that are on most people minds.

The same hold true for the rest of the business management fraternity — the word IIM carries a lot more weight than you can imagine. People evaluating you at your work place are more likely to pull down an IIM grad at the slightest hesitation saying “How can this person be from an IIM” than they are to say “How can this person be from MDI or XL” (I overheard this as recently as last Sunday at a cafe).

The IIM-tag predisposes people to think positively about you

When you introduce yourself as an IIM graduate, people’s perception of your ability becomes vastly exaggerated. People will tend to treat you as being good unless you yourself prove them wrong. Whereas those from other brands are viewed neutrally and they have to prove themselves. It goes without saying the same applies when people look at your resume.

And if you are from say L, I and K and become a great professional, people might tend to think that you are from A, B or C; they might even assume you are from an IIT as well!


An MBA is about a lot more than your first job

The problem with the ROI method is that it places an unduly high importance on the short-term result — the first job you get out of campus. Don’t you think that is barely any return! Good investments yield returns over a longer time-period and a good MBA is also supposed to do the same.

You might not get your dream job even at IIM-A

On campus recruitments are very unlike recruitments off campus and this difference is key to understanding the long-term value of an MBA.

During placements on campus, recruiters are constantly comparing you with a huge list of other candidates they have at their disposal. For recruiters it is like a buffet with many awesome things to choose from but with one constraint — time and competing recruiters!

So what do companies do? They start using various filters to ensure that they look at fewer people and somehow get the people they want before their competitors get them. What are the filters that get applied? They vary from company to company but to name a few

  • the brand of the college you graduated from (everybody wants to get into McKinsey but they can’t possibly interview everyone, so they use the college brand as a filter)
  • leadership positions held (so guys with big leadership roles on campus get filtered in over may be people with a better CGPA) etc

So intense is the competition among companies that this year one prominent consulting firm at IIM-A was even willing to forego the final interview round if the people who they shortlisted so far were still not picked up by others. Imagine, they were scared that by the time they finish their process, they will no have candidates left!

Compare this with an off-campus process. Firstly, it is not a 3-day affair, so companies are not in any hurry to shortlist and interview people as fast as possible. So you will end up getting a fairer shot and enough time to make a good case for your candidature.

Companies do not need people only at the time of campus placements. In fact most fresh MBA graduates, quit their first jobs within a year! There is a constant need for people all year round and they scour various portals and recruitment agencies to get resumes.

So you do not need to worry about the campus placements being final summit or crowning point to reach. In fact it is just the beginning of the climb.

What the MBA gives you is a platform to reach the top over the course of your career.


It’s your peer network that will get you jobs in the long run

Campus placements last only a few days but your peer network, network of immediate seniors and alumni network will be the ones that will be getting you jobs over a longer period.

When you graduate from an IIM, you graduate with access to a network of people working in the best companies in the country. You will not come to know of openings through Naukri or other portals but from your peers since firms hire a lot through referrals.

Also you get access to platforms such as IIM Jobs through which candidates and recruiters find each other. A student who just graduated from IIM-A told me that after graduating this March he was approached by three companies via IIM Jobs.

Can you place a monetary value to the opportunities that this network will open up for you?


If you want to start your own firm, the tag is invaluable to attract investors

Investors are always taking bets on people as much as they are on ideas. Even before you pitch your ideas, investors will be aware of all the hot ideas and opportunities that are present in the market. So in essence they are only evaluating the capability of the team and one of the things that goes a long way in boosting your credentials is the IIM-tag.

So keeping all of this mind how should you make you choices?

IIMs – L, I & K versus FMS, XLRI, S.P.Jain, MDI

Technically I would always place the old IIMs above all other schools purely for the reasons mentioned above.

The only exception can be FMS, for the almost non-existent fees! How does one break this deadlock? Choose FMS over the others if

  • If you have already done your graduation from an IIT and/or
  • If you are sure you want to explore entrepreneurship options immediately after your MBA

What is the rationale behind this?

Firstly, If you have not studied at a premier national-level college, whilst staying on campus in the hostel, an education at FMS or S.P.Jain will be incomplete in terms of the experience.

You will do an MBA only once and the experience of studying in an awesome campus (in contrast to FMS, S.P.Jain and NMIMS) dedicated primarily to the program you are doing (in contrast to MBAs at IITs) is something that you will cherish for life.

If you have already experienced the same during your graduation then you can go ahead and choose FMS, else the IIMs.

Secondly, if you want to start working on your own venture straight out of college then education loan will always be an albatross around your neck, making FMS best option.


Choose other colleges over new IIMs

When it comes to the choice between new IIMs and other schools such as IITs, choose other top schools over them since you will get the benefit of the degree only over a very long-term, when they are no longer considered new.

Also, everything else right from campus, to college culture and placements will just be beginning to take root and hence leave you quite a bit on the backfoot in the short-term. There is also be no network of peers of seniors through whom you get access to jobs.


You are not investing in a college you are also investing in yourself

Most view the expenditure on an MBA from the what-am-I-getting-for-what-I-am-paying lens, making it the college’s responsibility to deliver. Well, unfortunately the college owes you nothing.

The college deems you suitable for a career in management and has offered you a seat giving you access to

  • the learning that they can offer and
  • the best firms in the country

You are investing this money to acquire this education and this network to maximise your potential and your career opportunities.

Most of the time what you study during the course will barely be used in the first few years of your life as an MBA. It will only start making sense when you come into big decision-making roles later in life (even those subjects which you will find most useless on campus).

You are not learning subjects that will help you do your first job better. You are learning and developing the skills to lead a company later.

So it makes a lot of sense to view things not from an immediate placement perspective but from the perspective of maximising your chances of leading the best firms or starting a successful firm of your own.

I hope this article goes some way in helping aspirants view things from the different perspective and resolve the queries in their mind but please bear in mind that the views expressed in this article are purely personal and aspirants are advised to take their own decisions depending upon the variables they wish to maximise.


  1. Rahul Bhayana says

    Hi Sir,
    I have a weak academic background with 7.6 cgpa in 10th, 78.5 in 12th and 6.54 gpa in graduation. I majored in Economics from a state university in delhi. I am very determined to score well in CAT and other management exams. I want to pursue a career in International business or marketing. Please suggest me some top b-schools in which i can apply.


    • Hi Rahul,

      Apart from the IIMs, you should apply to IIFT, XLRI, MDI, SPJAIN, NMIMS and SIBM.

      As a back you can look at applying to a few more b-schools in Delhi and Mumbai since a lot of major recruiters for Marketing are head-quartered in these two cities.

      All of these schools will give you great openings in IB & Marketing.


      • Rahul Bhayana says

        Thank you very much for the suggestions sir. One more thing i want to ask is that do i have any chance in IIM-K,L,I or S?


  2. Siddharth says

    Hello Sir,
    I’m from engineering background with 1.5 years experience, I invest in stocks, and has pretty decent knowledge about the markets. this is stint made me find my passion for it. I’m learning various things to gather knowledge on the accounting and other related stuffs. I want to do MBA in Finance.and I find you saying that people with CA background stands a greater chance converting IIM calls and also are most sort after by recruiting firms. Do I stand a chance ??(If not what should I focus on? i’m not working anymore) and also I haven’t any great tags. Getting into IIM will be my only biggest break of life currently. I would really appreciate your insights.


    • Hi Siddharth,

      To get into an IIM you will need to crack the CAT and do a good interview. Till this stage you might not need anything more than what you currently have.

      But once you get into the top IIMs, you need to back up your interest in Finance with some solid to give your resume atleast a chance of getting shortlisted.

      The best thing that you can do is to clear CFA, Level 1 by the time you join a b-school or atleast before you enter Final placements.

      Currently it has become almost a hygiene factor for engineers interested in Finance to have a CFA to compete with CAs and Commerce grads. Not only as a CV point, you will really learn a lot more about Finance than you would on your own or at a b-school.

      The CFA is conducted in December and June every year. You can find out more at wallstreetmojo.com


  3. Sarvesh says

    Hello sir,
    I have converted MDI pgpm and new iims and really confused as in what to choose.
    I want to pursue business in future,it can be my family business or something on my own…which would a better choice as of now for me…. please give Ur valuable feedback asap😊

    Liked by 1 person

    • I would say MDI since the new IIMs are not on par with respect to infra, quality of peer group you will get and overall experience.

      So I would suggest MDI over new IIMs.


  4. Arnab says

    Sir keeping in mind that probably I will get specialised in marketing, do I need to learn anything in advance before landing to IIMK? What is scope of marketing in K keeping me a fresher in mind from management background from a state university in UP.


    • Usually only freshers are considered for Marketing, unless the work-ex is in sales or marketing. So as a fresher you will be considered over those with work-ex.

      What matters for your finals is that you have a diverse CV with lot of extra-currics. So use your first year to become part of Marketing clubs, participate in inter-bschool marketing contests or even sports and culturals if that is your area of interest.

      As a fresher from a state university in Andhra I got almost all Marketing shortlists since my CV at L had a position of leadership, music and dramatics.

      So go ahead and get your fingers into as many things as possible.


  5. Hiren Ambasana says

    Hiii Sir. Thanks for a Very Informative Article.
    I pursued my B.tech in Mechanical from NIT, Now I am working in a good company since 2 years.by the time i will give the CAT my experience will be 30 months.My question is Which IIM you would suggest? & FYI I want to do my MBA in Marketing


    • Any of the old IIMs will give you a great Marketing placement. The difference between the old IIMs is related to Consulting and FIN jobs with A,C getting a good number of both, B more of Consulting, IIM-L Consult and Fin but lower numbers than A,B,C. I & K lower level consulting firms and very few Fin.

      Great Marketing roles you will get everywhere. While the perception is A for Marketing, B for Consulting, C for FIN, it is a different scenario when it comes to placements.

      As far as teaching goes, a lot depends on the current crop of faculty.

      Hope this clarifies,

      All the best!


  6. Shiv says

    Which will provide better options for consulting/finance jobs among new IIMs and IITs(MBA ofcourse)?


  7. Sai says

    Hello Sir,

    First of all, thank you for such a good article.

    I pursued my engineering from BITS Pilani and graduated with 7.6 GPA, and both in 10th and 12th, I scored 90%+. I am currently working with a startup and have close to 14 months of work ex as of today. I want to purse my MBA in Strategy & Operations. According to you, how many years of work experience should I posses before going for an MBA ?


    • Hi Sai,

      If you are looking at both strategy and operations then you should have 2 years of experience by the time you start your MBA. In your case you should have that by June 2018.

      So give a serious shot at CAT 2017.

      All the best!


  8. Hello Sir,
    Thank you for such a realistic article, i have a very different profile. I am a law student, currently in 5th year at Symbiosis. I have decided to go for MBA and preparing with all my capabilities for the same. My X was 8.2, XII was 67 and Graduation is 2.8/4 ( 70%) I also have won different Awards in various co-curricular activities; Debate, Youth Parliaments to name a few. What do you see my chances of making it to old IIM’s( if there are any) or other premier colleges? I also have various internships( approx 10, 1 month each) Will they be a part of co-curricular or can they be used as work ex or they won’t be of any use ?
    Thank You


    • Hi Prasham,

      You have great chances of getting a call from IIM-A. I had a student this year who had a call at 85 percentile. This is because of their grouping of candidates as per streams.

      You also have a chance in the other schools that have a weightage for diversity.

      Internships are not considered work ex, so no marks for that.

      All the best!

      Liked by 1 person

  9. Hello Sir,
    Thank you for such a realistic article, i have a very different profile. I am a law student, currently in 5th year at Symbiosis. I have decided to go for MBA and preparing with all my capabilities for the same. My X was 8.2, XII was 67 and Graduation is 2.8/4 ( 70%) I also have won different Awards in various co-curricular activities; Debate, Youth Parliaments to name a few. What do you see my chances of making it to old IIM’s( if there are any) or other premier colleges? I also have various internships( approx 10, 1 month each) Will they be a part of co-curricular or can they be used as work ex or they won’t be of any use ?
    Thank You


  10. kuriakose mathew says

    Hello sir,
    First of all I would like to mention that you are doing a fabulous job with this blog helping out confused people like me.This is my first visit to your blog and seriously regret not seeing this blog earlier.

    Coming to my doubts,I am a computer science engineer from a tier-3 engineering college.I am a 2017 passout and my X/XII/B.Tech scores are 95%/89%/76%.I would like to do MBA.I have appeared for CAT-16 without much prep and got 89 percentile.But since I am a fresher and also since my academics marks are not that great,I don’t expect a call from IIM ABCL even if I am able to significantly improve my score. Should I settle for any new iim or other top colleges? Or should I join an IT service comany(campus placement) and give another shot the next year with 1 year of work experience?

    Also according to you which MBA specialization will suit my background IT/ITes or operations or any other?


    • Hi Mathew,

      Thanks for the generous words. I have had to handle so many students across a city that I thought the best thing would be to start blog since most of the doubts fall overlap.

      As far as your profile goes, the quality of your graduation college doesn’t play a major role in your getting a call since the selection process does not quantify the same.

      So the only thing is stopping an A or a B call is your graduation percentage. You can get a call from C since they do not consider grad marks. So it’s not about settling for new IIMs. Also there are good schools like FMS, MDI and SP Jain.

      If you can work and prepare then take up the job.

      As far as specialisation goes if you want to get jobs in IT/Tech or Operations, a couple of years of work ex comes in handy. If it’s Marketing or Finance then work ex is not a must.

      So if you feel you are a techie at heart and would like to work in IT or Tech then it’s better to work and join after having atleast 20 months of work ex.

      If you are open to exploring then join now.

      I would suggest taking a real good shot this year since 89 last year without much prep is really good. Just put in all your energies into getting a great score; we can keep in touch and deal with the other questions as and when they arise.

      All the best!


  11. Rohit verma says

    Sir i am hospitality management graduate from IHM BHOPAL i am preparing to write CAT this year but struggling in QUANT please help and does being a fresher will affect my chances to receive calls from IIMs and other B schools


    • Hi Rohit,

      Just go through all the Quant Strategy posts on the blog and you will find a way to prepare for the section.

      That you are a fresher will not have a major impact on your getting from the top schools.

      IIM-B has a high weightage for work ex and academic profile, with only a 20% weightage for CAT Score, making it almost tough for freshers to get calls.

      In most schools freshers comprise atleast 30-40 percent of the batch, so you need not worry about your chances.

      All the best!


  12. Vasu Aggarwal says

    Hi Sir,

    I have 13 months of work ex. in IT @HSBC(have left the company now), got 99.54 in CAT 2017, but due to relatively weak acads( X(CGPA 9) XII(86.4% Sci) GRAD(76.4% B.tech from DTU) Male ), couldn’t land up an interview call from A B C. Also, I have interest in finance and economics, and do not want to settle for a bad college. Which colleges would you suggest, that I should target as per the above mentioned interests, and what approach should I follow for the same(should I focus on getting a new job and get more experience or any other option)? Would ISI-Delhi and ISI-Kolkata be good options as well?

    PS: Due to STUPID reasons I didn’t fill the form for FMS for any other colleges for CAT2017, so would probably be targeting for next year. Also, I am a little depressed, because of the same STUPIDITY and dont know what career options I am left with right now.. eagerly waiting for you feedback.

    Thanks in Advance
    Vasu Aggarwal


    • Hi Vasu,

      Firstly congrats on 99.54!

      Instead of looking at life in a 1/0 mode I would like you to be a bit practical.

      If you want to get into Fin – then you need to really do better than just get into A,B or C. A CFA has become mandatory for the same. At IIM-C there are more than 70 Engineers with a CFA L1.

      If you do a CFA however you can get a Fin job like so many of my students and colleagues, even out of campus as long as you are from a top-ranked college.

      So this is what I would suggest crack L, I, K and do a CFA L1 before Final Placements, you will get great options.

      Without a CFA and only an interest your CV won’t even stand a chance.

      And Eco is for economists, so a PhD. might be in order.

      Wait for another year and you might not get the same percentile, I myself did poorly this year compared to last year!

      What I have outlined is the best thing you can do to achieve your goals. Do not think twice.

      Let’s have a chat after you crack the interview calls of L, I and K.

      All the best!


  13. Rahul says

    What a ridiculous arguement in favour of IIMs. The above seems like a perfect example of the Indian mentality that most are suffering from. Sharma ji ke ladke ke liye Indians are screwing their lives. Let me point out a few tag blinded statements that you have pointed out -“How can this person be from an IIM” than they are to say “How can this person be from MDI or XL” (I overheard this as recently as last Sunday at a cafe)” Dude are you even serious? That’s something you will base your life decisions upon?

    “And if you are from say L, I and K and become a great professional, people might tend to think that you are from A, B or C; they might even assume you are from an IIT as well!”

    I have a good analogy – ” Let me ride the Red camel because emperors sit on them” Enough said

    “If you want to start your own firm, the tag is invaluable to attract investors”

    I agree with this point and that’s probably one of the reasons so many startups fail in India.

    Dude let me put this straight IIM A,B,C are brands because they consistently perform well. To call IIM I,K as brands and chosed above FMS/MDI/XL just because they have the two “I”s in their names which happen to be also part of the top 3 colleges in India is sheer herd mentality something which Indian students have always been struggling with and it’s high time they came out of it.

    – By a guy who ironically does not have the two II’s in his name/degree anywhere but has a better work profile/balance/position that the folks having two IIs can dream of. (its been 5 years since I did my MBA)


    • Hi Rahul,

      Whether we like it or not perception is reality. If people have a choice between something that has a higher perceived value and an other with not as much, the fact that the perception will get them more options or look-ins, is good enough reason to choose it.

      As far as the argument about startups failing goes – startups fail because of good money going to bad ideas or good ideas being badly executed or just bad timing (competing ideas getting there just a bit early or with a better minor tweak – there is an American TV Series called Halt and Catch Fire that really captures this well)

      Let us assume that this good money went to bad ideas that came from big brand name-tags.

      Let us also assume that there are many good ideas that don’t get the money they deserve because they don’t come from big brand names.

      What should an individual who has good ideas or the potential to generate them in the future do when faced with a choice between a perceived bigger brand/tag and a not so big one?

      If the goal is that his/her good idea should get funding, then the answer is obvious.

      The startup funding system is very, very flawed in that many great ideas don’t even get a hearing. And you are absolutely right in pointing that out. But this post is not about that.

      What should an individual do? Should one become a martyr for a cause that does not really resonate with those that make the decisions.

      The only way this can change is if investors decide to change the way they place their bets. More than students changing their choices, if investors decide that they are going to look for talent in untapped areas, we might have more startups.

      Recruiters should may be start hiring from colleges outside of wherever their perceived comfort zone ends.

      And if we are really talking systemic change then shouldn’t it start earlier. Should we even have a Verbal Ability section at all in a country like India? Isn’t it enough if a guy can speak decent English, something that he/she will eventually get very fluent in. May be then Indian b-schools will end up selecting a demographically different and more talented pool of students? Someone like me with a family and educational background that enabled me to develop an outsized advantage in the Verbal Ability section might not get in at the expense of someone who can barely

      The post was intended only to help people make their decisions to maximise their profile, within what might be a flawed system.

      In fact every year I have students who make it to top schools other than the IIMs and contemplate taking another shot without even having a great job. I talk them out of it saying that the schools will get them a good first job and then it’s just their work accomplishments that matter.

      I am happy that you have found the right work-life-position balance for yourself and I don’t doubt it.

      But to say that those with those two extra IIs can’t even dream of it is a bit of a stretch to say the least.

      I don’t support the system, I am just trying to throw some light on how it works. I hope you understand where I am coming from.



  14. deepak says

    MY grads are 95/82.4/68% in ECE Thapar CAT 94.8. Exp-8 months what is possibility of getting IIMs.


  15. kushagra gupta says

    Sir, i have got 99.4 in cat , 95 and 87.6 in 10th and 12th , with no work experience. Got call from iimi, iims, new iims , MDI, nitie fms . I am a GEM , I HAVE also given my all interviews, sir please tell me which college will I convert, because I am in too much of stress , all sectional are clear, and my all wat/gd/pi held fair…..please help me….becoz I do not want to give another shot….or which college should I take ..
    .waiting for you valuable response


    • Hi Kushagra,
      While a high percentile gets you a call, it does not guarantee a final admit since the GD-PI scores play an equally important role.

      So honestly, since we do not know how much you will score in each of these interviews, I would be lying if I say I knew which ones you will convert. Also, if I am not wrong the FMS interviews are yet to happen right?

      If you aspire to become a business leader in the future then you can’t stress out at this stage after having scored a good percentile and given interviews at top schools.

      If you convert all calls then you should look at FMS, IIM-I, MDI, NITIE, IIM-S and new IIMs in that order.

      So the best thing you can do till the end of May, that is when all the results will be out, including second and third lists, is to relax and read up as much as you can about the various specialisations in an MBA; the books for which I have outlined in a post on this site.

      All the best!


      • sunil kumar yadav says

        Hi Tony,
        Your analysis of student profile is quite logical, Can you please help me with mine as well. I want to purse executive MBA (One year full time) from top 6 IIMs or XLRI.

        My profile -10th – 72%
        12th -72%
        Undergraduation- 92% (Gold medalist)
        Master in Health Administration- 82% (University -5th rank holder)
        Experience -8 years at managerial cadre
        International experience- 1 year at managerial level
        All my experience is in healthcare
        GMAT score – 680

        Will I be able to convert to any top 6 IIMs, If not where all can I stand a chance

        Eagerly waiting for your reply!


      • Hi Sunil,

        Your profile seems to on par with what most of the applicants and participants in 1-year PGPX programs at IIMs and XL have.

        The only cause for concern might be the GMAT score as far A is concerned, from the past data that I know of, it is on the lower side by about 20 points. For the other schools, it should suffice if you do a good interview. Another thing in your favour is the fact that you are from the Healthcare sector. Most applicants as you would not tend to be from IT or Tech and so you have the professional diversity factor working in your favour.

        Hope this clarifies,

        All the best!


      • sunil kumar yadav says

        Thanks a lot Tony, I would prefer to take GMAT again and try to score 700. Thanks once again, Have a good day.


      • Good call. The GMAT is my favourite year. You can visit my GMAT Blog, thegmatblogger.in I am sure you can find something useful there.

        All the best!


  16. Hello Sir,
    I had 99.2 last year and have calls from L/S/FMS/IIT-B/new IIMs. Two interviews are over and I didn’t perform well.

    I graduated from one of the old IITs and am working in a software firm. Grades: 92/93/70 with good extra-curriculars.

    I have explored finance a bit and found it interesting. Don’t have a certification though. Will it be worth dropping a year if I don’t make it, given that I already have a workex of 30+ months? Are the new IIMs worth going for, given that I may have to settle for a position lower than my current one? Regret not applying for several other great B-Schools.

    I know the question really depends upon what I want to do with my life, but I need some guidance here.



    • Hi Akeshwar,

      If you are really serious about Finance then you would need a CFA or an FRM even if you get into IIM-C, for your resume to be competitive.

      Fin firms are selective as well and the brand of the college does make a difference.

      Join any other college apart from the new IIMs, among the calls you have, and take a CFA and finish L-2 by the time you sit for Final placements.

      Most importantly don’t count your chances out; it’s too early, it isn’t over till the first week of June.

      All the best!

      Liked by 1 person

      • Thanks a lot for the response, Sir.
        I was lucky enough to convert Lucknow.
        My earlier query was about my inclination towards finance. But the more I research on every specialization, more I feel lost.

        I have 5-6 weeks of time before the formal admission. I need some of your guidance on how can I make the best use of this time.

        Thank you!


      • Hi Akeshwar,

        Congrats on the IIM-L admit. You are my super-super junior now! Check out the boards on the second floor of the mess, you will find a familiar name.

        As far as specialisations go, you have to choose the same in term 3. May be you should take the call after you go through a few subjects; you will know whether you actually enjoy learning and applying concepts in a particular area.

        Hope this helps. Congrats once again.

        All the best!


  17. Rishabh Bang says

    hello sir, i have received a call MICA and no other college as my cat score is 81 percentile and xat is 87.2. i have a family business which i would like to join after two years of work ex in the corporate world. i am a bcom student with no work ex what is your opinion?


    • Hi Rishabh,
      As you would know MICA is a school that gives you a Marketing & Advertising specialisation as well as jobs.

      If you feel that two years of working in an Ad agency will be the kind of work-ex and insights you seek to take your family business to the next level, then go ahead and join. In this case what you will learn is how to market your business at a broad level.

      Incase your family business is a B2C set up, say a retail store, then this experience will prove useful.

      If your family business is a manufacturing or B2B concern and you want to expand it both in terms of production and business then the MICA experience might not come in handy.

      Hope this clarifies.

      All the best!


  18. Laxmi Prathyusha M says

    I have IMT G Marketing, GREAT LAKES CHENNAI PGPM in my hand now.
    My Past acads were:
    Work ex(Infosys):21 months

    Actually,I am interested in old IIMs.
    Please help me out whether to go with any of the above 2 colleges or make a next attempt for cat.


      • Laxmi Prathyusha M says

        Thank you for the Info and suggestions.
        Actually this was my first CAT attempt, and I am actually sorted towards brand IIM which is making to think of retake, but on other side it is also dragging me to join in one of the Options that I have in my hand.
        Also I am from GENERAL Category with Engineering backdrop.


      • The gap between the IIMs and the calls you have is huge in terms of brand.

        If you feel that the average salary offered by these schools is good enough for you then join.

        Else take another shot. Risk and reward are always directly proportional. So it’s is trade that you have to make.

        All the best!


  19. kushagra gupta says

    Is it worth taking admission in mdi in human resource ?? Please tell me sir becooz I have converted it.


    • Hi Kushagra,

      MDI is a great school and you will not go wrong taking an admission into any program there.

      The catch is whether you want and should build a career in HR. There is a post going today evening on the same — it will help you decide whether HR is your cup of tea or not.

      All the best!


  20. Hi Sir, I am in a very difficult situation right now.I am 2017 pass out GEM.Cat16 98.38 converted iim Rohtak and iift Kolkata.
    Decided to take cat18, but could only get 98.58.
    Currently rejected from iift at 99.67%ile and mdi WL 82 (almost no chance for pgpm), I have no interest in hr so mdi hrm is the last option.new iims awaited.
    I also declined my campus placement offer last year as joining came late.
    So now I don’t have a job and new iims left.I might feel bad joining new iim now when I had iim Rohtak last year.
    How should I approach my situation while waiting for results?


    • Hi Abhinav,

      Given that you have no interest in MDI-HRM there is no point taking it up — spending 20L doing something you do not like will only lead to more unhappiness and bitterness.

      I know that it might seem like you have returned to the same place as last year having only the new IIMs to choose from.

      While this might seem deflating, you need to take heart from the fact that you took a risk. It did not come off but that does not mean that you were wrong to do it or that you have failed in life.

      The most important capability is the ability to take a risk — most people do not have it at all.

      Another attempt is fine only if you are sure of finding a job soon and you feel that you can do better and have the stamina to mount another attack on the CAT.

      I think some of the new IIMs — Ranchi, Trichy, Rohtak, Raipur & Udaipur are not bad at all as options.

      Eventually, you graduate with a prestigious tag and a decent first job, after that it is up to you to make the most of it. Sure the salary packages and brands might not be comparable but it is still not a bad start at all for a fresher.

      Hope this clarifies.

      All the best!


  21. kushagra gupta says

    Good evening sir. Sir I am following you for last 4 years . Sir I have query regarding my career , actually I have converted pgp hr pragram admission in mdi gurgoan . Sir could you please tell me, is it worth taking admission in hr ?? because I have no idea about it. What about the scope in this field . Sir I am In great delima , and I could not find better person than you to answer this , please help me


  22. kushagra gupta says

    Can we have a telephonic conversation while a minute , if you want…


  23. Hello Sir,
    Really liked the structured way in which the factors to consider for B-School selection has been expounded in your in your article.

    My dilemma is very similar to every other student above – reject a top 10 b-school or take a shot again.

    Background : GEM – NIT-T; 10/12/UG : 95/95.6/84.3. Scored 97.52 in CAT 17′ VA : 99.8 DILR: 92 QA : 85. I have currently converted SPJIMR. Currently, have 23 months of work-ex in a not so reputed shipping firm but have a confirmed job offer at a top e-commerce firm. I’d like to get in into gen mgmt or e-commerce roles post-MBA

    As you can see, my QA performance brought my score down immensely. I’m contemplating taking the job offer over my convert and trying again, because my current work experience quality may not help me achieve my career goals, while the job opportunity will add more weight to my profile- should I convert a top institution next year. Would appreciate your insights.


    • Hi,

      Not an easy question to answer but you should consider the following to make a decision.

      An MBA helps you really amplify your profile. As in, you will jump so many steps ahead from where you are right now.

      Since your profile will be better with a big brand name e-Commerce firm on your resume and your post-MBA to get plum e-Commerce roles or Gen. Mgt roles, I think giving it another shot is the best.

      To evaluate this choice in detail go through this post – https://thecatwriter.com/2017/04/03/to-re-take-or-not-to-re-take-the-cat/

      All the best!


  24. IIM or No IIM says


    What would be an ideal choice between FMS Delhi and IIM Lucknow, for a person with 36 months experience in an Oil PSU with acads 9/9/7(NIT Surathkal) ?

    I’m mainly looking for Gen Management and Strategy roles.

    Given the low grad score and high workex, isn’t it better to choose FMS to atleast have a minute shot at Consultancy??


    • Hi,
      I wasn’t able to understand the connection between low grad score, high work-ex and hence better shot at Consulting jobs at FMS than L.

      Is it because grad scores at L will tend to be higher given the weightage given to the same in the selection process?

      In terms of opportunities, both L and FMS will give you the same breadth of firms. FMS trumps L in the fee and the smaller batch size. L trumps FMS in terms of the brand and the experience. I am not sure of the parameters you have mentioned should be the main criteria to arrive at a decision.

      Choosing among L, XL & FMS it always almost becomes a personal call.

      You have to take a call based on which parameter is most important for you — fee, batch size, brand, experience.

      All the best!


  25. Vamsi says

    Sir, My profile:
    10th – 91
    12th – 95
    B.tech (Bits Pilani) – 6,5
    Work ex – 44 months till date
    Scored 98.83 in cat 2017.
    Converts : MDI PGPM.

    Sir, should I go for MDI now or shall I give another shot at cat? I would like to pursue my career in Finance/Consulting/Marketing (preference in that order). Does IIM tag really make a difference? How is MDI as a brand in the industry and is it considered on par with L, XL, SP Jain and K ?


    • Hi Vamsi,

      Over the longer-term, on average, brand makes a difference in case of a few firms that hire only people from top schools. In other candidates say two people are absolutely matched on all counts, then brand can be the decider (not as hiring policy but as a tendency to positively view people with a better pedigree).

      For Finance, you will need to get a CFA for your resume to be competitive, irrespective of whether you get into an IIM or not.

      MDI as a brand is pretty strong. The order in terms of brand strength as per me is A, B, C, L, XL, FMS, I, K, MDI, SPJIMR.

      I think since you already have 44 months of work-ex (your profile will cease to be competitive for a 2-year program if you go in with more than 50 months of work-ex) and only a 6.5 in Grad, you should join MDI now.

      Hope this clarifies.

      All the best!


  26. Abhilash Banubakde says

    Hi sir,

    This article was really helpful.

    I am in a dilemma. I have no inclination towards a specific specialization and I have to choose between IIM L and XLRI.

    So, you would suggest IIM L over XLRI BM?

    Awaiting your reply.

    Thanks in advance.


  27. Siddharth says

    Hello Sir, I have cleared CAT with 95.48 %ile.(NCOBC)
    And Converted NITIE (PGDIM).
    I got wait-listed by new IIMs with Wait-list numbers less than 70 and IIM K with waitlist no. 261.
    I want to do fin-ops.
    Right now i’m in a dilemma in choosing between the new iims and nitie.
    Please share your opinions.
    Thank you.


    • Hi Siddharth,

      Congrats on the converts.

      Between new IIMs and NITIE, I would definitely say NITIE. New IIMs are still far away from becoming fully established.

      In terms of Ops NITIE is the very best alongside the new IIMs. For FIN the best ones in terms of placements are the oldest IIMs. So Fin can be removed as a variable in choosing between new IIMs and NITIE.

      Hope this clarifies,

      All the best!


  28. Ammu Gopakumar says

    Hi Sir!
    I have converted IIM Trichy and waitlisted for IIFT Delhi. I want to specialize in finance. I have good chances of converting IIFT Delhi.
    I am a general engineer female with 0 work-ex. 2017 graduate and BTech CGPA is 7.86. What would you suggest me?


  29. Prakhar Gupta says

    Sir I want to ask how much MDI is lagging behind IIM I and IIM K. I am really confused about reviews of MDI as in MDI we have people who leave IIM I and IIM K for MDI and there are person telling MDI is not worth it now as better consulting/finance companies are shifting towards IIM I, IIM K and even new IIMs from MDI??


    • Hi Prakhar,

      Generally, MDI is put into the bucket other than the old IIMs, which are usually clubbed with FMS, XL, ISB and JB. MDI falls into the next bucket along with SP and other schools.

      MDI will be absolutely great for marketing, not as much for Finance and Consulting. So those who are shifting from MDI to I and K are right in doing so.

      But new IIMs are not at the same level as MDI in terms of infra, quality & width of visiting firms, average salary, overall experience.

      So between MDI and I-K definitely the latter, new IIMs I guess the inference is clear.

      Hope this clarifies,

      All the best!


  30. Shyam Ssridhar says

    Hi, you didn’t compare XLRI (BM) with IIML anywhere. It’s a huge confusion for most students. Please shed some light on this. Not interested in XLRI (HR).


    • Hi Shyam,

      While I haven’t mentioned it explicitly, I have said in the post that barring one exception — FMS (that too only if you have already had a residential learning experience at a national level college such as an IIT or an NIT) — I would always prefer an old IIM.

      In the comments section, some people had taken serious offense to my thus putting L over XL and I had given a detailed reply.

      The only thing in favor of XL is the higher average salary which is due to a lower batch size. If you look at the salaries at a quartile-level then the top 180 jobs at L will be as good if not higher than those at XL since some Finance firms that have started to go to L might not go to XL. So if you feel that you are likely to end up outside the top 200 at L then choose XL. Otherwise, the old IIM-tag will win over XL-BM, which anyway is a more recent course.

      Hope this clarifies,

      All the best!


      • Shyam Ssridhar says

        Yes, it clarifies, thank you very much for your time!
        I am more interested in finance than consulting or general management. Does it really help to have cleared CFA level 1 while appearing for fin placements? Or is it just an eyewash? My work ex, by the way, is in the consulting domain.


  31. Chandra bhushan Singh says

    Hi Sir,
    How is IIT-Kharagpur for Mba. Other than that imi delhi is there in my bucket which i am almost neglecting .
    If i prepare for next year cat then my experience will be around 48 months by the time i join any of the colleges next year.

    So what do you think what should i do ?
    Should i go ahead with any of IIT-K or IMI delhi or i should write cat next year again .?


    • Hi,

      If you write the CAT again next year, your work-ex will be way outside the average at b-schools and they might suggest you take 1-year programs.

      IMI-Delhi will be better for Marketing jobs whereas the IIT might have better jobs in Operations.

      The call has to be based on the sectors and firms you are targeting post-MBA and whether they are available at either of them.

      If not it is safer for you to look at 1-year programs through the GMAT.

      All the best!


      • Chandra bhushan singh says

        Can you suggest me best colleges for 1 year program through gmat . And whether the options after that will be same as 2 year programs from top-5 b- schools.
        And if next year if i get any top 5 college for 2-year program. Will it not compensate my extra workex.


  32. Akshay Raj says

    Hi sir,
    Profile-Btech electronics and communication(NIT)
    work ex-8 months
    I have converted IIM K this year and there is a high chance of conversion of FMS Delhi.How would you compare these two colleges ?? What are the pros and cons of choosing one over another.?


    • Hi Akshay,

      More than FMS versus IIM-K, it is an FMS versus FMS situation.

      Placements wise FMS will offer you much better options overall, so that need not be discussed; brand-wise as well FMS is pretty established.

      The two big things are — the fee and the experience.

      The super-low fee of FMS comes with the fact that the infra is more like a department in an engineering college than a b-school. So when you are paying the fee for FMS, all you are getting is a placement. What you will be missing with the experience of a fully immersive 2-year residential program.

      If you feel you have already had that experience during your NIT — you have already met great peers, and you do not need any more polishing or fine-tuning of people/interpersonal skills — and all you need is an MBA degree and a shot great firms then join FMS, else consider IIM-K.

      Hope this clarifies,

      All the best!


      • Akshay Raj says

        Ok thanks for the response. I believe this is one of the best answers I came across on this situation. You always seem to have an unbiased oopinion.Also can you shed some light on IIM K .How does it compare to IIM L and XLRI BM??I have calls from all these four colleges .I feel that I need a residential program so will not opt for FMS but choosing between IIM L, K and XL BM is a bit confusing.


      • Hi Akshay,

        As I wrote in the post, I will always put A, B, C, L over every other college purely because it is kind of a first among equals thing.

        We can dig out every possible stat about XL that will make it a better option than L but the fact is the letters IIM and XL cannot be compared.

        If there is any bias that I have it is maybe my bias against the XAT, I found the test silly back when I was taking it, and find it silly even today 🙂

        K might be better than the other two in terms of infra and location, teaching will always depend on the roster of profs which keeps changing, in all other respects, L and XL will be better.

        So my order will be L, XL, K.

        All the best!


  33. Akshay Raj says

    Yeah.I agree with you on the silly nature of XAT especially DM section whose answers were bizarre this time.Anyways thanks for providing the suggestions

    Liked by 1 person

  34. Akshay Raj says

    Any reason why are IIM I and K are still behind FMS in terms of the selection order of candidates apart from having low fees. The difference between salary isn’t that huge but I feel having a residential program and IIM tag will matter more in the long run. are there any other additional benefits of joining FMS.apart from ROI.??


    • Hi Akshay,

      While salaries might be more or less on par, in terms of placements I think FMS attracts a better profile of recruiters overall across domains.

      So you should look at the recruiters who visit both campuses for the domain you are interested in and incase FMS attracts firms that you really want to work with then you can consider it. Else, personally, I would pick the experience and the tag, RoI will come into play only if I have startup ideas or major personal financial commitments in the short-term.

      All the best!


      • Akshay Raj says

        Ok, thanks. I now understand that it is going to be a trade-off between better placements and experience of IIMs plus tag. ROI thing I agree is not a big issue when you are earning so much.


  35. Anand Viswanath says


    Can you please suggest one college between DMS Delhi and IIM Ranchi. I am open to any domain except sales.



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