Sunday, May 16, 2010

Wait lists @ b-schools.

I am not a fan of the b-school admission process that is widely followed across India. In this post though, I want to talk about one particular aspect of the admission process : Waitlisting.

I am not sure whether the concept of "waitlisting" someone for admission is an age old practice or something that has come up in the recent times. What I am sure about though, is that I am not at all amused by it. I agree that the institutes, in their own right, should be given the opportunity to waitlist a certain number of students so that all the seats get filled up incase some people dropout. But there should be a reasonable limit to the number of candidates that can be waitlisted.

What is the point in waitlisting 100 candidates, if there could only be 20 seats which these candidates would need to fight for in the order of their waitlist? One could argue that there could be 80 seats available to the 100 wait listers. As far as I know, that would be the case in case of a pretty badly managed b-school.

The candidates struggle for months together to put up a decent showing in the exam. After they attend the interviews, only two options should be infront of them: either in or out. Waitlisting(the third option) creates more confusion, more speculation and more pressure to deal with. The process can be improved. Institutes should publish the number of waitlisted candidates who were cleared for admission in the previous years. A mean should be taken for all those years, then the standard deviation should be factored in. All these details must be made public. This will make things far clearer for the aspirants, as they can right away know whether there are patterns they can find in the waitlist process. If there are consistent patterns that have developed over the years, the individual will able to find out what situation he is in. Instead of being totally dependent on the institutes or wading through scores of posts to find information in various forums, this will make life much easier for the aspirants.

For all this to happen, the b-schools must know that they need to serve their customers(in this case students) well. Just because they are the gateway to 6 figure salaries and a royal life, they should not think that students will flock to them. Add to this the fees they are changing and one will know why they need to improve their standards on this front. Amazing how the guys managing these schools view the applicants.

"We care about you only if you are in". Wouldn't that be a valid statement about our b-schools? If it is indeed valid, then they are doing plain business.

I have one more point to make. When there are candidates who have already been waitlisted but not offered admission the previous year, do these institutes need to have an admission process for all the seats again? Why dont the waitlisted people get a look in? What has changed in one year that these people need to take the test again and go through the entire selection process? Why do they need to prepare for months to get a decent score in a test in which they have already done well(unless anyone personally feels the need to improve)? If they have got through the interview process, got waitlisted but not offered an admission, they could be called up to the interview process directly next year(provided they are available) .

I dont think waitlisted people are treated with respect. They are plain "bakras", exposed to the vagaries of the wills of a few hundred people before them in a list. If they dont make it through, they are exposed to the vagaries of a probably entirely new system. I am okay with being rejected in an interview. Something was wrong and they did not want me in.
The problem is education, top class education. When it comes to good institutions-good education, one is ready to risk everything. We accept everything to be a part and parcel of the game. We simply forget that there are a few rules that can be changed to make the game better, more fair to everyone.

"If you are so busy running a race for so long, it is time you take a break and find out if the race is really worth running. The problem could be you or the race itself."