Selecting a B-school appears so insurmountable a task because there are no universally accepted parameters that one can use to measure the 'worth' of one B-school against another. But here's what you should be wary of!
Pre-selected for GD&PI
This should be your biggest warning sign that there may not be enough people applying to the institute. And with good reason, too. Many of the newer and relatively unknown institutes may contact you saying that you've been shortlisted for the GD/interview stage -- this despite the fact that you may never even have applied to the school. This is a marketing tactic used by schools that find it difficult to "fill the seats".
"Everyone gets in"
Even if you missed the hint from the previous pointer, take a good look at all the people who get final offers for admission. If at the GD, six of 10 candidates did not speak at all, and despite this, all 10 of them seem to have received offers of admission, it is an indicator that you should at least reconsider your decision.
Which branch will you join?
Another signal that the school you are considering joining may not be a good choice is when you get a feeling that your "selection" depends on which branch you are willing to join. If the panel "encourages" you to "consider" a certain branch and suggests that admission in that branch is almost certain, beware!
Schools that encourage you or your parents to "donate" to the trust that runs it, or to contribute to the "expansion efforts" of the school by suggesting that such an act of philanthropy will "brighten your chances" of securing admission, politely decline and withdraw your application.
Claims vs reality
With integrity being the watchword of the day, it is important that the "guru" walks the talk. One of the most important things to look at perhaps, is how close to reality the claims of the B-school are. Most exaggerated are claims relating to infrastructure and placements.
A number of schools make hugely exaggerated claims regarding the companies that visit them for placement. If you find that most of the companies mentioned in the list have only "selected" trainees for free, then the B-school's placement record and integrity are both suspect. You probably should not join such a B-school.
It might be a good idea to visit the B-schools that have made offers of final admission and verify that all that they claim actually exists! After all, the next two years can make or break your life.
Board of directors
Another area that is successfully exploited by a lot of B-schools for "window dressing" of the brochures is the Board of Directors. Please remember that the constitution of the board has nothing to do with the way a school is administered. A certain school, for example, has some very senior people from some of the top companies of this country the board. Not a single on of those firms has ever recruited from the school!
It is important to remember that the points listed above are only indictors. Please double and triple check your information before parting with your hard-earned money. Be patient, dont' fall for the glitter. Do keep in mind that only around half of the (approximately) 2,000 B-schools in the country are recognised, and even out of that number, many do not manage to place a large majority of their students.
The author is founder-director, TIME.
Illustration: Dominic Xavier