18 Jul 2014

college dilemma

Haunted by Poor Acads: Target these Top Colleges
by: Omkar Parab
“Entrance se darr nahi lagta saab, Criteria se darr lagta hai.”
For better or worse, the focus of the parameters for selection have moved away from the quaint years of written + GDPI to 10th-12th marks, and profiles, work-experience, extra-curriculars, etc. I am not going to sit here and write a long-winded argument about whether this is a good or a bad thing because let’s face it, we can’t really change this, and we need to evolve and optimize this scenario whether it is favorable for us or not.
Trouble most people have is not with factors they can affect now, like work-ex and extracurriculars, but with academic scores they can do nothing about. Seriously, what does the average joe with 70% academic scores do? What can engineers from strict boards do where 70% is an achievement?
IIM Criteria difficult academics
Unless you own a time machine
What one could do is target specific colleges which still do not have any academics related criteria, or at least haven’t mentioned anything explicitly. This way, you could still have a shot at at least 50% of the top-15, which is better than nothing. But how do you know which these colleges are? One way is you could do you own research, another would be to continue reading the article.
I don’t have a bad profile per se, whatever that means, but let’s just say that I have a less than perfect profile and this is what my target college list looked like:
Yes, these are the 9 colleges in my perceived top-15, and you just need 1 seat, so odds of 9/15 were good enough for me.
These are the colleges you can target even if your academic scores are less than 80%. You have a good chance of converting these even with poor acads. Let me elaborate why each college made my target list.
IIM CalcuttaIIM Calcutta criteria image 3
With 77% weightage for the CAT score, and the incentive to study at one among the holy trinity (IIM A, B, C), this one is undoubtedly the mother of all colleges for the academically-challenged. I’ve heard stories about how freshers cannot convert here if they aren’t from a top-notch graduate college but why not wait till you have enough quality work-ex? It would surely be worth the wait. Besides I’ve also heard stories about people with absolutely horrible profiles making it to Joka, as it is fondly called, and turn their lives around completely. So there is really no harm in targeting C, whether you get in or not, it will at least keep pushing you to work harder in your preparation for the entrances. One would typically need to score 99.75+ percentile in CAT to have a decent shot at this heaven.
IIM LucknowIIM Lucknow Criteria
Another one of the older IIMs, and it has some academic and diversity related freebies, but anything that has even a mathematical possibility of working out is good enough for the determined candidate, especially when the stakes are so high, and the returns are of this magnitude. Work-ex would definitely help, Diversity is gold, Academics could help as well, but even without all these if you can score in excess of 99.8 percentile, L could be a realistic option to look at.
XLRI (Xavier Labour Relations Institute)XLRI critera
This institute is probably the savior among this lot for people with a dented past. There is no mention of any kind of critera involved anywhere, at least officially. This year, people with good profiles (good work-ex and good extracurriculars) have made it despite having average academic scores. Hell! Even people with a less than average profile and poor academic scores have made it with a good XAT score and a great GDPI process. So, if one has to realistically aim a particular college in the higher echelons of institutes in the country, XLRI has to be one of them. The percentile cutoffs are pretty low as compared to other colleges provided you clear the sectionals, which is probably the real game in its entrance. Anyway, one of the best shots any guy with an average profile has.
FMS (Faculty of Management Studies)IIM Criterias unfair
It had a interview call cutoff of 98.56 this year, and 98.73 last year. If you score that much, you have a shot at FMS because people have been known to convert the call despite a whopping 70% weightage to the score. What the very high written weightage also means is if you have scored a sufficiently high score, say in excess of 99.8+ you are practically assured of a seat. Of course, there have been cases of students being rejected at outrageously high percentiles as well, but one cannot account for the subjectivity in the process, and so one must trust the math that if the weightage for the written score is 70% for final conversion, a sufficiently high score like I’ve mentioned should result in a conversion.
JBIMS (Jamnalal Bajaj Institute of Management Studies)
JB works in a very simple way. Crack the entrance, get admissions. Yes, that simple. Ofcourse, if something sounds that simple there has to be a catch, right? The catch is there are only 18 seats for General All India students, only 38 seats for GeneralMumbaiUniversity candidates, and so on, and the number of applicants is usually above 20,000, going by this year’s numbers at least. This year GDPI was scrapped due to a timeline crunch, but even when they had GDPI, the written score’s weightage was a whopping 83.33%. So, like I said, if you can crack its entrance, you have practically bagged a seat there and then which makes a finance god located in the commercial hub a great target for people with a less than perfect profile, but high entrance aptitude.
MDI (Management Development Institute)
Till last year, MDI’s final admission list looked like it was arranged in descending order of percentiles with some anomalies here and there. I am saying this because almost everyone who scored above 98.73 converted MDI PGPM, while no one below 97.5 converted any course there. This year though, it seems like they’ve had a change in their policy, since the converts are well spread out from the high 99s to even low 96s percentiles. Calls are given to everyone who has applied and has a percentile above 95. Even when the implicit criteria has changed this year, academics and other factors apart from your performance in the GDPI round seem to have played only a minor part, because people with average academic scores have also made the cut. So a quality institute with a process that gives everyone a chance should definitely be on everyone’s list ideally.
NITIE (National Institute of Industrial Engineering)
NITIE doesn’t explicitly mention anywhere whether they have any specific weightage for any particular parameter except your performance in the GDPI round. The percentile cutoff is in the mid-97s, and it seems that all you have to do once you have a percentile in excess of their cutoff is impress the panel. They do seem to have a certain preference for candidates with work-experience, but that seems reasonable for a college that is supposed to be a mecca for Operations, since one needs work-ex for the a course in operations to add any significantly educational value. So “God’s own campus” with its straightforward and apparently fair process should definitely be on your hit-list.
Both colleges have an independent entrance exam with different formats and sections, no significant weightage on academic scores or profile in general, and a very high score in their entrance exam generally leads to a convert. Also, the entrances are challenging but not difficult, since they test your time-management instead of your ability to crack outrageous math, or unreadable passages. So someone who may not really have an aptitude for the entrances, but may just be smart enough to manage the right strategy well could crack the entrance and consequently crack the college. Also, the fact that both colleges offer really great courses, IIFT with their niche IB course not available in any top institute, and NM with their rich industry interface and great curriculum gives one a lot of incentive to target and crack these institutes.
So, this was my list of colleges, of course there are other colleges I’ve not included here, but they are either out of my reach criteria-wise, or I would not like to join them. Whether I would join an institute or not is purely a reflection of my preferences and where I am at in my life, than the reputation or caliber of any particular institute and I urge the readers to not rank colleges accordingly as well.
It is very important that you know your targets and manage your expectations accordingly so that once you manage to score a particular percentile, you are not disillusioned by the calls you get and it does not hurt your GDPI preparation. Also, when you know what you are targeting it is easier to sharpen your axe accordingly.

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