Placements, statistics and damned lies..

Nice to see an article ridiculing hype over placements in India’s management schools. That too in a pink paper which only focuses on the bottomline. After all that is what matters whether it is companies or students.

If newspaper headlines are anything to go by, the silly season is already upon us. Every year, come January, smartly togged-out business-school students prepare for the most important period in their campus life: placements. Students compete with each other to land plum jobs.trumpet their achievement, either by way of a 100 per cent placement record and/or the fact that they did so in a record time of two-three days. The media has a field day, too, going to town about how soaring dollar salaries on campuses are now the new normal.

This annual tamasha masks a dirty little secret that no one is willing to address. I recently heard about the results of a survey done by a premier management school in the country. The school’s director of studied the alumni job data on for nearly two decades and followed it up with a survey of the more recent batches of students to understand their career path after graduation. And that recent survey data threw up a worrisome spectre: most students who landed a job during campus placements had a shockingly low tenure. Among these recent batches, nearly 70 per cent of students were apparently disillusioned with their jobs and exited their organisationsin less than nine months to a year.

So what lies at the root of this phenomenon? These days, a large majority of students who choose to study management end up taking on large student loans to fund their education. A few of them would much rather skip placements and start new enterprises on their own. But more often than not, they realise that they need to pay back the loan. And taking on a job is the only recourse, if they are to escape a debt trap. But within months of joining, they realise that this job wasn’t what they had bargained for. And then they end up looking for a new one, in the hope that it would provide them release from the drudgery of their current job.

Then there is a lack of proper career counselling. A large majority of students come into business school without any prior work experience whatsoever. Business schools are in a tearing hurry to fill seats and don’t seem to care about the profile. At placement time, herd mentality takes over. The same survey found that most students depended a lot on their seniors for advice. And they would often be asked to pick a marquee company, because it was a “prestigious job” to have. They would often land the job because they were exceedingly bright. But no one bothered to look at whether that job was the best fit for them. The soul searching would begin, as the data show, invariably within a year of joining this “dream” job.

The problems are much deeper. Education is seen as the end. It should result into the “p” word without which everything is useless. The cost of education has zoomed beyond imagination making amount of education loan equivalent to a home loan people took couple of years ago.

There is hardly any interest by the media on research and other activities of these schools. The only time they make it to the media is when the  P-season starts buzzing..

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