MBA Expectations V/s Reality | Sunstone

  • By Bhavya Thakkar
  • 25 February 2019

Almost every MBA student or aspirant thinks that an MBA is a one-stop solution to all their career problems. They believe an MBA will massively accelerate their progress up the corporate ladder and increase their salary package. However, an MBA doesn't magically do all this for you, you also have to put in the efforts in order to succeed.

MBA has been the preferred degree of choice for management graduates for decades now. However, despite having hundreds of universities and thousands of colleges operating in this field, there is still one crucial aspect that has remained overlooked for quite some time, i.e, the MBA curriculum.

This negligence to update the syllabus can be observed not only in the subject matter but also in the teaching techniques used. This academic failure is causing a majority of MBA graduates to become unemployable (almost 61%) as their training does not reflect the latest market expectations. Let us try to understand where this gap between the MBA curriculum and market expectations comes from.

MBA Expectations for Student Life

Some students underestimate the level of dedication and discipline an MBA requires. Let us be clear here, those students are in for a rude awakening.

Most students pursuing an MBA used to be top of their class in school and college. However, the competition is so high in MBA that these same students end up being average.

This is the harsh reality of MBA, although it shouldn't act as a deterrent but as extra motivation in order to become the best version of yourself.

MBA enough to get the job?

An MBA does help you a lot in terms of job prospects but you need something extra to stand out.

Key skills employees look out for these days include-

  • Working well with others
  • Time management
  • Networking
  • Problem-solving

These soft skills go a long way in impressing employers and together with an MBA degree, they form an unbeatable combination.

Salary Expectations for MBA

On average, MBA grads double their pre-MBA salaries. Although salaries depend on a lot of factors and can vary a lot, an MBA definitely provides a positive long-term ROI and you must take this into consideration before making an informed choice.

MBA Course Expectations V/S Reality

Here are a few factors that seem to be the cause of this rift between the MBA syllabus and market expectations.

  • Outdated Concepts

Since the MBA curriculum is supervised by the universities offering them, it often takes years before even minor changes to the syllabus are approved, resulting in dated concepts being kept in the course, years after they have lost all relevance to the market.

The market on the other hand continuously experiments with newer technologies, in order to match and beat the competition. They expect the MBA graduates they hire, to be up to date on these concepts as well. Without this knowledge, these graduates end up operating at the same level as entry-level interns, that still need time to clear their concepts.

  • Impractical Techniques

Learning from an outdated MBA curriculum give students limited opportunities to successfully apply the theories to real-life market conditions. This means that most professors stick to theoretical learning, thus encouraging students to memorize the concepts so that they at least pass the examinations.

This process deprives students of the skills needed to succeed at a real job. The employers then have to spend months training them on basic practical applications, which is a waste of both time and money.

  • Limited Focus

An aged MBA curriculum does not reflect the vast improvements that new technologies have brought to small and medium scale businesses all across the globe. This means that a majority of the case studies and thought experiments taught to students still focus only on the problems of big corporations operating in capitalistic, well-developed markets such as the US.

Unfortunately, lessons learned from these examples do not always apply to the variety of business profiles that can be found in Tier-2 & 3 cities in India which are offering the most potential for growth in recent times.

  • Technical Knowledge

Unless students pick a specific specialization such as Digital Marketing, the MBA curriculum for most colleges does not take into account the benefits that online tools such as social media, web analytics and e-commerce platforms bring to any business.

Unfortunately, without the technical know-how needed to use these tools properly, recent MBA graduates are seen as analogue workers in a digital economy where every business needs to have an online presence in order to survive and build their brand.

  • Soft Skills

The biggest complaint against the MBA curriculum of most colleges is their single-minded focus on managing the business activities, rather than managing the people who are actually carrying out the activities.

This kind of people management requires the knowledge of various soft skills such as communication, leadership, interpersonal skills, teamwork and much more. MBA graduates without these skills often struggle to keep their coworkers happy and productive, which directly impact the future of the company and their own careers.

  • Industry Exposure

Most MBA graduates assume that they will get offers from top companies straight out of college. Which is why they focus so much on getting great marks, rather than gaining industry exposure in regards to working at a regular company and growing it to the point where their theoretical knowledge of advanced economic concept may become useful.

Unfortunately, this becomes a problem for the companies that hire them, as they have to spend time and energy in teaching new hires how to do a job that they have no training for, in order to manage people and handle competitors that have spent years perfecting their craft.

While many colleges have tried to address these issues, the gap between their efforts and market requirements is still quite large. Not to mention that their efforts are based on assumptions of market conditions rather an actual collaboration with industry professionals. Until the people that make the MBA curriculum actually sit down with the recruiters to get on the same page, we will remain in a situation where the MBA continues to lose its credibility as a business qualification.


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