Wednesday, January 7th, 2015
First of all, a very happy new year. I understand that for some of you 2014 did not end on a high note because of poor CAT results. The sooner you can move on from this, the better it is for you. And then there is the other lot, who have just started thinking about doing an MBA and don’t even fully understand what the hoopla is all about.
One of the first things that CAT aspirants look for, specially those appearing for the first time, is a “coaching institute”. The choices, more often than not, are mind-boggling. Also, everyone wants to join the “best” coaching institute. And as the bard would say, therein lies the rub. The coaching institute you pick is going to make very little difference to the final result. But then again, everyone wants the “best”. I thought I will write this post to share my thoughts on choosing a coaching institute. I personally think that joining an offline brick-and-mortar coaching institute in today’s day is waste of time, money, and effort. This thought has been validated year after year looking at the results of some of my students as well. But for this post, I will purely talk about offline coaching institutes.
Now you might be wondering – Why am I helping my competition? Why am I even promoting an idea that I do not believe in. Well, it is because quiet a few of the students, for reasons that I do not understand, still prefer offline coaching institutes.
Here are some of the key things:
Demo classes – These are not pants or shoes that you need to try. Also, like pants or shoes, you do not have the ability to actually judge the quality of a teacher from one or two classes. The effectiveness of his teaching will become evident in the long haul. I won’t even go into the unethical practices employed by some coaching institutes where faculty X takes the demo class, and faculty Y takes the actual batch. Another thing which is common is that in the demo class, stuff is taught in a fashion that it impresses the student and consists of stuff that is not really relevant to CAT preparation.
Quantity of content – How many classes are there in the course? The content is of how many hours? Will there be 2 classes a week or 5 classes a week? Once again, you are not buying a coke bottle that 500 ml will be better than 400 ml. You just need to ask one question, does it cover the entire CAT syllabus? – more often than not, the answer will be yes and that is all you need to care about.
Past results – We all understand that past performance is no guarantee for the future. It is not even a useful way of assessing how good or bad a coaching institute is. It is just a reflection how good or bad their marketing has been and have they been able to attract good talented students in the past. For example, one of my students Utsav Bhattacharjee got a 99.72%ile this year. Another student, Rajeev Kumar, got a call from IIM-A. Another student, Amardeep Singh, got an IIM-A call while preparing from Singapore. I am using their names because they did not join any offline coaching classes this year. They had taken my online course. Does that mean that if you join the online course, you will be able to match their performance – not at all. Their performance is just that – THEIR performance. A coaching institute is like a bat. Getting the same bat as Sachin will not make you a great international batsman. Heck! It won’t even get you selected to your hostel team.
Faculty Profiles – A lot of coaching institutes advertise that they have faculties from IIMs and IITs and other top colleges. After spending close to a decade in the MBA coaching industry, I can say without a doubt – degrees don’t matter when it comes to faculty. It is how interested and motivated the teacher is – that is all that counts. Even I have mentioned my alma mater IIT Kharagpur on the homepage. I make it a point to mention it in almost all demo videos. I do that because it works. It is purely a marketing exercise – nothing more, nothing less. There are other ways to judge the faculty.
a) For how long has he been teaching for CAT? (Ask about the faculty for your batch – not for the institute / center)
b) Is he a full time faculty or a part time one? (Full time faculty with 3+ years of experience is a good bet. Part time with 5+ years.)
Brand – There are three big brands when it comes to CAT coaching. IMS / TIME / CL – I have worked at two of them and have some close friends at the third. There isn’t much that separates these three. Over and above these, every city / region will have some local players as well. There is King’s Education in Jaipur, Tathagat / MBAGuru in Delhi, Genesis Mentors / Takshila in Pune, Erudite in Kolkata, Byju’s in Bangalore, 2IIM in Chennai, etc. I know I have missed quite a few and it would be wrong to call someone like MBAGuru or Byjus a “local player”. I strongly believe that it is better to stick to the top three. The other brands are pretty dependent on individuals. In case of a management conflict, you can see some of the top teachers leaving in the middle of a season, which is never good for a student. Even for the bigger brands, the question that you should ask is – “Is it a company owned center or a franchise?”. Always prefer a company owned center over a franchise. In case an institute has multiple branches in the same city, go in for the branch that has the largest number of students. It will often be known as the “main center”. It isn’t difficult to figure out which one is the main center. Just visit the centers and count the number of counselors available. More often than not, that does the trick. 🙂 All the things mentioned in this paragraph are not a judgement of quality but a hedge against the risks involved. I am quite sure that the quality of teaching at local players is often at par and in many cases even better than the big brand counterparts but the risks involved are a big too high for a student to neglect. Now some of you might be wondering that the same risks also exist in an online coaching like mine where I am the only faculty involved. Well, that is not the case. Because even if I die on my upcoming trip to Srinagar, considering the way flights are disappearing – this is a possibility, a student will be able to learn from the course very easily. The videos will continue to exist. They are not going anywhere. 🙂
So, how to actually decide which coaching institute to join? Keeping all the above factors in mind, the biggest factor that you should consider is convenience. At the end of the day, it is YOU who needs to attend the classes. It is YOU who needs to put in the effort. You should pick a coaching institute that is close to your home / office / college. You should pick a coaching institute where you will be able to attend 100% of the classes offered. You should pick a coaching institute which has a batch that suits your timings. Do not compromise on these things one bit. Everything else will become irrelevant if you are not able to attend the classes.
Hope this post will help you make the right choice for the coaching institute. And obviously, if you want to learn online – you can always enroll for our online course by clicking on the green button given below. 🙂
Know more about our online CAT coaching course.