The Difference between Business Schools in the West and the East

The Recruitment Process

There are many differences between the business schools in the West and the East. Starting with the selection procedure, continuing to the pedagogical methods, including the structure of the courses, and the nature of the placement method, these differences are considerable and worth examining. First, if we start with the selection procedure, most business schools in the West require the aspiring entrants to take the GMAT (Graduate Management Aptitude Test), and TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language) for overseas students. Apart from this, the selection procedure requires the students to prepare application and admission essays unlike the East where the students just need to take the entrance test and attend interviews. In the business schools of the west, a lot of emphasis is placed on the application and the admission essays as well as the recommendations from professors, and other individuals who have played a role in the shaping of the student. Further, the business schools in the West often require students to have a minimum of two to four years of experience before they apply for admission. In contrast, many business schools in the East do not have minimum experience requirements though preference is given to students with one or two years of experience.

The Pedagogical Methods

The next aspect is the pedagogical method or the mode of teaching, instruction, evaluation, and other aspects. In the East, students have to take the midterm and the end-term exams whereas in the West, Term Papers, Research Papers, Solving Case Studies, and preparing theses are the norm. For instance, many business schools in the United States and Europe require their students to prepare Term Papers for each term, research papers throughout the term, and a thesis or a dissertation at the end of the course. On the other hand, with the exception of some business schools like ISB (Indian School of Business), AIM (Asian Institute of Management), and some business schools in Singapore, most schools follow the written and the class participation method of pedagogy. Even the emphasis on class participation that has become the norm in recent years has been mainly due to the changing composition of the student body, which means that more focus on case studies and practical application rather than rote learning and written exams is the situation now.

The Structure of the Course and the Placement Methods

The third aspect is the structure of the courses and the placement method. Whereas in the West, there are many avenues for optional courses and electives right from the start of the course, in the East, many business schools just have this option from the second year onwards. As for the placement method, the companies in the West recruit the business school students after a protracted and long courtship process that involves multiple rounds of discussions, interviews with other employees who may be alumni, and the discussions range from an hour or so to daylong meetings over lunch and other methods. Whereas in the East, the placements are usually done after careful screening of the resumes, inviting the shortlisted students for interviews that do not take up more than a day. The point here is that in the West, the placement method is spread out over a period of months whereas in the East, apart from the initial courtship, the final placements are rather quick affairs. Many experts feel that the placement methods in the East (and especially in the IIMs in India) cause too much stress on the students and a better way can be found to ensure that placements are less stressful for the students and the companies.

Concluding Remarks

Finally, whether you choose a business school in the West or in the East, the fact remains that you need to be prepared for a couple of years of hectic study and even more hectic evaluation. Therefore, keep these points in mind before applying to business schools and ensure that your profile matches with that of the typical entrant to the school to which you have applied.


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