Drumroll, taaliyan, bahut bahut badhaiiyaan. Magar ek chhota sa problem hai. I no longer know who the "no 1" is. Or, what no 1 is anyways!
Is No 1 defined as:
a) The institute with maximum number of students enrolled?
b) The institute with maximum number of students who make it to IIMs?
Till yesterday, I was pretty sure IMS had the maximum number of students. IMS is the original pioneer in MBA entrance coaching and has continued to flourish despite many new players entering the scene. IMS claims to have 35,000 students enrolled for its CAT coaching this year.
Number 2 in terms of student enrolment I would think is Career Launcher. They too claim to have 35,000 students. I think it's closer to 30,000, but can't say for sure. My perception is, CL is no 2.
Which is why I was a bit surprised to learn from CNBC TV 18's 'Countdown to CAT' show - where T.I.M.E. experts were imparting fundas - that T.I.M.E. uses the slogan "no 1 CAT coaching institute".
Its website states that in "the last one year, about 45,000 students have gone through the portals of T.I.M.E. at various locations in the country and have benefited from our courses".
True? I know T.I.M.E. is popular down South, and that it is relatively cheaper than IMS and CL, which could mean big numbers. But I cannot provide an authoritative answer. Fact is, all CAT coaching institutes manipulate their numbers to some extent.
After the list of successful candidates is declared, X MBA institute will claim they had 800 successful students and Y institute will claim 900. The total of all institutes combined far exceed the number of IIM seats!
The truth is, students do enrol for 2 day GD/PI workshops or SIMCATS/ Mock CAT conducted by various institutes even while they have actually studied the material/ attended classes by another one.
As a successful A list B schooler recommended to JAM readers trying to pick the 'best course' :
To get the best of everything I would recommend:
Mock CAT & Correspondence - Career Launcher
GD/PI coaching - Take the TIME course
The 2-day IMS Achiever’s Workshop
So, we'll it pass. IMS ho, CL ho, TIME ho, jo bhi ho, fact is no matter no one can "assure success, everytime"
As I wrote in a column on rediff.com after CAT 2004, titled
"Where there's a coaching class, there's Hope!"
A huge industry -- mostly headed and fuelled by IIM alumni -- has convinced lakhs of students that if they practise long enough and hard enough, they stand a chance of making it. It is a myth that classes actively propagate and one that students choose to believe.
I have nothing against coaching (yes, I did take up a correspondence course and gleefuly passed on the material to two siblings who also cleared CAT :))
But the point is, God helps only those who help themselves. And so it is with coaching.
Practising shortcuts and solving mock papers can give those with the basic ability an added edge. But there is no way it can phenomenally improve your basic verbal, quantitative and reasoning skills.
Qualities which, frankly, are lacking in a large number of CAT aspirants.
The number of e-mails I receive, with incredibly poor English, asking for advice on 'how to make it to IIMs' would be amusing, if it weren't so sad. A couple of 100 percent real (unedited) samples:
"I am engineering student , what is the next step to select for my further studies.Is it better to continue my engineering studie s or i go to business studies which is the beter one"
"I'M EXPECTING SOME SKILLFUL AND EXPERIENCED KNOWLEDGE FROM U WHERE TO ENROLL FOR COACHING ETC. AND WHT MY REGULAR EXERCISE SHOULD BE.."
Is there any real hope for such aspirants?
I don't doubt these individuals have some unique passion or potential. But clearing the CAT exam is clearly not one of them.
The thing is, 90 percent of the folks who clear CAT would have done so with or without coaching. Because they possess the kind of IQ CAT tests. So why do they enrol in coaching?
The coaching craze operates on the 'tipping point' principle. Once it has attracted a large enough mass of people (of which a reasonably impressive number are successful), it becomes the 'done' thing.
Cosmetics is the business of selling 'hope in a jar'. Coaching is pretty much the same thing, except in an overcrowded little classroom.
And it's a big business! Bennett Coleman & co has just picked up a 9.57% stake in MBA coaching institute Career Forum, valuing the company at Rs 94 crores (!!). And CF is one of the chhotu ones.
All the best for CAT. But never forget - there is life beyond it as well!