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Hey, gang. One of my student activities at Fuqua is responding to email inquiries from prospective students. I just sent off this email, and thought some of you might be interested. This is obviously Fuqua-centric, but my guess is that these broad answers are pretty general. Current FYs - care to respond to that guess?
What is your typical day like?
Typical day will vary, but there are a few common buckets:
Academic. During the core, you will probably have 1 to 3 classes each day. Classes are 2h15 long. You'll also be meeting with teams and doing homework on your own.
Career. Going to company events, reaching out to recruiters, researching career options, attending career events (career mgmt center workshops, resume reviews).
Clubs/Activities. If you end up in leadership roles, you will likely need to organize events or manage some sort of club duty. If you're not leading clubs, you might still attend club events. These could be career related (cracking the case, functional symposium), something fun (wine tasting, going hiking) or something service-oriented (working on habitat for humanity, tutoring kids).
Social. There are lots of organized social events, like Fuqua Friday and other fun club things, and students also make themselves busy. A bunch of people from my section go to trivia on Tuesday nights, for example.
Doing what you need! Always try to fit in what matters to you and what takes you out of the b-school bubble: spending time with family, cooking, exercising, sleeping, whatever!
Obviously, you can't do all this in one day, but I would guess that almost every day has at least a few of the above. And your time division will vary by period. First term, for me, was all about academics while this last term has been very career-oriented.
What happens during a class?
Classes vary too. Courses that are particularly case-based will usually start with the case. Sometimes a student is chosen to present the case, other times the professor will just start by asking questions. There's a mix of cold-calls and voluntary responses. After the case, there is often a lecture that brings out the main learning points from the case. The professors here, as a whole, are very good at managing discussion and ensuring that it's not simply lecture, but filled with student questions, questions asked of students, and some debate.
A course that uses fewer cases - acctg, stats, econ - will have more lecture, but again with lots of student involvement. There might also be some problem-solving, where the professor works an example problem with class participation.
Professors also do creative things to illustrate concepts or provide us with real-life examples. I've watched video clips - ads, scenes from movies or tv shows, internal company films. I've also done a number of simulations or games in class, and have had a number of speakers.
How much of your ademic preparation is team effort and how much individual work?
The team mix also varies. I'm not sure how to comment in terms of individual prep and team-prep, as you should always prep an assignment before meeting with your team. However, I can give you an idea about grading weights. Some classes are highly team-oriented, with perhaps 50% or more of your grade coming from team assignments. Other courses might have just one or two team assignments and the rest being exams, quizzes, and class participation, and sometimes individual assignments. In the core, you will have a final for pretty much every course, and that will certainly be on your own. Classes usually have either quizzes or midterms to complement the final.
How tough is it for someone from an engineering background to cope with Accounting and Economics in the first term? What books would you suggest? And what kind of preparation would be required?
I wouldn't worry too much about econ and acctg with your background. You're used to numbers, and it seems that the quant-folks do fine in those classes (but we liberal arts kids rock at strategy!). I know there are some good basic books out there that will introduce you to the ideas and just get you used to them, but I don't know any titles off-hand. I think Duke will send out a list of resources that you might find helpful. There are also some websites devoted to MBA prep, and these might give you some leads. I really wouldn't worry too much, though. We go over everything in the core.
Other than the term exams, are the students graded on other factors too?
I mentioned some of what makes up a course grade above, but I will reiterate. Remember, this will vary by course: class participation, individual assignments, team assignments, quizzes, midterms, finals, presentations. In the core, we don't really write papers, unless you count a 2-page case write-up!!
What about the workload? Is it too much or one can go along with the coursework and other activities?
You can definitely do the workload and maybe leadership in 1-2 clubs. I wouldn't recommend more than 3-4 clubs (which I'm doing, and feeling overcommitted all the time).
The first semester/quarter you'll be overwhelmed by doing academic work again. Midterms, finals, homework, and projects will be a shock to your system. Then they will pile on social activities, club leadership elections, and outside school projects. That period is tough because you're trying to get used to everything.
The next year (spring semester or winter/spring quarter), you get more used to the academics, but your leadership positions take over and present a new set of challenges. That's also when you're searching for internships, adding to the workload.
I think things sort of settle down in the fall semester/quarter of the 2nd year, other than full time job searches. And spring semester winter/spring quarter? That's when you enjoy your final few months in school and "check out"
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Most of this holds true for LBS as well. There are some minor differences however. For instance our classes tend to be 2.45 hrs long and we have at most 2 per day. We also have a whole bunch of non class related stuff that we call GLDP (global leadership development programme). This involves specific courses targeting weak areas such as public speaking, business writing, negotiations etc. I am taking one on speed reading tomorrow.
I also concur with kryzak's experiences of being over committed. There are a million things I would like to get involved with, however, I can realistically commit to maybe 2-4. I guess they teach you how to prioritise and manage your time properly this way.