Lets get another con out of the way before we move onto some positives. I'll steal a bit from another old post.
LEAD is arguably the most overhyped utterly useless entirely worthless bag of garbage ever concieved by man. And that's me being polite. In all seriousness, I don't think I could create something more worthless if I tried.
The problems with LEAD are numerous. First, from the get go they tell you take it seriously, but then clearly set it up so that you don't have to. 50% of your "grade" in LEAD is attendance. Soemthing like 25% is just submitting the homework and the remaining 25% is discretionary. Keep in mind that LEAD is just a "pass fail" course. So in other words, if you show up, hand ANYTHING in (even if its a blank piece of paper with teh words 'i hate you' written on it) you've got a 75% in the class. How can you possibly fail? Moreover, how can someone tell you this is a capstone course that you should take seriously when the grading is set up this way?
You might not believe it, but there is always someone who DOES fail LEAD. If you find someone who does, take note -- they are the type of person you dont want in your study group.
To me, thats enough to kill it, but lets continue painting this pig, shall we? Now, a leadership development class, you would presume, would be taught by people with, well, leadership experience. Not so. It's taught by second year students. Now some of these people are impressive, but its hard to take a 22 year old analyst from Merrill seriously when they tell me how to be a CEO. I have undigested meat in my colon thats older than some of these people.
Its a farce of the highest order and one of the most ridiculous things I've ever seen. These people know nothing more about leadership than you do, some of them barely have more than a few years experience. Bring in a CEO to talk, or bring in someone who does this stuff for a living. But to purport that a 2nd year is somehow now qualified to teach ethics and leadership is insulting to my intelligence and to theirs. As for crisis management? Seriously? A 25 year old teaching you how to manage life crises? With what? Some 'johari window' or other such crap pulled from some framework? It's the equivalent of my attending swimming lessons at a local pool and then teaching a class on 'how to ditch an airplane in high seas and survive'.
AThen there's the mock cases you do that are supposed to represent 'real life' situations...... just kill me now. The real life examples are so far removed from real life, they might as well be taken from the latest harry potter movie. How about this for a nice realistic situation you might find yourself in? *real case*. You play the CEO of a 5B dollar hospital. I play the CFO. Someone else plays the Private Equity buyer. The nurses at the hospital have been giving free medical care to some homeless people and the CEO and CFO are worried that if they sell to the PE buyer they firm will put a stop to it. Is it unethical to withhold that from the buyer? What should they do? Then you get together and pretend to debate it for 30 minutes. The key word here is pretend
.... because here's the kicker: everyone already knows everything: everyone has read the same case, and everyone knows each others arguments ahead of time because they are all in the written case, so you just spend half and hour mentally regurgitating out crap you ALREADY KNOW to each other. (You aren't allowed to make up facts).
Worse, they tell you what the supposed personalities of each person are - so if the CEO is supposed to play hard and tough - are you supposed to be hard and tough? What if thats not the type of person you are? They also tell you what point of view you are supposed to argue. What if you don't agree with the supposed point of view you are supposed to take? How will this help you practice your skills by pretending to be someone else and pretending to adopt some viewpoint you don't actually have?
So here's how it goes: Nurse: "But its not that expensive!" (page 2 of case) CFO: "How expensive is it?" Nurse: "Uhm uh I don't know the case doesn't say". CEO: "Well I think its important for our community" (page 3 of case), other guy: "But its bad for our relationship with the PE guy" (page 4 of case)..... Third guy: "Well I don't actually feel this way but I'm supposed to say that I oppose telling the buyer...." (page 5 of case) . CEO: "Yea, ok, well uhm, I disagree) (page 6 of case, except you can tell he doesnt)
As if that didn't render the excercise entirely meaningless already, there's absolutely no evaluation of an outcome. There is never a 'right' answer. It doesn't matter what you decide. They don't even take a tally to see if you all come to a similar decision.
Here's how LEAD Should be. First, don't hand me the exact same case info as everyone else, because thats just retarded. Second, use something realistic. How about this: A member of your study group hasn't been pulling their weight and you arent sure how to deal with it. Or maybe you've started a new job and you arne't happy with your assignment, and want to take on more leadership, how do you handle that? Or maybe your new boss is doing something you are concerned about, who, if anyone do you tell? Now *thats* real, relevant, and unlike becoming the CEO of a fictitious hospital, probably something will happen to you in the next 5 years. Third, make the !(#!(#@ decision matter. In another course I took they actually had each game be zero sum - someone wins, someone looses, and although your grade isn't tied to the outcome you do see z-scores for everyone so you can see how you did.
You want to know who benefits? The people who teach the class - they get to get up in front of an audience 2x a week and practice public speaking, they get a large amount of one-on-one training with a real executive coach (he's older than 25). I honestly believe LEAD exists not for the students in the class but for the people selected to teach it.
so there's another con of the program.
Now lets talk a bit about some of the better stuff:
* The curriculum is flexible
* You can take classes elsewhere in teh university
* You can take two courses Pass / Fail
* The name DOES open doors and it does command respect
So lets talk about the flexible curriculum a bit. The school really sucks at selling this. Two reasons. First, they lie about how flexible it is. Second, even though they lie, they still forget to mention why what IS true is actually interesting.
So, first off, raise your hand if you've heard "There's only one class required at booth!". Ok you can all put your hands down now, cause that's not true. Reality is here.http://www.chicagobooth.edu/fulltime/ac ... index.aspx
Sure, LEAD is the only required class (if you can even call it that) -- but you DO have to take classes among the foundations and functions.
What that means is that you will have to take an accounting course, you will have to take a microeconmics course and you do have to take a stats course. As far as I'm concerned, getting to pick between Accounting I and Accounting II isn't flexible.
So lets say there are 4 required courses.
Nevertheless, the flexible curriculum IS cool. Here's why:
* First, you get to know 2nd year students during your 1st year. This is good for a number of reasons. They know how to manage the reqruiting process and they provide a lot of great insights / help / cover letter reviews etc. They are also likely teh very people who will be reading your cover letter for the FT job in a year, so being friends with the new associate at company X certainly doesn't hurt. Third, if they end up in your study group, they know how to 'play the game' and have figured out how to prioritize tasks so that you dont' feel overwhelmed. This is a pretty big perk -- because honestly, without it, you aren't going to get to know 2nd years that easily.
* Second, its flexbile not just in what kind of classes you take (e.g. I dont want to take that, I'll take this) but also in what order you take them in. That's cool. For instance, if you plan on recruiting for banking but havent a clue about finance, its nice that you can jump right into investments in your first quarter rather than have to be stuck taking accounting first. That helps when it comes time to interview because now you actually know *something* relevant to the subject. Similarly, if you plan on going into marketing, take marketing your first quarter and worry about takign statistics later. In fact, some people dont' do accounting until their LAST quarter on campus. (yes, accounting is that boring)
* Third, the flexibility means you can have a kick ass schedule. Only want classes monday and tuesday ? Thats doable -- in fact, my final quarter at Booth I had that schedule. What a beautiful schedule -- no class Wed, Thurs or Fri. World's longest weekends. Its also helpful if you want to find a part time job (as some peopel do) because you can actually work two full 8 hour days if you want (and a number of people do in PE and VC)
* Fourth, even the same classes -- say, introductory economics, are taught by different professors with different styles. One professor might prefer team oriented work like a final report while the other might be a more traditional midterm and final. Hate math? Don't take the one with the midterm and final. Hate teamwork? Try it with professor Y. Prefer a class that has no midterm at all? Take professor Z. Or if you want a class with 70% of your grade determined by homework? Try professor Q. Etc. You can really pick what YOU like and what YOu want.
* Fifth, you can combine classes to craft a schedule that works. If class A is going to be heavy on reading, then dont' take two other heavy reading classes at the same time - combine a case-heavy class with a non-case based course. Combine a teamwork intensive class with one thats more individually focused.
You put this altogether and you get a VERY flexible curriculum that really lets you take what you want, when you want, with what professor you want. (I got all the courses I ever bid on).
So thats a big pro at Booth. The school talks about it, but again I think they just don't do a great job of selling that.
Some of the other related perks here is that you can take classes outside of Booth if you want (e.g. intensive chinese if you are a masochist) -- some people take classes in the law school as well (e.g. private equity law). I'm told the law school is crazy and its awful, but you can do it if you want. Similarly, you can take two classes pass fail and have them count towards your graduation requirements. Thats cool. Either because you can take something you know will be hard and just pass fail it, or because you can lighten the stress of a quarter you otherwise knew was going to be tough.
The name does open doors. I imagine thats pretty obvious -- but it really does. I like how when you mention you went to Chicago people's eyebrows go up -- they immediately assume you are smart (unless you are a PT who asks a corporate recruiter about consulting, then they and I both think you are an idiot).... and the cachet and almost 'table stakes' assumption about you is certainly a nice perk.
There's obviously other positives, and perhaps I can get to some of those later.
Finally, FYI, here's the PT recruiting policy for the curious:
Evening MBA and Weekend MBA Program students who meet the following eligibility requirements may be invited by companies to participate in the Full-
Time MBA Program’s on-campus invitational interview recruiting for entry-level full-time employment during the Autumn Quarter of each year. Evening MBA
and Weekend MBA Program students are not eligible for participation in on-campus internship recruiting. Evening MBA and Weekend MBA Program students
must abide by Career Services’ On-Campus Recruiting Policies and Procedures available at career. ChicagoBooth.edu/fulltime/about/policies/ocr.aspx,
and meet the following eligibility requirements:
1. Be seeking full-time employment.
2. By the end of the Summer Quarter in the year they are planning to participate in on-campus recruiting, have successfully completed at least 12 courses that meet Chicago Booth’s degree requirements.
3. Be enrolled in at least one Chicago Booth course during the Autumn Quarter they are participating in on-campus recruiting.
4. Have the following documentation on file with Career Services:
a. A completed and signed Eligibility Certification form.
b. Documentation to prove that they are not employed, or have not received any financial support of reimbursement from their employer (i.e., that they paid 100 percent of all Chicago Booth tuition, fees, and other expenses) or prove, with a statement from their employer on company letterhead, that their participation in on-campus recruiting does not violate corporate policy and that the company is aware that the student may participate in autumn recruiting activities.
5. Have not previously participated in on-campus interviewing. Participation in on-campus recruiting is only allowed once.
6. Have participated in all mandatory recruiting training sessions.
Check out the recorded Interview Crash Course Webinar: interview-crash-course-webinar-nov-1st-8pm-est-122475.html
Check out my e-book on all things B-school: guide-to-business-school-application-by-rhyme-109942.html