The below I posted in the other thread but am reposting here in case people are interested. It doesnt address your question directly, but perhaps some interesting stuff for you to noodle on.
Its very poorly written because most of it was done on a blackberry on my way to work, but you'll get the idea.
Someone, whom shall remain nameless sent me the following message (edited to protect):
.... could you perhaps share what you see as cons and unexpected pros of Chicago Booth? I am especially interested in the cons...
My perceptions from talking to students right now is that it's unpleasantly over-competitive in general....
you have a lot more students from part-time and evening programs competing for the same interview slots, so getting jobs is even harder. Is this accurate?
I won't just focus on the con's cause I really don't think its fair to only talk about that, but I'll give them 50% of my time.
The first thing mentioned here is that its unpleasantly over-competitive in general. On this fact, I'm split. Academics are not competitive, high profile jobs sometimes are.
Lets tackle academics. There's really very little competition here. Sure, there are those people who *care* more about their grades and there are those that practically appear to be comatose in class -- and everything in between, but there's hardly a lot of competition. A couple of reasons for this.
First, there are far more people who aim for a "B or a C" than people who aim for an "A or A-". So, right out of the gate, that reduces the competitiveness in class pretty substantially.
Second, much of what you do (with the exception of certain courses like accounting) is very team oriented. A lot of these team efforts begin to approach collusion instead of competition. For instance, if you have a 5 person team and say, 10 case writeups to do over the course of a class, some teams will just say 'ok you do the first 2, i'll do the next 2, etc..' and you just cut your workload in a fifth. Professors don't much encourage that of course, it's sort of cheating the learning process a bit being that the whole idea of team oriented learning is that you discuss (not that you just divy up the work).
Third, peeople just aren't like that -- its quite common for people to share cheat sheets for final exams ("oh i took that class last quarter, let me give you my cheat sheet for the final") or notes or other resources.
Fourth, and perhaps this should have been first, we have grade non disclosure. IT means that you cannot divulge your GPA to any recruiter until after you graduate. So (and this relates to my first point about most people not aiming for As) there's really very little incentive (outside of your own personal sense of accomplishment) to aim for As. I'm proud of my high honors but other than my parents, I'm not sure anyone cares.
Fifth, it takes EFFORT to get something lower than a C. I don't know of people who have -- although I know they exist. But honestly, you REALLY have to do nothing to get below a C. The overall difficulty of the academics are far overblown.
Sixth, part of it is just being smart -- pick your teammates well. People get reputations as 'idiots' or 'slackers' quickly, and those people won't find themselves in good groups. If on the other hand, you get the opposite reputation you'll find that people you barely know are trying to get you to join their group. Having the pick of the litter makes your life a lot easier. It's not always easy to cut out the weak ones and I've thrown a few really poor performers under a bus which I didn't like to do, but it was the right choice. By the time I got into my second year, I had all of the smartest folks in teh room pairing up on my team - most of whom (if not all) were smarter than I was.
The proof, as they say, is in the pudding. I was a <3.0 undergrad and I graduated with high honors from Booth. That either means I got smarter in the interim, everyone else got dumber, or people just dont' compete that much on academics. It seems unlikely that either of the first two things happened.
So thats academics. Lets talk jobs.
Jobs are a wierd beast -- in some ways its very uncompetitive and in other ways its hypercompetitive. A lot of it frankly, is just PERCEPTION.
On one side of the coin - people do help each other out -- I had an instance where I was walking to an interview and ran into a girl I knew who had just finished her own interview (for the same job). She mentioned to me that I should brush up on concept X and concept Y -- out of her own volition. I ended up with an offer from that company in part thanks to her heads up. I had that kind of thing happen more than once -- I made groups of people to practice cases with and we shared frameworks we developed amongst ourselves. To be completely transparent though, I have to admit that when others asked me for my frameworks, I wouldnt' share them. It's not because I'm competitive but its because I spent hours and hours building them and I wasn't about to just give that work away to people who couldn't be bothered to do it themselves. (I did share them with people I trusted however).
On the other side of the coin - you DO have the people on the other end of the spectrum as well. One guy showed up to a top 3 consulting firm recruiting dinner after having accepted a job offer in banking. Considering banking was his top choice a lot of people wondered why he didn't have the curtesy to cancel and give someone else a chance to go. He said he wanted to keep his options open. People like that don't make great impressions and I promise you it did him far more harm among his peers than it helped him -- he ended up loosing his FT job offer and I doubt a lot of people are going out of their way to help him.
Another fellow came up to me one morning and asked me if I had landed job X. I told him I didn't. He said "I did" and walked away. A few months later over drinks I complimented him by telling him: "I'm glad you got that job. I honestly think you were the better candidate and you seem happy. I know it came down to me and you at the end there and for what its worth, I think they made the right choice." His response? "Oh, I don't think they ever really liked you. I think they were just being nice to you." Another fellow that wasn't much liked to be sure.
These examples are the worst of them though - honestly, people aren't generally like this.
I honestly believe it FEELS more competitive than it is. The recruiting season at Booth (and at any other school) is a stressful time. You balance classes, activities, friends, family and job hunting in a short four or five week timeframe all the while acutely aware of who has what job. Word travels fast -- "Did you hear so and so didnt' get a 2nd round?" or "I heard they are only hiring four people this year" or "I can't believe she got an offer from Goldman, she can barely keep herself from walking into walls." You'll see friends get denied from dream jobs, you'll get 2nd rounds they don't (and feel bad about it) and vica-versa, you'll see some REALLY smart people struggle to find a gig, you'll also see some of the dumbest people you've ever met magically land gigs at top firms. You'll question your interests, etc. Imagine for a moment the stress of your MBA interview and waiting for a decision from the school -- now just repeat that experience a couple dozen times, except this time, if the answer is no, you don't just keep your old job and reapply next year -- this time, if the answer is no, you have no job and you just blew a couple hundred G. It makes the MBA admissions process look like a cake walk.
It's a stressful process and that tends to breed some degree of competition - no one wants to be the person without a job offer while all their friends are sitting on two or three. But that feeling that 'this is it' -- that this is the 'ultimate test', the 'end to all ends' is really more in your own head than anything else.
That stress effects different people in different ways - some people are perfectly content not interviewing on campus and holding out for their dream job till June. Others don't or can't.
So, is it competitive? Maybe. It certainly does feel competitive -- but I don't think thats a function of Booth, I think its just the nature of the game. I imagine you'd feel that stress at Wharton or Kellogg or any other school just as much as you would at Booth.
Now lets talk part timers.
For internships, only FT students can recruit. For full time jobs, PT students (provided they have a certain number of classes and have completed certain training) can recruit. Make no mistake about it, this will piss you off (even if half of them blow their chances within 10 seconds of opening their mouth). There is nothing more infuriating than some guy with a job he may or may-not have any real intention of leaving showing up to a recruiting event and monopolozing the recruiters time. You'll want to punch their lights out more than once.
I got my revenge one night at a recruiting dinner -- I showed up early and dressed business casual. All the part timers always overdo it and showed up in suit and tie. I'm calm and collected and drinking at the bar, and pretty soon I've got a semi-circle of these yahoos around me and frankly id prefer it if they just screwed off and let me finish my drink before the company representatives kicked thigns off. It then dawns on me they think I work for the company, so I turn to one of the guys, look him straight in the eye and say "So, what do you think are the 3 biggest challenges facing our firm over the next five years?" It was the most beautiful deer-in-headlights look I've ever seen. The guy practically crapped himself right then and there. You might think this was mean, but trust me, spend a quarter dealing with PT people showing up to every event you have and you'll be a little mean too.
The point is they are there - they will piss you off. The good thing is that they are generally pretty unpolished when it comes to recruiting and most of them blow their chances immediately.
Example - same night, same dinner. Halfway through the meal, this girl shows up, plops down next to me and apologies for being late. I'm thinking to myself, "Sweetie, 20 minutes is late, an hour into dinner is idiotic." Although she had probably already destroyed her chances, she gracefully stepped on mine after mine from taht point forward. She proceeds to explain that shes late because of "homework" but that she lives in a "really nice apartment just down the street" and that therefore it only took her a "few minutes" to walk over. Great, so you show up halfway through a meal because of homework? Yea, what a winner. As if that wasn't enough, she then interrupts the recruiter (sitting on my left, shes on my right) and proceeds to pepper her with questions. The recruiter, who was quite clearly in the middle of another conversation with the person to her left, is left in an uncomfortable position of trying to manage this. My conversation in the mean time is also cut short as this girl begins to talk across from me. As if this wasn't enough, she then starts to talk about how she's also perhaps interested in consulting (note: this was not a consulting company dinner) and starts asking me if I am thinking about consulting too..... in front of the recruiter. I deflected the question and spent the rest of the night hoping the flambe desert would accidentally set this girl on fire. In the end, the only person to get an offer from that firm was a FT student.
Another PT student recruiting for a consulting gig went to some event and commented to the recruiter "So hows the hiking thing going?". The recruiter was obviously perplexed -- how did this girl know she had started hiking? The rest of us were just confused. Turns out, I later discovered that the recruiter's profile on facebook was set to open and that this girl had basically gone e-stalking. You can bet that girl didn't get an interview.
So, does it make it 'harder' to land a job? I honestly don't know how much of a material difference it is, but it will certainly FEEL like it makes a difference. It helps that they seem to all have the sabotage switch soldered to an 'ON' position though.
If you ask me what the #1 thing that irritated me about Booth is, I'd tell you exactly this. To be fair, this situation isn't limited to just Booth, other schools have similar policies, although I think Booth makes it too easy for PT to show up.
As for the pros? I guess I'll have to get back to this - I have a meeting.
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
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.
and from a prior post as well:
My visit impressions of GSB
- There definitely is a slightly lower amount of "team" oriented projects/work than schools such as Stanford/Berkeley/Kellogg. The 2nd year I talked with said that in some classes you can do everything yourself, and others you form teams (optional). It seems more like a "do your own thing" type school.
I'd point out is that isn't really optional. One of my strategy courses requires that you do the homework in groups, and instead of a final there's a group project. I don't have much of a choice in the matter. LEAD also demands everything team work based. On the other hand, in classes like statistics, yea, I have a choice.
You know, its funny. I used to think of this as a con as well - Kellogg was team everything and I thought I'd want that. Now that I'm actually here and some of my classes require teamwork, some don't, I feel pretty differently about it. Teamwork isn't all fun and games and I appreciate the fact that although I don't have a choice in all my classes, I'm not forced to do statistics homework with a team (though they do allow it).
In one course in particular, I'm stuck trying to coordinate with four other people every week for the cases, and planning schedules is a pain. I don't like to meet on a Saturday, but if I'm the only one with a problem with it, then guess what, I lose. There's also the freerider problem - inevitably, someone does more than their fair share to compensate. That can be very very irritating. Its nice to study as a group and work as a group, but not all the time for everything. Ironically, this is actually the number one complaint I hear from my friends at Kellogg as well - working in groups isn't all its cracked up to be.
So, what I'm trying to say is, GSB's approach of "sometimes mandatory sometimes not" is actually something I've come to consider a pro rather than a con.
- I observed less of a "cohesive" feeling between the students compared to Kellogg or the Cali schools.
- "Commuter School" feel. Many people live farther away from GSB than at Kellogg, mainly because of the parent school and local area.
You know I have to tackle this one too. Yes, its true that people live all over but, somewhat ironically, I think it actually gives us a really stronger community. The reason is that people come to campus and they stay on campus - all day. You go eat near campus with friends, you hang out and play pool, you go to the bar next door, etc etc etc. The campus becomes a huge nexus for socialization. Precisely because people live in various parts of the city, people don't come in for a class and then leave. So, I'm not sure what you meant by commuter school feel - it kind of is a commuter school (though probably 40% live in Hyde Park and 40% in downtown) - but if you meant it as a "people come in and go" kind of thing... it really really isn't like that at all.
As for the cohesive comment, I cant really comment too much other than to say I think the GSB has plenty of student cohesion. We do a lot together all the time. It actually makes me think of something....one of the things I've come to like too (not sure how common this is elsewhere) is that I meet and work with (even in my study group) a lot of 2nd years. You aren't lockstep with first years and so my network is much larger. The guy sitting next to me in class may have interned at Bain last summer. The other guy in the corner is CEO of an internet startup. There's opportunity to work closely with a whole other class - and you really get to have fun. Last week, I went out to dinner with 11 second years, 3 phd students, 1 alum and 2 other first years. We ended up drinking and partying till 2.30am in the morning (when I left) and now, every time I see them in the atrium, they introduce me to someone else. Its fun.
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