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# Three Things You Should Know About Darden

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14 Apr 2011, 07:13
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I am a current Darden MBA student and want to briefly share three things I wish I had known before I chose to attend. Deciding whether to make the large time and money investment in an MBA program is a monumental process, and prospective students should have all the facts, beyond just the shiny marketing pitch, so they can make an intelligent and informed decision. Below are three things about Darden you should consider before you attend.

1. Darden purposefully engineers an overwhelming workload that will have you working 60 – 80 hours per week for the entire first semester. A typical day’s assignment is three cases, three to five technical readings, one textbook chapter, three sets of assignment questions, and usually an online problem set or tutorial. With three classes per day, and classes held four days per week, you will end up doing 12 cases per week, plus all the associated readings and assignment questions. You will find that this overwhelming workload is a core part of the Darden experience, culture, and brand.

2. 100% case method means absolutely no lecture, no direct answers from professors, and a primary focus on the specific case story over the general business concept. With absolutely no lecture during the first year at Darden, the classroom experience consists entirely of student-driven case discussion. This means professors will not directly answer questions, share their insights or past experience, or outline important takeaway conclusions in class. As a result, even for especially challenging topics the only in-class clarification you will get is from other students explaining the subject. In addition, all business concepts are taught through the lens of the case. This means class discussion is focused almost entirely on the specific details of a particular case story rather than the general underlying business topic and its broader applications outside the present situation.

3. 50% of nearly every course grade is based solely on your class participation and Darden supports grade disclosure to recruiters. While each class is slightly different, nearly all course grades are weighted roughly 50% class participation and 50% final exam, with a few having a small project or assignment component. This heavy grade weighting of class participation, combined with the fact that Darden supports grade disclosure to recruiters (while many peer schools do not), provides very strong incentives for students to participate frequently in class. With roughly 70 people per classroom section, you will have to work hard to be heard every day, and be very comfortable speaking in public as professors tend to “cold call” those students who don’t frequently participate. Your grades at Darden, and by extension your career prospects, will depend greatly on your ability to participate frequently in classes.

Overall, Darden is an incredibly strong MBA program with outstanding faculty, bright and accomplished students, and a world-class academic reputation. My goal is not to criticize the school or tarnish its public image in any way, but rather to give future prospective students all the facts before making a decision about which program is right for them. To that end, I hope this is helpful.
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15 Apr 2011, 01:47
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27 Apr 2011, 09:16
Did you guys end up splitting the reading of the cases in the learning teams? that sounds like it's way too much for one person to handle by themselves.
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27 Apr 2011, 18:53
Thanks for sharing your candid perspective!
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28 Apr 2011, 07:56
That was extremely helpful to know. Many thanks!
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28 Apr 2011, 16:00
great post!
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05 May 2011, 13:19
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I am matriculating in the fall (class of 2013) and have spoken with dozens of your peers at Darden about their experience. This post generally reflects what I have heard from others currently enrolled with the exception of two points:

1) I was told, both by admissions committee members and career center advisors, that Darden does NOT disclose grades to recruiters.

2) While you clearly have more experience in the case method classroom than I do I am skeptical of the idea that professors will never share their "insight or past experience." In the mock class I participated in at Darden Days this spring, the professor shared a couple of anecdotes from her experience serving on a board of directors faced with an analagous decision to the one presented in the case. Perhaps she was giving us a bonus to help sell us on the program...

In any case, this post definitely reflects my understanding of the program overall. I am very excited to get started in the fall!
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05 May 2011, 16:23
My one big fear of applying to a "case study school" is that participation requirement. It would seem that (a) everyone would be clamoring to do so out of fear for their grade and (b) it would be hard to get noticed unless you fought to speak up.

Thoughts?
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06 May 2011, 02:03
Thanks for sharing this very useful information.
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12 May 2011, 02:40
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16 May 2011, 13:58
Hi Hatter -

When considering the general MBA community definition of grade non-disclosure, I think you will find that Darden does not have grade non-disclosure (i.e., students do share their grades with recruiters).

I hope this helps clarify the topic. Hatter, I hope you have a great year at Darden and congrats on joining such an outstanding program.
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16 May 2011, 15:52
Dardenmba2011,

Kudos !! Great post. With 50% grades for being heard in the class, does the environment create unwarranted competition? I've heard that the school itself is a very close-knit community like some of the other small town b-schools. I am not sure how these two aspects fit together, if true.

Also, what is your take on 100% case studies? Read a lot on this forum, but would like to get an insight from you.
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12 Jul 2011, 01:09
Thank you for the very informative post that just solidify my decision not to apply to Darden. I can hardly see the value in pursposedly engineering points 1 and 3.
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09 Apr 2012, 03:46
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01 Jul 2012, 15:53
Great info ! Kudo for you !
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11 Jul 2012, 13:19
Great information. It would be wonderful if students from other schools would share these FYIs.
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15 Aug 2012, 05:32
AN225 wrote:
Thank you for the very informative post that just solidify my decision not to apply to Darden. I can hardly see the value in pursposedly engineering points 1 and 3.

I'm now a Darden second year so I can help answer some of this stuff.

The value in the overwhelming workload is that you gain good experience for managing in situations that would overwhelm others. That's a key differentiator of Darden MBA's and I think that's precisely why we tend to do better in our careers than several schools that are traditionally ranked higher than our own.

The value in class participation is priceless. We learn to think quickly, think on our feet, and not fear leading discussion or direction of the conversation in meetings. These are critical characteristics of great managers.

I hope that helps to explain it.
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09 Oct 2012, 18:34
Informative post, however, I don't think I like Darden. Would prefer to have the professor lecture, then, go from there.
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24 Oct 2012, 12:50
Great post. I appreciate your thoughts and insider perspective.
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Re: Three Things You Should Know About Darden   [#permalink] 24 Oct 2012, 12:50
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