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My Booth

Some people believe that life is what you make of it, well at Booth the message I have been receiving was your MBA program is what you make of it.  Wondering how Booth compares to a certain other school north of it? Well, I was pretty curious myself.  Let me know if my experience matches up with yours if you’ve visited Booth before.

First impression: I drove in from O’Hare.  Epic traffic… allow yourself plenty of time for traffic and find parking.  It was a little easier than what people have been telling b/c I think some students were on campus as it is the last week of school.  Some classes are canceled or changed to a review session.  The admissions office is immediately to your left when you walk in (assuming you take the entrance at 58th and Woodlawn like I did).  Harper Center is certainly impressive.  The Winter Garden, aka “We-Didn’t-Want-To-Call-It-Atrium-Like-Every-Other-School” lets in tons of natural light which can be deceiving b/c it looks like 70 degrees inside when it’s 30 outside.

I personally had some impressions about Booth and wonder how it would fit w/ my career goals and I believe admissions and even its students are very aware of what kind of branding image people out there have about Booth and are actively trying to dispel them and addressed it in our info session, during the building tour, and at lunch w/ students as well.

Environment: B
Most people commute in from downtown feels like.  Some do live around Hyde Park or South Loop but there’s less to do in that area.  The commute is not unreasonable from downtown.  Walk from your apt to Metra station, 12-20 min ride depending on if it’s an express train or not, and another 8-10 min walk to Harper Center.  Many students end up living really close together if not in the same building so you end up seeing bunch of Booth people around.  I know there are tons that live in Millenium Park Plaza right on Lake and Michigan Ave.  A friend of mine lives there on the 19th floor, the other two lives a block away on Garland and Lake.  Rent is about $1,100, $1,200/month.

Job prospect: A+
Same w/ that “other school,” lots of people interested in consulting and finance and Chicago is a great place for that.  Booth does an excellent job in placing people.  One of the reasons it vaulted to the #1 spot in The Economist’s MBA ranking is because Booth navigated the economic downturn much better than all other schools, perhaps getting a little more creative by placing people in less traditional fields.

School: A+
After much consideration, I’m willing to say Harper Center is the best building out of all the MBA programs I have visited, with Duke-Fuqua and UCLA-Anderson close behind.  Everything you need is there.  Nice cafeteria w/ good selection of food, student lounge complete w/ pool tables, computer lab, and free apples.  It actually has a more museum feel with art work displayed through out the building, which I think someone was telling me had to do with Booth the actual person’s background?  Super new, super modern and clean.  Even the Winter Garden has these wonderful flying buttresses design incorporated into it.

Curriculum: A
LEAD is the only class everybody is required to take, other than that you can substitute any of the 9 courses in your Foundation and Functions, Management, and Business Environment requirement.  I find this to be the best method to implement a flexible curriculum yet making sure everyone has a solid foundation.  In my particular case my undergrad was in business.  I don’t want to take the same accounting/finance/marketing classes all over again.  I can choose a class that’s slightly more advanced or covers a topic more in depth that I’m interested in.  I still don’t see the value of LEAD that much unfortunately other than to meet other students b/c Booth doesn’t do the whole section or cohort system.

Booth has many impressive professors, 5 or 6 of them have won Noble Prizes before.  However, I have to say the impression people have with Booth as a big Quant Jock school is fairly on point.  Even for Marketing it has more focus in data mining and they just collaborated w/ Nielsen on some data base project.  Classes meet once a week for 10 weeks quarter period for 3 hours.  You can schedule your classes in a certain way so you have some days off to do recruiting stuff.  I did get feedback that 10 weeks do go by very fast and feels like you don’t get to go too in-depth into certain topics.  I got to sit in on James Schrager’s New Venture Strategy class which is very popular.  I assume a lot of his approach to the class has to do w/ his own entrepreneurial/VC background and paints a realistic picture any aspiring entrepreneurs on how difficult this is and what VC’s think about when they’re hearing you pitch

Students: A
Booth is very much about free will, individuals make their own choices, down to the friends you make which is why they don’t do the cohort system (I didn’t make that up, I actually did ask an admissions officer why this was the case).    I think this is what people mean why they say Booth is a lot more “individual” based, not in the sense that you don’t do any teamwork.  I do have to say that although students talk and socialize with each other, it’s not at the same level of energy compared to some other schools.

They have these functions on Thursday called TNDC or Thursday Night Drinking Club, and LPF’s (Liquidity Preference Function) on Fridays and I just can’t help but feel it’s very corporate happy hour driven kind of environment and that Booth needed events like this to further facilitate the relationships between its students.  There was one female student that described TNDC as a “meat market” and LPF as “the dorkiest thing ever.”

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