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Business School Overview
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The better business schools take academic theories and apply them to real-world problems. They craft students into astute decision makers and professionals who can readily navigate uncertainty, risk and change.
The b–school curriculum is challenging, and students must work hard to keep up. But the bottom line is that the goal of every business student is to get a challenging, high–paying job after graduation. So for most, earning perfect grades is not as important as making contacts with peers, professors and executives who will be helpful down the road.
Business School: Year 1
At most schools, the first term (or year) is devoted to the core curriculum, designed to give students a broad overview of the major areas of business. Courses range from finance, management and accounting to decision sciences, organizational behavior and economics. A core marketing course might cover pricing, segmentation, communications, product–line planning and implementation. Students also take electives, which provide a more narrow focus.
Some business schools have come up with an entirely new way of covering the basics, integrating the core courses into one learning experience, which may also include sessions on topics such as globalization, ethics and managing diversity. These half-year to year-long courses are team-taught by professors who see students through all disciplines.
Whatever the structure, the first term of b–school can be daunting. MBA programs usually pack a hefty chunk of learning into the first term. The pace and volume is intense.
The good news is that schools generally recognize how tough this part of your b–school education can be. During the early part of the program, many schools place students in small sections. You take many or all of your classes with your section–mates, which can help make a large program feel much smaller.
The first year of getting your MBA is like living in fast–forward. This is especially true of the job search. No sooner are you in the program than recruiters for summer jobs show up. First–years aggressively pursue summer positions, which are linked with the promise of a permanent job offer if the summer goes well. At some schools, the recruiting period begins as early as October.
Business School: Year 2
Much of the second year will be spent taking electives to gain proficiency in your area of specialization, networking and searching for a job. This year tends to be much more relaxed–the academic workload is lighter, and students know what's important and what's not.
B–school students spend a lot of time socializing, especially in the second year. After all, your fellow students are your future customers and business partners. So getting to know your classmates isn't just a nice thing to do–it will determine your future success.
Alumni are also an important part of the b–school experience. While professors teach theory and practice, alumni provide insight into the real business world. When you're ready to interview, an alum working at a company you're interested in can help secure the interview and may shepherd you through the hiring process. They can also provide more general advice on finding a job and thriving in the business world.
Once you have your MBA, you can expect to hit the ground running. You'll start off your post b–school life with a load of contacts that you will periodically leverage over your career. An active alumni relations department can give you continued support. Post–MBA executive education series, networking events and the career services office are all resources you can draw on for years to come.