If you’re in the market for bschool, then obviously you know that Chicago Booth is everybody’s darling, having coming in at #1 on the BusinessWeek list of best U.S. business schools for the last three cycles. The BW rankings come out every other year, so that’s hitting the top spot for more than half a decade. And, Chicago has been rated similarly well by The Economist and has a very respectable showing on a slew of other lists.
But you knew all that.
What you hopefully also know is what Chicago Booth feels is its main advantage and differentiatng factor: its flexible curriculum. You’ll often hear touted that “there’s only one required course at Booth” which is, strictly speaking, true, but in reality, students do actually have to study the same core fundamentals — finance, accounting, marketing, et al. — as at every other top school. The difference with the core is that there is a menu of options from which to choose in each of these areas, allowing the student to customize her experience based on existing proficiencies. So you still get the same standard bschool education at Booth (sorry, you still have to suffer through statistics), you just get the illusion of being in control.
EssaySnark knows of a significant advantage and a potential gotcha with this “flexible curriculum.”
First, for all you control freaks out there (and we know, we deal with more than our share of control-freak admissions clients): the Booth system does put you at the wheel much more than other schools. If you are someone who is ready to hit the ground running and you have a plan for what you want to do and you know exactly what you need to get there — great! This could be an awesome experience.
And even if you don’t know the specifics of how your future will play out, there are lots of resources and support available at Booth to help along the way.
So you won’t be shooting in the dark.
For all you Type A uber-driven overachiever types, then Booth could be a serious dream come true.
The potential gotcha with all this? If you are a little scattered. Or have trouble making decisions. Or reeeeaaaaallllly want to explore allllllllll your options. Then, you could end up wandering through your two years at Booth and being spit out the other side with few marketable skills. With no focus. With a lot of nifty courses under your belt but nowhere to apply them.
The fact is, certain industries expect MBA grads to have a certain type of training. Beyond the core education (finance/accounting/marketing/et al), if you want to become a consultant, you’ll need to have classes in, say, organizational behavior. Leadership. If you want to go into marketing (well, first you need to define what “marketing” means to you) you probably would benefit from classes on market intelligence, consumer behavior, and pricing. Now granted, if you knew you were going into marketing, you’d probably gravitate towards those. But what if you took only the esoteric marketing classes (or the ones that sounded like more fun) and sort of missed out on those basics?
EssaySnark finds it a tad bit frustrating that Booth doesn’t seem to have a full course catalog available on its public website. We like the website ovrall — it’s one of the better admissions portals around — but if they’re saying that their big differentiator is that you can design your own curriculum, shouldn’t they tell you the universe of choices you have available? So you know what you’ll get to choose from? We’ve spent all morning digging around this puppy and have yet to discovr the magic button that will show us the catalog. If one of you enterprising Brave Supplicants knows where it is, we’d be grateful if you’d post in the link in the comments section of this post.
Booth is obviously considered a strong school for finance, and for a variety of other things, too. Be sure you know what you’re getting into, however. If you’re the control-my-own-destiny type, great! It could be a good fit. (Be sure to express this in your application!!!) If you need some hand-holding, it could still work out, but if you’re coming into the bschool experience on the clueless side, you might benefit more from a traditionally-structured program (maybe Columbia or Wharton, though everyone is changing formats these days…)
Good luck with it!