No no, don’t worry, we’re not about to launch into another diatribe about alumni networks. We went on long enough about that back last summer.
Today we’re simply drawing a distinction between two different aspects of the bschool experience. As we said in the title, there is class size, and there is class size.
By class size, we mean the size of the class that you’re entering with. This is the number of graduates who will get spit out the other end. If you’re applying to bschool in 2013 (and you’re targeting a standard two-year full-time program), then you’ll be in the Class of 2015. The “class size” is how many others will be graduating with you.
Conversely, by class size, we mean the number of students in the class. As in, that Corporate Finance class you have to take in the first term – how many other bodies will be in the same room with you (hopefully not sleeping) when the professor is droning on about NPV and IRR and DCF? And how many will be in that New Ventures elective where you’re going to write a business plan and submit it to the competition? Here, by “class size” we mean will you get lost in the crowd or will you be able to be noticed by the professor and how much chance do you have to actually get your ideas heard during a classroom discussion and those sorts of things.
Here’s the deal:
Regardless of how big a school’s graduating class is, the size of their actual classes – the ones you sit through, and take tests in – is remarkably similar. They all tend to follow a common pattern: Core courses for first-years are generally big. These are the classes you go through with your cluster. Most schools are on the cluster system (some call it a different thing); Booth is a notable exception. And not always, but often, these core classes are purty darn big. Lots of bodies. In the 65-70 students range. When that’s a case-based course, then that means you’d better be able to push yourself out there and get heard.
This is one main reason why Harvard doesn’t go for wallflowers. They need to see evidence in your application that you’re assertive, else you won’t stand a chance in a HBS classroom. Almost all of HBS is case-based, remember? They’ve only recently started to experiment with different formats. If you aren’t at least a little aggressive, and if you lack self-confidence, you’re not going to do so great there. (They grade on class participation, you know.)
The similarities in actual class size – as in, student-teacher ratios and how many people are sitting next to you in Statistics – is the main reason why, personally, EssaySnark doesn’t see what the big deal is with the small-school versus large-school thing. We particularly don’t buy the argument from the big-school proponents that it’s better because you form more connections. Sure, there’s more people to possibly be connected to, but this doesn’t mean that you’ll walk away with more actual relationships than you would at a smaller program – certainly not more true friendships.