Opinion

Peter Thiel is Wrong About MBAs. Here’s Why.

BY ZUBIN DAVAR

Zubin Davar

Zubin Davar

I love Peter Thiel. And I love his polarizing approach to voicing opinion. However, in a recent Business Insider article Mr. Thiel expressed his disdain for hiring MBAs, characterizing them as sheep that act with “extremely herd-like thinking and behavior.”His point of view is strikingly narrow, and I expect better than sweeping generalities from such a well-educated and successful role model.

It’s a great time to be an MBA. We’re exploring a myriad of careers as illustrated by Anderson’s Parker Career Center’s industry summary. Outside of traditional options, MBAs are entering into sectors such as healthcare, energy, and the public sector, recognizing the nuanced opportunities to make a massive impact in these mature industries.

Representation of pre-MBA vs. post-MBA industries for UCLA Anderson graduates

Representation of pre-MBA vs. post-MBA industries for UCLA Anderson graduates

Take recent Anderson graduate Thomas de Fresart ’14, for example. After launching his cleantech start up, SolarWing, he decided to pursue his MBA. Leveraging his entrepreneurial experience and education he plans to “transform the electricity market, save consumers money, and reduce environmental impact” working at EDF Renewable Energy. Such pursuits are anything but sheep-like.

Additionally, Mr. Thiel’s claim is ironic because the MBA degree actually provides a broader range of career opportunities than any other graduate program. MBAs are, in part, seeking this breadth of opportunity in order to find their true career path and not become pigeonholed in unfulfilling or valueless careers.

The article goes on to portray MBAs, without substantiation, as people prone to groupthink. His statement is an antiquated, Enron-like perception of MBAs at best – or a typical, corporate culture write-off by the contrarian-minded Silicon Valley elite at worst.

Research from Ernst & Young, Harvard Business Review, and essentially all organizational behavior literature support diversity in teams to help reduce groupthink. With 37 countries, 171 undergraduate institutions, and practically every industry represented in Anderson’s Class of 2015, we are constantly bombarded by diverse points of view, cultures, and approaches to problem solving. If groupthink exists, it doesn’t stem from program culture.

This rich diversity of thought is unique to MBA environments. Higher education expands perspectives, it doesn’t put on cognitive blinders.

I see countless examples of how our MBAs think fearlessly. From trailblazing new start ups such as Vow to be Chic,Neural Analytics, and SmartestK12, to industry legends such as Sirius Satellite Radio and BlackRock, the history of entrepreneurship at UCLA, as well as at other top business schools, outshines Mr. Thiel’s narrow point of view.

The “high extrovert/low conviction” caricature Mr. Thiel crafts is not a familiar persona among the MBAs I know.

John Wooden Global Leadership Award Fellow, Elliot Ling ’14, spent his career serving low-income communities. Ling came to business school not with the allure of making money, but with a dream of developing the South LA inner city. To this extent, Ling and his wife welcomed into their own home a 16-year-old dropout who was in desperate need, helping the young man build a new future for his life. As Ling finds more success in his career he continues to embrace the notion of shared success and opens doors for others. Not much fluffy MBA extroversion going on there.

I actually agree with Mr. Thiel’s perspective on the suits; the “slick business folk compensating for crap products with well-dressed charm.” The world needs more characters, more idealists, and more genuine visionaries aiming to improve our society. That said, I find his outspoken attack hypocritical given his own professional background. After finishing law school Mr. Thiel spent three years trading derivatives for Credit Suisse and went on to found Thiel Capital Management, a multi-stage investment fund. I’m personally inspired by his career but when one puts that kind of time into a “tracked career” it’s hard to shake the impression of a pot calling the kettle black. (I also find it amusing Mr. Thiel is wearing a suit in the article’s cover photo, his Twitter profile photo, and his Facebook profile photo).

What’s truly concerning is Mr. Thiel taking such a limited approach to business. He’s carelessly cutting out top talent who have unbelievably interesting backgrounds matched by stratospheric achievement yet who are balanced by thoughtful humility.

We’re at an exciting point in the evolution of what the MBA degree represents and means for businesses.The value of our degree continues to rise, with the percentage of companies hiring MBAs jumping 30% over the past five years.  And 45% of those hiring companies are increasing base pay to MBAs in 2014, according to Poets & Quants. Those are pretty promising numbers, even to skeptical venture capitalists. Anderson welcomed an impressive new class this month and I can’t wait to work closely with them to prove Peter Thiel wrong.

And to Mr. Thiel: please accept my open invitation to visit Anderson and share more of your perspective with us. We always love a lively debate!

 

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California Dreamin

BY JOHN KAPTEYN, SECTION EDITOR

Being an orientation leader makes it evident how we’ve come full circle as MBAs in our second year. Seeing the excitement, nerves, and posturing of first years is such a vivid reminder of all of my emotions just one year ago. Some people jump in headfirst, others dip a toe in the water, and all are taking advantage of a new environment filled with future business partners, spouses, and unavoidable lifelong friends – while tolerating orientation leaders with titanic levels of enthusiasm. The relationships gel, the hustle grows, and after a year you feel like you’ve got your arms around it all as you go into your internship.

Just as things got comfortable last year I found myself back out on that limb. Starting an internship, like any new challenge, comes with the same jitters, the same promise of hard-earned opportunity, and the same desire of making a positive impact on a new team. For me, transitioning from school to the internship was relatively painless. I hit the ground running by missing my first flight on the first day (I have some layout suggestions for LAX) and then locking my 20-person case team out of the client computer terminal for booking meetings for a week (I have some IT suggestions for a Fortune 500 in Phoenix). On paper I should have called Parker, notified them that they somehow got a half-functioning human being a job, congratulated them on this feat, and then geared up for re-recruiting. In reality, though, these are the experiences that make us who we are. These vulnerabilities, paired with the ability to not take oneself too seriously, allow us to forge relationships that will ultimately make us effective throughout the unforeseeable turns our lives will all take.

Anderson’s reach put me on a team with multiple graduates as well as two members of the incoming Class of 2016 -allowing them to rib me in the way that only people who have your back could. The projec was challenging, but learning from the candor of those around me brought me up to speed quickly. By the time I was hitting my stride, it was over.

Touching base with the world outside the AnderBubble tends to come just in time, but lasts only long enough for you to reground yourself before plunging back into school. Like waking up an hour before your alarm goes off and realizing you get that extra bit of bliss, I’m eager to hit the cooler side of the pillow as a second year. To have the privilege of building relationships with a new class, while cementing those I started last year, is something I’ll be pinching myself over for the next nine months.

Can’t wait.

Sunset at the Santa Monica Pier, photo credit Subodh Kolla

Sunset at the Santa Monica Pier, photo credit Subodh Kolla

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7 Tips to Surviving the First Quarter of B-School

BY HELEN KOLPAKOV, SENIOR WRITER

The first quarter in Business School is exciting…. but it can also be very stressful. Use the 7 Tips below to navigate through your first few weeks at Anderson and make the most of your experience.

1) Learn How to Plan
Google Calendar will save your life this quarter. You may have an amazing memory but with club events, recruiting functions, coffee chats, social functions, group projects and whatever else you may be involved with, something is bound to slip through the cracks. Make sure to dedicate a few minutes in the beginning of the quarter to figure out the ins and outs of using a Google Calendar. Just do it.

2) Put Everything into Perspective
Always remember that you’re at one of the top schools in the country and among the brightest type-A personalities. So even if your accounting quiz score puts you in the bottom 25% of the class, remember you’re still in the top 5% of all MBA students in the world!

3) Take a Step Back to Reflect
It may be overwhelming to figure out within the first few weeks of school what internship you want to do over the summer, which in turn could lead to a full time position and the rest of your life. Some of your classmates know exactly what it is they want to do and are laser focused; others, however, are still going through the self-discovery process. Try to take a step back every now and then to evaluate whether you’re just following the crowd or if you’re actually doing what you want to do. And remember, although your summer internship is important, you’ll always have another opportunity to re-recruit for a full-time position your second year. Do not force yourself to decide on something early on and feel like you’re stuck.

4) This Too Shall Pass… Stress that is.
We all know the first quarter is stressful. Balancing academics, recruiting, leadership roles and a social life is not an easy task. At times it may seem like it’s too much to handle, but remember: this too shall pass!

5) It Is What You Want It to Be
Business school can be whatever you want it to be. Whether you’re looking to form lifelong relationships with your classmates, push yourself to new limits, get
a dream job, all of the above, or simply cruise to get your degree - your experience at Anderson will be defined by your own attitude and expectations.

6) Reach Out to Second Years
We’ve been there, we’ve done it and we want to help. Last year the 2nd years were instrumental to making our first year Anderson experience one to remember and we are eager give back. Whether that’s helping you out with a concept for a class, giving you our two cents on an industry or simply helping you navigate the social and professional scenes – any one of us would be more than willing to help.

7) Have Fun!
Always remember to have a good time. Being in your prime and getting elite education with some of the brightest minds in the country is an amazing opportunity, enjoy it! Also – when you’re happy your brain releases endorphins which help you think better and faster! (it’s a fact! I actually did a
COMM presentation on it). Not only will you be making the most of your time here but you’ll also be getting a competitive mental advantage.

Don’t forget to have fun!

Don’t forget to have fun!

 

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Dear Class of 2014: A Heartfelt ‘Thank You’

BY ZUBIN DAVAR - MANAGING DIRECTOR

Zubin Davar

Zubin Davar

With graduation just a few weeks away, the unsettling thought of losing our beloved second-year classmates has begun to sink in. This is followed by an even scarier thought: We first-year students are about to become second-years ourselves. But before the annual “changing of the guards,” I’d like to reflect on what this year’s graduating class has imparted on the Anderson legacy.

Anderson’s differentiating feature is its collaborative culture and sense of community. However, Anderson’s culture as we know it would be entirely different if it weren’t for the Class of 2014. Their ambition to continue the class of 2013’s legacy – added to their frustrations with what they wished they’d received from the class above them – fueled their selfless drive to take an active role in shaping our experiences. It’s our duty to now step into those shoes and provide an unparalleled experience for the incoming class. But first, here are a few nuggets of wisdom we should keep in mind during the coming year:

Motivation and Tenacity Go a Long Way
If you have a big vision, the broader community will do everything it can to help you reach that goal. Anderson students, staff, and faculty are personally invested in helping you succeed – whether it’s coordinating alumni from around the world in order to host a major conference, or renovating our student lounge. We’re In This Together Take an active role in the happiness of others. If even five of us haven’t landed jobs by graduation, it affects all of us. It’s important to keep tabs on one another, open doors for one another and find ways to share our successes so that we all benefit. Seemingly “little things”– an introduction over email, a Sunday evening phone call to check in on a friend, or just a big bear hug – can make someone’s day and motivate a classmate to maximize every minute at Anderson.

Do Not Let “Good Enough” be the Enemy of “Great” 
While the “80/20” rule is important when juggling priorities in business school, mediocrity is unacceptable. Pushing boundaries, exceeding expectations and challenging the status quo are qualities that have defined Anderson’s culture. When the school’s Wi-Fi was not up to par, for  example, students demanded state-of-the-art functionality and facilities. The same goes for faculty, career preparation, and student programming; we must continue to expect the best from our school.

Be Yourself
Whether you’re gearing up for a Goldman Sachs interview or dressing up for Anderprom (perhaps in full drag), staying true to who you are is essential. Sure, it can be difficult to stay grounded through two years of transformational change. But if we deviate drastically, we do our classmates a disservice by not bringing to the table our unique personalities, talents and perspectives.

It would be an understatement to say that the second-years have made a lasting impact, and living up to them will be no easy task. Let’s raise our blue mugs to the Class of 2014 and send them off in all the pomp and circumstance they deserve. Thank you, from the bottom of our hearts, for everything you have given us.

 

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Brian Schoelkopf

BY BRIAN SCHOELKOPF – GUEST CONTRIBUTOR

Brian Schoelkopf

Brian Schoelkopf

Reflecting midstream is difficult. The currents that carry you forward create a noisy, tumultuous state where clear mindedness is not easily attained.Both the classes of 2015 and 2014 are presently midstream. The 2015ers are in shock that one half of their time at Anderson has nearly eclipsed. While it feels like the 80’s party was last month, within three weeks we will be the second years and transition to the role of MBA upperclassmen.

Second years find themselves in an even more turbulent situation: forced to leave the enclave of Anderson and return to the world of the working. One can only imagine the horrified faces the 2014ers will don in the coming months as they rediscover a world in which the work week does not end at 4PM on Thursday, nor is the weekend heralded by frothy beer and a buffet of warm(ish) pizza! Of course, the pain of change is simply a sign that we are making progress, becoming stronger and better. Both classes are taking the next step on their path to doing great things and changing the world.

What reflections can be made at this point of transition? What is it that the Class of 2014 will take with them from Anderson to transform the landscape of the corporate  world and the public sector? What is it that the Class of 2015 will carry with them from their first year to their second as they become the leaders of this institution? The answers are as varied as our class is diverse. Some will find that mastering discounted cash flows has been of momentous importance, while others will discover that the confidence they found within themselves while “taking a stand” to have been utterly transformative. Yet even with this diversity of experience, there is one thing that every student here will take with them that will irreversibly change and improve the course of their life – the Anderson family. Family is a word used excessively in corporate and institutional rhetoric. It is used to imply an absent feeling of connection and loyalty that few businesses or organizations truly achieve. The word is made cheap. Here, I use the word family deliberately – it expresses a reality that is at the core of our school’s DNA.

Where would an outsider see the strength of the Anderson family? Last Monday, Parker released a list of 74 students (20% of the class of 2015) who will be dedicating upwards of ten hours a week as ACT Coaches to help the incoming class of 2016 find success in recruiting. Without pay. Adding a position to their resumes that 0% of recruiters value. Three weeks ago a group of over 80 students dedicated their weekend to execute A Days, with the goal of giving admitted students a taste of the Anderson experience. Those involved committed countless hours before the weekend to planning. Zero dollars were paid to these students. Zero recognition was sought by them. Walk into Il Tram right now. At least one table, there will be two students who barley know each other having a coffee chat in which one, with nothing to gain, is spilling every secret and tip that they have to help advance the other’s career and ambitions. In return, they might have a cup of coffee bought for them.

Where does a member of Anderson feel the strength of the Anderson family? Every time someone who was impossibly busy took twenty minutes to explain an econ concept to you. Every time your classmate who was still buried in recruiting took time to introduce you to someone in their network. These efforts happen everywhere at Anderson.

Reflecting on the year so far, I would say that we cannot take this blessing for granted. If you assume that our counterparts in other programs enjoy a similar strength of family, you are wrong. What we have here at UCLA, and what we take with us when we leave, is special. It is unique. It is Anderson. While we are MBA students for less than 24 months, we are members of the Anderson family until the day we die. Be proud of your family. Be loyal to your family. Do what you can to make your family strong, because its strength becomes your own.

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What Anderson Can Do to Improve Its Admissions Process

BY LILY MOZAYENI - STAFF WRITER

Admissions PlaqueAdmissions is a tricky process, which might explain why nearly every top business school has used the same formula to evaluate applicants for decades: grades, test scores, essays, recommendation letters and interviews. However, in recent years, some b-schools, including UCLA Anderson, have tweaked the process with varied results. From 2008 to 2010, Anderson tested a new requirement for a video or audio submission. Application volume subsequently dropped 31%. To be sure, we were also experiencing one of the biggest economic crises of our time. More recently, Anderson has seen a 32% increase in applications since last year, thanks to new changes to the admissions process, according to Associate Dean Rob Weiler. These include the elimination of one essay and one letter of recommendation, and more extensive email outreach to prospective students. While the average grade-point average of admits has not changed, the average GMAT score has increased by five points, suggesting that the quality of admits has also improved. This rise in applications has also led Anderson’s selectivity rate to increase to 17% from 22.3%. (By comparison, here are the approximate selectivity rates of other top 10 M.B.A. programs: Wharton, 19%; Chicago Booth, 21%; Kellogg, 22%; and Tuck at Dartmouth, 21%.) Going forward, Anderson might also want to consider eliminating written letters of recommendation, which are not an accurate representation of applicant quality. Four in 10 applicants say they write their own recommendations, according to a survey by the Association of International Graduate Admissions Consultants (AIGAC). Worse, admissions directors estimate that number is actually closer to 60%. Why not do away with written letters altogether and only conduct phone interviews with the recommenders of applicants who seem promising? Of course, there are potential challenges to any change. Admissions officers might find it too time-consuming to conduct phone interviews with recommenders. But we won’t know unless we try. By continuously innovating, we can increase our chances of attracting the best talent to Anderson.

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Thoughts on the 1st Quarter Workload, ‘Turbo Sections,’ & Online Courses

BY ANDREW AINSLIE, SENIOR ASSOCIATE DEAN

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Senior Associate Dean Andrew Ainslie

The Exchange asked me to offer up a few thoughts on a few issues facing us. I want to start by stating that this is my personal opinion. We are governed as a complex mix of a democracy, meritocracy and occasional autocracy, so no one person ever gets to decide how our curriculum works. So, that said, here are my current thoughts on a few issues that The Exchange threw my way:

Thoughts about the First Quarter Workload 

OK, what’s the problem that we face? Quarter-based schools have a huge impediment right out the gate– we have 10 weeks to get our students prepared for internships, where semester schools have 15. So there is a tendency to cram a lot into those weeks. Let’s look at what we have: three fundamental classes which are widely viewed as prerequisites for classes like operations, marketing and finance: economics, statistics and accounting. Many would also agree that accounting is directly useful for many interviews. Next, people either need finance or a case based class. We found a solution that no other top 20 school has been able to pull off (ignoring Chicago… more on that later), by letting people choose either marketing or finance in their first quarter, thereby saving one class. But when we redid the curriculum a few years ago, there was also a strong feeling among interviewers, faculty, students and recent alumni that we needed to find a way to get two more things in there – an introduction to the career process and a communications class.

The results in our first year doing this were dramatic. We jumped 20% in students placed at graduation. So any time we consider moving stuff out, we do it with great trepidation, as we would hate to backslide on that statistic.

Where might we find some wiggle room? The potential places, as I see it, are: 1) To shift some material to before the beginning of the quarter one way or another, or 2) to move the half of the communications class into the second quarter. I have been meeting with faculty, students and the administration to find ways to do this. It’s not obvious, but if we could get clever with hybrid technology, or find away to get key communications skills out really early in the second quarter or get people to skill up more, that would be great. It’s one of my biggest priorities right now, and I urge all of you to send me an email, stop me in the corridor or set up a meeting with me if you have ideas on how we can pull this off. I am in agreement with those of you who feel that this needs to change. We just need to find a way to do it without compromising students’ ability to fi nd the best possible internships.

Thoughts about Advanced and Intermediate Core Classes 

You all know the issue – it’s your first accounting class, and you’re just trying to work out what the hell a double entry system is and why anyone would do something so weird when the person next to you puts up her hand and asks some convoluted question about working capital… and you don’t even know what working capital is. In stats, you’re just working out what a standard deviation is when the engineer next to you wants to know why we lose a degree of freedom when computing it…. Huh? Statistical slavery? What are they rabbiting on about freedom for? How can you get an A when everyone seems to have taken the damn class before?

This is a problem that dogs all of us in top MBA programs. The good news is the impact over the whole MBA is pretty small. We did huge numbers of regressions of all sorts of things against all sorts of others and it turns out that no particular background makes you more ableto get a higher overall GPA. There is a slight uptick for econ and business majors but it’s smaller than you’d think. Of course, you’re going to get a bump in your econ class if you’re an econ undergrad… but good luck beating out the business undergrad in Organizational Behavior or Marketing. I also personally do wish that more people would take waivers, and one of the things thatI am looking at is ways to offer tools to help people waive out. Something like a refresher class in statistics for someone who’s done stats, so they can take a waiver and get out of the class. By the way, this would be one way to relieve some of the pressure in the first quarter that I discussed in the previous issue! But it’s hard for us to force anyone to waive and a few people will intentionally NOT waive so they can get the easy A. I really don’t know how to organize this.

So… onto the idea of “turbo” sections. The first problem is it’s a logistical nightmare. How do I schedule one person with strong stats and econ backgrounds, another with strong econ and marketing, another with strong marketing and Organizational Behavior into some complex mix of turbo and ordinary classes? How do I even tell? Is an A at school 1 the same as an A at school 2? How do I compare them? And what do I say to the person who gets a B- after I forced them into the turbo class, who says that they really should have been in the normal class and now may have missed out on their dream job because their GPA was too low? It’s an incredibly tough issue in terms of equity, perverse incentives (for people to fake out that they’re dumber than they are to get the easy A), and logistics.

No school seems to have cracked this… other than possibly Chicago. And for some reason, no one has really emulated the Chicago model. There, students do not have a structured core the way other schools do. Every time we talk about revamping the curriculum, we talk about Chicago, and perhaps one day we’ll bite the bullet and do it. It has its own downsides – designing your own curriculum and bidding for classes before you even arrive at a school has to be terrifying – but it’s definitely an option. Once more, if anyone has thoughts, let me know!

Thoughts about Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCS)

OK, plenty of people disagree with me on this one… but I personally think MOOCS are a total waste of time. People talk about them, but all the numbers show that very few people ever complete them. Which begs the question, why? My starting point is to observe that MOOCS are not really all that diff erent from a textbook, and indeed usually require a textbook as a backup resource. It’s incredibly hard to sit down in a room on your own and learn stuff , no matter how it’s presented. And there has to be a strong incentive.

Photo 2We offer a really strong one here at Anderson – finish your degree, get a GPA over 3.0, and you join a club where magically, on average, your salary almost doubles immediately,and you get a payback on your investment within 5 or so years… not to mention often finding a far more satisfying career than whatever you were doing before. And your fellow students offer you a combination of two seemingly contradictory ways to help you get there – they motivate you to work harder (because you’re ambitious and cannot bear the thought of not being as good as them), and they give you help in study groups. This combination of exclusive club, motivation through peer pressure and exposure to wonderfully bright classmates who can help you learn faster will always make in-class MBA’s the very best way to learn. Or put differently, I have a low opinion of MOOCS and always will.

So, does online learning have a place anywhere? Most definitely! – first, for people whose only other option is to NOT get an MBA. They’re perfect candidates for our online MBA. Second, for preskilling classes. We’re beginning to roll out increasing numbers of these types of resources. And third, to assist with the in-class experience. This is something that I personally think we need to do more of. But all of these are back-ups, not the whole enchilada. We are definitely increasing the footprint of online resources in our curriculum, but at the end of the day, we want this to be quality material designed to help you do better in a conventional MBA, not as a replacement to what you are learning with us.

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Did First Quarter Have To Be This Way?

BY SOM DEB, STAFF WRITER

By now, we’ve all heard that being in business school is like “drinking from a fire hose.” Sure, business school is a busy place. Even five minutes of spare time is hard to come by, and I’m guilty of making excuses for not calling my friends or family. But I’m not sure it has to be this way.

Many of us made the expensive decision to come to Anderson to hit the reset button on our careers, retool ourselves with valuable skills, and build friendships and networks along the way. There’s no doubt that a lot is riding on our decision to be here. Small wonder, then, that we spend much of our first and second quarters running around like headless chickens, attending company presentations, mock interviews, dinner events and so on.

But for a school that prides itself on “thinking in the next,” I believe we’re suffering from recruiting myopia (to borrow a phrase from marketing class). In order to help us ace the internship interview process, the school force-feeds us overwhelming amounts of information early in the year.

At best, we gain a lot of superficial knowledge about topics that might not even be relevant to our future jobs. At worst, we become a population of stressed-out students who end up cramming before final exams because we haven’t properly learned or understood the course material. In focusing so heavily on our professional aspirations, we’re neglecting to build the real skills and core competencies that we’ll need to succeed in our careers.

I’ll confess that during the past few months, I’ve found myself prioritizing interviews and company meetings over schoolwork. As a result, I end up writing mediocre presentations the night before they’re due on topics drawn out of thin air. I’m not benefiting from the class at all.

There’s no easy way for business schools to help students juggle academics and recruiting. But in talking with some of my friends at other schools, I’ve gleaned a few ideas that would make life easier. For example, how about scheduling midterm breaks expressly for recruiting activities? One business school I know has a 10-day break for those recruiting in the banking sector.

Or how about shifting some of the class load away from the first two quarters? I know different industries work on different recruiting schedules, but Anderson might consider at least lightening the academic load until later in the year, when the majority of students have secured internship offers. This way, when students do attend classes, they’ll be giving their full attention.

Most of us came to business school with the intention of learning. Let’s rethink how we can modify the system so that we’re always striving for success, not settling for mediocrity.

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Fall Quarter: A Rite of Passage

INTERVIEW WITH ROBIN KISHNER (MBA ’15)Robin Kishner

Question posed by The Exchange: The fall quarter is grueling, and students have debated whether the structure needs to change. Does the current format and level of difficulty need modifying and, if so, how?

Kishner’s Answer: I believe fall quarter is a rite of passage. We should embrace it as a challenge that teaches us about our passions and ourselves.While none of us probably wants to relive those 10 weeks, I bet we’re all proud to say we survived. That said, Dean Andrew Ainslie recently held a focus group to solicit student feedback on potential changes to the fall quarter. Some ideasiIncluded creating more online tutorials to foster additional in-class discussion, moving Communications class to winter quarter, and providing more resources to waive courses.
However, I’m personally leery about simply shifting work from one quarter to the next, as many students are still heavily recruiting during the winter quarter. As for moving content from the classroom to the internet, I worry that some teaching value could be lost.

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The Core Curriculum and Valuable Diversity

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Mark Philibosian

INTERVIEW WITH MARK PHILIBOSIAN (MBA ’15)

Question from The Exchange: Anderson’s core curriculum is mandated for all students, although they arrive with varying levels of familiarity with these subjects. The curve favors those who have prior professional or academic exposure to topics like economics, statistics, and accounting. Do you think Anderson should split core classes into “advanced” and “intermediate” sections based on prior experience?

Philibosian’s Answer: Prior to attending Anderson, I worked in finance and earned a CFA. Some of my classmates are CPAs or have backgrounds in marketing. I believe this kind of diversity promotes the interchange of ideas and mutual learning. Segmenting students into different levels of core courses would erode this valuable diversity, creating a further divide among students and undermining the opportunity for some to master essential skills. Plus, Anderson already has “advanced” and “intermediate” classes to some extent: They are called electives. The split would be most detrimental to the “intermediate” section and make career-switching even more difficult. Most of us came to Anderson to maximize strengths, eliminate weakness and expose ourselves to new challenges. I strongly believe that splitting our core classes would dilute the quality of our education. Some might call the core curve unfair, but we ultimately benefit from it – and so does Mark Philibosian the Anderson brand.

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