Booth Life: Folklore and Facts

Hi everyone, this is Yang. I am a second-year GMIM student currently on exchange at Chicago Booth. First of all, I would like to extend a warm welcome to every one of you who joined the GMIM family in 2018.

In a couple of weeks, you will make the probably most important decision since September, and here I am going to share a little bit about my experience at one of your options.

So, what does Booth life really mean? I’m not going to talk about the advantages you can get from the school’s name – I simply assume that anyone who clicks onto this blog already knows something about the boring stuff such as rankings, etc.

But I would say, there are actually some myths about Booth, some of which probably do not bear up, at least according to my personal experience.

Here below I will list some:

Folklore 1: Booth life is hard.

Fact 1: Booth life IS Hard. Harder than life at most of your other options.

Well, this might be scary at first glance, but I am still putting it at the top. Booth courses are not easy.

As is required by LSE, you have to take four 100-credit courses here and I strongly suggest you have a look of both syllabus and course evaluations by previous students. The latter will tell you how previous students think of the professor and how many hours on average they spent on it. You’ll have to extra spend time on almost all the courses you are enrolled in.

Also, at Booth, there will be a midterm in week 5 or 6 instead of a reading week (well, I know what people usually do during this week, and I did the same thing last year).

Although there is a Grade Non-Disclosure Policy here as in most top b-schools (for a further reading, see http://freakonomics.com/2011/10/12/why-do-only-top-mba-programs-practice-grade-non-disclosure/), it doesn’t mean that people are not studying and that there are easy grades to get here.

All classes are curved, and the average GPA cannot exceed 3.3 which is a B+. So, even if you are enrolled in a fundamental course which is not that intellectually demanding, you still need to work hard to perform well during exams if you are pursuing an A (equivalent to DI at LSE). But of course, there are many courses you will find that deserve your time, especially if you are interested in areas such as economics, finance, leadership, and communication.

Folklore 2: At Booth, you will spend every day in the library.

Fact 2: I have only walked into the library once.

It is true that you have to spend more time on coursework than in other schools. But it doesn’t mean that there are no extracurricular activities. Students can choose to join clubs, and also enjoy plenty of events happening every day in this third largest city in the States.

We have mixers within Booth, and even with Kellogg specifically for exchange students. You will have two buddies to answer any questions you have and lead you towards a true Chicago-style life.

For fans of museums, most of them in Chicago are free for local students including the top-ranked Art Institute. Chicago Symphony Orchestra and Symphony Center have student tickets for almost every event which charges you only $15 for a seat priced between $50 to $150. During the Thanksgiving break which lasts for a whole week, you can easily reach Florida, Mexico or even South America with flights from O’Hare, a main hub for all three major airlines in the States.

Not bad, right?

Folklore 3: Booth has a quite theoretical teaching style compared to a case-based one at, for example, Harvard.

Fact 3: This is totally not the case.

I highlight this because plenty of people think of Booth as somewhere where we have to do lots of readings. The truth is that here we only have cases to go through and no essays to write. Everything is designed to be practical. 

Folklore 4: You cannot access career service at Booth.

Fact 4: Theoretically, this is true, by which I mean you cannot walk in recruiting fairs on campus for MBAs. But I would say, this should not be a main concern.

Why?

Career fairs here, as at almost all top business schools, are specifically designed for MBA students. Booth has NO master program. That’s why companies coming here are predominantly focusing on hiring those with years of experience. The point I am making here is, it shouldn’t be the access to those fairs that you focus on, but the networking opportunities during your exchange time.

Think of it this way. Most of the MBA students here in the past worked with your ideal firms, or at least have rich experience in interviews and other recruiting processes. They are willing to share insider information and even mock with you, which definitely can save you a lot of time networking through other less efficient channels.

I hope that the above information helps you. If some of you may still have certain concerns about coming to Booth, feel free to contact me via email (y.tian16@lse.ac.uk), on Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/Yang.Tian.Shanghai) or on WeChat (lindeman95).

I hope you all get to the school of your choice!

Best,

Yang