The Weeks Before Ski Trip

At long last, the holiday break is finally here. But getting here wasn’t necessarily a piece of cake. Shortly before the holiday break, students began to disappear from Jacobs and started to focus much more on final exams.  And despite the fact that business school is often referred to as two-year vacation, many people actually spent a lot of time studying during the final couple of weeks,

As a result, the majority of people spent a lot less time hanging out in the atrium during the final two weeks. Likewise, there were not as many planned get-togethers or hangs at the local Evanston pubs. Instead, students spent more time getting organized, catch up on recruiting activities, beginning to study for exams, and in some cases simply resting from the quarter. And they relied more on weekends to relax and hang out with classmates and friends.

In terms of preparation, many people steered clear of their later finals and focused on the upcoming final exam, and maybe the one directly after that if they had extra time. Others started with easier subjects and avoided the harder ones, because it was a good way to procrastinate on the subjects they liked lease. And others did just the opposite – they focused on harder subjects, figuring they wouldn’t study much for the easier ones.

This took place up until the last week when we all had our final classes.  At the end of every course, each professor would try to provide us with a good lecture, before giving a brief personal pitch about the class and the department, in hopes we’d continue to take classes in the topic. In some cases the pitches seemed compelling, and in other cases, less so. For many of my classes, the pitches actually had zero impact on my classes, because most of my classmates had already made up their minds about the subjects and professors well before the final class.

One of the teachers that got rave reviews was Professor Julie Hennessy, who I previously wrote a post about (click here to see post on Julie Hennessy).  Unlike most professors that gave us a pitch about why we should take classes in their department (i.e. marketing in this case), she ended by discussing recruiting, and how we could do a good job at marketing ourselves to employers. And the class was especially fun and relevant because she was a hiring manager for years at some of the top brand management companies in the US, so she had a lot of interesting things to share with us.

Another professor co-taught a class with the Medill School of Journalism. The class was not only filled with MBAs, but also with masters of journalism students, some of which were part of the IMC program (i.e. Integrated Marketing Communications). And so his approach was probably a bit different than most classes. He told us his story about coming to Northwestern, and how it was his first time teaching at the university. He also talked more about the things we did in class and what his goals were for the class, rather than imparting us with the life lessons or grand takeaways that some teachers aim to do.

After each of the professors gave us their pitches, they always left the room for the final 10 or so minutes while the students filled out the evaluation surveys.  The point of the surveys was to gage how the students felt about the class, surveying students on teaching style, energy, content, engagement, and use of technology, among a large number of other things. And administration always ensures that we fill out the surveys before finals week, so that our grades don’t impact the reviews we give. While this makes sense for the most part, it also lack objectivity, because some of the questions on the survey ask questions around “fair grading procedures” and in reality, those can’t really be answered before the final exam.

The next week was the week we all took our final exams, which for most came with mixed results. For some, finishing the exams was a huge accomplishment, because they’d been challenging themselves all quarter, with hard classes. Especially those without traditional business backgrounds. For others, finishing was a sigh of relief because now it meant they could go on Ski Trip or head out of town to see friends and family. And for others, finishing exams meant they could start working on the job search process, which they may have neglected for the past few months.

For me, and for a great majority of Kellogg students, it was great to finally finish up the first quarter and eventually head to the Kellogg Ski Trip. Stay tuned to hear more how both the exams and the ski trip turned out.

Monday, December 20th, 2010 Business School

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