A typical schedule for a first-year MBA student

September 10, 2010

Beginning with the larger picture, each semester of the first year is divided up into two parts (Fall 1, Fall 2 -- Spring 1 Spring 2). Right now, we are in 6-7 weeks of Fall 1, which will be followed by a week-long team-building exercise before beginning Fall 2 -- ending in December. The first quarter is a quantitative boot camp, but everything is new and exciting and we all seem to be able to handle the six or seven classes that are thrown our way. Beginning Fall 2, we jump into the integrated curriculum, focusing on perspective-based learning (classes like Competitor, Investor, Customer, etc.).While no one day ever seems like the one that came before, the Fall 1 schedule seems to be fairly consistent. Here is what a typical Wednesday might look like for me:

8:00am - arrive at SOM, check the pre-market indexes and pick up the WSJ to see what is happening in the business world
8:30am (Spreadsheet Modeling or Accounting)
10:10am (Economics or Problem Framing)
11:30am - Working lunch with my study group, sitting in the hammock in the courtyard, or prepping for the next class
2:40pm (Game Theory or Probability/Stats)
4:00pm - Study group meeting: Review of today's classes and check-ins on problems we are having with upcoming assignments
6:00pm - Adjourn
6:30pm - Go for a quick 3-4 mile run
7:30pm - Grab some food and a quick shower before meeting up to prep tomorrow's work.
10:30pm - Return home and continue independent work, catching up on emails as necessary. Rinse and repeat on the following day, changing up classes, activities, etc.

It's obviously very time-intensive during parts of the first year, but we are all experiencing it together and there is an amazing sense of camaraderie within the four cohorts and among the overall class. However, with all of this focus on academics, I don't want to neglect the fact that we get out and have fun. We work hard during the week so that the weekends can be more flexible. No formal class meetings on Friday mean that if we aren't interviewing somewhere, we can spend much of that day getting started on the weekend work. Last night, the second-year students threw us a welcome party at the local graduate student pub. It was amazing. In addition, last weekend a group of us (from SOM, Forestry, and Law) went hiking on Bear Mountain in northwest Connecticut. In addition to getting to know each other even better, one resourceful (nerdy?) SOM student brought along the Accounting textbook to ask a few questions about the homework on the car ride back. I initially laughed at our inability to leave work in New Haven, but it was really helpful to clarify a few points while cruising around the countryside. All this is to say that the personal and academic bonds grow strong quickly -- and it is an amazing experience from day one.

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Justin Schoolmaster