After a few years of work, getting back into the academic mindset can at first seem challenging and awkward. While most people adjust over time, a little preparation should put you on the right track. To guide your prep work, Nick Johnson, a NYU Stern graduate of the Class of 2015 shares some of his thoughts.
Name: Nick Johnson
School: NYU Stern School of Business
Post-Graduation Plans: PWC (Advisory)
Here’s what you need to know
Despite what you may have heard there are academics and education in business school, it is not as easy to just slip back into the classroom as you might hope. For starters, it’s possible, if not likely, that your B school will operate on a different academic schedule from your undergrad (semesters, blocks, quarters are all options,) and will specify a “core” that all students must take. Hopefully you did your research on where you’ve enrolled, because the variations do not stop there as programs cover the spectrum in how rigid or free they are in the classes they assign. The low-core-requirement king is Chicago-Booth with a lone required class, whereas HBS plans the majority of your first three terms on campus. Most schools will require some blend of accounting, statistics, finance, marketing, and economics, but even with topics that broad I wouldn’t want to generalize. There is a lot to take in before you register for your first classes, so here are a couple simple ways to organize and take action:
Know Thy School
Like I said, you should have researched this beforehand, but know what you’ll be required to take, and what might even be scheduled for you starting day one. Understand if there is a menu core, because sometimes you cannot go back and take classes from that menu that may be pre-reqs for something you want to take down the line. There is no need to build out your whole two years this summer, but you should consider classes or professors that your school is known for and make sure you aren’t missing out on anything in early days that would hurt your chances or taking their classes.
Ask what you need to learn and what you want to learn. Even if you think you know exactly what you want to do, try not to neglect a basic B school toolkit. If you want to do marketing take some financial modeling classes, if you want to do banking try a course in branding. There is a huge benefit to being well rounded, but at the same time it is good to try and find what your passion is. If you want to work on social enterprise abroad, be sure not to skip the operations class that is a pre-requisite to a for-credit spring break trip, or if you want to do consulting plan to take basic strategy the semester when you can have the professor with the most thought leadership. A note on knowing thyself: many schools offer the ability to test out of some core classes and I would say be very careful with this. Do not put too much stock in your own abilities when a refresher could help, and consider that going through the core with your section and study group is a bonding experience that you’ll miss out on the more and more core you test out of.
In short, plan, plan plan, because at the very least it can help you avoid getting stuck in night class on Thursday’s when your friends are all in happy hour.