Is business school more like work or college? Each side has its merits. Below I summarize my thoughts on each, and provide a conclusion.
In favor of work:
1. Stress Level. In college I was fairly relaxed all the time. I did my work for each class, but when I shut my books for the night or weekend, all thoughts of school or any other obligations completely left my head. Business school is much more of a 24/7 experience: the number of extracurricular activities (including case competitions) and networking events make it tougher to shut down the brain and recharge the bats.
2. Outlook Calendar. A small point, but one that is representative of the level of professionalism in business school that mirrors a workplace. The assumption is that everyone at business school has their stuff together, and having an updated outlook calendar is instrumental in keeping my life organized.
3. On-campus Amenities. Dry cleaning drop-off, a bookstore that sells shoe polish and thank you cards, and lockers all make sense within the life of a business school student (at least Monday – Thursday): generally there isn’t much time to be running extra errands, etc, and the school does its best to accommodate this fact. The level of efficiency reminds me of New York City.
4. Out-on-the-town. While the Corner is more popular than Downtown as a destination, I would argue the average Darden student is more comfortable conversing with the average Charlottesville working professional (who you would see Downtown) than the average UVA undergraduate (at the Corner). Obviously this rule doesn’t hold true for everyone.
In favor of college:
1. Naps. Even with a really busy schedule, I’d be lying if there were days when I didn’t shut my eyes for 30 minutes in the midst of reading the next day’s cases for 3 hours.
2. Fridays. There is no class (which is actually different from my college experience). As much as life may seem like a grind, not having classes on Fridays really helps keep everything manageable. Lately my Fridays have been pretty busy: two Fridays ago, a morning case prep class followed by networking calls; last Friday a case competition following only a few hours of sleep the night before. However, I’m guessing during my second year, at least a few Fridays will be spent out on the links.
3. Gym. While I’m surprised at how few Darden classmates make it to the gym, I’m able to fit a lot more trips in now than I could as an investment banking analyst.
4. Uniform. As long as you don’t need to be dressed up, you’ll probably see the average guy (I’m much less in touch with female fashion habits) in jeans and a polo shirt or oxford, maybe flip flops.
5. Camaraderie. Especially within a section (we take classes with the same group of 60 students during first-year), it’s incredible how much fun you have with your classmates. People do a great job not taking themselves too seriously.
Conclusion. This is a horribly incomplete list. But at least for me, business school is closer to work than it is to college. I’d imagine the pendulum will swing back the other way during my second year, once I’ve figured out where I’m going after school.