You Oughta Know
Student environment. As one student put it, “We work hard and we play hard.” Chicago Booth offers plenty of opportunities to have fun, but given the rigorous curriculum, the students also hit the books. Sleep is usually the casualty between these forces, with even former investment bankers reporting they have more to do than they have time to do it! Booth’s collaborative environment features students who enjoy hanging out and professors who aren’t above auctioning themselves off for charity.
Lack of cohort structure. Because of the flexible curriculum, after the LEAD course, Chicago Booth doesn’t have the strong cohort/learning team structure that you might find in other schools. Instead, teams tend form on an ad hoc basis and vary by class. The benefit is that you end up with broader relationships than you might have at another school, but they might not be quite as deep as if you’d spent your first semester or year with the same tight-knit group.
Relationships across classes. At other schools, you may get to know very few students outside your graduating class other than a few mentors and leaders of various clubs. At Booth, because you can take advanced courses starting in your very first quarter, first-years and second-years interact more than you might typically see. Student-to-student mentorship is key, although this is common among MBA programs. Second-years mentor first-years on everything from course selection, to career advice, to interview preparation. For example, during “Winterview,” a Saturday in the winter, second-years prepare first-years for upcoming interviews.
Leadership opportunities. Chicago Booth offers more than 70 student-led clubs and other activities. Students enjoy collaborating outside the classroom, seeing it as an extension of the collaboration that goes on inside the classroom. Students created all existing student organizations and run them with limited involvement from faculty or staff. However, North Shore rival Kellogg offers twice as many student-led clubs and activities, highlighting the increased level of expected involvement. Most Booth students are involved in two to four clubs across professional and personal interests.
Social events. A popular activity on Thursday evenings is “TNDC,” or—you guessed it—Thursday Night Drinking Club, when students explore a different neighborhood bar each week. For casual hangouts, River North tends to be the default spot because it’s close to the Loop and has a young-professional vibe to it. Students also explore bars and restaurants in Wicker Park, Old Town, Lincoln Park, West Loop, and Wrigleyville. Additionally, the Rock ’n Roll McDonald’s (the huge, two-story McDonald’s in downtown Chicago) is a prime late-night “after party” spot since it’s open 24 hours.
Facilities. The Charles M. Harper Center is, literally, the center of campus life for Chicago Booth. The glass-enclosed structure was built in 2004 and includes classrooms, study rooms, a student lounge, a business center, outdoor terraces, and faculty offices. The Harper Center is often seen as the first big leap forward in business school facilities, followed by an “arms race” in new construction at Stanford, Wharton, Duke, NYU Stern, Yale, Kellogg, and soon at Columbia. Booth’s facilities continue to wow visitors and draw applicants more than a decade later.