I’ve sat in on a couple MBA classes at UCLA Anderson so far, and I have to say that they were exactly what I imagined business school courses to be like. Exactly. I’m not sure if that’s a good thing or a bad thing. On one hand, I’m glad that I have a good idea of what I’m getting myself into. On the other hand, I’m kind of sad that I wasn’t completely blown away by the experience. But maybe my expectations are too high. I’m really a critic, at heart.
And that’s one aspect of bschool that was so shocking to me when I started this whole process. It amazes me how much MBA students help each other out! I grew up in a pretty competitive and very critical environment, and I am not used to the idea that someone will just support you without really even knowing you or your work. I tend to believe that someone’s really gotta prove their brilliance to me before I stick my neck out for them. But if they do, I’ll stick my neck out FAR. I want my endorsements to really mean something. And if I endorse everyone, does it even count? If I was a teacher, I’d be that asshole one you had in high school who refused to write a rec letter for you because you were average. (Did you not have this teacher? I did. He told all the seniors to not even bother asking him for college recs and that he only recommends 3 students each year. He would inform those 3 kids directly if they were chosen. Everyone else was shit out of luck and had to find someone else to write their recs. I was not among the chosen, but I sure wished I was! I bet his letters were fantastic.)
But I am definitely now realizing that being so critical has little value. Everyone wants to hear encouraging, positive things all the time and feel good about themselves. It’s very alien to me, because that is not the world that I grew up in. In my world, everything you did was not good enough no matter how hard you tried. But most people are satisficers, and I’m a pretty extreme maximizer. And trying to push satisficers toward maximizing just makes everyone feel bad and usually doesn’t result in any great benefit. There are clear drawbacks to maximizing, and I’m working on changing that. Going to bschool will play a big part in that change.
Anyway, back to the Anderson class visits. There’s a lot of construction going on in the buildings, but the facilities seemed relatively new and nicely maintained. The classes felt a bit on the large side to me (I think there’s around 70 students in a cohort), but not so big that discussion was hindered. It did feel pretty crowded in general (maybe from the construction?). My impression of Anderson was just okay before, but visiting definitely improved my opinion. And UCLA overall is a really beautiful campus, though it doesn’t really seem like the MBA students really venture beyond their own buildings. The students themselves were pretty great and diverse, though, which is a huge plus for me. They all had crazy different backgrounds and I saw a pretty wide age range. There was also a good amount of geographic diversity. Nice.