School’s Out For Summer

Well….not exactly, but most of us have had that song stuck in our heads for the last few weeks and all agree that we have not been this excited for summer since high school when we couldn’t wait to sleep-in, meet our friends at the pool and see all the newest Hollywood blockbusters.

This summer isn’t going to be quite that relaxed – we do have three very intense weeks of class ahead of us and the demands of the office still weigh heavily on most of us.  That said, the departure from the usual routine of classes every other weekend is a welcome change of pace.

We started this journey one year ago with a week of classes where we joined students from the London and Singapore campus for lectures, events and very late nights at our downtown Chicago campus.   There are approximately 90 students in each campus and we spent that first week with our international cohort which is comprised of a third of students from each location.  In this whirlwind week we tried to remember the names of the 200 plus new people, develop the patience to sit still for 6 hrs of lectures a day, the stamina to go out till 3 in the morning and be up at 7, discover how to create harmony and get things done in a study groups and recall just how it is that we take notes, retain information and learn new things best.

I was utterly exhausted after that first week but also very excited about the 21 months ahead of me. It was hard, which I expected, but also far more fun than I had anticipated.  I quickly realized that my classmates were inspiring, challenging, brilliant, successful, funny and a little bit crazy as well!  This was going to be a great ride.

After “hell week” those of us based at the Chicago campus quickly settled into the schedule of classes other Friday and Saturday. (The London and Singapore students continue with the week of classes and meet in their respective campuses every six weeks.) The fact that the program was taught on the quarter system didn’t register with me before I started this program but I quickly realized that quarters meant that we had to learn the same amount of information I was used to learning in a semester in just six weeks. It always seems that we are just starting a new class when suddenly mid-terms are upon us and finals are a few short weeks later. (Not unlike the rest of life that seems to pass more and more quickly as I get older!)

Blooming flowers, changing leaves, falling snow and spring rains saw us through four quarters on this same schedule.  The grind was punctuated only by a few insane weeks where, for holiday or other scheduling reasons, we had back-to-back classes. (It is incredibly tough to get your reading done, case work completed and find time to focus on your real job with only a few days off in-between class weekends but thankfully their aren’t many of those.) We usually had one free weekend between quarters where, if lucky, we were able to escape for a few days of R&R with family or new friends from class and without lugging along the heavy books for next quarter sitting unopened on the desk.

After skiing for a few days in Colorado with classmates and families in March we rallied for spring quarter which seemed particularly grueling for some reason.  Sure, we have figured out how to study at this point, and know better how to deal with the demands of the office, school and family, we have simply been running at full speed for a long time now. I think everyone was just a little worn out and the crummy Chicago weather that time of year didn’t help matters.

So finally we have come full circle.  A year has passed and summer is here again.  Finally the weather seems to have broken and we are enjoying the simple pleasure of not having class next weekend.  Our upcoming courses in London and Singapore also seem a bit easier than all the heavy quantitative finance, accounting and ops classes we have taken thus far.  I came to Booth specifically because of its strength in these areas, but finance and econ alone do not a well rounded leader make! I am looking forward to marketing, negotiations and decision making over the summer as well as spending more time with my international group who I barely got to know during that first week.

And did I mention that these classes are also in Singapore and London? What a great excuse for a few extra days/weeks of international travel. Although I will sincerely miss seeing many of my Chicago classmates over the next few months I am just as excited about the travel, the classes and the opportunity to get to know my international colleagues better.

Hello summertime!

Elizabeth Rogers, an Executive MBA student at the University of Chicago’s Booth School of Business, blogs about her journey through an EMBA program for Poets&Quants. Her earlier posts:

Introducing Elizabeth, an EMBA Student at Chicago Booth

Finding Your Rhythm


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