Entries in MIT Sloan (8)
Chantrelle Nielsen, a second year student at MIT Sloan, reports:
At MIT we don't have Excel or laptops available for exams, but we generally can bring formula sheets, and standard calculators are sufficient for exams in Finance I and II. There may be a few more advanced finance classes where they are helpful, but I doubt it.
Comments from a second-year at MIT Sloan:
We use tons of Excel here at Sloan, including regressions and other statistical functions. People who don't have the skills are at a bit of a disadvantage, though there is so much group work that they are able to get lots of help. There are some workshops offered during the first few weeks of classes, but I did not attend. My skills are fine but even I have experienced the late-night frustration of knowing what you want to do and not knowing how... I'd be miserable if I hadn't had a lot of experience prior to school.
Blogging has been slow while I've been getting admitted students ready for their summer pre-MBA quantitative preparations. Cornell (Johnson), Dartmouth (Tuck), and Washington St. Louis (Olin) have purchased MBA Math subscriptions for all incoming students. Georgetown (McDonough) will do so in the next day or so.
Separately, admitted students from dozens of MBA programs have found their way to MBA Math on their own in recent weeks and are working through the twenty-two lessons covering Excel spreadsheets, finance, accounting, microeconomics, and statistics. Students subscribing in the past six weeks will be attending the following prominent MBA programs in the fall: Boston College, Carnegie Mellon, Chicago, Columbia, Duke, Georgia Tech, Harvard, INSEAD, London Business School, MIT, Michigan, Purdue, Rice, Rochester, USC, Stanford, UT Austin, Wake Forest, William and Mary, and Yale.
Discussion boards and regular office hour online chats provide communication between students and me and among students.
Here is a testimonial from Edmund Aziabor, a second-year student at MIT's Sloan School of Management and member of the MBA Math Board of Advisors, about his pre-MBA use of the MBA Math online quantitative preparation course:
Prior to attending business school, I worked in the financial services industry for 6 plus years with Merrill Lynch. In order to prepare adequately for the quantitative requirement of the MBA curriculum I came across the MBA Math online course and chose it over other expensive in-class preps which were not necessarily structured particularly for the MBA program.
The flexibility of the MBAMath.com tools and exercises allowed me to pace myself and served my needs in all the coverage areas that I needed to refine, having been out of school for some time. I highly recommend this to all prospective MBAs.
The transcript for the MIT Sloan quant experience online chat is now available here.
Thanks to our MIT Sloan guests Maura Herson, Associate Director of MBA Student Affairs, Jeri Seidman, who teaches MIT Sloan's pre-term accounting course, and first-year MIT Sloan students Susan Hanemann Rogol and John Clingan. Linda Abraham of Accepted.com and I moderated the chat.
I'll post some pertinent excerpts shortly but, for now, read the whole thing if you want to understand more about pre-term quant prep options and the quant demands of the first-year core curriculum, which at MIT is squeezed into a single semester.
I received responses from two current students at MIT Sloan:
1. Does your program suggest brushing up calculus skills before starting the first year?
Sloan assumes that you will be ready to go on all quantitative subjects when you start the program, though they do provide four days of pre-term review sessions.
Newly admitted students are advised to brush up on calculus, accounting and micro economics
2. Does your program provide any calculus pre-term teaching? If yes, is it done on campus?
Sloan has four days of pre-term review but I don't think it included any calculus.
There is a refresher class including calculus, statistics and accounting during pre-term done on campus.
3. Have you used calculus in your MBA studies? If yes, in what classes?
Yes, we used it in economics and in statistics.
Calculus was used briefly in Micro Economics (specifically using the 1st derivative of a function).
4. If yes to some of the above, would you recommend that prospective students interested in your program brush up on calculus before starting or just refresh their memories on the fly during their coursework? If you suggest advance prep, would you give it low, medium, or high priority relative to other pre-MBA preparation needs (e.g., spreadsheets, accounting, finance basics).
Personally I had never taken calculus before, so definitely needed to brush up--however I don't know how advanced the calculus was for someone who was familiar with the subject. For me finance and calculus were definitely the most important things to review, but I already had plenty of familiarity with spreadsheets and accounting.
I do suggest that prospective students brush up on calculus and algebra as well as accounting and finance. Here at MIT Sloan the curriculum is such that the first semester is intense with all the core requirements, hence waiting to refresh ones’ memory is relative depending on their academic backgrounds and length of time out of school. I would suggest giving MBA Math a high priority as it does not hurt to be overly prepared!
On Thursday, March 8 at 10AM PT/1 PM ET/6 PM GMT, Maura Herson, Associate Director of MBA Student Affairs at MIT's Sloan School of Management will participate in an online chat devoted to the MIT Sloan quant experience. Maura will be joined by Jeri Seidman, who teaches MIT Sloan's pre-term accounting course, and first-year MIT Sloan students Susan Hanemann Rogol and John Clingan. Linda Abraham and I will moderate the chat.
I am collaborating with Linda Abraham, founder of Accepted.com, to organize and moderate what I hope will become a series of school-specific quant experience online chats. The chat will be hosted at Accepted.com's chat site, which you can reach by clicking here.
The quant experience chats will focus on the quantitative experience of first-year students and what prospective students can do to prepare themselves. Here are some questions to give a sense of the intended chat topics. Of course, participants are encouraged to ask their own questions.
Maura, MIT is world famous as an engineering powerhouse. Would it be wrong to think of MIT Sloan as an MBA program for engineers or for students aiming to manage technical businesses? How would you characterize the quant demands of MIT Sloan relative to other top MBA programs? Can a person with a non-quantitative background get admitted? Can such a person thrive in the program?
Susan and John, would you please characterize the quant demands of the courses that you are taking right now? How do you balance the demands of quantitative and qualitative courses? Do you find yourselves "stealing" time from preparation for your qualitative courses to make sure you complete assignments for your quantitative courses?
Jeri, please describe the structure and goals of the pre-term accounting course that you teach. Who takes it?
Maura, what expectations do you set with students about pre-term preparation and what learning resources do you recommend or provide over the summer or when students first arrive on campus? Do you have any special programs for incoming students with weaker quantitative backgrounds?
John and Susan, can you give us an overview of the balance between individual and group work in your quant courses? Can you give us some examples of how study groups help balance different individual student skill sets in your quant coursese? How does a student with a relative weakness in a given course, who might rely heavily on other study group members, make sure that he or she learns enough to perform well on individual exams?
Jeri, although accounting obviously involves numbers, the math is simple. The challenge is more logical than quantitative. Do you find that students' ability to learn accounting lines up well with quantitative ability or do you see other factors determining proficiency.
Maura, what support resources (office hours, TA sessions, tutors) are available outside of class to help students with the quantitative demands of the first year curriculum? How do students find the time to use these resources?
Susan and John, what are your student perspectives on support resources outside of class?
Maura, you oversee MBA students from their arrival through graduation. What words of wisdom can you offer to prospective students to help them make informed decisions about appropriate preparation and to keep the quantitative demands of the first year in the proper perspective?
John and Susan, based on your experience so far, what quantitative preparation should prospective students make sure they do before arriving on campus and what can they leave to learn when they arrive? What do you know now about the quant demands of the first year that you wish you knew before starting your first year?
What you don't see in the above list are questions about the logistics of the admissions process. Linda hosts a series of excellent chats that cover these issues.
We had an excellent chat today. The transcript will be posted next week.
Here's the link to the MIT quant experience chat transcript.
Brian Glenn writes in his BusinessWeek MBA Journal about his first term at MIT Sloan. He describes the intensity of the b-school experience:
I remember reading some of these journals last year. One in particular mentioned something along the lines of, "no matter how much you think you're ready for the experience, it will surpass your wildest imagination in terms of time commitment, intensity, and of course what we all signed on for—fun!" Well now, standing in a similar pair of shoes, I echo these thoughts. So far, it's been the eye-opening experience of a lifetime. Literally as well, because sleep is the last of your priorities and something you can catch up on during the morning Intro to Finance class.
He discusses how his study group's mix of strengths and weaknesses helps them to get through the work, and closes his piece by suggesting that prospective students consider carefully the teaching methods (case vs. lecture) of the schools they are considering:
But for practicality's sake, can one effectively learn rule-based subjects such as accounting or regression modeling through case-only lectures? I'm probably a biased source in this argument as Sloan teaches lecture-style for most hard-core subjects, but it's certainly worthwhile to think not just about what you want to learn but how you want to learn it.
However, once we have mastered the material, or at least figured out how to come up with a reasonable answer, then we will apply these methods, sometimes cross-subject, through a case homework assignment. Homework seems evenly split between individual deliverables and team hand-ins. These are great for classes like Data, Models, and Decisions—a pseudostatistics class with a genius quant professor by the name of Bertsimas who can model anything into Excel—where we apply all sorts of Excel features and software add-ins to solve case problems. You name it, we've done it: Monte Carlo simulation through Crystal Ball, Regression Analysis, and Linear/Binomial/Non-Linear Optimizations. Eric (the Google guy) and I have jokingly pondered the possibility of adding all these tools together and whether that would simulate Marty McFly's Back to the Future DeLorean by actually seeing into, or at least predicting, the future.