Course Selection Advise: Escape from the B-School

by Jeff McDaniel, MBA2

A common question around the Business School these days is "What courses will you take this winter semester?" While first year students will primarily enroll in core classes, both first and second year students must make this important decision.

My unofficial and completely unscientific survey indicates that students are generally pleased, but not completely satisfied with the availability of courses. Second year students generally seem enthused about three to four of their five classes, but are complacent about the remainder. First year students will shortly learn that many of the elective classes they covet are not available due to prerequisites or an overload of second years.

My recommendation is to escape the Business School! One of the truly impressive features of the University of Michigan is its broad array of top programs. Many of the other schools have been recognized as leaders in their field: Engineering, Law, Public Health, Public Policy, Area Studies, Natural Resources, Literature, Science and the Arts, etc. Graduate business students have a great opportunity because "up to ten credits hours of graduate courses in other units of the University of Michigan Ann Arbor may be taken for degree credits."

Consider some possibilities:

1. For operations gurus, increase your technical expertise with an Engineering course.

2. For strategists and finance whizzes, gain a big picture insight through a School of Public Policy course.

3. For marketers, broaden your horizon with a class at the College of Literature, Science & the Arts.

4. For international hopefuls, check out the courses taught by the Center for Russian and Eastern European Studies or one of the other area studies centers.

5. For future health care industry leaders, learn about some of the latest developments at the School of Public Health.

6. For future chemical, paper, and oil industry leaders, tackle one of the most pressing issues in your industry - the environment - at the School of Natural Resources and Environment.

These classes offer the opportunity to enrich one's education in a couple of ways. First, in some cases, the specific course content will be directly relevant to the field or discipline that MBA's will be entering. In fact, these classes may be much more relevant than some of the electives available at the Business School. (Do you really need another OB class?)

Second, these elective courses can help a business student broaden his or her understanding of critical issues. The ability to work effectively with individuals in other functions, such as engineering, and other stakeholders, such as non-profit organizations, has become a required skill in today's business world. Elective classes outside the business school can help you develop your competence and network of friends within these areas and thereby improve your overall effectiveness as a business leader.

Finally, I am NOT advocating taking courses just for the hell of it. U-M. tuition rates and your opportunity costs are too high to waste on courses that are not beneficial. I AM suggesting that some of the courses that will prove most valuable to your career are found outside the walls of the Business School.

Thus, if you are not completely satisfied with Business School courses available in the winter, broaden your education and take advantage of the impressive array of classes available in the other schools here at the University of Michigan.

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