Friday, 18 October 2013

Emory University

Goizueta Business School

Goizueta Business School

Emory University
This is long overdue! But I am stuck in my land law class and hating it.

I studied at Emory University in Georgia. When I tell people where I went, usually one of the first question they ask is, "why did you pick that school?" and I never know how to answer. Truth be told, Emory was my 4th preference and my last "legitimate school". By legitimate, I mean that it was the last school I knew I could attend and still complete my major.

Side note, surprisingly, American business schools don't seem to offer too many accounting elective courses which is what I needed to complete my accounting major. Most of their "electives" were actually my UNSW cores.
(Red = subjects I studied). This was incredibly frustrating since it excluded a lot of really good schools.

My first 3 preferences were: NYU, Boston College and University of Texas. The first two were due to location and the third was due to the prestige of the business school. But all in all, Emory University was a fantastic choice and it all worked out in the end, as I expected it to.

The thing that shocked me the most about the education system was the grading system. Their bell curve is skewed so far to the right that it is actually crazy. Around 40% of the class will get in the A range, and then it went something along the lines of 20% in the B and effectively the rest in C. Ergo, no one really could fail! It actually makes me a little sad. It makes sense why students do a thousand and one extra-curricular activities and summer internships since it is 'relatively' easy to get an A, resulting in the need for differentiating factors. I was in my Econ class (which was the bludgiest class since it was only highschool economics. I had a 95% term average (!!!) but my overall grade was only a C+. lol) and we had an ice-breaking activity. "What did you do over the summer?" Naive as I was, I though people would talk about going to X or something along the lines of fun. Nope. Everyone basically said something along the lines of, "I interned at X" or "I interned at Y in [insert country]". It was crazy. Now granted, whether people were lying was a completely another matter. Two people stuck out to me: a girl and a guy. The girl said, "I worked at X law firm as I am pre-law". This confused me. You are pre-law (ergo studying an arts degree right now) and working at a law firm ... doing what exactly? The whole pre-law, pre-med thing also weirds me out. There was also a guy who told everyone he interned at some amazing company doing something amazing. Now the lecturer, sorry I mean professor (since that is what they are all called, even though back home I would have called him a lecturer or a tutor to be honest) basically called him out, unintentionally.
"What did you do"
* says something impressive*
"What did you really do?"
PAUSE and then answers sheepishly
"Oh I just basically looked at excel documents and copy and pasted tables"

Back on track. I guess the school that I went to also influenced the sort of people in my class. Emory University is a private university (annual tuition of $42 000!!) and the Goizueta Business School was ranked 4th last year nationally. Three general observations:

Students
Students are taught to be needy. By that, it was really odd for me to be given so much 'hand-holding' at university. It was on par with highschool. If we had quizzes, the professor would email us the day before and would remind us the entire week before the quiz. If a student had any problems, they would just talk to the teaching assistant or the professor who would basically direct them to the solution. For example, I had to write a joint paper with two other exchange students and we were stumped with our research (despite already spending hours on it) so we decided to be "American students" and asked the professor. She then proceeded to give us a 3 page bibliography of journal articles we should look at. Say what?! Extra-credit. I don't understand the concept of this. Everyone completes the extra credit assessments (obviously, free marks, who wouldn't) so then it makes no sense to include them since it is almost a component of the entire marking scheme.

There also seemed to be so much trust when it came to exams. Being the cynical person that I am, I am very 'hmm' about the whole thing. Usually in the class, 2-3 people would leave for the bathroom. But come exam/ quiz time, there would be around 10-15 people getting up for the bathroom. The thing was, that it was so lax. You didn't need to ask for permission, you didn't need to wait for the other person to come back, you just got up and left. Hmm.

Personality wise, it seemed that there were so many students who were those students in my law classes. The ones who seem to know everything about everything and link the topic back to what they completed in one of their internships.

Side note,  I have been struggling with one of my papers for my law elective and I decided to ask for help from my lecturer. Shouldn't have bothered, as all I got was, "there is no perfect paper, just brainstorm and an idea will come to you". D'oh. Fairly sure that wouldn't have happened in the US.

Teaching
My best professor was Ted Rodgers an accounting professor for my auditing class. He was so passionate and loved teaching. He was just brilliant. The next interesting professor was my econ guy who was from Swaziland but had a scholarship to complete his PhD at Emory University. He was bizarre; not entirely sure if it was just him or a difference in culture. Also learnt a lot about his home country and the language (I didn't know that they used clicking sounds).

Assessments
Apart from the weird bell curve, it was very strange to having a thousand and one small assessments, each worth 5% and a final exam that was, at most, a maximum of 40%. I didn't get any overall As for my subjects. Not too surprised considering for 2/4 subjects (ergo the ones that I didn't need for my major but were just filler-subjects since I needed to study full time) I went to 2-5 classes the entire semester. The entire semester. One of the most amusing moment was when I received my Consumer Behaviour (marketing class) midterm back and I received a 75% which was the lowest in the class. Even though everyone seemed to be able to get such high marks, I didn't think that the actual assessments were easy, I guess somewhere along the line, marks get fluffed up and additional marks are just floating around. My grades overall: B+, B+, C+ and C+. The two highest were for my accounting courses and the two lowest for my filler. The thing that made me sad was that for my two accounting classes, I managed to 'beat' so many other students, local students who were actually paying a ridiculous sum every year. And then there was me, who studied literally the last before or the morning of the test and still got a decent mark.

Also, the business school was heavily reliant on group work. I purposely selected the subjects that had minimal group work or none.The frustrating thing was that since people had already been at the 'b-school'  for 2 years, they already formed groups even before we were told to form groups. Thereby stuck with people who were a) exchange students or b) problematic as team members. Not necessarily bad, but just interesting.

Sororities and Fraternities
I was interested in rushing for a sorority until I realised the a) time and b) effort.Getting houses to bid on me, sounds worse than a job interview to be honest. Sunbear's roommate was in a fraternity and I think for the semester, he had to pay $600 (!!!!) to contribute towards the beer fund. The beer fund. What I found interesting was that the sororities' houses were significantly smaller and also part of the school whilst the fraternities were the typical houses you see on tv and they were not part of the school as the alumni (?) had purchased the property from Emory University. Apparently this was why there were less restrictions on the frat houses as they were technically not part of the school. I went to one frat party. It was interesting. Grinding is a concept that makes zero sense to me. And seeing a hundred people grinding against each other is, well, an interesting sight. Also, seeing dozens of drunk people having sex on the oval after the party was also ... interesting. Hmm.

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Unofficial school masot; Dooley.

One of the coolest parts of the school was the fact that it owned Lullwater Park which included a suspension bridge.
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