To BIG or not too BIG?

by on November 9th, 2012

The first mini semester of my MBA is over! After the last stressful exam I met up with my classmates for some dinner and drinks. I looked around at the 240 students around me and thought about how dear to my heart these people have become. I love them! Every one of them!

Last Spring I was faced to choose between a 700-student program and a 240-student program. I was contemplating whether a bigger or smaller class would suit me more and saw the benefits for both options. The benefits to being part of a 700 student program were the opportunity to significantly increase my network vs. a smaller class and having a higher chance of meeting friends that share my hobbies and values. On the other hand, the benefit of being part of a smaller class was having a larger influence on the class.

At the end, I choose the smaller class program.

In the past 8 weeks at Berkeley-Haas I have truly understood the uniqueness of being part of a small class. First, the fact that I know most of my classmates by name make it easier for me to reach out and connect with others; when I walk out to the courtyard for lunch, I look around and feel comfortable to join any table. Second, I feel that the small class structure supports international students associating with American students; the small class structure creates a dependence on each student, and leads to high collaboration.

Obviously, I can only testify to the benefits of a small class program, as this is the only one I have experienced. However, I encourage you, as a prospective student, to ask students how the class size plays a factor in their MBA experience.

As the new mini semester emerges, I am eager to start the new course in problem framing, take part in the Digital Media company treks and strengthen the connection with my classmates.

Noa Elan, Forte Fellow Class of 2014, Haas School of Business, UC Berkeley

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