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Sunday, May 09, 2004

Kellogg 

Unlike Stanford, Kellogg requires no pre-booking to visit. You just turn up at the admissions office, collect a pin and some details, and you're all set. I'd chosen to visit on a Monday as, according to the website, students from the Women in Management group were available to have lunch with on Mondays. As it turns out, they'd ended this for the academic year, but never mind.

To start out, I sat in on Operations Management, a core course. Having positioned myself at the back where I could be unobtrusive, I gave up my seat to a student who came in, looked round for somewhere to sit, and then sat on the steps at the side of the classroom. I'd presumed that this was because the classroom was full, but it turned out there were plenty of seats at the front, so I ended up being rather more in the middle of the class group than I'd have liked. There was a definite tendency to sit towards the back, which I found a little odd. I was told later that the protocol is that, if you want to use your laptop for non-work activities during class you sit towards the back so that you don't distract others. I can only presume that this was the explanation for the seating arrangements.

The class was taught by Professor Chopra. He started out by asking about the mid-term, which the students had taken the week before, and ran through some common comments from the mid-term evaluation they'd submitted on his. One concerned his use of cold calling, which he explained he used when people didn't volunteer answers.

The class was focusing on supply chain management and was lecture style, with a case used as a basis to explain the theory. This isn't an area I know much about, but I was able to follow most of it and could certainly see how it would be useful. There were about 45 students in the class, roughly a third female and two-thirds male.

Next, I opted to sit in on an elective 'Strategic Issues in Non-Market Environments' aka 'Non-Markets'. As far as I could tell, this looked at how non-market issues can affect the strategy of organisations - the case used in class was on the US car industry and the impact of CAFE standards for environmental control. I got the impression that this could be a really interesting class. Unfortunately, the students (c30 in the class, again about a one third:two thirds female male split) had been concentrating on a mid-term paper, and so hadn't prepared the case. This meant that they were rather non-responsive and it felt like Professor Haider was having to wade through treacle.

Both classrooms, as at Stanford, were enclosed and windowless. From what I saw on my tour later, this was the norm. Classrooms are laptop enabled, and nicely set up for Powerpoint use. They also have microphones directed towards the classroom, which my guide presumed were for picking up student comments, but he didn't think they were actually used.

The audience for the info session consisted of me, an r2 waitlist, and an r3 applicant. I found both the info session and the tour to have the most 'this is how we're different to other schools' content of the three schools I visited. I wouldn't say that this was a negative, but there was a sense of a school that knows it's good, but feels that it is maybe not as well regarded by applicants as it should be, in comparison to the 'Big 3'.

Aside from the emphasis on teamwork, the ability to take four electives in the first year, was one thing that realy stood out for me. The admissions officer doing the info session explained that this was to give first-years an advantage when it came to securing electives, as it enabled them to demonstrate how they could 'add value' to the organisation from the start.

When I'd arrived, the admissions office had assured me that students who saw my visitors pin would make a point of approaching me and telling me about their experiences. Well, they weren't that forthcoming, but those I spoke to were friendly enough. Interesting comments were "Teamwork is a bit like statistics. It can be hard and I don't always enjoy it, but I respect its value and its use." "If I could change one thing, it would be how nice people always seem to be. Sometimes you just have to tell people that they're wrong and explain why. I like it when people deconstruct an answer that I really thought was right and show me why it isn't - I wish that happened more often".

I should also say that I liked Evanston, a leafy suburb with a good down-town area and good links to the city, and I loved Chicago. OK, I realise I saw them both on nice spring days without the extremes of winter cold or summer heat, but I felt that this would be somewhere I could live.

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