I’ve done all my schooling, from grade school through my undergraduate Engineering degree, in India. As such, I am quite familiar with the system of education there. After a semester of studying here in America I have noticed several differences between school here and in my home country.
Of course, I’ve never attended graduate school or business school in India, so some of my observations are like comparing apples to oranges, but overall I think these are the most obvious (and interesting!) differences:
- University structure – Owen is just one part of a huge university offering various courses and houses a renowned medical center on campus. This gives me the option to pick up courses from various other schools, such as the law school.
- Diversity – The diversity in the classroom here is quite an experience in itself. My education in India lacked the kind of diversity Owen offers and I find it as a welcome breath of fresh air. It really opens your eyes to the challenges of working in a global environment.
- In the Classroom – The classes here are very immersive. Most professors spend less time lecturing and more time illustrating principles with sound examples. Class is also made livelier with presentations, movies, product demonstrations and personal anecdotes.
- Grading – Grades are not given the absolute number one priority. While they are important, it is also important to do other things outside of courses, such as participating in case competitions, picking up a foreign language, learning more about a new sport or listening to country music.
- Homework – Out-of-class assignments take up quite some time, especially group assignments. Working in teams is challenging due to diverse teams with people having different points of view and having different levels of communication skills.
- Using the internet – Almost everything is done online. Assignments are submitted online, rooms are reserved online, jobs and grades are posted online.
- Textbooks – The textbooks at Business School have been a revelation. The marketing textbook and the economics textbook have been interesting because the contents focus more on explaining concepts through examples rather than sticking to purely concept based learning.
- Class Size – Class sizes are generally small and typically range from 30-50 students. In some elective classes I have had instances where fewer than 10 students are in a class.
- Custom Learning – The opportunity to customize your MBA. It is interesting to see the number of options in terms of electives that can be taken to concentrate in a particular field. Plus, due to the limited amount of time spent in the classroom there are ample opportunities to pursue internships or independent study projects.
- Leadership opportunities – There are a tremendous number of clubs you can be associated with at Vanderbilt. Because of the small class sizes and varied interests it is incredibly easy to attain leadership positions.
Overall I’m extremely pleased with my decision to pursue a global MBA, and I hope this list has been helpful to other international students considering an MBA abroad. What differences did I leave out? Let us hear from you in the comments!