November 8, 2005

College-only GSB class fails to fill seats

Students hoping to hop on the fast track to a business job are taking the second-ever, College-only Graduate School of Business (GSB) course this fall. Through alumni donations, investment—a course taught by GSB professors—is open only to undergrads at the same price as College courses.

Though the course originally had space for 60 students, only 25 opted to take the class.

“In recent years we have noticed more demand for GSB courses,” said Jean Treese, associate dean of the College who is in charge of student petitions to take graduate courses.

Prior to the College-only sections of GSB courses, students were only allowed to take GSB courses if there was enough room after the graduate students had registered.

“Many College students have found it difficult to get into regular GSB courses, and that fact prompted us to work with the GSB to create sections especially for College students,” said John Boyer, dean of the College, who helped develop the College GSB courses.

Ted Snyder, dean of the GSB, noted the benefits of the course for students of the College: “This puts our students on par with other undergraduate programs—for example, Yale, Brown, Princeton—that offer similar courses.”

He added that taking GSB classes as an undergrad could peak potential employers’ interest.

“Our corporate partners—financial services firms, consultancies, and both established and entrepreneurial enterprises—recognize the quality of students and graduates from the College,” Snyder said. “They are excited to learn that some students are electing to take MBA courses in accounting, finance, and entrepreneurship.”

Despite administrators’ praise, the current course is less than half full. The first GSB course that had a College-only section was financial accounting, offered in winter 2005.

Boyer solicited alumni to share the cost of the course so that undergrads could take the course at the same price as a College class. While 63 students petitioned for that course, the current GSB course has yielded only 25 students, out of a possible 60 spots.

Administrators offered several reasons for why students might not opt to take the course.

Since GSB courses must be petitioned the quarter before the course is offered, some students may have missed the cut-off date.

Some students also find it hard to fit into their schedules. As GSB courses only meet once a week, their three-hour time slots are often hard to coordinate with College courses.

The course meeting time also conflicts with statistics 234, which is a new requirement for economics concentrators this year.

GSB courses do not count towards a major unless petitioned successfully, discouraging some from taking the class.

Nevertheless, some students still want to take these courses to gain an edge in the job market.

Igor Sitnikov, a fourth-year economics concentrator, said that, after five interviews, he found the GSB courses he took played a helpful part in his job search.

“The GSB courses are not only a good way to learn the skills needed for jobs in the financial sector,” Sitnikov said. “More importantly, it shows the employer that you are interested and have made an active effort in attaining those skills.”

Some simply picked the class for the intellectual challenge.

“I actually wanted to take the course simply because I was curious about the math behind investments,” said Matthew Mao, an economics major and third-year in the College currently enrolled in the investment course this quarter. “Academically, this class is great. It really puts much of the econ knowledge I’ve studied throughout the past years to use.”

College GSB courses offered this winter quarter are financial accounting and building a new venture. Interested students must petition with Treese by eighth week this quarter if interested.

“We hope that students interested in business will consider these courses as electives that complement the wide variety of other majors they can study in the College and then apply their strong liberal arts background to the business world,” Boyer said. “Both [the College and the GSB] were able to contribute resources to make this opportunity possible.”

College students can also petition to take courses at other professional schools on campus.

Excluding the Pritzker School of Medicine, which does not except any College students in its courses, a few students each quarter get approval for the double petition required in order to take courses at the Law School, the School of Social Service Administration, and the Harris Graduate School of Public Policy Studies.