True, False or Depends: Diversity of Thought at the University of Chicago

Over the past year, we’ve talked about the best parts of getting an MBA – from LEAD to getting a great new job, plus all of the great social events. One of the less fun parts of an MBA are (unsurprisingly) midterms and final exams. Interestingly, however, our exams help demonstrate the diversity of thought at the University of Chicago.

This quarter, I’m a Teaching Assistant for the Competitive Strategy course (side note: TA’ing is a great opportunity to reengage with coursework, build a professional network with professors and get to know even more of your classmates). While grading midterms over the past week, I’ve noticed one amazing thing about my classmates: it’s very difficult to be wrong. Many of our tests include a “True, False or Depends” section – and, no matter your answer, you have to explain your reasoning!

What’s amazed me about grading these midterms is that across 150+ students, there’s a wide variety of responses for most questions, but I’ve given full marks on the same question for each of the three possible answers. That’s because at Booth, you’re not given a grade because you agree with a professor. Instead, you’re judged on the quality of your data and the strength of your argument. This makes our case discussions incredibly interesting. Since professors are opening the room for an argument (rather than just lecturing on the “key to the case”), you’ll find yourself quickly shifting your original position when one of your classmates makes an argument you hadn’t thought of and/or uses the data in a way you hadn’t anticipated. This is also why so few Booth students skip class (recruiting time the lone exception) – you’ll learn as much from what your classmates have to say as you will from the professor’s slides.

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