What makes you happy? ... And is Darden providing it?

MBA50.com ran a study polling MBA students to understand if and how an MBA made them happier. If you're an MBA student then the results are not that surprising. We can all relate with most of the sentiment suggested in the data.  However, the research opens up a more intriguing line of questions. We all know what makes us happy, which is why the graphic bellow isn't really that stunning. But...
Is this really what your MBA experience is providing?

If so, how can these programs do MORE and BETTER?

Here I will deep dive into the Darden experience because truth-be-told I'm not qualified to opine on anything else. If you think differently then tell me about it in comments. Also, these are one person's opinions and do not represent anything but that. If you think differently, say so.

What does Darden do well?
Personal Development: Darden pursues this in spades. The faculty and curriculum are designed around holistic thinking and a program that will stretch you both academically and personally. There is a reason that the program has a set course list for the first year; it's to guide you into a broad and integrated view of business and society. 

Career Progression: The amount of preparation and resources offered to candidates is amazing. If you're planning to apply for consulting or banking then you get tailor training and amazing access to companies and recruiters. For some the MBA will be a seamless trajectory to a higher level; for others a shot in the arm that skyrockets them somewhere new.

Learning from Classmates: If you're applying to Darden, know that this is core to the program. You learn from your peers at every stage of the process and in every facet of the program. Whether getting interview prep, class content or extracurricular engagement, it's all student led.

What does Darden need to do better?
Pleasure of Learning: Perhaps this is a function of the fire-hose of information we encounter at the start of the year, but Darden sometimes isn't the most fun learning experience. StratSim is a major high-point, but after a while the academic experience starts to fall flat.

Engaging speakers seem to be fewer and farther apart as the year progresses, and those that come often don't get the audience they deserve. I'm trying to think constructively but the best I can suggest is that we need to look at both demand and supply.

It's on us as club leaders to push the envelope in creating meaningful learning experiences and not just filling our calendars. It's on us as community members to truly take pleasure in learning and seek and demand a better learning experience. I know we're tired and we want a break, but I hope that a few years on we don't look back wistfully and think about the learning experience we could have missed.

Experience a new Culture: Darden is an incredibly diverse place in the sheer number of nationalities that attend our classes. I believe this is an easy area for us to grow and do more. We can do more in engaging each other's cultural and national heritage. The Food Festival is a great event but should not be the climax of the Darden diversity experience.

In 2013 let us push for a deeper understanding of where we are coming from and where we are going. I'm excited for this year's push for launching a Global Conference and I hope the student body makes the most of it. I don't know which conversations we need to have as a community, but until we start talking, we'll never know.


I hope this is taken in the right spirit, as in not criticism but exhortation. I'm excited for another year to explore, innovate, think and create. However, it misses something if we don't do it together.

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