(Sorry for posting this a day late, things have been really busy at work)
Tuesday night I attended the Darden Information Session in San Francisco. The venue was amazing (the Skylounge at the JW Marriott) and the food was even better. Overall, the event was smaller than I expected, about 50 people were in attendance. The first thing I noticed was the large amount of alumni present. I would say that at least half the room was either alumni or admissions staff. This was a great testament to the strength of the Darden community.
The program basically started with a networking session, where prospective students had a chance to talk to alumni as well as admissions officers. My first valuable lesson of the night (and one that I will use at the Yale session tonight) is to NOT get both a drink and a plate of food. Juggling dishware is not a good thing, when you are trying to make a good impression.
I had the chance to speak to an Alumni who is currently working at Wal-mart. He was very nice and answered all the questions I had already the case method and how it is applied to general skills courses like microeconomics. He was able to apply very directly how he benefited from attending Darden versus other b-schools, which I think is a hard thing for some alumni to do clearly.
One of the admissions officers gave a really short (>10 minute) speech about what makes Darden different from other schools . Her three main points were:
1. The Case Study Method– Darden uses this as a selling point by saying rather than having professors lecture at you all day you have a chance to actually particpate in the discussion and learn things from your classmates.
2. The Community-Each Darden student is assigned to a “learning team”, which is made up of five other group members from the five other sections. You meet with your group members to go over the cases for the next class. The Admissions Director also said that Darden is very different from other schools in that they view “business as social”. Meaning you are not just a team of “one” there (sorry loaners this is not the school for you).
3. Faculty- According to the presentation Darden has the most award winning faculty out of all the b-schools (fact check). In addition, faculty members meet in their own “learning teams” to ensure that the same learning objectives are being met across sections.
My second valuable lesson of the night was how much these sessions are about networking, in addition to learning about the school. I exchanged business cards with a couple of people who I feel will be valuable contacts in my application process.
Tonight is my Yale Info Session. I am extremely excited for it.