Midterms! (and Winter Quarter Academics)

I got distracted by school again. It’s amazing how much is going on at any given second. Downtime gets swallowed up with BBLs, weekend trips, recruiting, startup idea conversations, and so on.


So….midterms. They officially ended last Sunday night.It as amazing how quickly they appeared. We started classes, then official On Campus Recruiting for banks and consulting and other serious things got started, then the big tech firms arrived for their interviews, then a couple of problem sets were due for the quant classes, and then all of a sudden we were four and a half weeks into the quarter and we had a midterm the next day. The 10-week-long quarters just fly by.


This quarter has differed a little bit from last quarter since the sections have been broken up and not everyone is taking the same classes. The rest of our core classes (known as Management Foundations) are spread out over the next two quarters and some of the classes are only half-quarter classes. As a result some of my classmates had four or five midterms last week (Microecon, D&D, OSM, Finance, and maybe an across-the-street class) while others only had one or two. To top it off, some were take-homes, which can really unbalance the workload. A couple of the advanced classes had take-homes or projects with no time limits, another class had a 6-hour take-home you could do whenever you wanted over the weekend as long as you had access to a computer with the right software, and others were a quick two or three hours in a classroom. Fun! The upside of it all is that the grades aren’t too serious, since they’re just midterms and we have grade non-disclosure anyway. The downside is that most people here are pretty type A, so people with enough free time study hard and the resulting grading curve can be rough.


Let me give you all a quick run-down on the classes, just in case you’re not familiar with the winter quarter quant class lingo.


Econ – shorthand for microeconomics. There are three levels and you are placed according to how you did on the placement exam back in September. The advanced level has a couple options that are more interesting and have a lighter course load, so do your best to place into them if you have an econ background. The base sections have optional attendance this year – it means 8am class isn’t too bad, but it also makes it easy to fall behind.


D&D – we all wish it stood for Dungeons & Dragons, but unfortunately it’s for Data & Decisions and the professors take it very seriously. It’s a general statistics class and seems pretty similar to Econ in terms of the work load; advanced has a lighter, more interesting course load and base has optional attendance for some of the sections.


OSM – the professors must have laughed for days when they figured this out. It stands for Optimization Simulation Modeling but is pronounced “awesome.” The result is that people walk around talking about “awesome class” or “the awesome exam,” despite strong feelings to the contrary. It’s a half-quarter class focused mostly on Excel. Base and Accelerated sections use a lot of solver and crystal ball; advanced does slightly more exciting stuff.


Finance – exactly what it sounds like.


Across-the-street classes – GSB students can take up to 15 units (out of the 105 you need to take during the two years you’re here) across the street in any of the other departments of Stanford University. This quarter I’ve heard of people taking Intro to Programming in the CS department, Meditation or Anatomy at the med school, Advanced Statistics in the math department (I know, crazy), Improv in the drama department, some sort of law class at the law school, a Charter Schools class and a Curriculum class at the school of education, and a bunch more. There’s also the d.school classes and physical education classes (golf, sailing, tennis, rock climbing, yoga, etc), although I don’t think you can get credit for those.


Marketing – one of the thankfully non-quant options this quarter. The professor (Wheeler) is known for being entertaining although a lot of people complain that the class is kind of fluffy since there aren’t many serious frameworks and a lot of stuff is based on opinions.


E-Business – yet another class that’s light on the numbers. Super interesting and relevant given how much business is moving online.


So, that’s winter quarter at the GSB. I’ll try to get back on sometime soon to hit on non-academic topics like Vegas FOAM, recruiting, ski trips, clubs, and pass-down houses.


About backinthebay2015

Stanford GSB class of 2015
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1 Response to Midterms! (and Winter Quarter Academics)

  1. Alex says:

    Hello! Thanks for sharing, your posts have been really insightful into what the GSB experience must be like. On previous posts you’ve mentioned that you’d gone through a lot of lotteries for activities, housing, programs, etc. How has this turned out so far? Have you had any issues with not being able to pursue desired courses, take classes with specific teachers, or engage in any activity because of lottery-based mechanisms? I’m hesitant about Stanford GSB’s focus on using lotteries; many people choose Stanford vs. other schools for the impressive opportunities it offers, yet once you’re in if you then have to leave it to chance to pursue these opportunities then that might change one’s perspective about going to Stanford. What’s your view on this? Thanks!!

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