Today’s post authored by Second Year student Jungae (Jessica) Kim-Schmid (Class of 2022). Kim-Schmid is a member of the Second Year Admissions Committee, a group of students who work alongside Darden’s Admissions team to recruit future classes of MBA students. This group of students also serves as informal ambassadors to the Darden experience, lending their own knowledge and expertise to prospective students and applicants.

Jessica Kim-Schmid (Class of 2022)

Before students get to Darden, they mainly hear about the rigors and demands of the Core Curriculum. Remember though… Core is only your first three quarters here! Students have the freedom to choose their courses for the last quarter of First Year and all four quarters of Second Year. The choice can be overwhelming, but choosing electives is a big way that Darden students personalize their experience to meet their own unique goals.

How do students choose courses?  

For the last quarter of First Year (Q4), students are all allocated a certain number of “bid points”. After looking through the Q4 course options, students use their points to bid for the different courses they’d like to enroll in. After the bid deadline passes, the Registrar processes all the bids and the students with the top bids for each class are enrolled. (How many make it in just depends on the capacity of each course.) Students are given information about successful bid levels for each course in prior years, but there is still always an element of strategy involved in deciding your bids since the exact course mix every year is unique.

For Second Year classes we use a similar process, but the stakes go up even more since we bid for all our Second Year classes at the same time! However, this doesn’t mean that students are locked into their less preferred classes if bidding doesn’t go well. There are waitlists for each course and plenty of add-drop activity takes place in the first week of every quarter. The huge diversity of electives that are offered here truly means that there is something for everyone!

What is the best strategy for choosing electives?  

There really is no best way. Some students prioritize bidding for classes with faculty members they most want to learn from and build relationships with. Others pick electives in areas that they have no experience in so that they can get exposure before leaving Darden (for example, I chose to take a class on private equity last quarter just to learn about the industry). Other students come to Darden with a clear idea of their strengths and interests, and they prioritize electives that help them build on these strengths. There is truly no wrong way to choose amazing electives!

Are there credit-bearing opportunities that go beyond a traditional Darden course?  

Yes! The Darden Worldwide Courses, which you’ve likely heard about, are weeklong travel-based courses that count for credit. Students can also earn credit by doing independent study projects with specific faculty members. And there are a few other activities, such as being part of the Second Year Student Admissions Committee and serving as a Second Year Coach that have some coursework involved but are mainly experiential ways of earning credit while giving back to the school.

After your Core Curriculum, you have so much more freedom to choose your own academic adventure! Take some time to figure out what you want from your academic experience here at Darden.