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Grade Non-Disclosure

Posted on January 19th, 2008 by Matt Brattin

So we have this grade non-disclosure policy here at ESADE, which basically means I’m not supposed to disclose (or I have a choice to disclose, I believe) my grades on campus. I’ve never had this before, but still, every interview I’ve had thus far the interviewer has asked about grades. Well, up until yesterday, we hadn’t even received our first term grades, so I really couldn’t say either way. But, as of late in the afternoon yesterday, the numbers are in, and while I’m not going to specifically “disclose” all my grades, I will share a few things now.

First off, I’m not used to the European grading system. In my mind, anything less than 90% means I did something wrong. Over here, I’ve heard some of my European classmates say “average” is around a 5 or a 6 on a 10 point scale, so based on this, here is how I interpret my grades for term one:

Applied Quantitative Models, Economics, Leadership Assessment and Development, and Managerial Accounting (four classes) I scored in the 8s. Again, to me this is like “What? 80%?!” But this isn’t really the case, as I understand 8s are very solid scores, so hurray for my performance in these classes, I guess it was pretty decent.

Geopolitics, Society and Culture and Marketing I (two classes), I dipped just into the 7s. I must say these grades disappointed me, as I felt my group did extremely well in Marketing and received nothing but praise from the professor throughout the term. I believe the final exam (which was based on text that simply did not get read given time constraints) is where I went array. While I disagree that Marketing should be taught out of a textbook, there is really little I can do about the matter now. As for Geopolitics, I felt folks with backgrounds in NGOs or with less “businessy” backgrounds had an advantage in here, so I’m just happy I did much better than a 5!

Now, the outliers.

Organizational Behavior was a psychology class, basically. We were given hundreds of pages of reading throughout the term, never really discussed them, the professor had his own topics to discuss every time we had class, and there were zero assignments, quizzes, etc. The whole grade was based on the final, which was very theoretical and involved a great deal of writing. Many of my classmates spent around 3 hours on the exam, and many did not pass. I finished in just over a half hour, as I didn’t feel dedicating more time would help me in any way, and this was my only grade in the 6s – at least I passed!

Finally, my bread and butter, Financial Analysis. I was disappointed throughout the course, as I felt the weekly quizzes were ambiguous and ill-communicated. So, going into the final I was quite unsure how I’d end up doing, despite having my undergrad been in Finance and my work experience, also in Finance. Well, I must have done quite well on the final, as I ended up with a very high 9, which satisfied me nicely and gave a slight rejuvenation to my confidence in the subject.

So if you count, those were the results of eight courses. In addition to that, there was a week-long Strategy course where I was simply given a “Pass” because it is Pass/Fail, and we have our Spanish final next week. Do the math, and at one point I was juggling ten classes…this is yet again why I’ve been so busy!

All that said, looking back now I am truly amazed at everything I accomplished over the last few months. Now, the cycle is starting over again, but hopefully this time around the load will allow a little more breathing room (and time to post!) – We shall see.

11 Responses to “Grade Non-Disclosure”

  1. Ansel Adams Says:

    Does the graduate with the highest point total win a prize? That would be neat. But seriously, once again I’m impressed with you and your smarty pants, Matholomew.

  2. Curtis B. Says:

    Hey Matt! Congratulations on your extremely confusing grading system! I had absolutely no doubt that you were going to perform well! I hope your time there is going well! We need to talk! When?

  3. Mom Says:

    Hey son! I’m so proud of you!!!!

  4. Emil Says:

    Congrats on the great grades, Matt!

  5. Matt Brattin Says:

    Thank you everyone for your kind words and support, couldn’t do this alone, that’s for sure!

    Mr. Adams, I’ll ask about the prize, twould be neato indeed.

  6. Tania Says:

    Hi Matt,
    Sounds like you’re maximizing your ESADE experience. I’m a prospective student for MBA intake 2008. Just wondering if you have any advice for me in terms of applications/interviews?
    Any tips on how you differentiated yourself would be greatly appreciated!
    Thanks,
    Tania

  7. Matt Brattin Says:

    Hi Tania,

    *Note, not sure if you meant a prospective ESADE MBA student, or just an MBA student in general, but this is geared more toward an ESADE application, so bear with me!*

    Great to hear you’re a prospective student, ESADE is a great place to be these days! As far as the applications and interviews are concerned, first I would say doing what you’re doing now is a great start – talk to as many current and former students as you can! This way, not only will you have content to draw from for the essays, but it shows you’ve done your homework in an effort to learn about the people. Also, if you can make a trip to visit the campus (I couldn’t afford it, but some people could) that would be excellent too.

    From here, you should really make an effort to provide examples of you working in a team, and not just in a leadership capacity, but in a way that shows you see the power of working in teams to accomplish a single goal – ie, play to the “collaborative” spirit of ESADE. Sports is an excellent way to show this, but be prepared to discuss this in both a work and personal setting.

    You should have at least some form of international experience or great motivation for international learning environments, as this is exactly what ESADE is.

    Lastly, and I cannot say this enough, be yourself. ESADE is not a cookie cutter MBA shop, we are a group of very real people, many with very strong personalities. You should be proud of who you are and do not be afraid to let that show through your essays, in fact, do your best to make your personality show, because you want to encourage admissions to be interested in meeting you, not just another statistic with good undergrad grades, a good job, and nice references.

    Hope this helps, and if you’d like more feedback on this, I’d be very happy to help you out however I can. Take care.

    Matt

  8. Tania Says:

    Hey Matt,

    Thanks for the helpful advice.

    I would love to get your feedback on other aspects of the school, such as:
    What is the average age(or age range) of ESADE 18-mo MBA student?
    Did you know Spainish prior to arrival in Barcelona?

    Is there a good mix of students from different career/undergrad/geographical locations?

    To your knowledge, what is the range of GMAT scores for admission?
    What were the top 3 reasons you chose ESADE? ( If you don’t mind me asking, where were other schools you were considering?)

    Why did you choose ESADE?

    In your opinion, what are ESADE’s greatest competitive advantages over other schools that boast entrepreneurial specialization ( i.e IE)?

    What are unique project/travel opportunities through the program? (i.e clubs, case competitions, school consulting projects)

    What’s been the best/worst parts of the past few months of the program?

    I fully understand if answers to these questions are a little more personal that you’d like to state here so please feel free to e-mail me at: hyper7@hotmail.com

    Thanks for taking the time to help me out Matt.
    Cheers,
    Tania.

  9. Matt Brattin Says:

    Tania,

    Excellent questions, I’ll do my best to address them all and will follow up with an email in case you have more you’d rather not ask here:

    What is the average age(or age range) of ESADE 18-mo MBA student?

    The average age for the 06 intake was 28.6 and I would imagine my cohort is about the same. We have folks who are 23, and folks who are 35, but most are in their late 20s.

    Did you know Spainish prior to arrival in Barcelona?

    If by “know Spanish” you mean have a strong command of the language, I would say no. There are 6 levels to the Spanish classes, if my understanding is correct, and I started in level 3 and just entered level 4. Most of my classmates (who aren’t already multi-lingual) started in levels 2-4. The goal by the end of the program is that everyone is at level 6, which requires a solid command of the language, and I think making it there is absolutely possible for everyone, just gotta practice!

    Is there a good mix of students from different career/undergrad/geographical locations?

    Absolutely! Take my workgroup from last term, for instance. There were six of us composed of: A Columbian born physicist/engineer working with lazer technology in the US, An Indian telecom worker, a Barbados born expert (arguably) in corporate social responsibility, a Swiss former employee of the world bank and other governmental agencies, an Italian medical doctor, and of course, me. This was indicative of all the other groups, and if you want a dynamic educational environment, I don’t think you can get much better than this!

    To your knowledge, what is the range of GMAT scores for admission?

    I’ve heard folks scoring everywhere from mid 500s to mid 700s, its all over, but I think the average is 640. They really do look at the whole package, so if you are within a reasonable range, make a good case for yourself and you can get in, but your GMAT alone won’t make or break you.

    What were the top 3 reasons you chose ESADE? ( If you don’t mind me asking, where were other schools you were considering?)
    Why did you choose ESADE?

    I’ll group these two together. I had many reasons for choosing ESADE, so narrowing to three is hard, but I’ll keep it simple. 1) I wanted an international MBA experience, 2) I wanted to learn Spanish, 3) The people. That is really it. The location was easy for me, but all that did was narrow my search to 4 schools (IE, in Madrid, and EADA, IESE, and ESADE, all in Barcelona). I felt ESADE promoted their bilingual emphasis more than the other schools, but IESE seemed to have a better reputation early in my research. However, after meeting reps from IE, IESE, and ESADE at an MBA fair, ESADE far and away felt like a better fit. All of these programs are solid, don’t get me wrong, but since this is not just a monetary investment and I’m going to spend 18 months on this journey, I wanted to spend it with people I get along with. I just didn’t feel a connection with the reps from the other schools, which is why I only applied to ESADE. I think I discussed this a bit on one of my earlier posts, so for a more thorough response maybe try to look for that, I think it was one of my first.

    In your opinion, what are ESADE’s greatest competitive advantages over other schools that boast entrepreneurial specialization ( i.e IE)?

    I haven’t really looked at this area, as I am more finance minded (but with an entrepreneurial spirit, for sure!), so I am not sure I can comment convincingly on this topic. Is this an area you are considering? I will say we get regular emails inviting us to participate in business plan competitions at B-schools around the world, so having that opportunity to develop a business plan and test it repeatedly in front of experts can’t be a bad thing, and not every school gets an invite on these. Otherwise, if you’re really interested I can look for who may be able to help you more and put you in contact with them, just let me know.

    What are unique project/travel opportunities through the program? (i.e clubs, case competitions, school consulting projects)

    We have many clubs, receive regular invites to competitions all over the world, and I believe there is an option during the summer to participate in consulting projects if you don’t choose to pursue an internship. Additionally, ESADE is one of the MBAT (MBA Tournament) schools, which means every March a ton of us head to the HEC Paris campus to compete in a number of sporting competitions, and I can’t wait! We just got back from a ski trip to Andorra (in the Pyrenees) last weekend, and simply being in Barcelona has you very well situated to travel all over Europe and parts of Africa, if you please. Additionally, we have an excellent exchange network, if that meets your fancy, or in your second year you can make a trip to China where you basically get class credits while studying in Bejing and making company/cultural visits over a ten-day period. Sounds excellent and I may try to do this instead of an exchange.

    What’s been the best/worst parts of the past few months of the program?
    Best – my cohort and learning from all the amazing people who surround me, honing my Spanish, traveling, company visits/career fairs.
    Worst – stress and a lack of much personal time. These are normal parts of the first year in any top ranked MBA program, however, so you really cannot escape it as far as I know.

    Hope this is helpful and not too wordy!

    Matt

  10. Tania Says:

    Matt,

    Thank you kindly for your rapid response and thorough answers. I’m sold!
    The ESADE MBA program seems to be a well-rounded and integrated one which draws impressive candidates from all walks of life. Your description of group members is exactly the peer group I want to learn from.

    Thanks again Matt. Best of luck with your studies and travels.

    Tania.

  11. Matt Brattin Says:

    No problem Tania, it is my pleasure to help out in any way I can! I sent you an email as well, just in case you had some follow up questions you didn’t want to post here.

    Best of luck to you too!

    Matt

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