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Peter Regan teaching MBA Math at Tuck


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Pre-MBA Quant Dilemma: To Prepare Or Not To Prepare

“To prepare or not to prepare, that is the question. Whether ‘tis nobler in the mind to suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous quant courses or to take arms against a sea of troubles and by preparing surmount them.”

Thus I (tongue in cheek) imagine a pacing Hamlet, top MBA acceptance letter in hand. Despite their various unique brand positions and program structures, top MBA programs all must teach the quantitative basics of finance, accounting, economics, and statistics.

Drawn from years of MBA quantitative skills teaching, the following themes will help incoming MBA students determine their preparation needs...

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After You Get In, Get Ready

"Let's have a show of hands to give everyone a sense of how much you have done over the summer to prepare for the quantitative demands of your MBA program."

"Minimal...." More than half the hands go up.

"Moderate...." A third of the hands.

"Extensive...." Just a few hands.

The scene is the first morning of math camp in late August each of the past six years at a top-notch MBA program. Time is short, with orientation in one week and classes in two. Standing at the bottom of the amphitheater classroom, I look out at 70 students invited to attend "math camp" based on some aspect of their background. Undergraduate major or GPA, maybe their GMAT, perhaps their recent non-analytical professional responsibilities. Or simply because they have been out of school a long time.

I use the show of hands as an ice-breaker so that the students in the minimal and moderate groups do not feel alone. The room is full of people in the same situation. “Predicament” is more accurate, knowing as I do the limits on what can be accomplished in one week and the rigors of the first-year core curriculum...

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