Adjusting to a new course load is always a challenge at first, different Professors have different expectations on how much time you will dedicate to their course, as – let’s be honest – individual Professors tend to assign work as if their class is the only one on your time-table and is the most important of your student career.
When I transitioned from high school into my Bachelor studies in Canada, I went from having 8 hours of classes per day to having 8 – 10 hours of classes (lectures) per week plus the odd seminar adding on maybe 4 hours per week in my first year. This was a huge change, and it allowed me to develop interests outside of academics. I focused on learning a new language, getting involved with charities, and joining every student society I could! Reflecting back, while I enjoyed all of these activities, this strategy always left me feeling major stress at exam time. At this university in Canada, I studied 5 courses simultaneously for an entire semester, which meant in December and April, I had a TON of studying and reading to do. I decided that I would change my strategy if I began Master studies.
Here at SBS, as some of my fellow bloggers have explained, there is a unique scheduling process where you start off studying one course at a time on a very intensive level. When I saw my time-table for the first time with one lecture and one seminar per week, I thought, wow, this is nothing! Then I saw the course syllabus and had a different opinion. My first course, Marketing Theory, required us to read 5 academic articles per week (for 5 weeks) and have a discussion each seminar on the articles. Our Professor created interesting and interactive team based activities to assist in generating discussions. At the end of the seminar, we would discuss all our thoughts as a class. Then, at the end of the course, there was also a personal development journal (exam) that we had to hand in of approximately 16,000 words reflecting and analyzing the articles from the semester – ALL 25. We also had to develop a global theme, connecting as many of the articles as possible to this theme in a 2,500 word synthesis. This task is assigned on the first day of the course, so stay ahead of this task, and you will enjoy this class.
Tip for future Consumer and Business Marketing (CBM) students: Don’t leave this task until the end. This course was 7.5 ECTS which means 200 hours of studying is required. 172 of these hours were classified under “self-study”, so don’t let your time-table deceive you.
I have since completed my second course, Advanced Consumer Behaviour, and this course had a slightly different structure. Lectures were more frequent, and seminars occurred every week for 2 hours. This is another intense course, and requires students to read a 15-chapter text-book in 4 weeks as well as several academic articles for each seminar. Again, this is a 7.5 ECTS course, so be prepared to spend a recommended 146 hours in “self-study” mode. This course also has a group project and presentation, cumulative question, and examination. Our Professor was fair, but expected us to be on top of the material and would select students in class to participate in discussions, so it was always best to read in advance. I was caught by surprise once, but VERY luckily had the textbook open to the correct page when she asked me a question. I may or may not have avoided eye contact during the next lecture to avoid being chosen after that experience! The examination was long, and covered the textbook, and seminar articles. We were required to answer 4 out of a selection of 5 essay questions in 3 hours with a 1 – 1.5 page essay for each. Several students finished quickly, but the majority of us took about 2.5 hours to complete this exam.
Tip for future CBM students: keep to the reading schedule provided by the teacher, and you will stay on top of the course material. You may need to dedicate some extra time on the weekends to reading. Make clear notes so reviewing for the exam is easier!
Currently, I am enrolled in 3 courses simultaneously, which is a little unusual but is due to the fact that I also decided to continue my Swedish classes in level 2. The 2 SBS courses I am enrolled in are my favourite so far! Communication and Brands (CAB), and Strategic Market Management (SMAM) are courses studied at “50%” for 2 months, instead of at 100% for 1 month. I say “50%”, but SMAM starts off with a large course load and feels like 100% at first. While these courses began recently, they are progressing really well. SMAM starts off by dividing the class into culturally diverse teams and for some of these teams the course starts off on a very fast pace (I was in group 2), but then after the first deadlines, there is a small break before the work starts up gain. So far, we have completed an interesting article discussion, and a 40 minute classroom debate and all of the groups so far have been really successful at generating interesting discussion.
CAB is the other great course I am enrolled in now. This course is unique as we actually have a guest Professor for this course, and then we have a different seminar leader. The guest Professor will join us next week for an intensive 2-day visit where we will have 4 or 5 lectures at once. So far, the reading has been interesting, but we were advised to read the bulk of the material before the Professor comes so it is crunch time. So far, we have had a short 10 minute group presentation in the second seminar, and the topic was branding…or more specifically “Brandification”.
Overall, while my time-table shows the time I am expected to be present, on campus, in lecture or seminar, it does not reflect the time required to get through all of the material required by the Professors. Keep on top of the course outlines, and timeline provided by the teacher, and you will keep up with the readings. The challenge here, is to be able to keep up with the readings, and make sure you have time to spend with friends, exploring the city, or with interesting student societies!
Thomas Edison once said that, “There is no substitute for hard work.” This program is rewarding to those who work hard. At the Master level, students are very capable of keeping up with the CBM course load. While this program is challenging, it also provides strong foundations required for future marketers.
And, lastly, a favourite quote of mine from Ann Landers (Ruth Crowley) who said that: “Opportunities are usually disguised as hard work, so most people don’t recognize them.”
Furthering you education will provide you with many new opportunities in life. Take advantage of the time you set aside to complete a new program, and consider studying in a new city where your opportunities to develop as an individual will be limitless.