In many ways LSE has both exactly been what I expected and not at all. I can read a thousand brochures and talk to alumni, but the details are lost in translation and all that’s left is a cliché and fluffy one-liners like “LSE is a great school”, and wouldn’t cognitive dissonance compel us all to say that?
Who are we? We are the 160 students from all over the world, and we’re here for the MSc Finance (and MSc Finance and Private Equity) programme at LSE. If you know anything about us, it’s probably that we are very career-oriented. As I write this, five peers immediately around me in the library are in the midst of reviewing CVs, emailing recruiters, and applying to be future investment bankers. I should be too, but sometimes we need to reflect.
- Why are we here? Is it just a signal to the job market?
- What about education?
- I recall reading something about “case-based learning” and “combining theory with practice”?
- These professors have very impressive CVs, but are they too stuffy to teach?
These were the questions I had coming into LSE, am I paying for the brand or the product? The moment professor Dirk Jenter jumped up to the stage of Sheikh Zayed Theatre and started waving his arms about, he completely dispelled any notion that we will be taught by an “academic” (in the dullest definition of the word). Eccentric, energetic, enthusiastic – He made us laugh, he will undoubtedly make some of us (me) cry when he pushes us to our limits, but for the duration of his introduction to MSc Finance, we paid him our full attention. Not for his impressive credentials, but because he commanded it with his presence.
Some gems from the introduction by Dr. Jenter and various others:
“You are going to be working your butts off, and all I can promise is that we [the faculty] will be doing the same”
“We [the faculty] all conduct research, and we will teach things that are not yet in the textbook”
“This course is about building complex stuff, using basic building blocks to build up to really complex and sexy things…if all these practical applications don’t interest you, don’t worry, we also have some beautiful mathematical theory behind the models”
“I hope that after my course, you can explain subprime securities at least as well as Margo Robbie [from the Big Short]”
“This course is completely/mostly/largely case-based” – Almost all the courses
If you’re thinking of applying for the MSc Finance this year, the takeaway here is that LSE wasn’t bluffing with putting “theory to practice”, they weren’t just using buzzwords to attract students only to tell you there is only one case-based course. School officially started one month ago, and we have already done four cases. This surprised my cynical self, and I realized that perhaps there is a good reason behind why LSE is a world-class institution that brings in thousands of applicants per year for the MSc Finance programme. I have complete confidence that these professors have the ability to make the course material jump off the textbook pages and inspire us to work our butts off…
…after we are done with the job applications.