Electives, electives

Posted by: Ly Le

This week the last add/drop round for electives is over, so for any MiFs who, like me, are not taking the fourth term, that means we have had our final say in the subjects which will appear in our transcript. Now what is left to work on is the grades which accompany them only. Should be a piece of cake! (That was a joke, and before you ask, yes, us MiFs can and do crack jokes as well as anyone)

Anyhow, I thought this a good time to talk a bit about how I got around picking my electives, since it seems to also be a topic of much concern among candidates I have talked with so far. The good news is, the elective portfolio for MiFs currently consists of an amazing 32 courses, out of which we can choose 7 to 10 to add to our program. The bad news is, the elective portfolio for MiFs currently consists of an STAGGERING  32 courses, out of which we HAVE TO choose 7 to 10 to add to our program. You might not think 7 to 10 is that many, but I assure you, when you get down to it, it is actually a lot to choose, also it means that you get to decide entirely for yourself what you are going to do at LBS from the second term onward. To offer you aid in this time of need, LBS has a nice online bidding system, which all of us, despite initial skepticism, have found very user-friendly and tremendously helpful. You will be introduced to the system in due course in your year at LBS, so i will not talk more about it. What I want to do with this post is giving you a few pointers about how to actually pick the electives to bid for, using the aforementioned awesome system. You can trust me, I think, because learning from past mistakes is always one of the best ways to learn, and, as you will see soon enough, I have messed up rather spectacularly with my Spring term choices.

Pointer #1: Balance your schedule. For your reference, the prevailing practice appears to be 4 to 5 electives per term, but that is the nature of such practice, for reference only, because you should not let peer pressure talks you into doing all 4 courses when you are already spreading yourself too thin with job hunt and internships and what-not. If, in Spring term, you have managed to secure an ideal internship, or you want to finish you CFA (or ACCA, as I ought to have done, but was too lazy to), or it just happens to be the recruitment season in your favorite industry, if any of that happens, then it is perfectly okay to limit yourself to 2 electives or even the minimum of 1. Last term there was this week in which I was juggling 4 group assignments just when things were starting to get crazy at my internship (I interned at a designer boutique and it was London Fashion Week, yes, it was as horrific as it sounds). It was an amazingly exciting, highly fulfilling week, but one which I would rather not repeat, seeing how I was mostly dead on my feet for the fortnight following.

Pointer #2: Balance your courses. Among the available electives, there are some we unofficially refer to as “light courses”, owing to the fact that they do not require much of heavy book-lifting and/or intensive case studies. On the other end of the spectrum, there are monstrous courses which require you to, every week, prepare a 30-page case, read 5 research papers and 50 pages of textbooks, swim the length of the Amazon and climb to the top of the Everest. Okay, that was probably exaggerating it a tiny bit, but you get my point, no? Basically, you would not want to study more than 2 of those Herculean electives together in one term. In Spring I innocently, happily, opted to do 3 of them at the same time. People have been telling me I was courting death, and you know what, I wholeheartedly agree.

Pointer #3: Balance your purpose. I am sure, having gone through all the stress of the application process to finally get an offer from LBS, you would want your academic year in London to add as much value as possible to your future career, so, at the risk of being the ultimate kill-joy, I do think you need to choose electives based on their degree of possible usefulness for the job you want to do after graduation. Thanks to our ever thoughtful program office, this pointer is not as hard to execute as it sounds. As you may well know already, there are 3 possible concentrations you can go for within the MiF: investment management & analysis, corporate finance, and risk management & derivatives. So, all you need to do is take your pick and filter the list in the elective timetable to narrow it down to the useful courses.

Pointer #4: Forget balance, let’s have some fun. I am putting myself in great danger here, of course, because there is no guarantee that I won’t be told off for giving you this completely irresponsible advice. But, honestly, if there is something I most highly recommend people to do at LBS, it is to have fun. So, if among the electives there happens to be a subject which truly interests you, do not hesitate to bid for it, even if it has nothing to do with your future career or if you have only the faintest notion of what it is all about. Because why not? There will probably be no other period of time in your life in which you are so totally free to satisfy your academic curiosity. As I distinctly remember, in my application essay, I did tell LBS that the reason why I want to do the MiF is, first and foremost, because I want to study. Up to this point, 2 terms into the program, I find that I can still repeat that conviction of mine with pride (I do have to repeat it actually, you know, people keep raising eyebrows at my choice of doing that Behavioral Finance elective).

As a final thought, despite the jumble I made in picking electives, my Spring term was, on the whole, very enjoyable and I do not regret taking any of the 4 courses I took. I learned an awful lot of new things and I had my fair share of fun too. Bottom line: you can’t go wrong with any of those 32 (and soon to be increased) electives.

That is it, folks, I hope you find these pointers of mine somewhat useful, if not, please be generous enough to consider it a harmless bit of rambling from a student wishing to do something different in this last week before her new school term starts. I am doing 5 electives in Summer, so wish me luck?

4 Responses to “Electives, electives”

  1. avatar Chanda Davis says:

    I recently came across your article and have been reading along. I want to express my admiration of your writing skill and ability to make readers read from the beginning to the end.

  2. avatar Franck says:

    Dear Ly Le,

    Could a student outside the European Union study the london business school master in finance?

    Thank to reply

  3. avatar Franck says:

    Dear Ly Le,

    Could someone working outside the european union study the london business school master in finance part time???


    • avatar Ly Le says:

      Hi Franck,

      Of course anyone from any country can apply for a place in the MiF at LBS. If you are from outside the UK though, I don’t think it would make much sense to do the part-time program since that means you would need to travel very long distance to take the classes. Among our full-time program we currently have students from as many as 52 nationalities in the class so you’d be very welcomed to join us wherever you are from.