Welcome to Voices
Uris Hall
Hannah Stern ’13, President of the Hermes Society
Monday, December 17, 2012 - 9:45am

Expected value is a concept I was familiar with before starting my MBA. In fact, I used it to try and make a determination as to what MBA program I should choose. After comparing data on hiring and salaries, professor and student demographics, and even looking at average rent in the area near the various campuses, I assigned each attribute a weight based on the importance I placed on it and was prepared to crunch some numbers. But when I got to the last attribute on my list I realized I was going to have to do some revisions.

In that last cell was the word Community: this one was difficult to quantify. Something very intangible suddenly seemed very important. How could I tack numbers on to Columbia’s community?  Each class has approximately 750 current students between the two year and January term programs. But it doesn’t feel that way. Every time I walk into Uris Hall, I barely take more than two steps before running into someone I know. Watson Library is like no other library I have seen, full of conversing students catching up on their social lives, working on a team project, or just helping each other prepare for interviews.

In the classroom, the dynamic at Columbia is unmatched and my brilliant classmates never cease to amaze me. Thinking back on how instrumental my cluster and learning team were in helping each other get through some of our toughest classes, I am always blown away by the effectiveness of our collaborations — but I didn’t know any of this a year and a half ago.

As I sat in front of what I thought — until just a moment before — was a foolproof spreadsheet that would calculate the answer to my future, I realized that you can’t weight the value of community: it is something you feel. I was very lucky to be able to visit Columbia’s campus and experience the community first hand, but I also realize that this is not possible for everyone. That is why I would like to welcome you to Voices. We hope to give you some insight into the community feeling here at Columbia Business School, because — as I realized when I was in your shoes — this is one decision you should not make with a spreadsheet!

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