Studying at the London School of Economics has been everything that I hoped it would be and then some. Coming from a family, which has moved around quite a bit, I have had the opportunity to live and grow up in a few different countries and continents. So, in addition to looking for an experience, which would allow me to expand my perspective, my main aim was to build upon the strong educational foundation that UofL had provided me with. The year-long General Course Program at the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE) happened to be the perfect fit.
In operation since 1910, The General Course at LSE has been attracting some of the brightest minds from around the globe. On average, LSE hand picks 300+ students from over 130+ countries of more than 40+ nationalities. These students have shown considerable interest in their area of studies, have exceeded the upper-bound limits set by their home institutions (top 10% of their class) and are looking to complement their academics by studying among among the brightest at one of the top institutions in the world. Notable alumni of the program include David Rockefeller and President John F. Kennedy. Needless to say, the program is considered to be one of the most prestigious and competitive in the world.
London – The City:
My initial reaction to London was shock and awe. I had been to big cities in the U.S. like NYC, Chicago, SF, etc. but London was impressively unique, not just because of its size but also because of its cosmopolitan nature. I don’t think it’s possible to walk 20 ft. without catching sounds of a different language or dialect — from Italian, to Chinese, to Dutch, to Spanish. The city is a conglomeration of people from different backgrounds, socio-economic levels, nationalities, all hustling and bustling to get to their end goal. In this sense, the the city and the millions that keep it busy may seem impassive and hard to approach. But it only takes a few days of getting adjusted to become one with the essence of your surroundings and freely connect with those around you. Further, the large number of students that get recruited from the U.S., make the transition to the city smoother and enjoyable. Once you have your bearings straight, London is filled with limitless opportunities to have fun and places to explore: the attractions on the banks of river Thames, museums, royal palaces, bars, music clubs, restaurants, theaters — the choices are more than enough to keep one occupied indefinitely. As the saying goes: “When a man is tired of London, he is tired of Life.” In my short experience, I have yet to find a person that has come even remotely close to this limit. If one has time, there is also the rest of the United Kingdom to explore from the sheep grazing fields of Wales to the rolling hills and cloudy scenery of Scotland.
Day-to-Day at LSE:
Although the students at LSE constantly flirt with the “work hard, play hard” lifestyle, more often than not (with the exception of the weekends) one will find that the atmosphere is very studious. From the outset, the onus is on the student and individual to balance her/his lifestyle to keep up with the demanding academics. Interaction with professors can be low compared to U.S. based universities. On average, one will attend 4 lectures (ranging from 50-110min) and 4 complementary “classes” (50min). This averages out to roughly 1.6 classes a day. That being said, the majority of ones studying will be done individually by going through the numerous assigned readings of chapters, papers, and problem sets for quantitative-focused modules. The students are evaluated solely on the end of the academic year exams on each of the 4 modules they took throughout the year. To keep from being burned-out it is recommended that students seldom procrastinate as the year-long structure of the courses will make it challenging to “catch-up”.
Though the academics may be intense, the experience will be more than worth the effort. The students around you will be the brightest and the faculty is world-renowned. It is not unusual to run into a professor that along-side teaching is also providing advise to a nation on economic development or to have a professor that in addition to being distinguished in research has also worked in the banking, consulting, or hedge-funding industry. On top of
all this, students will have multiple occasions to network with notable individuals and vie for, through the career services or fairs, the interest of some of the most recognized firms in the finance, consulting, or non-profit organizations in the world.
All in all the LSE experience is unparalleled. If one wishes to rigorously study the social sciences including economics, international relations, and social policy or business related fields such as finance, management, etc. there is no better place to be. Along the way you will also have the opportunity to form genuine and meaningful life-long relationships and become a part of the impactful, world-wide LSE community.