There are few things more presumptuous than giving unsolicited advice to a group of strangers. But alas, here we are.
First, I want to give a sincere welcome to the Class of 2016. The hardest part is over- you are here and you should be proud of yourself because each year the class gets a bit smarter, more accomplished, and increasingly ambitious in the choice of career paths. By all accounts, the class of 2015 was a turn more intense than our predecessors and I expect that trend to continue. Though do not think for one second that you are better than us, because we have a million bid points and will take Micro all over again just to block you out of it.
I suppose it can also be said that your class is probably less petty.
So what is the deep and thoughtful insight that I have to share about these next two years? Well, you should already know based on the emoticon in the title that it is neither deep nor thoughtful, and if I had to put it into words I guess it would be "um, I don't know just kind of figure it out?" I say this fully recognizing the inherent lameness of writing a column about giving advice and in the same breath not actually saying anything of substance. But I do think this is an important approach, so indulge me for a moment.
The difference of the M.B.A. experience relative to many graduate programs is that each person comes in with a unique background and set of goals. It is quite Libertarian in that regard, and even more so at Chicago Booth. Why are you here? What is important to you? These are personal questions that you should think through and let guide you, knowing that this plan may not always align with others. You'll often hear that "grades don't matter." But you know what? Grades matter if you want them to. There are loads of great classes, so if you want to invest a lot time into academics you should do that. That said, grade non-disclosure is divine blessing, so take full advantage of it if that is what you want to do. People sum this up by saying "don't follow the herd”, but this is an oversimplification. When a lot of people do something, it should be obvious that there is value in it. And so for this reason, sometimes you actually do want to follow the herd.
So there you have it. I have managed to say almost nothing, and in the process also contradicted myself. Ah, that is the freedom of being a second-year. Actually the one thing that is universal is that you need to put everything you have into these two years. Do not get out of here and feel like you left anything on the table. Don't waste any days and, most importantly, leave time for people. Lastly, stop stressing out about books.
Oh and if you are in any classes with me: grades absolutely do not matter, attendance is pointless, and I am pretty sure the final is optional. Listen, I've got a whole lot of Seinfeld re-runs to watch and I don't need you out there setting a really high curve.