How big is the “scroll bar”?

The scroll bar; it’s been present in life for many years without ever having noted its power. Now that I find myself in the world of pre-readings, further readings and case study readings I find the size of the scroll bar a key component in the equation of my life.

It works something like this; you receive an email from your lecturer that is suspiciously upbeat and conspicuously encouraging you to have a nice weekend or evening. The email finishes by telling you that the attached article is to be read before our next class which just happens to fall directly after your evening/weekend.

You download the article, double click on the icon and hold your breath……… opens, it’s from the Harvard Business Review, “good it’s going to be relatively interesting” but, crucially, how big is the scroll bar? Is it so microscopically small that the article is at least 50 pages, or, is it wonderfully large, so large that the article is no more than 4 fantastic pages? On the rare occasion that it’s the latter you feel like you just won the lotto where the prize is some time to spend on yourself or your “personal stakeholders” (read – family or loved ones).

Cases and reading are a key part of the MBA learning process just as they are a key part of the undergraduate learning process that many will be familiar with.  They key difference for me is:

1) you can’t get away without doing it…but,

2) you do enjoy the reading.

The social pressures and social norms mean that many students considered their undergrad almost an extension of their secondary school education. You had to do it, you had to get through it and you really needed the end result as a minimum requirement in life, as opposed to enjoying the journey or the learning. If you have signed up to do an MBA you want to be there, you are genuinely interested in business and you will thoroughly enjoy the vast majority of the readings. It is a hugely different and vastly more enjoyable learning experience.

If you sign up for an MBA, you should have a thirst for knowledge and a huge interest in the business world. If you have both of these attributes coming into the programme, then no amount of “workload” or “grind” will phase you.

Notwithstanding the above, you will still dread the size of the scroll bar like the rest of us!

Trevor Whelan.

FT MBA 2014.