RotterdamChris Rotterdam School of Management, Erasmus University , Bachelor of Science International Business Administration
The studies itself focus very much on the hard-skills and involve a lot of mathematical subjects (2 statistic courses, 3 finance and accounting courses, mathematics, microeconomics, operations management, etc.). In total these courses make up for about 60 ECTS, (one third of your entire bachelor). So if you are fairly good at math you will be good! The other subjects are the “soft” courses (organization, leadership, philosophy, marketing, strategy etc.) meaning that you just need to learn by heart what is in the book/slides and write some assignments, and you will be good as well. Something really positive is the fact that there is an extensive amount of summaries for most of these subjects and that the lecture slides (which are available through the online-portal) are quite comprehensive so you can actually save 200-300 euros per trimester by not buying the books (next to a lot of time that you otherwise had to waste on reading the books). Another thing that is good about courses like organization, marketing & co. is that they usually involve group work; you obtain a certain proportion (usually b/w 20% and 50%, for the strategic business plan worth 6 credits 100%) of your grade through group projects (or sometimes essays) usually involving 3-5 members which you can choose yourself. As opposed to the final exams (almost all of them are multiple choice) for which you study 1 to 2 weeks and forget about right after, the projects/essays actually encourage you to deal with the subjects in a profound way making you understand the material. To me these projects are the most valuable part of the education because (although the contents of the projects themselves are sometimes meaningless and poorly organized) I definitely learned to take initiative, how to approach, scope, organize and execute projects and how to coordinate, lead and work in teams. But don’t kid yourself; it’s still business: you will be studying a lot of unrelated subjects and regarding their content, you are not going to learn much that you will need later on in your career (as opposed to more substantive and coherent studies such as law, engineering, physics, medicine, economics). The projects are thus especially important as RSM does not encourage you to gain practical experience during your studies: in the first trimester of the third year you have to CHOOSE BETWEEN going on exchange, doing an internship or pursuing a minor at RSM. With respect to gaining practical experience at the bachelor level, other European (from what I know and especially German and Swiss) universities are way ahead of RSM, integrating a mandatory 6-month internship in their curriculum. Also, at other European universities you are able to take a semester off to do an internship without delaying your studies by an entire year and you can write your Bachelor-Thesis in a company where you analyze your hypotheses in the corporate context. It really is not intended by the coordinators to gain work experience during your bachelor (unless you are willing to sacrifice your exchange for it). On top of that the career service is pretty bad (that is where private universities definitely have an edge) so you basically rely on your personal network and the career fairs organized by study associations, to get in touch with companies. Besides, the vacations are mostly too short to do a proper internship. You have about 5 weeks of vacation during winter and up to 10 weeks in the summer while the length of the latter is subject to the re-sits which you may want (or have) to take to improve your grades. Thus, summer holidays may happen to be unexpectedly shortened by 1-6 weeks depending on the date(s) of the re-sit(s).
Something that partially compensates for the lack of practical experience is the variety of more or less professional study associations at RSM. For example you can become active at STAR (organizing social activities/events), SECEUR (social enterprise consulting), Enactus (community projects and social enterprise), Sustainable RSM (campus sustainability), EUREOS (organizing professional events and inhouse days (mostly in dutch)), the Student Representation SR (representing the student body to the faculty), Global Beats (throwing the largest international student parties) and more. If you prefer to be fairly well paid for your work, you can apply to work for the university as a teaching (or research) assistant (holding workshops, grading exams, assisting profs w/ their research), mentor (mentoring a group of first year students as you are a second year) and ambassador (representing IBA/RSM at educational fairs (abroad) and being a guide for prospective students at open days). The fact that it is not mandatory to attend lectures leaves you a lot of time to go out, travel, chill, go on short trips, work (part-time) or whatever you want to do. Depending on the trimester and usually relating to the group projects, there are mandatory sessions once (sometimes twice) a week or every two weeks (of which you normally can miss at least one). Apart from this and the group assignments or essays which are due during the trimester, you do not need to do anything until like 1-3 weeks before the final exams which is when you should get down to study. Obviously everyone has their own way of studying and finds subjects differently difficult but that’s just how it always worked out for me (GPA: 8.3/10 which is something like top 20%). By the way: at the moment you can boost your GPA by retaking exams that you already passed (last result counts) but from what I have heard they are trying to change that too so that you cannot retake an exam once you passed it. For the Germans among you: since the grading scale is 0-10 and you only get a 10 if you score 100%, so 0 mistakes (as opposed to the German system where you get the 1.0 at something like 93%) the conversion to the German scale is quite favorable. Everything above 9 is converted to 1.0; an 8.5 is a 1.3 and an 8.3 is a 1.5. Although we IBA students clearly lack professional work experience I would always choose an exchange over an internship (minors are usually taken by students who neither get an exchange spot nor manage to get an internship). I just finished my second year of IBA and I will be going on exchange for the next term. From what I have heard the exchange is a truly enriching experience. Literally, all of the third year students I talked to said it was the best time of their lives (no matter where they went) and the network of prestigious and awesomely located partner schools is huge. You can have a look at it under the following link (partner universities and spots per university are listed somewhere at the end of the pdf http://www.rsm.nl/fileadmin/home/RSM_International/Study_Abroad_Bachelor_guidelines_BSc_2013_2014.pdf). Just to give you an indication: - Europe: ESADE (2 spots), IE University (4), Copenhagen BS (4), Sciences Po, Paris (4), Bocconi, Milan (6), St. Gallen (3), Cass BS, London (1) - America: HEC Montréal (2 spots), U of British Columbia (2 spots), Wharton BS (1 spot), U of Austin, Texas (1 spot), Marshall BS, Los Angeles (5), Foster BS, Washington (4 spots), FGV, Sao Paulo (4) - Oceania: U of Melbourne (1), U of New South Wales (2), U of Otago, New Zealand (1) - Asia: Chinese U of HK (4), HK U of Science and Technology (4), U of HK (2), Seoul National U (2), Singapore Management U (5), National U of Singapore (3), Nanyang Technological U (4) The downside to the exchange, however, is that the decision where you will go lies at the mercy of extremely incompetent faculty staff. According to the guidelines, you are selected based on your GPA, extracurricular activities, motivation letter and a 10- minute interview with a strong weight on the GPA but it actually is only the 10-minute interview that counts. In total you can submit up to 13 choices ordered from the most to the least preferred although you are supposed to motivate only your top 3 choices (the other 10 are backup). I know people who were rejected for ALL of their 13 choices despite being a mentor, being in the Honours Program, having a GPA >8.5 and engaging in a lot of extracurricular activities, while others who had lower GPAs and no extracurriculars got very popular choices. Of course GPA matters as well but bottom line: they like you, you get your top choice; they don’t, you don’t. The problem is that so far nobody has figured out what they like and what they don’t, so it is pretty random. The good news is: if they do not send you to Iceland or a similarly undesirable destination you will still have an awesome time. If you choose to study IBA and get to the point of the interview, my advice is to play nice guy. Another downside is that some partner schools already start in August or even July so if the exchange office decides to assign you one of those destinations you might not be able to squeeze in a summer internship before you leave for exchange. Again, the good news is that, after you accepted the exchange, you can cancel it until 1 month before the start of the studies at the host university if you found an awesome internship that you would like to take on instead. In general, if you want to familiarize yourself a bit with the content of the courses and the regulations/guidelines check out this page: http://www.rsm.nl/information-for/current-students/bachelor-iba/ The campus is currently under reconstruction but it will be finished beginning 2014 and when it is done it will be amazing. There will be a plaza with a lake, a completely new dorm (opens 2013 already), new cafeteria etc. Most of the facilities are very new and well equipped. There is a gym on campus for which the membership fee ranges between 90-160€ per year, depending on special deals. There are squash halls, tennis courts, 2 large gym halls, 2 small gym halls and you can join one of the numerous sports clubs. Unfortunately no pool, but it’s still a public university. Plus it rains like every second day anyways. You can use the public computers in the library and in designated computer rooms. Public printers are available too. The library, which is open until midnight (or 9 on weekends), is usually pretty packed and it is difficult to find a spot during the prime time (1 pm – 6 pm). The cafeteria is insanely overpriced and very bad but I heard that they will get a new food provider in 2014 as well.
If I was to name the most positive thing about IBA, then it is the community. The friends you make there are outgoing, open, spontaneous and have a really chilled mindset. How much your parents compared to anyone else’s parents earn doesn’t matter at all. Obviously, there are some snobs, nerds, square and weird people as well but I guess this will be the same for any university. It is entirely up to you to meet the ones you best get along with but from my experience most people are very open and make friends easily. As students are from all over the world (although mainly Europe), you will soon find yourself spending your holidays visiting friends in Mexico City, Rio, Paris, Casablanca, Berlin, Stockholm or Luxembourg. Since I’m not a third culture kid (as opposed to most IBA students), but rather lived all my life in the same city, I really appreciate this. Since Erasmus University is a public university, the options for networking are not as excellent as at private universities where parents are willing and able to pay 10-20k a year on their children’s education and thus usually have senior positions at well established businesses. On top of that, most of the students at RSM are Dutch (for IBA around 30%; usually goes down to 20% after drop-outs of the first year) and they have a rather locally oriented mindset, mostly hanging out with other Dutchies, joining fraternities etc. which makes it difficult to get in touch with them. Obviously, there are a couple of people who have contacts in large businesses (through parents or friends), but if you are looking to find someone who can open the door for an internship in investment banking, consultancy, or senior management assistance (such as corporate M&A/business development) the air becomes rather thin. Yet, the possibilities for networking are probably still better than at the average European university and you can indeed find some people with contacts in large multinationals. Most of students’ parents are expatriates (a mixed bag of managers of multinationals or family businesses, government officials, professors, doctors, members of NGOs etc.) , making it easier to get in touch with people who could possibly arrange something for an internship abroad.
Rotterdam itself, although not much of a student town, is very nice. With about 620.000 residents there are plenty of bars ranging from fairly cheap student bars with special deals to more sophisticated ones where you can enjoy good music and drinks in cool locations. The clubbing is good as well and can definitely keep up with comparable cities. Every Tuesday there is a student party organized by ESN and every Thursday there is another student party organized by some other organization. Clubs range from very conventional places where you will be pretty much the only foreigner amongst a lot of drunk Dutchies who party it up to extremely bad DJs playing the same top 50 chart songs twice a week (you can have amazingly trashy night-outs with your buddies there) to more alternative places attracting the finest electronic DJs at very low prices (David Salomon at 14€, Klangkarusell @ 10€, Finnebassen + Adana Twins @ 12€). I highly recommend living in the Kralingen area, which is where all the student live. There you also have a pretty large and beautiful lake to hang out, barbecue, go running, get day-drunk, smoke up (weed can still be legally bought by foreigners), play volleyball etc. This area is a really nice part of the city with brick houses, low traffic, lots of trees and it’s very convenient because all your friends will be literally only 2-3 minutes biking distance (10-15 minutes walking distance) away from your place (as is the university and the supermarket). Other than that, the city is very multicultural (to be politically correct) which sometimes results in unjustified, aggressive behavior towards foreigners (especially German-speaking) but if you pretend you are Swiss or know how to imitate a Russian accent in delicate situations you will be fine. Something you should know in advance, is that the city is fairly expensive. Be prepared to spend 350€-500€ on rent for a room in a shared flat located in Kralingen or the new student dorm on campus. Costs for a (proper) night out depend on you of course but expect to spend 5€-10€ for entrance, 2,5€ for a small beer (5€ for a pint), 8€ for a long drink or cocktail, 5€ for the late-night Durum, and if you don’t bike (because your bike got stolen or its too cold/rains) add another 10€-15€ for the cab ride back to Kralingen. The student nights on Tuesdays are a lot cheaper (no entrance fee, beer and shots are 1€-1.5€ depending on happy hour). In general you will be able to have a good night out for 30€-40€ on Thursdays-Saturdays (excluding pre-drinks) and 20€ on Tuesdays. Also, grocery stores are about 10%-20% more expensive than in southern and central Europe, but there is a market twice a week, where you can get really cheap vegetables, fish, and other day-to-day stuff. Regarding the weather it feels like it rains pretty much every day and when looking at the statistics you can see that it has about 152 rain-days per year, 815 mm annual precipitation, 1542 h of sunshine per year which is indeed slightly worse the average for major central European cities (Munich: 134d, 966mm, 1708h; Vienna: 160d, 607mm, 1771h; Berlin: 113d, 591mm, 1650h; Zurich: 135d, 1086mm, 1481h). Rotterdam is located very much at the heart of Europe. Fairly quick and cheap train rides bring you to Brussels, Antwerp, Berlin, Paris, London and Luxembourg within a couple of hours and the airport (which is a bit of a hassle to reach) takes you to the more exciting (and sunnier) locations of southern and eastern Europe at fairly low fares (return ticket to Madrid 85€, Prague 80€, Vienna 100€) and if you can afford to travel to more exotic destinations, the train ride to Amsterdam airport takes just 30 minutes – 1 hour as well. To be able to afford these trips you can start working part-time. Besides the aforementioned TA/RA/Mentor etc. positions you can work at local call centers which pay 9€ - 12€ per hour, bartend (even if you don’t know the Dutch language), or work at the Starbucks on campus. Besides you can participate in surveys and experiments in the Erasmus Research Lab (at 10€ an hour) or become a board member of one of the student organizations (Enactus, Student Representation) which pays about 230-260€ per month. If you can handle a certain subject really well you can start giving private tutoring at 20€ an hour (for the mathematical courses) and if you gauge enough demand you can offer a crash course for about 15-25 students paying 100€ each for 9-10 hours of intensive group sessions. Some last notes I want to get rid of, in case someone from the program management happens to come across this report (as a prospect student, don’t let this change your mind! I’m sure things like these happen at any university (apart from the private ones maybe) and in the context of the entire bachelor and the experiences you make in Rotterdam it really is not that much of a big deal. As program management, please take this seriously!) - Please make sure that a proper quality control system is implemented to ensure a good quality of teaching and examination. It can’t be that the course coordinator Financial Accounting (Ms. Koning) openly expresses her dislike for students, states a lot of very minor conditions in her slides (which make the book quite useless as you cannot rely on its content anymore) and bases the largest part of the exam on these conditions. This does not test the students’ understanding of the subject and dropping questions afterwards to push the passing rate from 20% to over 50% just because it is the very last exam doesn’t cut it. - This is also the case for the essays in philosophy of science, where one or two graders always marked essays 2 – 3 grade points lower than the rest of the graders. If the average of the marks the graders give on the essays they assessed differs substantially, please talk clarify what is expected so that the assessment is fair. - Please make sure the level of English of guest lecturers and PhD candidates you employ is sufficient. - Some professors and course coordinators still have the outdated attitude that students have to be forces to learn because they are lazy and expect to get high grades without putting effort into their studies. It would be great if these professors/coordinators would take students (Bachelor as well as Master) more seriously and constructively incorporate feedback given by SR and students. Some faculty members really seem to be out of touch with reality and are not very open (not even for course related matters). - A great thing is that IBA-students are expected to take the initiative, think about issues by themselves and complete projects without being provided with a lot of ongoing task-guidance. This supports intellectual autonomy and teaches us a great deal about taking responsibility and acting independently under uncertainty which enables us to feel confident in and comfortable with shooting from the hip.
Das erste Semester überlebt? Oder gar schon fertig studiert? Schreib uns doch, wie du dein Studium erlebst oder erlebt hast, was gut und was weniger gut war, und wie dir deine Stadt gefällt. Oder du hast gar schon die Staatsprüfung abgelegt? Auch in diesem Fall kannst du angehenden Prüflingen wertvolle Hilfe leisten.Erfahrungsbericht schreiben