Danielle Pierson




United States





By Danielle Pierson

Classes, College, and Clubs (and the Fear of Missing Out)

All students at Oxford have three major things to manage, no matter their programme of study: classes, college, and clubs. Of course these can’t be mentioned without also explaining FOMO, the Fear of Missing Out. The opportunity to engage in all 3 of these aspects, as opposed to just classes and clubs, is what makes Oxford different from universities that don’t have the college system.

Classes: We had some new classes introduced a couple weeks into the term, keeping us on our toes. I’ve mostly welcomed the additional classes, as they’re topics that play on my strengths and experience (for example, Firms and Markets, the economics course). The term started off with mostly quantitative courses, but now we’ve got a balance of “quant” and “poet” courses, and our first integrative module, Entrepreneurship. Somewhat to my surprise, my favourite class is Technology and Operations Management. This class, led by 2 very knowledgeable and practically experienced professors, reinforces something I realized while working at my last job: I really enjoy manufacturing. I worked directly with manufacturers in my position with the U.S. Department of Commerce and, at the start of my MBA, I knew that I wanted to work with a manufacturer post-MBA. It’s nice to have affirmation that what I initially thought is still holding true!

We have some really amazing professors, not the least of which are the two mentioned above.  Our analytics professor, Dr. James Taylor, is also a much loved figure at Saïd Business School. Because of my background experience in economics, I would likely enjoy analytics no matter the professor, but James’ teaching methods and his approachable personality combine for a fantastic classroom experience.

College: The 38 colleges and six permanent private halls at Oxford can best be explained by comparing them to the 4 houses at Hogwarts. Every student at Oxford (ie. Hogwarts), belongs not only to the university, but also to a college (house of Gryffindor, Slytherin, etc). The colleges are not organized by subject and do not provide any teaching. They provide students with common rooms, dining halls, accommodation, mail rooms, etc. The college also provides opportunities to socialize and engage with students from disciplines different than your own, allowing interdisciplinary and cross-cultural learning. I am a member of St. Hugh’s College and have been very happy with my selection. St. Hugh’s has cheap, delicious meals (approx. £2.60 for a hot meal), cheap, delicious formal halls (£6.50 for 3-courses, wine before dinner, and 2 glasses of wine at dinner), and, as you can already see, lots of free flowing wine! I’ve also been very pleased with the administrators and staff at the college. The college president spent her Friday evening at St. Hugh’s Diwali Night celebration with us students, making sure everyone was having a nice time. She and others have also been very supportive of my young family, welcoming my daughter to the dining hall, interacting with her at things like Diwali, and hosting a children’s Christmas party to be held later in the term. The only negative thing I could say of St. Hugh’s is that the dining hall isn’t as “Hogwarts-y” as some other colleges. St. Hugh’s has more than overcome this drawback, though, and I’d happily recommend it to incoming students. On that note, I owe a “thank you” to my friends Frank and Kay, Oxford alumni, who recommended St. Hugh’s to me!

Clubs: At Freshers’ Fair (which seems like ages ago now), I signed up for way too many things – it all sounded interesting! I’ve been trying to go to at least one club/society event per week, often a different club each time. There is never a dearth of amazing speakers in Oxford. For me, this is really where FOMO kicks in. I don’t mind missing out on late night college parties because my daughter and I are probably awake and ready to start the next day before the party-goers ever go to bed (and hangovers after 30 are not the same as hangovers in your 20s), but I do struggle with the desire to go to society events and the lack of extra room in my schedule. I’ve also had to delay participation in the sports activities until my husband is back to share in parenting responsibilities. My favourite clubs so far are the Oxford Union, Harry Potter Society, Walking Club, International Relations Society, OU United Nations Association, Oxford Women in Business, and Oxford Women in Politics.

With so many wonderful opportunities and experiences available at Oxford, we students on 1 year programs have an especially tough task of trying to cram in as much as possible. I love challenges, though. Caffeine will be my ally and fear of regret my fuel. So it’s Carpe Diem to another rainy, yet wonderful day in Oxford!

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