There are ways to make Hult better
After the last article, dozens of people contacted me to ask whether I am paid to do this or not. The answer is short – No, I am not. The idea behind this blog is to help future students by providing relevant and unbiased information about the school – both good and bad sides. I couldn’t find many before coming to school, and I know what it is like when you spend a decent amount of money for something that seems shady at the first sight. However, it turned out that the blog post about experiential learning seemed fake, even though every single detail written there is true. Yes – Hult is a good school, and the experience you will have there will change your life. It is not perfect though (which school is at all?), and I will try to give you a broader understanding of school, and explain the other part of the story.
Hult seems to have nice packaging but I am kind of skeptical about the school as the rate at which they are marketing and looking for students scares me. – Pearly
I am tracking pretty much everything that is written about Hult out there, and the above statement is very common. The explanation, on the other hand, is pretty simple – Hult is a for-profit school. It is even stated on its Wiki page. Translated to simple English this means that, if Hult wants to sustain its growth, it needs to be agile when it comes to sales and marketing. Just check the numbers for the SF campus over the last three years, and it will be easier for you to understand.
Next year, school plans to grow to 850 students in San Francisco. I don’t even want to know how big the growth will be on other campuses. When you are not an Ivy League school, the situation is pretty harsh, and the best way to overcome it is through aggressive sales and marketing. And, believe me, for a school that’s out there only for 10 years, they made outstanding progress. Thus, next time when you realize how Hult ads are stalking, try to look at it from a different viewpoint.
Hult is lean
If you are into startups and technology, you are probably aware of Lean Startup movement, that promotes agile growth and improvement through short Build-Measure-Learn feedback loops. Hult is no different, and keeps improving on the go. Each year, school adds 200 students, 10 professors and 5 employees per campus. While these numbers are impressive from the business standpoint, reality shows this can be a bumpy ride.
This is how it works for my particular class. Probably 50% of my professors were new at Hult. While most of them were really good, I cannot share the same opinion for, lets say, 2 of them. They were either incompetent for the course they were teaching, or could improve their teaching style. Since they are new, the school is not completely aware of their skills. Thus, these shortcomings happen. At the end of the course, the faculty releases a satisfactory survey. Based on the results, professors either stay or leave. A similar thing happens to the course program.
While this is a great way to improve the school and its program in the long run, a problem that occurs is that the current generation is still facing professors who do not deserve to be there. To solve this, school decided to introduce mid-course surveys, and speed up the feedback loop.
Downsides of growth
When it comes to such fast growth I like to quote Dennis Crowley – the CEO of Foursquare:
Every time we add 10-15 people the company breaks. From 5 to 10 people we broke. From 10 to 20 we broke, and it’s a matter of just making sure there is enough product people matched up with enough engineers; there is enough designers matched up with enough product people and if you don’t get that ratio right, you run into bottlenecks and that’s what is breaking the company. – from the talk at LeWeb 2011
Similar things are happening to Hult. When you add people (professors, employees, students) exponentially, a certain period is necessary to tune up things and make them work together – or as Dennis said to get “the right ratio”. Unfortunately, this is not the case at Hult, or at least it’s not going to be until they decide to take one year off and figure things out. As the first picture shows, school grows more than 30% year over year, and it can get messy. While this is not reflecting on the experience, some downsides are obvious:
80-20 rule when it comes to student body
Education has become a highly competitive market. The rise of for-profit schools in the US is quite obvious, and all of them are fighting for the same, decreasing number of students. Simple math will show that if a school wants more students, from the decreasing student pool, it will need to work harder (sales and marketing) or to lower the admission bar. Both of these are happening and this is not Hult specific. This means, that you will be exposed to working with 10-20% of people who probably do not deserve to be there. And this is not fun, especially when the language barrier is high.
I’ve already mentioned the problem with professors. Every year school adds 5-10 new professors. In a city that has 800.000 people, the number of high quality professors is not really indefinite. As every school year is divided in 5 modules, that means that a professor teaches you up to a month and a half on average. In case they are not good, the probability they are going to be changed during a module is pretty low to none. School is trying to fix this with mid-course surveys, but still, this is not the perfect solution for the problem.
At the end of every year the school building needs to be renovated to fit the needs of the upcoming class. Since there is only two weeks between the end of one school year and the beginning of another, this means students are exposed to construction work that is not always pleasant. Again, I see the logic behind this, but when you pay this amount of money for your education, there is not much room for empathy.
The value of a masters degree
Lets be honest here. Above mentioned things are very close to what we call first world problems. The purpose of grad school is to help us pursue a better career once we are done with it. Unfortunately, things have changed and having a graduate diploma is not creating such difference as it used to do. The economic crisis in 2008 made lots of people who were fired enroll in business schools and, today, market is flooded with MSCs, MBAs and people with similar titles.
On top of that, I’ve heard many people whining how grad schools are not good enough to help them stay in the US. But, look at the bigger picture. It’s not just the school but also your individual skills. Migrating to the US today is probably hardest since it has become a country. More and more people are coming to pursue the American dream, while its economy is not anymore as strong as it used to be. Wondering why there are so many people who want the immigration law to be reformed? Other countries such as Canada are leveraging the old US laws to attract top talent with smart startup visas . This country was built by people who came from all over the world, and its government knows that they will remain leaders only if they continue to create and attract top talent. Hence, the new immigration law is more than necessary.
Give me my money back
Still, there is no reason to worry. When it comes to Hult, time works for you. I probably belong to one of the last generations that are part of this transitional phase. Once it grows to the desired level, it will continue polishing its program until it becomes one of the top 10 business schools. Hult’s owners are investing huge capital to make it happen, and while experiencing some of these shortcomings is not always fun, the future works for us. That’s how lean works, and the ones who persevere are also the ones who win. Thus, there is no reason to worry or ask for your money back. Enjoy the school and experience, and if you don’t like something, do complain. Making the school better is in your interest as its name stands right below your name in your professional resume. The better it is, the more value it will have. The reason why this post is here is to make it happen. Inch by inch…