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Fact vs. Fiction

  • Ben King
  • |
  • Jan 23, 2023
Fact vs. Fiction

As one of Canada’s most prestigious business schools, the Richard Ivey School of Business has had its fair share of stereotypes, myths, and preconceived notions. After rereading the Ivey handbook an incalculable number of times, many, including myself, fruitlessly scrolled through poorly sourced information from unofficial sources to glean as much information about the institution as possible. Each response came with a different answer, with some serving to calm my nerves and others aiming to exacerbate them. To (finally) put some rumours to rest, I interviewed three talented AEO1 students, Anna Klyuchenko, Sydney Lamars, and Aidan McAuley to gain insight into if frequent stereotypes of the program do indeed hold weight. Klyuchenko and McAuley are both studying BMOS, while Lamars is studying French and intends to pursue the HBA dual degree.

Is it difficult to keep your marks high?

McAuley: Initially, it’s overwhelming and challenging as you’re unsure what to expect heading into your first semester. Classes transition from 30 people in a classroom to over 500 in some lectures, with exams having a far greater emphasis than regular term work in most courses, which is not the case in high school.

Klyuchenko: In my experience attending a public high school in Toronto, my school did not prepare me to the best of its ability to achieve the marks needed in university. This was especially true during COVID as exams moved online or were cancelled entirely, so entering University having written only a handful of exams presented a serious learning challenge. Time management is the most practical way to combat these changes and is something I quickly learned to value during my first semester.

McAuley: But, if you put in the work by attending all your classes, keeping up with readings, managing your time, and trying your best, there’s no reason it should be unattainable, especially since Western offers a multitude of resources to help students that are struggling (i.e., tutoring, office hours, counselling, etc.).

Lamars: You may have lower marks in courses you don’t particularly like, so it’s paramount to study what you’re passionate about as you’ll invest more time and energy into things you enjoy doing. Some courses are more challenging than others, so make sure to balance them with courses you can excel in.

What pre-existing stereotypes did you have about Ivey/AEO?

Klyuchenko: I thought the Ivey/AEO community would be a competitive, closed-off environment with students acquiring an “everyone for themselves” mindset. I held the belief peers would not want you to succeed and that competitiveness would trump kindness. Thankfully, this is not the case at all — while a little healthy competition helps instill motivation, there is a high collaborative spirit in the Western community.

McAuley: Fortunately, everyone has been super friendly and willing to lend a hand whenever someone struggles with a course. Your peers want you to succeed, which feeds into the importance of establishing sustainable relationships.

Lamars: I thought Ivey was only for those who wanted to go into areas of finance and consulting, since they consistently rank as the top industries for HBA graduates according to employment statistics. After talking to students and looking at HBA courses, it is apparent that Ivey gives you a well-rounded skill set applicable to any industry. While finance and consulting are the top working industries for graduates, they are not the only career options, with the consumer-packaged goods and technology industries employing 11% and 7%, respectively, of the 2021 HBA graduating class full-time, according to the 2021 HBA Employment Report.

 Is class participation valued more than test scores?

McAuley: In terms of grading, test scores make up a heavier weighting in your final grade, at least in first year BMOS courses, as they are what most of your mark is comprised of and are an eminent way to demonstrate learning; however, class participation leads to learning more applicable skills and building connections with peers.

Klyuchenko: Personally, I learn a lot more by participating and having the opportunity to listen to peers’ contributions, but at least in BMOS, test scores are taken into more significant consideration and thus heavily impact your final grade. Preparing for multiple exams, each with weighty content, means I’ve needed to learn how to triage my time efficiently and focus on prioritizing the most pressing tasks at hand. 

Finally, what was your biggest misconception about Ivey?

Lamars: The biggest misconception about having AEO status is that students think you’ve reserved your spot in the Ivey program. Maintaining AEO status means it is a conditional pre-admission to Ivey’s HBA program that starts in year 3 of your undergraduate career, but you still must submit an HBA application and meet the requirements outlined in the HBA handbook (i.e., achieving a required academic average within your first two years, partaking in extracurriculars, and completing Business 2257 with a minimum grade of 70%).

McAuley: Everyone was going to be a superhuman student with absurd academics (i.e., very high marks), but for the most part, everyone is down to Earth and is an ordinary person.

Klyuchenko: You needed ludicrously high marks in high school and to have an entrepreneurial venture to succeed, but in reality, leadership experience is of significant value anywhere.

Thanks to Klyuchenko, McAuley and Lamars, some of the most pressing questions about the AEO experience have been answered. The AEO experience is a unique one – which is why hearing accounts straight from students themselves is the best way to determine whether something is a fact or fiction.