The premiere pet hotel, which
features massage services, flat-screen TVs and an in-ground
wading pool for its four-legged clientele, has been featured
in BusinessWeek, on "The Today Show" and
elsewhere. Many of those who have booked stays for their dog
or cat at the resort near Chicago's O'Hare Airport are already
But without the Kellogg class
Entrepreneurship and New Venture Formulation,
Nadeem's idea might never have happened. Indeed, by the time
Nadeem graduated, he had already written his business plan,
composed his elevator pitch and met potential investors who
urged him on.
"It was a very real-life
experiential class," Nadeem says. "It was a lot
of work, but it was worth it. It helped me develop a plan
that I could actually implement."
has become a hot phrase in education. Graduate and undergraduate
schools alike are offering a growing array of opportunities
for students like Nadeem to gain hands-on experience, but
few institutions have taken the concept to heart the way Kellogg
has. The school offers almost 1,000 distinct for-credit experiential
learning opportunities and seeks to create even more. By 2010,
as many as 30 percent of all students will put theory into
practice through these curriculum enhancements.
"Kellogg will offer
project-based learning opportunities in all areas, from nonprofit
to finance to healthcare and more," says Michele
Rogers, assistant dean for integrated programs and experiential
learning. "The more opportunities we can provide for
students, the better the experience and the more value added
to their future careers."
The emphasis on this kind
of learning is nothing new at Kellogg, which has long sought
to fuse the practical with the theoretical. Indeed, experiential
learning has been part of the Kellogg experience since the
mid-1970s, when then-Dean Donald
P. Jacobs declared his intention to foster a culture more
reflective of the business world.
Since then, the school has
delivered an increasing number of ways for students to learn
by doing — including introducing them to new fields.
Long-running programs such as Entrepreneurship and New
Venture Formulation and Global
Initiatives in Management (GIM) let students apply
their skills in corporate and nonprofit settings. Marketing
courses require students to conduct research for actual brands,
and strategy and finance courses often seek studies and analyses
for outside firms and organizations. Extracurricular opportunities
for this kind of learning abound too, through student clubs,
competitions, internships and conferences.
Today, Dean Dipak
C. Jain counts experiential learning as one of the Kellogg
School's "four pillars," alongside intellectual
depth, a global mindset and the fostering of students' ethical
values and people skills.
forces our students out of their comfort zones and requires
them to apply their classroom insights to real-world settings,"
Jain says, adding that this approach "makes Kellogg students
among the most desirable and most prepared for leadership
Ready for action — and adaptation
Kellogg is an
ideal laboratory for experiential learning. In addition to
its supportive faculty and administration, the school boasts
a student body hungry for hands-on knowledge.
"The typical student
who comes to Kellogg wants to make some sort of turn in his
or her career," explains Sunil
Chopra, senior associate dean for curriculum and teaching.
"Even those who aren't seeking a career change want to
be prepared for new opportunities down the road. They are
all looking for experiential learning so that they can adapt
to changing industries and take advantage of new opportunities."
To pivot from accounting
to entrepreneurship, from engineering to consulting, or from
marketing to venture capital, students may need a tailored
academic experience, Chopra says. And with student demand
for such education at an all-time high, Kellogg has formalized
the experiential curriculum so that faculty can share best
practices and enrich the quality of each offering.
Professors of these classes
meet regularly to discuss content, teaching and evaluation
issues. The effort is coordinated by Rogers, who oversees
the school's experiential offerings and its joint-degree programs,
positioning her to recognize new opportunities and enhance
It also helps her identify
ways for alumni to get involved, whether as speakers, mentors
or project sponsors. "Alumni love to participate in these
classes, because they can engage in the learning process and
help to develop student talent while supporting Kellogg –
a trifecta," Rogers says.
Among the school's many practical
offerings are a few that Chopra describes as "experiential
learning on steroids." Each offers a rare, self-directed
learning experience that students otherwise would find it
difficult to obtain.
Asset Management Practicum,
for example, allows students to manage a portion of the Kellogg
School's endowment. Venture Lab and Buyout Lab
both place students with private equity firms for a quarter,
while Management Lab invites students to solve specific
problems at real organizations. Other classes offer opportunities
to consult for international firms, develop new medical products
or serve as members of nonprofit boards. (Read
the related story.)
"It should always be
an experience that students aspire to," Chopra says.
"That ensures the quality and the consistency of the
experience, not just for the students but for the sponsoring
Admission to several of these
courses is selective, with students required to demonstrate
aptitude to faculty and sponsoring organizations. "These
are very labor-intensive, high-touch opportunities,"
Rogers says. "We're looking for students who really want
to apply their skills to a particular area."
Because the students are
working with outside firms, they are expected to treat the
class like a job.
"It's not just a class,"
Rogers explains. "This is a commitment of at least eight
hours, per person, per team, per week. Sometimes students
find they need to put in even more time, and that's fine,
as long as they don't miss other classes."
"Our expectation is
that students take just one of these labs at a time,"
Chopra says. "It's a very intense experience, but it's
something that a subset of our students really want."
Self-knowledge through experience
That was certainly
true for Peter Smith '08, who signed on to an internship
with private equity firm Madison Dearborn Partners through
the Buyout Lab class this spring.
Smith spent at least one
full day each week at the firm, doing industry research, LBO
modeling, and developing a sample investment opportunity.
"There are classes at Kellogg that teach you those skills,
but it's very valuable to see how it's done in the 'real world,'"
Smith says. "Every firm does it a little differently."
The opportunity to work for
a firm as large and prominent as Madison Dearborn was "fantastic,"
Smith says, and one that otherwise would have been beyond
his reach. Smith enjoyed his experience at the company, but
realized he might prefer to work at a smaller VC firm. He
also learned where he still needed to grow.
"I've gotten a good
sense of the skills I'd like to work on and the gaps in my
education regarding private equity," Smith says. "I've
been able to figure that out within the context of a class,
and now I can concentrate on learning what else I need to
That's the sort of self-knowledge
one gains only through experience, Rogers says.
"There's a cyclical
pattern to learning," she explains, citing the work of
educational theorist David Kolb and psychologist Kurt Lewin,
who helped develop the experiential learning model. "It's
an iterative process – a student has the experience,
reflects upon it, derives and tests concepts, and then starts
all over again." Learning becomes continuous.
"The key is the moment
of reflection," Rogers adds, something the Kellogg classroom
encourages even as students are challenged to bring their
lessons to life.
seeking to participate in the school's experiential learning
curriculum may contact Michele Rogers at 847.491.8689 for