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The Awkward Split of Finance I

The collective sigh of relief for most RC students from before the holiday break was short-lived because Monday, January 28 marks the last day of Finance 1-the final exam. While we students have undoubtedly developed our finance skills, moving from identifying sources and uses of cash in Butler Lumber to valuing a series of entire firms, something just doesn’t sit quite right. Didn’t we just have break? Hadn’t we just wrapped up finals? Can it really be time for another one?

There were good reasons for splitting Finance 1 across terms, among them trying not to overload students early and ensuring a core FRC skillset before starting Finance 1. But what of the cost of the split? After only fifty days of studying finance (October 24-December 13), 28 days passed before we touched on it again. This seems an especially high cost for students with no background in finance.

For students and professors alike, the first day back was a nightmare: students digging into the far reaches of their minds for tidbits of information unintentionally blocked out with the rest of first semester learnings; professors forced to reteach thought patterns that weeks of class had earlier made second nature. Is this really a better solution than having a complete Finance 1 course in the first semester?
Some departments argue that a complete finance course in Term One would take class sessions away from their courses. (Can you say “pareto-efficient”?) Perhaps overlapping discussion of the “7 S’s” in TOM, FRC, and LEAD could be eliminated, especially since ten percent of the class already knew the concept from McKinsey anyhow. At the very least, why not poll the students and professors to see how many actually prefer to have Finance 1 split across two terms?

Six class sessions into the new term, and students face the daunting task of synthesizing all of their finance knowledge into a set of exam answers. Do we truly remember the roots of this course, or have we simply re-learned enough to skate by in the last few classes post-break? Only the final exam will tell.

January 28, 2002
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