Business school is optimized in small classes where discussions, debates and exchanges can take place like they would in the real world. But with academic institutions forced to do more with less, some classes will be crowded. Should you behave the same way in both settings? Of course not, as each has a unique set of dynamics.
Although class projects, assignments and exams account for the main part of your final grade, professors also grade your class participation.
A Taste Of Things To Come
This is consistent with company performance evaluations. Both small and large firms have them. While small firms tend to be less formal, large ones have no choice but to have established, standardized and uniform evaluations to see who is doing what.
Younger firms may have informal evaluations as they are too new to have thought of evaluating employees. Nonetheless, senior managers and founders tend to judge you on the fly no matter how young the firm. After all, all companies seek to maximize shareholder value; producing the most using the least amount of resources.
At small companies, this input versus output metric is identified immediately. At larger firms, top performers also get noticed but they are not rewarded fairly. Outliers (those that are in the top percentage and bottom percentage of performers) get noticed in both small and large firms. The difference is that in small companies, the worst ones last a day or two while the good ones rise to the top fast. In large firms, the bad ones can stay in their cocoon for years while the top performers hit the proverbial glass ceiling.
At small firms, everyone is too busy working to stop and congratulate you. You did a good job? Make sure it is great next time.
At large firms, excellence is seen as a threat. Mission statements emphasize it but in reality, top performers are seen as troublemakers. They cannot be evaluated in the same way as others and this is a headache for Management.
In small companies, the more creative, productive and valuable employees stand out like a basketball player among jockeys. Such individuals "write the book" and help their firms emerge as leaders.
Large Versus Small
To a certain degree, such differentiation also applies in business school. If you are in a class of 100 students or more, the professor is usually rambling and students are itching to get out. Whether or not you understand is only a concern to you. Sure, you can ask a question, but who will hear when 99 others are doing their own thing and want the class to move as fast as possible? This is the equivalent of attending a conference where it would be rude to cut off the speaker in the middle of his speech and ask a question. Timing is key when in a large lecture.