Summer at LSE


Although the notion of summer is still a distant thought in Helsinki, the application period for LSE Summer School is already in full swing. After spending last summer studying in London, I wanted to take this opportunity and shed some light on what LSE Summer School is all about.

LSE Summer School courses are held in two three-week sessions in July and August. You are restricted to one course per session, which is fine given the £1775 price tag per course and the fact that you’ll be spending close to five hours, five days a week in lectures and assignment sessions. Given the high tuition fee and the additional cost of living in London, is spending three weeks at LSE actually worth it? I personally found it a good investment (although tuition fees were 20% lower in 2014). You pretty much get an exchange semester worth of international experience and social activities fitted into three weeks, a top school on your CV (often a good discussion topic during job interviews) and a great summer in London. Personally, my most valuable takeaway was also learning to look at some of the same things taught at our school’s finance courses from a completely new angle.

So if you haven’t maxed out your government-guaranteed liquidity line (more on the merits of student loans here) or parental support system, you just might want to. Also bear in mind that summer studies abroad qualify for maximum student aid from KELA and a limited KY exchange grant.

An additional point for bachelor students considering doing a master degree at LSE, attending the Summer School is a good way to familiarize with the program and land a valuable recommendation letter from an LSE professor for the master’s program application.

LSE offers over 70 summer courses and almost all courses will count for 6cr at Aalto. As a master’s student you can include an LSE Summer School course either under your electives or as Finance Studies at Another University. Given the high tuition expense, I would avoid the more basic courses that are also offered at Aalto (unless you need to graduate ASAP). The most value-adding courses are either the more advanced applied courses or subjects that are harder to come by at our school, e.g. Negotiation Boot Camp (yes, that’s an actual course name).

In terms of difficulty, summer courses are split into three levels. Levels 1 and 2 are for bachelor students, while level 3 is for final year bachelor students and first year master students. If you want to learn something, but also enjoy London and keep the midnight oil burning to a minimum, then level 3 is good if you have some masters courses under your belt. These course tend to attract the more motivated students creating a great learning environment, but a level 2 course in a subject that personally interests you can be equally beneficial. Ultimately, I wouldn’t stress too much about choosing the 100% right course. If you find yourself on a course that’s too difficult or the professor has managed to put you to sleep within a minute, you can switch to another one.

I took the Applied Valuation and Securities Analysis course, which was a hybrid finance and accounting course with a focus on equity research, and taught by Vasiliki Athanasakou and Pascal Frantz. LSE really focuses on drilling in the basics, so when we covered things like pricing multiples, we covered them down to the theoretical rationale and derivation. Having said that, the course had a very practical element to it, e.g. Frantz’s opening words were something to the extent of: “First, I will teach you the theory. Then I will show you how you can make money off it.”

LSE embodies the principle work hard, play hard almost too well. Academic standards are high, but there is a big emphasis on networking and just enjoying London. The faculty would typically take out our entire class for drinks at the local pub on Fridays, and I once walked into a lecture with music playing on full blast. Apparently, our professor felt that the entire class was working too hard and needed to chill. So yeah, that’s LSE for you.

Also worth emphasizing, advanced courses tend to attract a pretty smart and ambitious bunch of people from the world’s leading universities. So be forewarned, being crammed with these guys for three weeks in a lecture hall, you run a high risk of making great friends, climbing the lions on Trafalgar Square, winding up in rather questionable clubs in Soho and going on road trips to amazing places with classmates who are not used to driving on the wrong side of the road (full rental car insurance is the name of your new best friend).

In short, if you find yourself with a free summer, I definitely recommend considering LSE Summer School. It is probably one of the best ways of studying at a top university in London and cramming all the social and international benefits of an exchange semester into three weeks.

Laura Leusko – KY Finance Portfolio Manager (2014)