Outline: A Master’s student currently studying at a highly ranked university in Lisbon talks about her previous experience in ISCTE during her Bachelor degree and compares it to her Master’s at one of the most prestigious Portuguese universities. #Uduni #iscte iul
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I have been doing my Bachelor, in Economics, at ISCTE, for the past three years. The university was not my first choice when I applied, since there were other more recognized business schools in Portugal, but I ended up enrolling in ISCTE. The truth is, I am now doing a Masters’ degree in that more recognized business school, and I can guarantee you that I am really grateful for having the ISCTE experience in my life.
Everything starts with the integration activities, aka praxe. Obviously, you should only participate if you want to, and it does not determine whether you will have friends or not. I did it because I really wanted to have that experience, and the fact that most of the activities were done inside the campus gave me the extra confidence that everything would be fine. Obviously, it enabled me to get to know some of my colleagues, and made the integration process much easier, indeed.
The overall organization of the school is really good, and there is a specific team responsible only for the business department: when you need a document, or need to change something regarding for instance the courses you are taking, or your schedule, everything is solved relatively quickly and easily.
Facilities are also good, but some aspects could be improved. The food is not that good, however it’s very cheap, and there is a room full of microwaves that allow you to heat food from home, which is not very common in other universities. The library is the best library I have been to in Lisbon, it is huge and available to everyone – even though I study at another university, I still go there to study sometimes. Although there is space dedicated to group work, there are also many students, and often everything was so crowded that I had to find another place to work outside the campus.
Regarding the Bachelor itself, I can say that even with a different background, as I had focused on Science and Technologies in high school, I had no major difficulties. If you have some quantitative basis, you will be fine. The pure Economics subjects are explained from scratch, and therefore every student is able to follow what’s being taught without major issues.
There are some subjects that, in my opinion, should be removed, or at least upgraded, because I got the feeling things were getting repetitive. Of course, this will depend on each one’s expectations and preferences, but I felt that at least 4 or 5 mandatory courses were useless. A positive point is that with time, we start getting more autonomy with respect to the courses’ choice, and we can customize our curriculum with the subjects that are most attractive to us.
With respect to grades, I think that it is quite natural that in the first year the grades are lower than the ones we were used to get in high school. This happens not because the program is extraordinarily difficult, but because you really need to get into to work method. Obviously, it requires more hours of study and more attention to classes, but once I adopted the method, everything was easier and the grades started to increase considerably.
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Overall, I think that professors are one of the biggest advantages of ISCTE IUL. There were maybe 2 or 3 professors that I did not like during the Bachelor, but most of them were knowledgeable, really helpful and flexible. They were available to help and clarify my doubts every time I had a doubt about a problem, and the same happened during work projects – this may seem to be expected, but I ended up realizing that it does not happen in other universities. I always felt I had the support I needed to have the best possible performance, and to actually learn, which overall should be the most important aspect in education. Even the schedule for work projects, midterms and final exams was discussed with students at the beginning of each semester, in order to make the best possible arrangements for our needs. Besides that, I had very qualified professors, who knew what they were talking about, and who were able to extend discussions besides the topic they had prepared for class.
People are definitely the most important advantage that I take from this experience. I made friends for life, and in ISCTE we have the opportunity to balance everything: we study, we work, but we also have time to have fun with each other, and there are university parties almost every week, so that we can have a drink and relax a bit.
I know well ISCTE, I know well also this other university in which I am studying now, and I know some friends’ experiences in other universities, and for me ISCTE is the best university in Lisbon, with no doubt. I felt really sorry when I left, because I ended up having three great, if not best, years of my life, amazing friends and colleagues and an overall very complete experience. I feel, however, that some improvements could and should be done, mainly in the Bachelor itself, and at least in the business area, so that ISCTE could compete more directly with other universities.