What Business School Is Really Like: An Insider’s View
“So what’s it really like?”
We’re all curious when we meet someone who’s been where we want to go. We’ll ask, “Did you do this?” “Any advice on that?” “Is it worth it in the end?”
Sure, we want to picture what it’s like. If you’re applying to business school, you’ve probably read every blog and ranking. And you may have even visited campus too. But you really don’t know what it’s like until you get there. When you do, it might not be what you thought.
That was the main takeaway from first years at the Northwestern’s Kellogg School of Management and the Harvard Business School and a second year from Cornell’s Johnson School of Management. Here, these three students absorbed the biggest lessons of business school: You can’t do everything. Grades don’t matter. Your cohort is your family. And your peers are far more supportive than they were in corporate life.
OpsDude / Northwestern Kellogg School of Management
In a column on Wall Street Oasis, a write named “OpsDude,” an aspiring consultant with a 750 GMAT, shared his initial experiences at Kellogg. “I came into Kellogg with high expectations,” he writes, “and it’s absolutely surpassed them.” Drawn to the school for its culture and consulting prowess (and its support network for his significant other), OpsDude cited his classmates as the top reason for why he loves business school.
“Kellogg, more so than any other school, really filters for strong social skills,” he points out. “I’ve really never been in an environment where everyone really care for each other, and goes out of their way to help them succeed.”
And these bonds start a week before pre-orientation, with most students taking a Kwest trip overseas with 20 first years and 5 second year seconds, with destinations ranging from Peru to Turkey to Japan. “These people really become your best friends, and they become them fast,” OpsDude writes.
In fact, his 72 person section became his extended family. “At Kellogg, sections actually have a very strong identity,” he observes. “You are giving a decent budget, spend orientation and a few classes together, play sports together, etc…There’s section social chairs that throw events every week or two. Things like randomized potluck dinners are common, so you get to know people on a more personal level.” Plus, as he mentions, “Its not cliquey.”
Another benefit is Kellogg’s location in Evanston, Illinois, which OpsDude describes as a “small college town” just 20 minutes outside Chicago (depending on traffic). As a result, Kellogg students get the best of both worlds, where they can take an Uber ride to the loop or roam around a picturesque lakeside campus that has 3-4 “Kellogg bars.” “If you are bored, you know you can just show up and find classmates to hang out with.” However, he warns that “There’s definitely more partying [at Kellogg] than elsewhere,” which could become a distraction.
Finally, OpsDude touts an underappreciated factor in choosing a business school: teaching excellence. “I think Kellogg has one great thing going for it,” he writes. “We are the only school in which tenure decisions use student feedback. So even though we may have less Nobel Prize winners, our professors can TEACH and are entertaining.”