The Most Surprising Things About Business School

Washington University's Geoff Nykin

Washington University’s Geoff Nykin

Number (And Quality) Of Opportunities

“The number of opportunities that were available. During the first few weeks of school, all I heard about was the need to make ‘tradeoffs,’ but I didn’t fully understand that advice until I had a company information session, a test, a club meeting, and a networking event all within a few hours of each other. All of these opportunities illustrate how important it is to be focused and goal-oriented throughout an MBA program.” Geoff Nykin / Washington University, Olin Business School

“The most surprising and exciting thing has been the amount of interaction I’ve had with world-renowned faculty. For example, former dean and professor Laura Tyson is the Director of the Institute for Business and Social Impact at Haas, and was a close advisor to President Clinton. In my role for Net Impact, I got to know Laura very well, and to work with her closely to bring speakers to campus. I have been shocked by how available the faculty are to students, and their willingness to get to know us on a personal level. It’s been a very different experience from undergrad!” – Katie Benintende / University of California-Berkeley, Haas School of Business

George Wilson

George Wilson

The Rigor

“The most surprising thing was how much work and responsibility I had to learn to balance at once. I hate the cliché b-school saying [that] “it’s like drinking from a fire hose,” but the analogy certainly fits the circumstance. I learned a lot about myself and I definitely tested my limits. In the end, it made me a better communicator and more effective leader.” – George Wilson / Columbia Business School

“This is going to sound naïve, but I was surprised by how much time I spent at school in my first year.  Coming from an industry with longer hours, I didn’t expect to have such a packed schedule. There are so many interesting things going on every day that it can be a high-class problem to pick-and-choose among interesting executive lunch speakers or club activities.” – Michaela LeBlanc / Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth College

“The hours. People told me it was going to be incredibly rigorous. No matter how smart you are or how hard you work there aren’t enough hours in the day to do everything you are challenged to do. I don’t think I have gotten a full night of sleep since the first day of orientation. But, I have never ever had more fun in my entire life.” – Jenny Dare Paulin / University of Southern California, Marshall School of Business

“Most people starting Business School expect a challenging academic experience. What surprised me most is how personally challenging Business School has been – this experience has pushed me beyond every imaginable comfort zone, forced me to reflect on my leadership style, and enabled me to grow more in 16 months than I could have ever predicted.” – Robyn Peters / Texas A&M University, Mays Business School

Diverse Experiences And Opinions of Classmates 

Cornell's Miwa Takaki

Cornell’s Miwa Takaki

“The most surprising thing about B-school is the unique the experiences and backgrounds of each and every one of my classmates. In a small class of 39, there are artists, software developers, entrepreneurs, consultants, volunteers, marketers, and performers. This diversity creates an environment for challenge and learning that wouldn’t be possible in any other setting. I love the idea that even though we came from such different walks of life, we were all intrigued by the same idea of creating something new at Cornell Tech.” – Miwa Takaki / Cornell University, Johnson Graduate School of Management

“Teams comprised of members from diverse backgrounds and personalities can be more innovative and dynamic compared to teams where members have similar backgrounds, think alike, and have no arguments. Although I had worked with international clients prior to B-school, I had not been part of such intricate teams with each member coming from different geographical and professional backgrounds. It is amazing how much I have learned from working with such teammates to complement my learnings from professors at school.” – Ramanuja Atur / Indiana University, Kelley School of Business 

Harvard's Ali Huberlie

Harvard’s Ali Huberlie

“What was the most surprising thing about B-school? The diversity of opinions. I think I expected that everyone would be cut from a somewhat similar cloth. Boy, was I wrong! In every class, there are people representing virtually every position on any given issue. It’s absolutely awesome to constantly be hearing well-thought-out arguments for various issues. It teaches me to refine my own arguments and to always keep an open mind.” – Ali Huberlie / Harvard Business School

“I think I was most surprised by how much the culture differed from the stereotypes I had heard. I have fairly blue-collar roots and values coming from rural Indiana. I certainly knew of stereotypes of expensive trips and parties, and I pictured an elite culture where I wouldn’t belong. However, that stereotype couldn’t have been further from the truth. I was amazed at how little a factor social-economic background was during my two years at HBS.” – Michael Martin / Harvard Business School

Importance of Classmates And Clubs In Learning 

Emory's Naomi Johnson

Emory’s Naomi Johnson

“At first, I thought that most of my learning was going to occur within the classroom. However, I have found that the majority of my learning has instead stemmed from the friendship and club activities that exist outside of class. The people that surround you, in a lot of ways, define your education and will prove to be your biggest resources and advocates. Surprisingly, I’ve learned invaluable lessons and skills from getting involved in activities like case competitions and the various clubs.” – Naomi Johnson / Emory University, Goizueta Business School 

“How much I learned from my classmates.  There was plenty of learning that I was expecting to do and did in the classroom, but the group setting, in which Kelley conducts a large part of its course-work, provided the opportunity for us to learn from individuals with drastically different personalities, backgrounds and strengths.  I have been amazed at how much I have learned from those around me.” – Ellen Gartner Phillips / Indiana University, Kelley School of Business

“Given I did my undergraduate in Business Administration, I was surprised by how many new things I still learned in a dense 10-month MBA-program. It was mainly the class room interactions with students from all over the globe, facilitated by professors who were super passionate about their respective fields of study that made every class enriching and memorable.” – Elena Rittstieg / INSEAD 

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