Biggest Myths About Your Favorite Business Schools

A reputation. Once schools get tagged, they’re stuck. Just ask the adcoms at any business school. Reputations take on a life of their own.

Exhibit A: Small town programs. You know what they say: there isn’t anything to do. Oh – and don’t expect recruiters to come around much, either. That’s still better than what you hear about big city ‘commuter schools.’ Here, people say there is no community; students just look out for themselves. That’s not the only divide. Northwestern Kellogg excels in every academic field. Still, they can’t shake the “marketing school” label – a punishment for being extraordinary, you could say.


Of course, some programs are lumped in with their larger university. Case in point: U.C.-Berkeley. Depending on your worldview, Haasies are either snowflake hippies or future tech moguls. Alas, Haas falls into the either-or category. In the Midwest, public school students are typecast as football-crazed party animals. That’s your fate if you enroll at the University of Michigan’s Ross School. Still, every stereotype contains a grain of truth. Wolverines are passionate…but not just about football. Instead, this enthusiasm revolves around their shared mission and values.

Davidson Winter Garden at the University of Michigan’s Ross School

“I thought that all that Michigan pride you hear about was focused around athletics, but it’s not,” explains Madeleine Carnemark, a 2020 Ross grad and P&Q Best & Brightest MBA. “They must put something in the water in Ann Arbor because the second you become a Wolverine you feel a deep loyalty and pride in this school. Whether you go to every game or never step into a stadium, you’ll find that you bleed Maize and Blue. This comes in handy when you can go anywhere in the world and find a friend in a complete stranger who is also rocking the giant M.”

Yes, the Big House unifies the blue and maize on Saturdays. Even Michigan’s grand tradition – a lopsided loss to Ohio State each November – can’t dampen their students’ spirits. In the end, it is their shared experience – and the deep connection it instills – that makes the university such a special community to join.


“[When I was] traveling abroad, I would hear strangers yell “Go Blue” whenever they saw me wearing clothing with a block M on it,” writes Kevin Carrier, a 2020 P&Q MBA To Watch from Ross. “Or, I would have cold emails responded to solely because I signed them with “Go Blue.” Within the school, the MBA2s in my first year was an invaluable resource, always ready and willing to help use their experience to answer questions or find someone they knew who could. How much everyone was there for me has pushed me to do the same and I think that collective pay-it-forward mentality is the key to what makes the Ross community so strong.”

What other misconceptions will you find about various MBA programs? This year, we heard from 242 graduates from 69 business schools as part of our Best & Brightest MBAs program. Each student was asked the following: What is the biggest myth about your school? From being too finance-focused to being too regional, the Class of 2020 is here to dispel the worst myths about their alma maters.

Myth: Chicago Booth is primarily a “Finance School.”

Reality: It is true that Booth has the academic horsepower and the robust alumni network in the finance industry to support any students interested in the field. The reality is, Booth is comprised of an incredibly diverse set of students and faculty members. More importantly, the school provides the infrastructure that allows students to explore further interests. Since joining Booth, I’ve had exposure to elements of entrepreneurship, social enterprise/nonprofits, healthcare, and a multitude of leadership training through both formal and informal initiatives and projects.
Joshua Lah, University of Chicago (Booth)


Myth: Cambridge is Harry Potter land.

Reality: Fans of the series need not be disappointed as there are Harry Potter themed Formal Halls or dinners, (which is Cambridge terminology for a multi-course meal in the traditional dining hall of colleges). However, it’s not overbearing for those like me who aren’t fans, so there’s no fear of missing out.
Guneet Malik, University of Cambridge (Judge)


Myth: You need to come from a quant background, such as engineering, to be successful at Tepper.

Reality: As a non-engineer with a liberal arts background, I can attest to the fact that you don’t need to come from a quantitative background to be successful at Tepper. The quant classes at Tepper are incredibly accessible, the support from professors and TAs is impressive, and your classmates with technical backgrounds are eager to assist their non-technical classmates. Collaboration and teamwork at Tepper are essential. If you don’t come from a quantitative or technical background, you’ll have all of the support systems that you need to be successful at the school.
David Baars, Carnegie Mellon (Tepper)


Myth: Foster is a regional school.

Reality: That has not been my experience. Foster’s faculty, students, and alumni have global experience and perspective. A large majority of my classmates are from across the country and world. Foster has strong relationships with employers up and down the West Coast, Texas, Chicago, New York, and Boston. After graduation, a growing number of my classmates will leave Seattle for amazing opportunities in tech, consulting, and finance in these diverse markets.
Adam Schmidt, University of Washington (Foster)


Myth: Kellogg is a “marketing school.”

Reality: Kellogg has an extraordinary reputation for marketing, which is definitely true. But the MBA program is equivalently excellent for finance, strategy, data analytics, general management, and other areas.

My concentration was finance and accounting, and I found that Kellogg’s offered an excellent selection of courses in these areas, such as Financial Decisions, Global Financial Management, and Financial Planning for M&A. Kellogg has also many experiential learning courses, such as Asset Management Lab, Private Equity Lab, and Venture Capital Lab. I had planned to do Private Equity Lab, which is a quarter-long internship with a local or national private equity firm. Students in the class are directly exposed to the day-to-day working life of the fund and will assist with their deal selection, due diligence, or investment efforts.
Guilherme Blanski Küster, Northwestern University (Kellogg)


Myth: There’s a perception that consulting is a reach if you don’t attend a “top” MBA program.

Reality: The class before mine laid an incredibly strong foundation for Mendoza grads to earn internships and jobs with top consulting firms. One goal of the Consulting Club was to increase the number of opportunities available to club members. Our incoming club president earned internship offers from two top strategy consulting firms and the rest of our club is crushing it. For example, we doubled the number of offers at one firm! We are still wrapping up the recruiting season and already exceeded last year’s number of internship offers at consulting firms. I’m incredibly proud of the work my leadership team has done to improve the program and so thankful for our valuable alumni network.
Emily Clark, Notre Dame (Mendoza)


Myth: Yale SOM is only a good fit for students who’ve come from or want to enter the social sector.

Reality: SOM does have a focus on the social sector, and that’s one of the things I love most about it. But you can also have a rewarding experience here if you’ve never worked in nonprofit and never want to do so. What’s special about SOM’s approach to its mission is that it’s holistic—our finance courses are world-class, and they’ll prepare you for a career in finance. However, they also incorporate a social perspective because our theory is that the social perspective is present in and critical to every subject and every career.
Helen Knight, Yale SOM


Myth: Rochester is too far away from the action.

Reality: “Simon is where?” Although the city may not be well known, Rochester is one of Simon’s best assets! It’s a mid-sized city with something for everyone including a vibrant arts scene, local breweries and vineyards, too many restaurants to count, and plenty of outdoor hiking and ski trails. On top of that, the vast majority of Simon students are transplants hailing from all over the country and world. We rely on each other for our academic, professional, and social networks – something that is less likely to occur in a large, destination city.
Wallace Gundy, University of Rochester (Simon)

Go to the next page for myths about Wharton, Berkeley Haas, MIT Sloan and more

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