Biggest Myths About Your Favorite Business Schools

Class of 2020 MBAs from Stanford Graduate School of Business. Stanford photo

Myth: Stanford specializes in “soft skills” and entrepreneurship,

Reality: I was surprised to see how rigorously the school also delivered training on technical topics. For example, in the advanced version of the required Data and Decision-Making course, I learned how to design, run, and interpret several approaches to machine learning. And when you consider the plethora of engineering courses “across the street,” the Stanford MBA experience can be about as technical as you’d like!
Austin Ward, Stanford GSB

Myth: IMD is all academics.

Reality: The biggest myth about IMD is that it is a very academically inclined institute. Here, people say, classes, infinite readings and assignments take up most of your time leaving little time for interacting with colleagues, networking with alumni, and taking trips to enjoy the scenic views of Switzerland.

What I discovered was quite different.

While academics obviously are front-and-center in the MBA course, there are projects that not only give you a chance to work with colleagues from diverse backgrounds, but also allow for interaction with people outside the MBA program, much like a real-life situation. We collaborated with students from UNIL for our Innovation Lab,  PhDs from EPFL for the start-up project, and a med-tech startup from Denmark for the international consulting project. The MBA program is fairly front-loaded, so there is time during the latter part of the year to indulge in a few trips — both for business and pleasure before the job search starts in all earnest. All in all, the program is well balanced to spend time honing important business skills, both inside and outside the classroom.
Ruchi Senthil, IMD Business School

Myth: Finance is an afterthought at Yale SOM.

Reality: SOM has always been known for its strength in the nonprofit sector. Despite this, Consulting and Finance have risen to become the top two industries where SOM MBAs enter after business school. Being someone that wanted to do Investment Banking while picking the schools to apply to, I almost did not consider SOM! However, after I did, I came to find out the hidden jewel that the Finance Club is at getting 80%+ students into Investment Banking out of a 40-person IB class every year.
Adhi Murali, Yale SOM

Myth: Smeal is too small, with each class limited to 60 people.

Reality: Honestly, having a smaller class size has created more significant connections than a class of a few hundred. Everyone knows each other and what they are looking to get out of the MBA, and with that, it is like having 60 career advisors. My fellow classmates have flagged job posts that they knew I would be interested in and even spoke on my behalf to potential employers and networking contacts. This deeper level of connection also makes it easier to talk with notable alumni of the program because they are accustomed to helping their fellow Smeal MBAs. I think the quality dramatically makes up for the lack of quantity.
Andrew J. Marshall, Penn State (Smeal)

Myth: NYU Stern lacks community because we are located in New York.

Reality: I hear this from prospective students that I speak with and it’s something I also believed prior to starting. That’s definitely far from the truth. As someone who was based in NYC before my MBA, I was shocked by how naturally I immersed myself in the Stern community. You immediately find a sense of community with those whom you recruit with and with your Block (cohort of students that you take two core classes with). Additionally, the professional, affinity, and social clubs are all very active and host a variety of really fun events that bring the community together.
Melanie Gonzalez, New York University (Stern)

Myth: Being a Catholic university means that there is a lot of religious influence in the classroom and culture,

Reality: I haven’t found that to be the case at all. Instead, as Dean Cremers often says, there is an underlying focus on “Small C” catholic social teachings, universal principles such as community focus, and creating a sense of purpose. Mendoza certainly pushes students to consider implications of business decisions not just on the bottom line but on a broader scale of people and planet. This is something I’ve really appreciated and enjoyed.
Nicole Brunning, Notre Dame (Mendoza)

Myth: Boothies have a reputation for being highly quantitative, the nerds of the business school world.

Reality: Based on my experience, there is an element of truth in this: Boothies excel at nerdy jokes and R willing to simply stata when they need more data. (I’m sorry, I just had to.) However, Boothies aren’t all about the numbers; one of the most popular classes is Interpersonal Dynamics, where we uncover more about ourselves, our feelings, and our relationships with others. Boothies also love to socialize, as any Thursday night around Chicago (pre-COVID) would prove.
Theodore Lim, University of Chicago (Booth)

Myth: North Carolina and Duke Hate Each Other

Reality: A big myth is that our basketball-fueled rivalry with Duke discourages cooperation between our two programs. While the famous Duke-UNC rivalry does ignite a healthy amount of competition (and accompanying bragging rights), it does not preclude the two institutions from collaborating and partnering on important causes and academic endeavors.

The Center for the Business of Health is a great example of this partnership. It has brought together renowned experts, staff, and students from UNC and Duke to collaborate, discuss and promote solutions to healthcare’s numerous challenges, such as health inequities and women in leadership. When friends and family ask me about my sentiments for Duke, I always remember the famous words of my UNC Kenan-Flagler classmate, Dan Morgan: “We can be friends with Duke…except during basketball season.”
Aditi Paul, University of North Carolina (Kenan-Flagler)

Myth: Nobody reads the cases in the second year.

Reality: I am not sure if we are a different class because of the pandemic. However, my perception is that people are more involved in classes and they actively participate and engage in discussions. I think the fact that we experienced online classes made us more aware of how lucky we are to be able to attend classes in person since summer 2020. Also, I found that classes in the second year are much more interesting. Because professors are teaching parts of their research, they tend to bring more speakers and more interesting case studies.
Tanya De Andres Duran, IESE Business School

Myth: There is nothing going on at Tuck as it’s in the middle of nowhere.

Reality: Yes, it can be easy to assume it is isolated given its distance to metropolitan cities. However, it shocks me every day there there is so much to do in the Upper Valley and at school. I’ve never been as busy as I am at Tuck, whether I’m participating in faculty chats, meeting with classmates, taking adventures in nearby national parks, trying out local restaurants and breweries, or enjoying any of the area’s other numerous activities to do.
Teo Gonzalez, Dartmouth College (Tuck)

Myth: Haas suffers from liberal “hippie” group think.

Reality: While there are some values that most Haasies share in common, I would argue that the Haas class is actually much more diverse in thought than some may assume from UC Berkeley’s reputation. In fact, it is not uncommon for Haasies to have heated debates in the classroom or even on Slack about the right way to handle different controversial national and local issues. That said, I have overall been impressed with the ability of my peers to disagree without personally attacking one another for these different beliefs.
Corrine Marquardt, UC Berkeley (Haas)

Myth: HEC Paris is located in Paris.

Reality: A common joke at HEC Paris is in the title itself; HEC Paris is not in Paris. It’s on the outskirts of the city, just south of Versailles.
Emric Navarre, HEC Paris

Myth: Everyone is super quantitative at MIT Sloan.

Reality: In my experience my classmates are equal parts poet and equal parts quant. The incredible thing about Sloan is that you can come here with no quantitative experience and the professors and classes are equipped to bring you up to speed if that is something you wish to spend time on. I came in with no real finance background and I’m headed into an investment banking career after school. I credit my generous professors and classmates who helped me learn.
Riana Shah, MIT (Sloan)

Myth: Scheller is all about technology and engineering.

Reality: People assume that fewer companies recruit for roles outside of tech and that MBA classrooms are packed full with engineers throwing crazy equations on the whiteboard. While I come from tech and my core team did have two engineers who would do that (and I love them for it), the MBA program is built by good people from diverse backgrounds (I’m an anthropology undergrad major). A wide variety of companies also recruit Scheller students for a breadth of functions—from the top four consulting firms to operations to supply chain. The school has a reputation across industries for quality of work and culture, and attending Scheller gives you a bounty of opportunities, not limitations.
Amanda Grupp, Georgia Tech (Scheller)

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