Biggest Myths About Your Favorite Business Schools

INSEAD’s full-time MBA students

Myth: INSEAD caters to consulting careers.

Reality: I think that some applicants carry a notion that INSEAD is a consulting-based business school. I believe that it just so happens that the major consulting firms love INSEADers and the candidates have a good success rate. However, the amount of learning, available resources, clubs, and the diversity of the backgrounds of my classmates show me that almost any path I wish is possible. The alumni network is MASSIVE and incredibly friendly as well.

I, myself, have been engaged with start-up workshops and events, as well as big tech happenings. Some of my classmates are geared towards real estate, luxury goods, social impact, healthcare, education technology, and many others — despite having a different prior background. The variety of opportunities at INSEAD is very diverse and I can only assume it would be the same after graduation.
Broderic Dytoc, INSEAD

Myth: Kellogg is a marketing school.

Reality: That was very quickly proven wrong to me. What I realized is that the marketing-focus Kellogg is known for is actually a huge strength, shaping our curriculum to be focused on understanding the customer and using that to make strong business decisions. That mindset helps in any function or industry, which is clearly proven as my peers successfully recruit across a multitude of industries, including consulting, tech, retail, PE/VC, and healthcare.

For example, my class had 18 students who accepted an internship at Google, one of the largest by numbers in my summer cohort. Entrepreneurship is also so strong, with a large percentage of my class being successfully recruited at both part-time and full-time at startups. I, myself, worked for 9+ months at a healthcare technology startup in Chicago part-time during my first year. The resources at Kellogg are fantastic across so many sectors. The classes teach you how to sell your ideas, how to code, and how to create inspiring team cultures. They even offer a three-part new venture series on how to develop and launch a venture. As a result, Kellogg provides robust programming to push us. For any aspiring business school students, I would highly recommend you do your research and speak to students before believing any myths.
Malvi Hemani, Northwestern University (Kellogg)

Myth: Darden is in the middle of nowhere.

Reality: Whether that’s true or false is all a matter of interpretation. Charlottesville is a small city (yes, it is a city!) in rural Central Virginia. We have access to some of the most amazing outdoor experiences, from boating on the James River to hiking and camping in Shenandoah National Park. The easy access to nature does make you feel protected from the hustle and bustle of more populated areas, in the most comforting and wonderful way. On the days where you want some culture or good food, Charlottesville has you covered too. Coming from Boston, I had high expectations for culinary options and am very pleasantly surprised to admit that the restaurant scene here rivals some of the best places in Boston. Charlottesville is home to a number of arts festivals, including my favorite, the Virginia Film Festival, ensuring a continually rotating selection of things to do and experience. And if Charlottesville ever feels too small, Richmond is a quick hour drive away or you can catch a 2.5 hour Amtrak to DC right from downtown Charlottesville.
Katie Cech, University of Virginia (Darden)

Myth: HEC Paris is a 100% French school.

Reality: It is located in France, yes, and it certainly has a French side to it. With the international diversity both in terms of its academic staff and student body, you’re learning much more than just French perspectives. The Associate Dean of the MBA Programs is from Italy, the MBA’s Communications Director is from the US, all but a few of our professors came from outside of France and 92% of our classmates are international. You are really gaining a global perspective throughout your time at HEC. I came to learn more about France but I also have a more profound understanding of different parts of the world.
Emric Navarre, HEC Paris

Myth: Wharton is a cut-throat finance school.

Reality: This simply couldn’t be farther from the truth. It’s true – the finance curriculum is top-notch, but other programs in tech, entrepreneurship, and marketing are equally exciting. The school has put in a ton of effort over the past few years building out pitch competitions and speaker series on leadership that often get overlooked.
Teddy Shih, Wharton School

Myth: Carlson is located in an area with limited career opportunities.

Reality: That couldn’t be further from the truth. The Minneapolis metropolitan area is home to more than 17 Fortune 500 companies spanning across all industries. Furthermore, nearly all of the headquarters located here are Minnesota companies that have grown into a Fortune 500 company.
Kevin Bubolz, University of Minnesota (Carlson)

Myth: Fuqua is the “nice” business school.

Reality: That seems to come with the connotation that we, as Fuquans, may be less competitive or less ambitious than MBA candidates at other schools. There’s no question that we prioritize kindness (often referred to in Fuqua parlance as “decency”). In every facet of my MBA – academic, career, social – I’ve only found proof that Fuquans dream big, are committed to making a difference for those around them and work hard to generate results.

I think about the consulting and banking recruits who have worked tirelessly to prepare each other for interviews they are vying for. I saw classmates celebrate each other’s successes, as if they were their own. I think about the bold founders coming out of our Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation. I think about the brave student leaders who coordinate Daring Dialogues to educate their peers on topics that many find difficult, speaking on some of the most vulnerable experiences of their lives and backgrounds in front of hundreds so others might learn. I’ve witnessed a community committed to driving toward real change, but also a group of people who are happy to see others get the credit, as long as the change gets made.
Mike Treiser, Duke University (Fuqua)

Myth: People think of Booth as theoretical, data-driven and quantitative.

Reality: That is true. But what‘s underrated is Booth’s strength in soft skill education and real life application.

We have so many classes and resources that help students to become more self-aware and more skilled at dealing with people. I personally have taken three soft skill focused classes, and found them to be extremely helpful. I do plan to take more. Take as many as you can is popular advice we received from alums. One particular class I am really excited about is Interpersonal Dynamics. It offers a small and safe environment for students to share vulnerability and grow to be a more empathetic and effective communicator.

In terms of linking theories with real life, besides many lab courses that put students in the field to solve a real problem, our professors are industry practitioners and well-connected in their fields. They share first-hand insight on how theory got applied to real-life situations. They also bring in industry leaders who normally can only be seen on TV to talk with us about their life lessons and thought process. I had the opportunity to listen to Ben Bernanke, Marvin King, Byron Trott, Bethany Mclean, Christie Hefner, and many others. I found hearing their wisdom of life super valuable and learned how class materials can be applied to solve real problems with big consequences. I wouldn’t have access to these great leaders without Booth.
Xiangshi Guan, University of Chicago (Booth)

Myth: People think that my school only consists of those from a certain demographic: Caucasians from wealthy family backgrounds.

Reality: I can say that is not true. I am an SMU student and one who works with admissions as a Cox Ambassador as well as being the president of a minority organization. I have seen just how much progress SMU has made and continues to make as it works to bring students of diverse backgrounds and nationalities into SMU. I can also see the strides SMU has made in ensuring that not only is its environment a diverse one but that it is also an inclusive one. I can take my class as a pure example:  I have classmates from all over the world including Asia, Africa, Europe, and North and South America. I can truly say that SMU is not only working towards diversity, but more importantly towards inclusivity and making this university a top-tier learning environment for everyone.
Stacy C. Tubonemi, Southern Methodist University (Cox)

Myth: IMD is unrelenting.

Reality: Before I joined IMD, every alumnus I met was talking about how intense the program is. Unfortunately, and luckily, it is. The first module at IMD was tough by design: new relationships, new dynamics, new tasks, new knowledge were poured on us. Not to mention, we were continually finding the balance between reading the endless cases and attending parties. Prioritization is the key to survival.

Yet, the toughness is tremendously valuable. We acquired a solid foundation of economics and corporate finance. We quickly developed a common language to discuss business strategy and valuation. We exposed our true selves to our teammates under pressure and started gathering data points on ourselves unconsciously. I feel grateful for the toughness and what I learned.
Haichen Liu, IMD

Myth: You’re “stuck” in the Midwest if you come to WashU Olin.

Reality: There is no shortage of opportunities for WashU Olin students. If a student remains in the Midwest, it’s because it’s their decision to do so, not because they are forced due to lack of opportunities. I’ll be moving to New York City upon graduating and have already connected with many alumni there. More classmates than not have accepted jobs on both coasts and in the South than the Midwest.
Kendra Kelly, Washington University (Olin)

Myth: Everyone comes to Foster so they can work in tech.

Reality: While we’re fortunate to have tech giants like Amazon and Microsoft in our backyard, Foster sends graduates to top organizations in a wide array of industries including consulting, CPG, investment banking, etc. The Foster experience prepares students to work at McKinsey just as much as Google.
Brian Wright, University of Washington (Foster)

Myth: UC Berkeley is not a military-friendly environment as an institution.

Reality: My experience at Haas has been overwhelmingly positive. During my first year, my classmates surprised student veterans with hand-written cards on Veterans Day, which I appreciated. The Haas Vets Club is also very active on campus and engages the broader community with outreach programs, including webinars and online physical training sessions.
Olaséni Bello, UC Berkeley (Haas)

Myth: The Smith MBA program is too small.

Reality: There is strength in the size of Smith’s MBA program. Being small fosters a community in which students support each other academically, professionally, and as individuals in a meaningful way. It allows students to build long-lasting relationships and creates a tight-knit alumni network. Our closeness ensures no one is left behind, and we can work to ensure every student has access to needed resources. In the midst of the transition to online learning, Smith’s size allowed the MBA Association and the administration to ensure every student had the opportunity to connect or to seek additional support. Our size allowed us to move with agility in the response to a completely unprecedented crisis and to provide real-time feedback to faculty and administration about learning in a virtual environment.
Virginia Pierrie, University of Maryland (Smith)

Myth: Mays’ Texas location means many MBA graduates will begin their careers with large oil companies.

Reality: While that is certainly an option for those who wish to pursue that industry, I was surprised to learn that the two largest hiring industries out of the program were technology and consulting, which aligned with industries I was interested in exploring. The program draws people from all across the country and the world, with a variety of backgrounds that are much more diverse than one industry associated with the school’s location.
Nicole Streifert, Texas A&M (Mays)

Myth: Tepper’s primary strength is its analytical focus.

Reality: While I did come to the school for its analytical focus, I have been delighted by all I’ve learned from the organizational behavior and business communications professors, as well as the Accelerate Leadership Center coaches. As an MBA, it is always beneficial to understand how to dig into the data, but strong communication and a deep understanding of power structures will be what enable you to advance your data-driven strategies within an organization. I’ve taken as many organizational behavior classes as will fit in my schedule and meet with my leadership coach on a regular basis. I cannot express enough gratitude for all I have learned in those classes and sessions.
Priya Gupta, Carnegie Mellon (Tepper)

Myth: Mendoza lacks diversity.

Reality: Unfortunately, the legend is, in fact, true with regards to being ethnically diverse. However, my cohort comes from very diverse backgrounds, including anthropology, military service, medicine, and the arts. The majority of students is pivoting their careers and need a business degree to launch them into their next opportunity. My classmates’ diverse backgrounds make classroom discussions much more engaging. I am more comfortable asking questions in class as many students have a similar nonexistent corporate experience. Learning about my classmate’s work history has made me a more well-rounded professional and helped widen my perspective on the world. Though there is not much racial diversity within the Mendoza School of Business, there is diversity in other ways.
Molly Lawrence, Notre Dame (Mendoza)

Myth: More than being the “Harry Potter for adults,” some perceive Cambridge as a place reserved solely for those who enjoy a life of wealth and prestige.

Reality: It couldn’t be further from the truth that Cambridge students come from great privilege who have neither experienced any form of struggle nor had to strive for anything other than good grades. Everyone in my school has overcome a mountain of some sort. This overcoming has made each person brilliant and positively developed the characters of very well-intentioned people.  I have yet to meet someone who is not interested in understanding someone who may be different or having meaningful discussions on how we can contribute to the enhancement of this world.
Toni Thorne, Cambridge Judge