20 Biggest Regrets Of MBA Graduates

Luke Elder, Northwestern University (Kellogg)

7) Wish I’d Said “Yes” More: “Candidly, my MBA experience has been fantastic: academically, socially, and professionally. As a result, I would not necessarily do something differently, I would instead do more of the same. Specifically, I would say “yes” to even more classroom, extracurricular, and social opportunities. It is easy to opt out of certain experiences because you might be tired or feel overworked. In retrospect, everything at Kellogg is manageable so it is wise to take full advantage of the time you have in business school by saying “yes” whenever possible.”
Luke Elder, Northwestern University (Kellogg)

“Be the lead on assignments in subject matters that felt intimidating, sooner. Last year in the spring, I had a conversation with my COLE Fellow, Kirk Wilson, about my goal to grow in self-confidence. One of his recommendations was to challenge myself to take ownership of assignments in subject matters that felt challenging or scary, rather than shying away from them – that through overcoming those fears, I would grow in my assurance of my abilities. Going back, and if time were unlimited, I wish I had been more proactive with doing this from the beginning, even if I was a “supporting” owner/contributor to the assignment for the more quantitative classes. Coming into business school, I knew I had certain strengths and weaknesses, and hoped that they would be balanced out by my peers. However, I think another way to approach this would have been to take the lead more frequently in our non-dominant spaces and back each other up/help one another learn, rather than default to the person who was already a natural/experienced in a particular area.”
Helen Elizabeth Old, Duke University (Fuqua)

8) Didn’t Engage Enough With The Larger University: “I would interact a lot more with students of different programmes at IIMA. One of the biggest advantages of IIM Ahmedabad is the openness and accessibility it provides to its inhabitants in interacting with one another – across programmes, courses, geographies, and areas of expertise. I would have loved to have capitalized on that to further strengthen my professional network. The great thing is that there are several formal and informal channels IIMA students and alumni have formed over the years, and I am sure I’ll be able to make up for the above via these channels in the years to come.”
Kaumudi Tiwari, IIM Ahmedabad

9) Could’ve Improved My Time Management…No Matter How Good I Thought It Was: “I have learned the hard way that one can never be too good at time management. The systems and habits I leaned on in life prior to business school worked okay, but they were not quite up to snuff. I wish I had been a little faster at recognizing that and adjusting; my failure to do so definitely made for a few very stressful, overstuffed weeks here and there. I eventually developed a system that works great for me, featuring an extremely color-coded Google Calendar and handwritten daily to-do lists, but I definitely could have gotten there a little sooner. The MBA experience is just so jampacked with opportunities, the more organized you can be when you first arrive, the better.”
Khalil Zueh Romain, New York University (Stern)

10) Didn’t Build A Wide Enough Network: “Looking back at the start of the MBA program, I realize that the first semester was the perfect time to expand my network and connect with as many people as I could. I did meet some amazing individuals. In retrospect, I had the perfect excuse to send those introductory emails: “I’m new here!”. If I could change that first semester, I would have leveraged my position as a first-year MBA student in the Smith community to make even more connections across various industries and functions rather than simply the industries in which I was seeking employment. It may not have changed my career path, but I think it could have allowed me to glean insight on other career journeys and diverse experiences.”
Daylin Russo, University of Maryland (Smith)

Sodontuya Nerguidavaa, UC Davis

11) Didn’t Utilize Support Services Enough: “Battling with cultural shock under quarantine on top of Zoom fatigue was extremely challenging [in the early months]. Coming from a country where mental health awareness and services are limited, I was not wired to seek counseling. If I enrolled in the School’s Mental Health and Wellness program, I would have overcome my cultural shock much quickly with less struggles.
Sodontuya Nerguidavaa, UC Davis

12) Should’ve Competed In More Case Competitions: “I was only fortunate enough to do a couple throughout my time here. While I will admit they can be a lot of work (especially when factoring in all of the other schoolwork that needed to be done), I believe the benefits gained from having the experience are really worth it. Using critical thinking to solve a real-world business problem, learning how to work with a team of individuals on a tight deadline, and having to professionally articulate a presentation in a high-pressure environment are all great experiences that will only help prepare you for a future in business. I think sprinkling in a couple more case competitions on my own time would certainly have added to my MBA experience.”
Andy Whitaker, Michigan State (Broad)

13) Could’ve Tried Interning Outside My Target Industry: “Retail has always been my passion and where I envision myself returning following business school. During the summer, I wanted to leverage my internship to experience another Fortune 500 retailer and learn how retail’s core business (merchandising) is managed, which led me to accepting a merchant internship with Lowe’s. However, in the course modules following that summer, I was introduced to new areas of finance through courses like Mergers and Acquisitions and Financial Decision Making. These courses sparked an interest in careers like private equity and investment banking, which would have been interesting areas to explore during a summer internship.”
Ryan Gilbert, University of Florida (Warrington)

14) Didn’t Conduct A Self-Assessment Early On: “Like many of my classmates, I was a career switcher, so I dedicated a significant amount of time in my first year connecting with employers within numerous industries. Prior to business school, I was an officer in the United States Army, so I felt that I had to quickly close the gap of my knowledge of business acumen and exposure to corporate roles. I found myself setting unrealistic expectations for the frequency of scheduled coffee chats and company presentations. All the while, I still had to perform in a rigorous academic environment, complete the requirements of my Graduate Assistant position, and execute the responsibilities of my leadership roles within several student organizations. Therefore, I would recommend to my first-year self a period of self-assessment where I would prioritize impact but also balance.”
Richard Williamson, Georgetown University (McDonough)

15) Needed To Connect With MBAs Outside My Business School: “Though most of my time as an MBA student was during COVID and thus traveling was limited, I wish I had participated in programs that brought together students from multiple business schools for projects and discussions. Some of my best memories and most insightful and thought-provoking conversations have been at conferences attended, case competitions traveled to, and off campus courses participated in with a mix of students from various universities. Although I’m graduating from Fisher knowing my incredible peers within these Fisher walls (virtual and real), I can’t help but imagine the breadth of other MBA students at various universities that I could have connected with over my time here. Therefore, my advice to current and future MBA students is to seek those non-traditional courses/programs that bring together students from different universities. It will allow for broader connection, thought-provoking conversations, and you will meet some amazing people.”
Anna St. Clair Chopp, Ohio State (Fisher)

Emma Sussex, IESE Business School

16) Deviated From My Original Goals: “{I would’ve] stuck to my guns from the start. When I first got to school, there was a lot of buzz about career and extracurricular opportunities, and it was easy to get sucked into spending time on things that everyone else wanted. I felt nervous about openly admitting my aspirations because I didn’t know if my goals were actually possible. However, it was the people who had a specific sense of what they wanted from the start that I’ll really remember. If I were to do it again, I would go back to the first day and be unapologetic about my goals. The sooner you can say it, the more open the community is to helping you to get there.”
Emma Sussex, IESE Business School

17) Didn’t Take Enough Notes In Class: “There is so much to learn in the MBA program that it may seem daunting, and there have been many instances when I wish I could look back to something I studied in the previous semesters. I know that I can always rely on my amazing classmates for help – and I started taking good notes in my second year – but I wish I had taken these class notes earlier so that I could refer to them even ten years from now.”
Karan Modi, Wisconsin Business School

18) Enrolled During COVID-19: “The only thing that I would like to change is the timing of when I entered the program. Unfortunately, the Class of 2022 was the COVID class with our entire first year being virtual. Of course, I chose to still make the most of it since it was out of my control. However, I’m curious to know what the “normal” MBA experience would have been like in the pre-pandemic world. I would be interested in changing this particular detail mainly so I could capture those additional memories such as studying abroad and attending formals/galas, that I know were unavailable due to current circumstances.”
Bruce Lee, Emory University (Goizueta)

19) Stressed Too Much Over Grades: “As an Admissions Ambassador, I often tell potential or incoming students what I wish I had done differently. I wish I had understood that grades are not everything. The point of Rice Business’s exceptionally busy and challenging first semester is about finding balance, planning, and figuring out what matters most to you. That understanding would have alleviated the extra pressure and anxiety I was putting on myself (as a typical type A person). Everyone should try to do well in class, but learning is most important.”
Alex Williams, Rice University (Jones)

Naveen Kler, London Business School

20) Didn’t Live In The Moment: “Joining an MBA in the midst of a pandemic was overwhelming – especially given the ever-changing restrictions on socialising and the multiple lockdowns. This meant that I spent much of my first term and second term concerned that I wasn’t going to make the lifetime friends, which are often considered the most essential part of your MBA.

I wish I had told myself not to worry and enjoy the journey – I should have focused on being in the moment and appreciating all these incredible experiences I was having and the people I was meeting. Ultimately, I have made a life-changing friendship group who I know I will take with me far beyond LBS. Moreover, I am still making new friends now in my last term here – there is always time to find your friends and learn new things!”
Naveen Kler, London Business School

“Looking back over my MBA experience, if I could change one thing it would be not giving in to the illusion that I always need to fill the space on my calendar. I spent so many weeks pulling out my hair trying to make it to everything rather than bringing my full self to every event I choose to go to. One thing I wish I had done more of was enjoying the ride.”
Charles Baronette, University of Texas (McCombs)