20 Biggest Regrets Of MBA Students

Ashmita Dutta, IE Business School

7) Don’t Go It Alone: “In the initial days of my MBA, I looked at my work group as a temporary arrangement – people I needed to work with for a total of 3 months, and then go our own ways. So when priorities and expectations started misaligning – as they often do – I spent a lot of time ignoring the issues and taking on more than my share of the work. Eventually, at the crucial juncture of exams, I burnt out.

This experience has changed my outlook on leadership. It is not about the time you spend with a team, but what you aim to achieve together. If I were to go back and start this journey again, I would address issues before they became conflicts. I would also come to the table with the expectation that everyone has different goals, but setting a common vision with each other and opening lines of communication go a long way in functioning well as a team.”
Ashmita Dutta, IE Business School

8) Participate In More ‘Social’ Clubs: “Like most first years, I was fixated on recruiting and landing my dream summer internship. Because of that, my extracurricular involvement was mainly centered around professional clubs. In hindsight, I wish that I had taken an active leadership role in some of the affinity and social clubs to add balance to my first-year experience. The community is so much more than recruiting and some of my classmates took advantage of that. As a result, I decided to double down on my involvement for my second year to focus on things that I enjoy and opportunities that would impact the Fuqua community.”
Christen Baskerville, Duke University (Fuqua)

Claire Howard, University of Pittsburgh (Katz)

9) Slow Down: “Looking back over my MBA experience, I would slow down. There is so much thrown at you all at once when you start your MBA. The consistent flow work, I know I got into the drive of that “go-go-go” mentality to learn and apply as much knowledge as I can in the time I have for my program. While some of that is necessary, I would have slowed down to enjoy some of my more difficult classes. I would reframe the way I approached them as more of a challenge course rather than a difficult course, because I love a challenge. I think it would have helped me to appreciate more than I do the dedication it takes to master that area. As important as it is to keep up in a fast-paced society and business world, slowing down where I did allowed me to learn unique skills that I know I will use in my professional career. I would have loved to have been able to do more of that.”
Claire Howard, University of Pittsburgh (Katz)

10) Take Classes Outside The Business School: “So many challenges I’m eager to work to solve in my career are cross-disciplinary, and the University of Michigan boasts 100+ top ten graduate level programs. If I could do it all over again, I’d take more courses across different schools to gain a better understanding of the scope of the most challenging issues facing business leaders today, and how to construct teams of individuals with different skill sets that have the best chance at solving these challenges.”
John Pontillo, University of Michigan (Ross)

11) Reach Out To ALL Of Your Classmates: “I would spend more time getting to know the other current class of students. While I know my Tuck class of 2023 really well, as well as my professors, I didn’t invest as much time getting to know the Tuck class of 2022 (above me) or the Tuck class of 2024 (below me). It’s tough in the fall when first- and second-year class schedules are different and we’re not always on campus at the same time. But, similar to my class, these other Tuck classes are full of very smart individuals who have a wealth of experience and knowledge that I would have liked to spend more time getting to know. I would find more intentional ways to build relationships with the other class as much as I did with my own class.”
Carly Wolberg, Dartmouth College (Tuck) 

12) Participate In Competitions: “Whether that’s case competitions, hackathons, startup competitions, or general challenges, I think that having the opportunity to interact with people from other schools is an enriching experience worth pursuing while in business school. While I participated in a few, I wish I had taken part in more since they can be such a great way to travel, expand your network and learn.”
José Mario Peña, University of Washington (Foster)

13) Schedule More Coffee Chats: “I would’ve had more coffee chats with MBA professionals after I got admitted but before school started. That was a prime opportunity to expand my network and explore career opportunities. It was hard for me to continue with coffee chats during my first year because classes were so challenging. As a poet, I had to devote a lot of time to my studies. Because of that, I wasn’t able to network like I wanted to. If I had started earlier, I might have learned about more opportunities sooner.”
Adewale Oduye, USC (Marshall)

Ana Carolina Sousa, Ohio State (Fisher)

14) Focus On Soft Skills Early: “When I came to business school, I was looking to strengthen my knowledge in operations and expand my skillset in strategy and finance. In my first semester with electives, I chose only one out of 8 classes about people and leadership. It was, by a landslide, my best class in that semester, with so many insights about leadership and direct application during my summer internship. As a result, during my second year, almost half of my electives were “soft skill” classes, but I wish I had started to focus on that earlier.”
Ana Carolina Sousa, Ohio State (Fisher)

15) Take Advantage Of Being A ‘Student’: “This is something I heard from one of my peers, Jesse McDonald, originally but it has really stuck with me so I am borrowing the concept. One of the best job titles in the world is “student”. There are endless opportunities, whether that be with organizations at your school, internship opportunities, financial assistance for start-ups, or even the ability to call (or LinkedIn message) anyone in the world and hear about their experience, career, or business. I wish I had realized that sooner. To those starting MBA programs, take advantage of that title. Wield it. It’s yours for a short period of time.”
Caroline Cate, University of Tennessee (Haslam)

16) Factor In Proper Diet and Physical Fitness: “This is something that I realised very late in the term. Yes, it is important to figure in all the subjects and courses and life may get cluttered and overwhelming. But beyond the confines of education, chasing assignments and reports, we should always take time out to look after our health and fitness. Not only does it boost our self-confidence and morale and acts as a stress buster, the adrenaline surge from a cardio improves our learning capacities and mental clarity, which directly impacts our classroom engagement. IIMA beckons its students to efficiently manage their time and make the most of the daily routine to have a successful tenure on campus.”
Umar Mujeeb, IIM Ahmedabad

17) Take A Break Before School Starts: “I was one of the few people that worked right up until I couldn’t anymore before the start of business school. I was literally working virtually the day before Orientation. Looking back, I would definitely do this differently! I should have taken time to rest and reset for the new journey ahead. I think resting would have set me up for success and made me a much better student and classmate at the start. For anyone approaching the start of business school, I strongly recommend that you take some time to level set and mentally prepare! Take a trip, spend time with your loved ones, make it a priority to serve you!”
Janyiah Olawale, Duke University (Fuqua)

18) Plan Electives Strategically: “I think I would be more strategic about planning my class electives. Some electives are offered at certain times of the year and just once, and some classes offer a 12-week term instead of the typical 6 weeks. Looking back, some of my trade-offs could have been avoided if I had taken the time to sit down and understand the whole 2-year academic class schedule. That being said, I have really enjoyed my academic journey, but did miss experiencing a few classes and professors I think I would have really enjoyed.”
Jennifer Sibel, Duke University (Fuqua)

Leo Haigh, Georgia Tech (Scheller)

19) Interact With Evening MBA Students: “Starting in our second semester, we have the opportunity to take classes with students in Scheller’s part-time, Evening MBA program. Not only do our evening students have incredibly impressive full-time roles at the best businesses in Atlanta, they are also great people to hang out with outside of class. I wish I’d found more time in my core semester to build those relationships.”
Leo Haigh, Georgia Tech (Scheller)

20 Stay Open To The Possibilities: “I came into business school with the mindset that I was a corporate person through-and-through. I had no interest in starting my own business now or in the future. During AAPI Heritage Month, at a panel event featuring Asian entrepreneurs, one panelist mentioned that business school was the best place to try out entrepreneurship – it’s a safe environment where you’re surrounded by extremely talented people with diverse skillsets to form teams and an abundance of resources to support and advise your business development. I wish I had spent more time exploring entrepreneurship as an option in the beginning, especially when selecting my capstone project, as I’m now considering starting a business later in my career!”
Lillian Fan, UCLA (Anderson)





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