Sunday, April 20, 2008

B-School Sucks???

DISCLAIMER : Pl. dont read this post if you realllly LOVE MBA..........

Hey all,
I am currently in a daze as this hit me with full force........

This is so bad and shouldn't happen to someone who is reaching inside for the WHY MBA question........ I am now on the backfoot as I am unable to deal with such deadly bouncers the net throws at me every now-and-then...........

But is the MBA so bad??? Although I understand that nothing is black-and-white, it strikes my observation that nobody on the discussion (in the above link) actively denied the accusations on the b-skool and its people.........

What if its all a marketing gimmick?? What if I discover the truth only a bit too late?? What if.....

It is strange that how the smallest amount of negativity can offset a large amount of positivity....... But that said, it is also true that only the minority knows the REAL picture and even fewer dare to open it to public........ While I m still very bullish on MBA, Ill have to do a lot of research to offset this newfound doubt...........

Comments are valuable on this one.....(Calling all admits, alumnii, admission consultants et al)..... If you've got anything to say, pls don't be uber lazy and do comment........ i'd love to hear what you guys think about this one.........
Peace

P.S. : Copy pasting for lazy folks like me........

I'm a second-year in a top 5 b-school. Before my mba, I was a consultant with one of M/B/B. I did my summer internship in S&T with one of GS/MS, received a FT offer, but decided to go to one of the top hedge funds instead. (All of this just to point out that I'm not bitter because I'm not being successful or something. As thefox mentioned, that's often the real reason behind people's complaints.) Having said that, while I enjoy certain aspects of b-school and I wouldn't call myself unhappy, I'm definitely quite disappointed by the experience overall.
First of all, the academics are completely and utterly worthless. If you're even remotely smart, don't expect even the slightest bit of intellectual challenge (unless you're taking some PhD courses instead of the regular MBA ones, which I highly recommend). The issue is that professors are usually trying to keep their classes as accessible as possible, and are therefore targeting the greatest common denominator among a highly disparate range of student backgrounds. As a consequence, most classes and homeworks are necessarily of the "feel-good" type, rather than work that really pushes your boundaries. Unless you're a complete moron, it's almost impossible to do worse than a B. Unfortunately, that doesn't mean that school work doesn't take up a lot of time (you still have to physically go to class, meet up with teams, read the cases, do the write-ups, etc.), it just means that the work isn't very helpful or rewarding relative to the time invested in it. In addition, there's the well-known adage that "those who can, do it, those who can't, teach it", which definitely applies to b-school professors... I definitely feel I learned more in a day of work during my internship or as a consultant than in a semester at b-school. And in terms of intellectual stimulation, my undergrad was much more rigorous and entertaining.
The worst part, however, are the people. I'm obviously generalizing here, but B-school classes tend to be dominated by shallow, aggressive type-A personalities: people who are arrogant, loud, flat as a pancake, and in general incapable of introspection or reflection on anything beyond sports, sex and money. They are usually also of very mediocre intelligence (as compared to e.g. law school or PhD students), have poor real-world skills (other than superficial self-confidence), and they also tend to have a surprisingly uneven professional track record. (For those who don't believe this: remember that the smartest, nicest and most successful people in business obviously never have to go to b-school in the first place: they get directly promoted to Associate, go to PE after a consulting or banking stint, or continue running their own successful business...) While there are obviously exceptions, social life in b-school is therefore centered around parties, clubbing and drinking binges. It is easy to make small-talk, but hard to have a meaningful conversation with anyone. Easy to make acquaintances, hard to make friends.
And then there's the high level of phoniness in business school. A lot about this environment feels very fake. The learning is fake (as discussed above), the leadership positions usually are fake as well (most club officers don't even try to hide that they're doing it as a resume-builder), and many people's optimism and confidence is fake (many, many mba students are worried as hell about student loans, not finding a decent job, are desperately looking for a boy-/girl-friend, and are pretty miserable in general, sometimes leading to alcohol/drug abuse and random sex with strangers and prostitutes - I'm not even kidding). And even a lot of the superficial friendliness and camaraderie is fake (there's a lot of backstabbing going on, especially in recruiting season). The seemingly highly selective admissions are fake too: there's a lot of people here who haven't accomplished anything meaningful in their lives, but are just riding on daddy's success as a well-networked entrepreneur, CEO, banker, or PE/HF manager.
Lastly, let me add that for some of the very best jobs out there (in terms of compensation / lifestyle trade-off), an MBA degree is more of a liability than an asset. Last summer, I felt I got an offer from some of the more quantitative (and profitable) desks on the trading floor *in spite of* me being in b-school. In some of the very best hedge funds out there (think Shaw, Citadel and obviously RenTec), the title "MBA" is almost used as an insult (although some of them definitely do have a couple of groups that recruit MBA's, so it's not all black and white). Nevertheless, my point is that there are definitely better and more stimulating ways to get high-paying recruiting opportunities than doing an MBA.
Of course, after this long rant, I have some good stuff to add as well. While most of the people here suck, I have made some lifelong friends as well. I have tons of free time compared to when I was a consultant, I get to travel a lot, have worked on some pretty interesting projects outside class, and I've been fortunate enough to land some pretty good job opportunities... But overall, I'd highly recommend people - especially pretty smart and successful people - considering b-school to think twice. It's definitely not as good as it's made out to b.

23 comments:

HappyBunny said...

I really want to know where he went. :P

tinydancer said...

Eh, you can never please everyone! If bschool really sucked, it wouldn't be so hard to get in. But of course there are going to be the people that hate it, just like anything else.

The.Grey.One said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
The.Grey.One said...

I would like to differ from others above and say that what was written in the link may be completely true.
bschools are competitive to get in bcoz it serves as a major "career transition" catalyst for a majority of folks: to have that elusive degree which will land you the job interviews (IB or MC) which otherwise wouldnt happen for many of us. For others it is just an prestigious add-on to their resume. I completely agree that not much real learning that goes on in bschools. bschools consider the GMAT & GPA to filter the smart ppl so that they will better represent the school in their internships/recruiting, and not for identifying whether they will do well in academics or not. Also i strongly feel that the bschool application process (based on past work-ex / resume) is also geared towards idenitfying ppl who would land and do well in future interviews and thus inturn improve the schools career statistics. I do agree that it depends on the individual to make use of academics, but if everyone else at school is totally focussed on internships/offers, it is hard to keep one's chin up and concentrate on academics. If one wants to concentrate on learning then they wud do a PhD and not a MBA. The only real learning you can expect to get out of bschools is the "interviewing soft skills"; How to present oneself as polished/successful. In most schools the internship interviews starts in late sept or oct. You can imagine how ppl wud concentrate on academics and not on that important job search. Sorry i may be more blunt here but what was written seems to be true. But regarding whether i will do my MBA or not, i certainly will. As during my MBA i intend to use both the academic and leadership (club) opportunities as best i can, and transition into a new phase in my life. I hope that i would build a network of life-long friends - not sure about this though.

theincarnated said...

gr8 to have your views guys..... but grey, that sure means that an mba is a worthless waste of time and money for those who dont want a job....... i mean ppl like me who have started thier own jig and are goin in to accumulate knowledge for expansion..... what do you think about that???

The.Grey.One said...

I don't know about your line of work or industry. But if you are already an entrepreneur, the only advantage i could think of you getting from bschools is a network of future entrepreneurs (though this might be a smaller percentage in many bschools...as many prefer MC/IM/IB/VC/PE jobs). Also you will definitely have a network of alums (all around the world ?) whom you can expect to call up if you need help/advice in future.
Maybe a specialized MBA from schools geared towards entrepreneurship (such as MIT) would help...but i'm not sure about how much actual learning that happens in an entreprenuership track. Maybe entrepreneurship track is completely different from other tracks (finance/strategy) and is worth the effort, but we don't know.
In the end, i'm definitely not an authority on bschool education...but only a fellow applicant, who doesn't have a greater insider view. Feel free to contact someone alum/student (its better if he is also an entrepreneur like you) who could provide you with an unbiased view on the value of his MBA.
Also, you can expect to learn (if you are willing to push yourself hard) theoritical finance or economics from bschools, but the real business skills you could learn only by getting your hands dirty at the job.
The bschool experience may not be as rosy or life-affirming or life-changing as it seems from outside, but it is the only way (for many) to go about achieving things in life.
In short, it is better to keep the expectations low and be pleasantly surprised, that it to be the other way around.

The.Grey.One said...

Also remember learning is a life-long continuous process and just completing our MBA doesn't make us/anyone authority on anything. It just provides an added perspective; It is upto us to use that perspective to gain new insights, and improve our learning process.
I see that i've written so much in comments that i could have added them as a new post in my blog :)

theincarnated said...

That's the beauty of it...... lol..... the passion to help a comrade certainly is one of the biggest plusses in this adventure...... lol ...... peace....

The.Grey.One said...

dear incarnated,
you are not helping either yourself or others like me by uncovering such posts :)
now i have to try even harder to focus on the positives :)
i hope you will talk to the best possible ppl (alums/students) to get a better understanding, as whatever we agree or disagree upon here won't be based on an insider view.
All the best for your bschool applications.

theincarnated said...

Ya, I know........ But I prefer to not be the pigeon and close my eyes immidiately when i see the cat.....:D... instead, I choose to show other pigeons the cat too....coz u never know there may be experieced pigeons in the flock..... and then we can decide weather to fly off or to close our eyes.... lol.....

HappyBunny said...

Hi hi, yeah I can definitely observe the student body regarding their age and how collaborative are they. But, in terms of two other questions, I might not be able to get the answer you really wanted, because that's not my career goal, might not able to follow up with their answer. I'd suggest you to contact their entrepreneurship club members, it shows your commitment and you can have a better conversation than I do. From my past experience with other schools, they are very approachable.

Samantha said...

I could see what he's saying about the learning. The classes I've attended on class visits tend to be powerpoint overviews that don't delve anywhere near what one would call an intellectual challenge. Hopefully that will be different when I attend, but I'm well aware going into it that it's not a phD.

I could see what he's saying about the students, but I think that's changing, with more and more normal, cool people going to business school than have in the past. The people I've met aren't fake at all.

It's true that an mba might not be the best choice for a future trader. In my industry, though, and in many others, you do have to go to school to advance, so it does make sense. I don't expect to get the respect from the outside world from getting an mba like I would after getting an MD, but who cares? I need the degree to advance in my career.

Dreama said...

Good for people to know.

The Nameless One said...

OMG

What is written above is totally true.

Read my post about the Business Major: http://extremeuncommonsense.blogspot.com/2009/03/business-major-guide.html#comments

We must launch a crusade against this trap fake major called "business major".

Anonymous said...

As a first-year at a top 5 business school, I agree wholeheartedly about the people. While I do find the academics challenging and rewarding, I was surprised about how uninteresting and fake the people were. Relationships seem very shallow here and lack the depth that all my other friendships have.

Granted, it's only been 3 months. Still, the original author's comments about the social scene revolving around "parties, clubbing, and drinking binges" is surprisingly accurate. I find that I have many acquaintances, but only 2-3 people I'd consider friends. Because I'm not a big partier and have a more subdued personality, I find myself at an extreme social disadvantage.

One thing the author didn't mention was that much of the business school social scene requires a lot of money in order to feel like you're a part of the "club". In addition to all of the weekly social activities (mostly parties, etc.), lots of students with IB / MC / PE backgrounds have a lot of money to spend on trips during Winter and Spring breaks, as well as random other times. Thus, if you come from more modest circumstances, it's very easy to feel like you can't "keep up" with everyone.

Business school is a great place to change careers, especially if you don't have a background like the original author. The academics can be quite challenging depending on the school, and for me they're certainly that way. Finally, my career prospects will almost certainly be better with an MBA than without one. Just be prepared for a potentially poor social experience, depending on your circumstances & personality.

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