First Year HBS Student Debunks 3 Common Preconceptions

People have a lot of preconceived notions about what Harvard Business School is like, much of it good but some of it not so great. I came across an article written by MBA candidate Philip Blackett, which does a bit of HBS myth-busting that I think current and future applicants will appreciate reading.

Myth #1 HBS is Cutthroat

Blackett’s imagination ran wild before he came to Cambridge in August, imagining his future classmates would go out of their way to sabotage the success of their peers. “What I found was the exact opposite,” he writes. “I was most surprised by how tight my 93-person section became and how much we genuinely cared for one another after only a few months.”

This sense of collaboration and closeness extends beyond the section to the whole study body, he adds, noting how touched he felt when fellow students reacted to the Mike Brown and Eric Garner incidents by holding a candlelight vigil. Attending Harvard doesn’t mean you can’t relate to life outside of campus, says Blackett.

Myth #2 You Can’t Learn Finance from Case Studies

He wasn’t the only incoming student feeling apprehensive about learning finance through reading cases. With textbooks and practice problems for reference, Blackett says he was able to learn NPV, dividend growth model and EV/EBITDA valuation multiples just fine.

“These concepts that we learned in finance (and accounting) helped my classmates make better decisions when we put ourselves in the shoes of each case protagonist,” Blackett writes. “This simulation practice will help prepare us for similar decisions to be made once we’re back in the real world with real problems to solve.”

Myth #3 The Only Thing You’ll Learn at Harvard is Leadership

While Harvard Business School is nicknamed the “West Point of Capitalism,” Blackett writes that in addition to leadership skills, he was surprised to discover an unexpected lesson during his first semester.  In these few short months, he has learned a great deal about both time and priority management at HBS.

With something new and exciting to do every day of the week both on and off campus, many incoming students become overwhelmed by FOMO (fear of missing out). “Each day, I had to make tough decisions on which activities to participate in after school, while considering the tradeoffs of each decision,” he writes, knowing full well that managing his commitments will only become more challenging during the two-year program.

Perhaps the best way to learn whether an MBA program is a good fit for you is by finding out how current students and alumni feel about their experience. To read more of Blackett’s thoughts on his HBS journey so far, please follow the link above for the full article.

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