First Impressions: Insights from First Year MBA Students After The First Two Weeks

As an MBA applicant, you have probably visited your target schools, spoken with alumni and maybe even spoken with current students to assess the culture and fit of the school with your goals. As we tell all of our clients, the more you know about the schools and what life is really like, the better. Why? Because when you sit down for your interview and it’s clear that you know what you’re talking about and have done your research, you’ll differentiate yourself from those who only have a “theoretical” view of what MBA life is like. That said, we recently followed-up with some of our former clients at both my alma mater, Kellogg, and Melody’s, Columbia. Each of them gave us some insights on what life has been like thus far on their MBA journeys. See what they have to say below – maybe this can help you to ask better questions at the next presentation you attend or even better assess the different schools you’re evaluating. Though this exact feedback is specific to Kellogg and Columbia, we’ve found that experiences after the first few weeks tend to be similar for our clients from all of the big programs.
We asked….
What has been so totally awesome about your experience thus far?
“I’ve really enjoyed meeting people from all over the country. Kellogg does a really great job at making sure it incorporates a diverse student body, from the ratio of international students to ratio of men to women. I’ve been making friends with folks I never thought I would have.” – Kellogg
“The “World Tour” which was basically a student-led summer traveling was amazing people and led to a lot of great bonds being made before school. Also, the breadth of opportunities/companies on campus is almost overwhelming. There are just so many awesome opportunities it seems. There are also so many great speakers, clubs, etc that you simply cannot be as involved and attend as many events as you’d like too.” – Columbia
“I have absolutely loved meeting all of my new classmates. Orientation was really exciting and a lot of fun! We spent a lot of time getting to know each other, and prepping for classes. I really like the cluster system, because it gives you a chance to get to know a smaller group of people in the class first. The cluster bonds are really strong!” – Columbia
“People – I was genuinely amazed by the people around me from day 1 – their caliber, values, character, and selflessness. Interviewing almost all candidates does a great job for Kellogg as it ensures the best cultural fit. Campus nature of the school – living in the social bubble of Kellogg makes you meet new people all the time. Students go out together all the time, mixing social groups, as a result – you meet new people on a daily basis. Student-led almost everything – from clubs to treks and trips. As a result, all activities and all the information you get are super-relevant and fun.” – Kellogg
What has surprised you (good/bad/otherwise)?
“I’ve been surprised with the amount of homework that we’ve been given. I was warned that Fall quarter would be intense, and it didn’t really sink in until now. I can’t wait for the GDM (“grades don’t matter”) mentality to sink in! On the good side, I was a business major in undergrad, so I thought I’d gloss over the academic piece of school. However, there are a lot of valuable insights in the classes so far (namely strategy and leadership). Definitely going to spend a good amount of time (more than I thought) and bid points going after those classes.” – Kellogg
“The amount of “busy work” and problem sets that we have to do. I wasn’t prepared to have to spend so many hours doing long but simple accounting and finance homework. It feels very high school ish. The work is pretty easy if you have any finance/accounting/econ background, but surprisingly time consuming. Also, the spread between some of the most talented people in the class and some of those at the bottom is VERY large. I know it’s a 550+ person class, but it is a little surprising because it seems daunting and like everyone is brilliant on the outside looking in. Lastly, people weren’t kidding about banking recruiting at CBS being extremely intense. 25 banks on campus, even the most “low touch” ones are expecting 5+ touch points over a 6-8 week period. It’s literally impossible not to have to miss class if you want to cast a wide net, yet the school tries to tell you that you aren’t allowed. Once recruiting started being non-stop busy from 8am to midnight has been the norm, not the exception, and that doesn’t include social activities.” – Columbia
“Everyone tells you how busy you will be during your first month at school, but no matter how mentally ‘ready’ I thought I was, business school is still overwhelming. There are SO many fun and interesting clubs, activities, presentations, etc. that I would love to go to, and it’s really hard to say no. I am in over 10 clubs, and I have even been elected AVP to 3 of them (so far!). I have also been accepted into an international consulting program, for a company in India, who I will visit in the next couple of months. I am busy all day, everyday, and I still feel like I’m missing some things I would love to try, see, and do.” – Columbia
“You never realize the amount and importance of opportunities you would be presented with, before you actually start the school – was honored and humbled to meet head of IMF, Madame Lagarde, during a round table, 1 month into school” – Kellogg

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