How was your social life like as a full time MBA student?

One of the things that is way down on my list that I look for an MBA program are those bonds and those sorts of friendships you build while in one. For those of you who did a full time MBA program, how was the social experience like?

Was it a lot more dull and flat than your undergrad experience or was it fun in its own way?

Comments (26)

Best Response
Jul 8, 2017

Don't compare it to undergrad. Apples and oranges. You and your peers in b-school are at a different stage of life and maturity compared to undergrad.

In plain English, it's not better or worse, more/less exciting. Just different, because what you define as "better" or "exciting" as a 27-year old young career professional will be different than what you valued as a 20-year old sophomore.

A lot of early to mid 20-somethings seem to confuse "fun" with "meaningful" experiences (but good news is that most as they age tend to figure out the difference). Focus on the latter, and the former will follow in a natural (and yes more meaningful) way. Or you could continue like many folks in college and get mindlessly drunk with people whom you don't really care for but it seems kind of the way to pass the time.

Those meaningful experiences will obviously differ from person to person. But usually those experiences - what you do in your free time - that you will truly value and remember aren't the times you got shitfaced at the bar or even any casual social event (eating at a restaurant, Spring Break type vacations, etc) - but usually some activity that has some purpose, is challenging to some degree, or requires some formal organizing - even something as casual as an intermural sports league, volunteering for an org together, an "active" vacation (i.e. doing something strenuous like rock climbing, roughing it somehow, etc rather than some hedonistic get shitfaced let's replay our teen years on Spring Break kind of all-inclusive resort kind of vacation).

Obviously not everyone in b-school has this all figured out, but you'll find that you and your peers will be less likely to be as mindless as you were in college with your free time. That may seem more "lame" to your college self, but your high school self probably felt that your college self was "lame" for setting aside time for student club activities to build your resume rather than play video games all day.

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Jul 8, 2017

TBH, I never got "shitface drunk" or went on nice spring breaks to PCB or Cancun. I found that those were things wealthier kids from the suburbs did, usually those in Greek Life. Most of my college days, despite my bad GPA, were spent worrying about the future, studying, stressing out about a gazillion things, and trying to make some friends.

If anything, I feel like most college kids didn't really do all of that, only a few of the rich ones in liberal arts and less time consuming majors experimented with college like that.

I wouldn't mind occasionally testing my alcohol tolerance (I mean I literally missed out on the college experience so why not a good party here or there) though honestly, I am more about making good friends, having meaningful social experiences with people, and finding a network of good people to be a part of my life. I would also like to make friends that help me grow as a person as well as a professional but aren't super uptight to where they think a shot of alcohol is displaying immaturity.

In college I never really had the chance to make good friends, it seemed like a popularity contest on steroids and I went to a state school where Greek Life was king. What I am looking for in an MBA is a career boost coupled in with meeting great people and forming good friendships as well as feeling like I belong somewhere.

I guess this varies school to school and the way I see it, I might end up being older than 27 when I get an MBA given my bad undergrad GPA (might end up getting one in my early 30s, who knows). For now I am just trying to get an image of what it is like.

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Jul 8, 2017

You'll be fine in b-school. While there's still a bro-ish contingent, there isn't the social hierarchy like at a state school, and any of the more fratty type behavior is more dilute, partly because everyone is older and more adult-ish (about a quarter or so are married, some with kids), but also because amongst the Americans, most went to Ivy/equivalent or other more "academic" schools where Greek life isn't quite the same as say Auburn or Arizona State. Also, remember that unlike a state school undergrad, at virtually all the top 30 b-schools about 40-50% of your classmates will be internationals.

In other words, people are more mature and the cultural backgrounds more diverse than a football college - you find the crowd you mix with and could care less what your other classmates are up to if you don't gel with them socially.

The peer pressure or herd mentality in b-school is more about career aspirations more than how many keg stands you can do (there's always the "cool career of the moment" that you may feel pressured to go for because everyone else is).

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Jul 12, 2017

This shit show of a response is literally generalization after generalization of one's college experience based on socioeconomic demographics.

Some rich kids spend all of college getting shit faced. Some rich kids spend all of college doing lab studies and working for non-profits.

Some poor kids spend all of college getting shit faced. Some poor kids spend all of college doing lab studies and working for non-profits.

Everybody has a different experience and it's usually based on their personality/interests. Obviously, wealth will help one pursue their interests easier than a poor person. That being said - like UG or your co-workers or your future spouse or ANYBODY you find yourself spending a lot of time with.....it will usually be because you share the same interests.

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Jul 12, 2017

This is outstanding advice and general life perspective. I'd expand on this to say this is true for anyone, in any career / life path. Honestly, how often can you look back and say, "wow, that one time we got blackout drunk at 13th Step and at a bunch of late night pizza before we passed out is really what life's all about,", I'll wait.

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Jul 12, 2017

At business school, you'll find a wide variety of people with widely differing prerogatives. However you prefer to spend your time, it is likely that you will find people who are like like-minded. There's no one stroke to paint the experience - it's up to you. Which is great and with more age and experience it feels as though your experience is directed in a far more purposeful fashion than undergrad.

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Jul 18, 2017

Stanford GSB is a total party school. Same with HBS but only if you 1) befriend the wealthy children of international oligarchs who love to buy out venues all across Boston every weekend 2) have a return offer already stacked up after graduation (i.e. pre-MBA associate to post-MBA associate) and spend your time with people in a similar boat.

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Jul 8, 2017

Well, I guess if it works out for me then ideally business school will be for me what undergrad never was. Hopefully it all goes well as social life has been a big struggle for me, was a terrible terrible fit for my big state school during undergrad.

Jul 18, 2017

Constant parties, frequent travel abroad, and being surrounded by good looking, smart people. Does seem to be awesome socially.

You just described my life, and I am definitely not in b-school.

Jul 18, 2017

The Brady troll is so old by now.

Use common sense: it's a matter of selection. No one is going to post pictures of their case study groups or their problem sets on Facebook, no one's going to make status updates about how exciting it is to learn about fixed income. But all these type A's are definitely eager to show off their travels and studies. If you looked through any college kid's Facebook albums, all you would see would be frat parties, food outings, events, and the quintessential cityscape. Is that representative of college? Hell no.

Jul 18, 2017
chicandtoughness:

The Brady troll is so old by now.
all you would see would be frat parties, food outings, events, and the quintessential cityscape. Is that representative of college?

Sort of is..

Jul 18, 2017
chicandtoughness:

The Brady troll is so old by now.

Use common sense: it's a matter of selection. No one is going to post pictures of their case study groups or their problem sets on Facebook, no one's going to make status updates about how exciting it is to learn about fixed income. But all these type A's are definitely eager to show off their travels and studies. If you looked through any college kid's Facebook albums, all you would see would be frat parties, food outings, events, and the quintessential cityscape. Is that representative of college? Hell no.

That sounds very reasonable.

Jul 18, 2017
chicandtoughness:

The Brady troll is so old by now.

Use common sense: it's a matter of selection. No one is going to post pictures of their case study groups or their problem sets on Facebook, no one's going to make status updates about how exciting it is to learn about fixed income. But all these type A's are definitely eager to show off their travels and studies. If you looked through any college kid's Facebook albums, all you would see would be frat parties, food outings, events, and the quintessential cityscape. Is that representative of college? Hell no.

Exactly that.

Jul 18, 2017
chicandtoughness:

no one's going to make status updates about how exciting it is to learn about fixed income.

fixed income is awesome :-(

Money Never Sleeps? More like Money Never SUCKS amirite?!?!?!?

Jul 18, 2017

i don't think anybody is really questioning these things to be true. it's just that Brady is a real tool about it...

Money Never Sleeps? More like Money Never SUCKS amirite?!?!?!?

Jul 18, 2017

A lot of it depends on what school you are at, whether or not you have a full-time offer, etc. By and large, b-schools are a lot of fun, and i think at the top schools it COULD be more fun than college since grades aren't as nearly as important, and you just appreciate socializing a lot more after having worked for some time. In college you take all of that for granted and get spoiled.

Jul 8, 2017

Business school life at just about all the schools tends to be in a bubble that is separate from the rest of the university. In other words, there's limited interaction with students from other schools as the majority of the organized social activities in an MBA program are for MBA students only (even those schools with undergrad business programs, the MBA program tends to operate in a bubble separate from the undergrad program, and the only time there's crossover is in some elective classes where you might be taking the same classes).

As such, you'll find that no matter what MBA program you go to, you'll find the social experience you want. If you want to go out drinking every night, there's a crowd for that. If you're a hardcore athlete and want to go running, rock climbing, cycling etc at 6am on weekends, there's a crowd for that. If you're a gamer, or you're 420 friendly, there's a crowd for that too.

In other words, the undergrad culture at a university doesn't really influence what MBAs do. If anything, MBAs tend to overcompensate and go out of their way to distance themselves from undergrads, and create their own little world - and that world is similar across MBA programs.

Don't worry about the social life in b-school. It'll take care of itself no matter where you go.

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