Saturday, December 11, 2004

HBS Rumors 
A commenter referred me to this post on the Wharton S2S boards, and I thought I would write a response here, since I don't have an S2S account and question the merit in posting something HBS-related over there anyway. Here goes:

1) HBS culture is really competative and 'dog eats dog' . In the class, the professor promote debates between students or force students to get into debates. The person who won the debate gets points for final grade while the loser will lost points and get bad grade. So the classroom atmosphere really competative.
This has a kernal of truth to it, but most of it is noise. There are often classroom debates, some of which get pretty lively, but professors facilitate the debate rather than force it. Furthermore, prof's readily acknowledge that there is no correct answer to a case, and so while one person may argue more persuasively than another, that doesn't mean that person is correct and the other is not. Finally, class participation is based upon some combination of quantity and quality, so the mere act of being out-argued (which is itself a misnomer) does not imply a lower grade. Every classroom discussion I have been a part of has been friendly, and when things do get heated people are quick to talk after class and make sure no feelings were hurt.

2) HBS kicks out 10% (or 5%) of its bottom students, so people compete fiercely to aviod it. They do not share homeworks and are very selective in choosing who will be in their study group. Sometimes you have to submit a resume to be in a study group. There's very little teamwork.
Again, some small amount of truth followed by hyperbole. If you get a 3 (bottom 10%) in too many of your classes (something like half), then you will have to go before some sort of committee to demonstrate the fact that you really do want to be here and that you will improve second year. Before you get to that point your professors will have worked with you to improve, the school would provide counselors and tutors at no charge to you, and the students in your section would have done everything they can as well. From what I've heard about 9 people are generally asked to take some time off before returning for their second year, which is about 1%. Anyone who wants to be here and do well will be able to.

3) HBS is totally no-no place for a little bit reserved person. If you are a little slow or hesitant when you are saying something in class, other students will jump in and try to make his or her points.
Once you are called on in class the stage is yours, no one is going to raise their hand or speak while the floor is yours. Professors attempt to wait a few seconds after asking a question to allow the more thoughtful people time to raise their hands. Additionally, most sections set up "speaking buddies" so that other students can help you improve your participation. You can also work with your professors to make sure that you are called on and get a chance to speak in class.

4)HBS studnets are genenerally chrismatic rather than analytic. Analytic person doesn't fit in.
We've got all types here, including our share of quants and analytical people. The focus of the program is leadership and general management, but that doesn't mean there are only charismatic people.

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