Dear Auntie Sam,
Long before I thought of applying to HBS, I heard from my brother, a member of the Class of 1999, of The Secret Society. He told me The Society was an elite, distinguished group of individuals with shared common interests that extended beyond merely their existence at HBS. This Society was akin to the Skulls at Yale, despite the self-named mediocre movie about it that may have suggested otherwise, or the Dead Poets Society-an elite cadre of statesman and magnates in waiting. I wasn’t expecting high intellect, knowing that this realm was reserved for the other side of the river, but these individuals had to be the movers and shakers of tomorrow.
I arrived at HBS in keen anticipation of finding out about The Society and ensuring that I became a member. What would be not to like, I thought? Members were likely to be ecstatic with the deep, meaningful interactions they had with other like-minded members. Detractors had to be only those people who were excluded.
I heard nothing about The Society during most of my first year. Towards the end, I began to hear random remarks seeming to belie the existence of The Society amongst some of the other first years. No one however, either had and/or wanted to provide any of the details. This was understandable I thought, this isn’t a club that you sign up for via Quickpay after seeing its enthusiasts at the Club Fair. I got ready to leave for the summer somewhat disappointed at having received no invitations to join.
I arrived back at HBS in the fall, still somewhat bemused and chagrined at not having received an invitation to join The Society. Then I received an invitation to come to a secret meeting from an acquaintance and I was thrilled. This was it, I thought. It was all actually finally starting to happen.
The Society was a dozen people, I was told. Membership was a secret as were the proceedings. If I came to the first meeting, I had to decide within the first five minutes whether I wanted in or not. If I left, there would be no second chances to reconsider my decision. I waited to attend my first meeting with bated breath.
Three days away from my first meeting of The Society, I received first one, and then two more invitations to join “The Secret Society.” Are these people all part of The Society or am I missing something? I am utterly confused. What should I do?
A Sought After Secret
Dear Sought After Secret,
Many an enthusiastic HBS participant has waited with bated breath for their invitation to join The Society. At the de rigeur “first meeting,” new entrants have joined straight away, thinking the group they find themselves in, must be esteemed if they have been told as such. In their acceptance speeches, new entrants display a distinct puffed chest as they pride themselves on being one of the few amongst their peers asked to join The Society.
Unfortunately, I must inform you that THE Secret Society doesn’t exist. It did in the heyday way back when in 1999. But now we live in a new world. The New Economy and political correctness created many me-toos who worried not when they were not invited to join The Society.
They just went and started their own secret societies. First, they all called themselves The Secret Society. When they realized this was moot, they came up with new names like The Dirty Dozen, The Hilarious Hundred, The Serious Seven, or The Swinging Secret. The bottom line result was that there no longer is THE Society. At this point, they may as well have sign up tables at the Club Fair.
But all this shouldn’t matter to you. Irrespective of how many societies there are, just find the one that works for you. The names are pretty self-evident; so are you dirty, hilarious, serious, or swinging?
One word of caution: when you realize they aren’t discussing Sartre when they order in and hang out periodically, don’t be surprised. After all, as you noted, while high intellect may be the reserve of “across the river,” common sense, intelligence, and diversity, while not exclusive to HBS, are certainly hallmarks of the place. It may not be a secret, but it’s all yours.