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The True Cost of HBS

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The true cost of HBS is not only about money. It is also about blood and tears.

Now that Foundations is over and RCs have the pleasure of learning the intricacies of FRC, it seems like the perfect timing to ask the question of the true cost of HBS.

There are at least three different answers. The first one is the student budget. High enough. The second one includes the opportunity cost of the foregone salary. Harder to swallow.

But it is nothing compared to the third approach, the one I’d like to talk you about. The true cost of HBS is not only about money. It is also about blood and tears. That’s all I have to say. Following is a letter from Joe, one of my close HBS friends, who has agreed to share his thoughts with the HBS community. Joe and Joe’s story are real. You probably see him every day in Spangler. (Note: All names have been changed.)

Dear Everyone,
I wanted to write you all to tell you what has been going on with Anne and me. Initially, I was worried about letting everyone know what’s been happening. Then it occurred to me you all know anyway, and have known for a long time.

I loved Anne and intended to marry her. I thought she felt the same, but I was wrong. I think she loved me in the very beginning, but then we drifted apart once I chose to get my MBA.

I think she never really approved of my going to HBS. She could not understand the value of the degree, nor the importance it would have for my personal and professional development. She was also threatened by the idea of having me surrounded by all these bright and intelligent women. Maybe she did not love me enough to let me grow. Maybe she loved me too much to let me go. I don’t know. But I sure know that when I left, she decided to keep John in reserve.

I can’t tell you how stupid I feel when I look back. I thought she loved me, and could not believe she would ever be with someone else. The truth is that I have been deceived, not only by her, but also by her family and friends – everyone knew, except me. Even her damn dogs knew I wasn’t the only man in her life.

I suppose in my heart of hearts I have known for a very long time… but I blamed myself for leaving her, and chose to shut my eyes. I was an idiot, especially considering that I now know for certain she was seeing him every time we were apart from the very beginning. I for one have not been with anyone else since we first started going out. That will change soon enough.

You might be wondering how I know all this. Last night I met with John and we found ourselves playing a game of “who was the bigger fool?” I’m pretty sure I won. The point is that I now know everything that went on, and it is not a good picture. I have been betrayed many times since we were first together, and have been thoroughly and publicly humiliated.

Ever since Papa died I have always wanted to do the right thing for my family, to do what he would have wanted. The time had come to admit he would not approve of Anne. I had already retrieved what I left at her house, returned her photographs, and cancelled the room I had booked for her at my graduation. All that was left to do was to tell you all what has been happening.

I’m not going to lie to you. I’m very hurt by all of this. I believed for so long she loved only me, and I was wrong. Still, it’s not all bad news-I could have married her and then found myself in the same position, or worse. I must also admit it has been very hard to write most of this, but I wanted you all to know what the situation is.

As for Anne, I have asked her not to phone me, and have told her I do not ever want to be in a relationship with her, or to be friends with her. I doubt she will respect my wishes, but this time she has no choice. And in case you are curious about what will ultimately happen to her, I believe she will marry John. He still loves her, and they will end up together. I wish them the best of luck.

As for me, my life will go on at HBS. Probably nothing significant will change. I’ll just try to enjoy it even more. Now, you see, I know the true cost of HBS.
-Joe

September 30, 2002
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