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What Do They Do, Anyway?

So, you’re sitting in class and you’re giving the masterful comment that will prove to everyone that you weren’t the admissions mistake. All of the sudden, the shark that blasted your comment the day before gets up and walks out, right before you start your “comment to save you from three-ville”. So, where does she go?

It’s a mystery that is not easy to solve. How is possible that people leave for the bathroom twice in one hour? How about five minutes after class started? Now, we all know that the bathroom is not the destination for all of them (or you are the most na‹ve professor or teachers’ pet). With all of the time in the world (well, at least for the 2nd-year students who have offers) what do HBS students need the extra 15 minutes for? Is it to take a nap after last night’s all-nighter? To do some intense, last-minute reading of the case in private? As a good investigative manager, I took the time to see what these people do. The top five reasons for these little “violations of HBS community standards” are:

5. Search of water: Given the vast, expansive desert that is Boston, and given that we students must endure unspeakable physical hardship every day, this is no surprise. By the way, we pay $100K for a degree and have no income. What HBS class doesn’t teach about cutting costs and managing leverage? If we can get water in Spangler for free, why do we spend $2 per bottle? Because of the taste? IT’S WATER!!! It’s the ultimate “perfect substitute”! Put that degree to work, folks, and don’t be ashamed of the Styrofoam cup.

4. Phone calls: Some people call to “check in”. Yes, there are some people in the classroom who have more on their minds than trying to figure out which person of the opposite sex is the hottest. There are those that have to call their significant others as early as possible before they leave for work, since they did not call last night thanks to Redline or John Harvard’s. In fact, if this article does not get finished in the next few minutes, I will be stepping out of my 8:30 class tomorrow morning to do this myself.

3. History: Blame the MBA Classes of 2002 and 2003 for this problem. They were the first to have wireless internet access during class time . . . and, for obvious reasons, the last one. Even without the SPAM filters on the mail server to block scores of “grow certain parts of your body” emails with which we get swamped, people still would rather check their emails than calculate Wal-Mart’s share-of-market in southern Arkansas. It’s off to the kiosks we go!

2. Forcing a cold-call: Haven’t gotten a call from the professor in a while? Are you one of those pit-divers or spreadsheet geeks that is always able to tell what the professor ate because you are always in his or her face? Now, a whole five minutes has gone by, and you haven’t been called on, and you’re fed up with the one-word replies that your not-so-enthralled section-mates are giving. So what do you do to garner attention? You walk into and out of the classroom about five times in thirty minutes. You’ll get a call, and the accompanying self-actualization, just to make you sit down.

1. The number one reason why people leave classrooms? Simple, just remember the one statistic that caused you to want to come to HBS the most! That’s right, it’s the average starting salary that all the other classes before yours achieved. YOU NEED A JOB, and even though you can’t risk a three after last term, you need to pay some bills this summer, so skip the discussion about Morgan Stanley’s 80 degrees and start calling people that are willing to pay you some DOUGH for your statement!
Note: The research that the author claims to have done is not authentic.

In fact, the only thing he can prove is number one, simply because he was guilty himself. Happy job hunting!

January 26, 2004
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