Friday, May 25, 2012

Regression Models

I was struggling.  As everyone around me carried on non-stop conversation I fought to keep my eyes open and my head from falling into the plate of eggs and French toast in front of me.  I tried to engage with the woman sitting next to me, asking questions in the hopes of invigorating my mind for a few more minutes.  The effort was painful.  My body physically ached for sleep.  Alas, my love of free food had led me to abandon the rest I desperately needed and now politeness anchored me to my seat for at least another ten minutes.  I doubted I would make it that long.
 When several people at my table started to disperse several minutes later I took that as a cue to make my exit.  I thanked the hosts for the meal, dragged myself to my car, and prayed that I would not nod off on freeway.  Settling into the vehicle it quickly dawned on me: I can’t do this shit for two years.

If there is one thing that attending three admitted students weekends has taught me it is that MBA students do not sleep.  Powered by euphoria, ambition, or as I speculate, a raging case of FOMO combined with rampant drug use, these people operate on an 8 a.m. to 4 a.m. schedule then wake up and do it all over again.  They also have the mistaken idea that everyone else keeps these hours as well.  To Kellogg’s DAK, Wharton’s Welcome Weekend, and Booth’s ASW planning committees I assure you that we do not.  And I (and many others) damn sure CANNOT.  I cannot wake up at 7 a.m., attend a series of seminars, activities, happy hours from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. followed by dinner until 10 p.m. then bar hopping until 2 a.m. and then forage for food until 4 a.m.  As brunch with Wharton's Social Impact Club proved, after a weekend of non-stop activity without a two to three hour time out somewhere in there, I will not make it.

There was once a time when I could have made it through weeks of that type of schedule.  That time was called undergrad.  During those four years I survived on minimal sleep and maximum dining hall food all while going to class, pledging my sorority, road tripping to parties, holding work study jobs, leading student clubs, and stalking the starting wide receiver of Cornell's football team.  Alas, I graduated, got a job and reconfigured my body to be most productive between the hours of 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Ten hours, that's how much energy I have for a day.  It's not just me.  This is the standard capacity for a working professional of any age.  Since MBA students were just like me right before heading off to school, I am trying to figure out what the hell happens when they get to business school.  How do they switch from working adults back to the person they were 5+ years and 20+ pounds ago? I am convinced that matriculating into a full-time MBA program has a regressive effect on people.  They go from late 20s adults back to the 19 year old co-eds, able to stay up all night doing God knows what then roll out of bed with four hours of sleep and get through a full day to repeat the cycle again that night.

The pace makes my head hurt just thinking about it.  My over 30 body is not the energizer bunny it used to be.  Hell, my 28 year old body wasn't either and I was in the best shape of my life back then.  I keep seeing notices for all of these pre MBA bootcamps for finance, marketing, and consulting.  Has anyone thought about a pre MBA exhaustion immunity bootcamp?  That's what I need to prepare for the next two years.  I am not the only person who views the full-time MBA as undergrad 2.0.  The students basically admit to it in every follies skit they produce.  According to Wharton, CBS, and other schools one's time at business school consists of networking (drinking), theme parties (drinking), fantastic voyages (drinking), and hook-ups (caused by drinking) that sometimes evolve into a marriage and three kids.  I remember that lifestyle (although substitute drinking with herbal smoking) and it all occurred on an Ivy League campus over a decade ago.  As I often say when asked about my ex, "I am not about that life anymore."

It's not that I don't like a good party.  I love one.  Literally, I love one good party.  As the country song by that guy who I can't remember says, "I ain't as good as I once was, but I'm as good once as I ever was." Saturday night 80s party, you say? Great! I'm there. Saturday night 80s party then 8 a.m. Net Impact Conference the next day? Not so much.  I have talked to many other admitted students and they shared these sentiments.  During drinks and appetizers with a fellow Kellogg admit (before I'd made my decision) we both agreed to forgo four nights a week at Nevins in favor of potlucks, book clubs, and a glass of vino.  Although we both had a blast at DAK (Day at Kellogg admit weekend), it took us more days to recover from it than we were actually there.

Maybe I will feel differently in the fall.  Maybe the energy is contagious and I will rediscover the vigor I had in my not so distant youth.  Maybe business school really is a regressive time machine.  I don't know.  Right now the thought of classes on top of Net Impact, African American MBA Association, Chicago African Business Group, Media/Entertainment/Sports Group, Triathalon and Running Club, recruiting, and lawd knows what else just makes me want to curl up in my bed and store as many sleep hours as possible.

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