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What percentage of MBA students from a top business school had visited psychological counseling service?

February 26th, 2009 · 2 Comments

While I was attending business school during the last recession, I had the opportunity to work on a very unique project. Due to confidentiality, I wouldn’t reveal the exact nature of the project. But, as part of the project, my team had several lengthy interviews with the university’s psychological counseling service — they provided counseling to students with emotional/mental issues such as depression, anxiety, suicide, addiction, etc.

I learned a few facts:

  1. There were much higher percentages of MBA students who visited the psychologists comparing to their peers in law school and medical school. 
  2. Almost 1/3 the MBA students have visited psychologists — again, this is a pretty significant number.
  3. The common reasons for visiting the counseling services include
  • anxiety over job search
  • school work load (MBA school is not a big party after all! :-))
  • marriage or relationship problems
  • loneliness
  • cultural  barriers for international students
  • financial pressure

Initially, I was quite surprised by these facts. However, after thinking it over, I felt that it actually made a lot of sense.

Based on my own experience, I know a lot of my classmates were really stressed out.

We attended business school during the bottom of last recession. It was incredibly difficult to get internships and full-time jobs.

There were a lot of type-As among my classmates. When you put so many type-As in the same environment, it got extremely competitive. It was a pressure cooker.

Many students borrowed substantial amount of loans to attend business school. With the depressing job prospect, they felt the financial pressure.

It was even harder for international students – during difficult time, fewer employers were willing to sponsor H1B workers.

For married students who were living apart from their significant another, between school work load, job hunting, and extracurricular activities, they simply didn’t have time for their relationship — or, I could say, their career ambition took priorities over their relationship.

I decide to write this post because I’ve been getting a lot of  questions from MBA applicants for advice. The current economic environment is much worse than the last recession, so I could imagine that life in business school is quite challenging and stressful.

Top business schools are marketing machines, and they have created a perception that MBA students are confident, fearless, and go-getters. There is certain truth to it. But, MBA students are humans, too. We all have our own share of insecurities, worries and problems. Nobody is immune from it. It’s much better if we’re aware of the potential issues, and be mentally prepared.

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Tags: MBA

2 responses so far ↓

  • 1 TedHoward // Feb 27, 2009 at 4:30 am

    Medical residents don't have time for mental health care, which may skew related data.

    One thing that I know prevents medical residents from seeing psychiatrists and psychologists is time. They are overworked. If you work 24 hours from 8AM Sunday to 8AM Monday then start work again at 8AM Tuesday, then you qualify as having had a “day off” on Monday. Weekly work hour restrictions (80 or 100 hours) apply as a rolling average over the last month, so if you have a week-long vacation then the hospital can make you work harder than normal for the next three weeks. These are just simple examples illustrating how the doctors treating you are treated by their hospitals.

  • 2 China Tour // Jul 1, 2009 at 8:22 am

    Interesting post. I have stumbled and twittered this for my friends. Hope others find it as interesting as I did.

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