Pressure Gauge: How competitive is the Rady MBA environment?

September 10. 2013
by Michelle Nguyen

With the start of our recruitment cycle, I’ve been giving a lot of campus tours.   During a recent tour, a prospective student asked me for the low down on our program--in particular, the competitiveness of our classes and the possibility of needing a shank.  He had imagined a Darwinian environment where classmates sabotage each other and Type-A overachievers dominate class discussion.  Coming from a non-profit background, he didn’t want to end up as a Wall-Street shark claiming quick profits for himself while leaving a crumbling infrastructure in his wake.

Honestly, prior to working here, I had similar assumptions about the typical business school environment.  Given how the whole Lehman Brothers situation went down, it's easy to see why.  However, in the three years that I’ve worked alongside our current students, I can truly say I haven’t experienced or observed any such Hollywood cut-throat behavior.  In fact, the Rady MBA students that I’ve had the pleasure to know are far from this stereotype.   Though some have colorful personalities and many are doggedly persistent (admissions appreciates their emailing enthusiasm), none of the Rady students are callously forcing their way to the top to get rich or die trying.  They are inclusive.  Though it’s my job in admissions to be welcoming, each incoming class has been better at it than me.  They are, for lack of a better term, nice.

This congeniality doesn’t mean that Rady students are pushovers.  While our program undoubtedly attracts ambitious and entrepreneurial personalities, that driving force is focused less on bringing others down and more on how to build something meaningful.  The choice to be collaborative rather than competitive with each other has truly propelled Rady’s success.  This is seen through our repeated case competition wins and numerous viable start-up companies and organizations (like the Nicholas Conor Institute, Cypher Genomics, Everybody Solar, just to name a few).   

In sum, we’re not in the business of developing the founder of tomorrows pyramid schemes.  The Rady MBAs that I've had the privilege of getting to know are bees in the trap.  They are conscientious, business savvy individuals, and I’m looking forward to becoming acquainted with our Fall 2014 applicants.  


Michelle Nguyen is a proud UCSD alum and MBA Admissions Coordinator at the Rady School of Management.  When she’s not knee deep in an Excel spreadsheet, she can be found overfeeding her porker of a corgi and negotiating tolerable dog walk lengths.