Duke MMS Student Blog
What It’s Like to Tackle B-School Without a Quant Background
Like many of the prospective students reading this who share my aversion to anything quant related, I was apprehensive about the idea of coming to business school.
After kicking, screaming, and begrudgingly making it through my high school courses in math and statistics, I decidedly shied away from the subjects for as long as I could. My passion and natural acumen had always been in anything related to literature, or the arts.
Consequently, I happily dived into an undergraduate degree majoring in French and minoring in English and psychology. I spent my days poring over 18th-century literature, poetic devices, and the inner workings of the mind.
Upon entering the workforce, the nature of my work meant that I continued to make use of my qualifications, while simultaneously being exposed to the inner workings of a business. My curiosity over time led to my goal of working in a more client-facing role, and hence to the first step in the plan, an MMS degree here at Fuqua.
Like many of the prospective students reading this who share my aversion to anything quant related, there was of course some apprehension and anxiety linked to the prospect of preparing for the GRE/GMAT, and then eventually, coming to business school for an intensive 10-month course.
Primarily, I found that making the choice to return to quantitative subjects was almost freeing. There’s a certain sense of control you gain when you look at the entire thing as an opportunity to unlearn and relearn what the stresses of school as a teenager tarnished.
Taking this perspective changed my approach to applications, and how I’ve worked throughout the past three terms of the program. It’s important to remember that not having previous knowledge of a particular domain doesn’t automatically put you at a disadvantage, it instead allows you to look at things with an open mind.
The MMS program prepares students from diverse backgrounds for the corporate world, and as such, is challenging, but also equips you with an incredible support system. Professors, TAs, teammates, and friends are the people you can lean on, while the program gives you access to an exhaustive set of resources, practice problems, and real-world scenarios.
Of course, a change of mindset is a good start, but not enough. You have to show up every day, work consistently, and really engage with all the resources you have available. That means completing learning modules (MBA Math for every accepted student), pre-course readings, team assignments, and most importantly, showing up for class. Trying on your own and asking for help when you hit a wall ensures that you keep pace with all the new information thrown at you.
Lastly, it can be intimidating to step into a cohort of talented individuals, and some days may feel like you’re just about keeping your head above water. But there are other days where you feel yourself power through, right alongside a community that is cheering you on. The MMS program will challenge and gratify you in the best of ways. It’s a rollercoaster ride that you can make the most of when you find the perfect work-life balance, workstyle, and people that suit you best.