Don't make this rookie MBA student mistake

Last Updated Mar 5, 2008 10:11 PM EST

Tonight, we had our first quiz in Financial Accounting. Sounds easy enough, doesn't it?

I'm pretty sure I bombed it -- embarrassingly so.

I could blame it on the fact that I've never had accounting (never mind the fact that many people who know me thought this class would be right up my alley). I could blame it on the fact that I had the flu last week when we went over the material (never mind the fact that I had plenty of time last night to catch up when I was reading the chapter).

But let's be honest: I bombed it because I underestimated the subject matter, and I didn't spend enough time preparing. It's a rookie mistake, but I think it's one that's fairly easy for an MBA student to make.

This class is really basic, particularly if you studied business as an undergrad. Even though I didn't, I've had no problems following along. No one else seems to either; looking around the class during the lecture, you can practically see students' eyes glazing over.

And yet, there were plenty of people still working on the quiz when I turned mine in, including my husband who's taken accounting before. It seems I wasn't the only rookie in the class.

Because our MBA program includes both students with business backgrounds and those without, there are inevitably some classes that are more basic than others. This accounting class is one of them. For some of us, it's brand-new material, but for others, it's stuff they deal with every day at work.

No matter what side of the spectrum you fall on, it can be easy to underestimate the demands of such a "basics" class. But, however basic they may be, these classes still have requirements and material to either learn or review.

I thought I'd be able to rely on my common sense and my BS abilities -- not so much. Instead, I found myself struggling with a question that many others seemed to sail through.

Chalk it up to a lesson learned: You can bet that this time next week, I'll have been much better prepared.

Have you made this rookie mistake in B-school? What class did you expect to be a piece of cake that wasn't?

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