We’ve heard that many HBS students suffer from FOMO (Fear of Missing Out) when they first arrive on campus. There are so many events to attend, people to meet, and clubs to join – it can be a challenge to soak it all in and prioritize what’s important to you.
Britt Williams, now a second year student, has gained perspective on balancing-it-all during the last 18 months. Britt grew up in the mountains of Sun Valley, Idaho and went to Georgetown University to study International Health and Development. Before HBS she spent three months biking around New Zealand and working on organic farms. She also spent three years in consulting at Monitor Group in San Francisco.
We checked in with Britt to learn more about the FOMO phenomenon, and what advice she has for prospective students. Here’s what she thought you should know.
There’s an abundance of activities to choose from at HBS
There are more opportunities available than you could possibly imagine: from morning meditation sessions to conversations with NASA astronauts; funding from the Rock Center to pursue your dream; and even courses to learn coding.
One of the biggest things you have to decide is what you want to take advantage of. One way to do this is to think about where you'll get the most out of something. For instance, I know I learn way more during a one-on-one coffee chat with a classmate than I do from attending a panel on campus. But, everyone has their own priorities and it’s important to identify those as early as you can because there really is too much to choose from.
You don’t necessarily need to choose between sleep, academics, and a social life
I’ve heard people say this, but I don’t believe it. I get 8 hours of sleep a night, have a social life, and up to this point, haven’t been on academic probation. ;)
Learning to prioritize is important
I learned a great metaphor last week about how if you fill a jar with sand and then try to put big rocks in, the big rocks won’t fit. But if you put the big rocks in first, then you can fit in the sand. So I figured out what my big rocks are (quality time with friends and exercise) and the sand they’re getting displaced by (spending too much time on cases and checking my email). Now I have a way to prioritize what I need to say yes and no to. I will never say no to dinner with friends because I have to read cases, I’ll just probably end up staying up later than I wanted!
Also, if you try to go to things because you think you should, you will burn out. Identify what types of things give you the most energy or make you feel most valuable - go to those and cut out the other things.
You’ll probably experience FOMO at some point during your time here
The only time I experience FOMO is when I read the HBS Upcoming Events emails. There are so many events on campus, all the time! Which is great, just remind yourself you don’t need to go to all of them, or any of them! In terms of social events, as I said before, I think you should go to the things you want to go to.
If you really struggle with FOMO, delete GroupMe and WhatsApp. It’s hard to have FOMO when you don’t even know what you’re missing out on.
Inevitably there will be things you’d wish you’d done differently
If I could go back and do it all again I’d meet with more professors. They are so awesome and really care about students, so just schedule time and go chat with them in their offices. You won’t regret it.
You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take
Apply! It’s such an incredible place and you will absolutely love it. I’ve met some of my best friends for life in the past year and a half and never imagined that HBS is where that would happen.