Many incoming students express their nervousness to the Admissions team around accounting and finance classes if they do not have experience in those areas. In reality, students at HBS come from all different backgrounds and they do not need to have experience in finance in order to be admitted to HBS. HBS has a number of resources that will help students feel confident and well-equipped to handle all their classes. Current first-year student, Melanie Sperling, shared her experience learning accounting, finance, and analytics through the HBS Online CORe program in the months leading up to her first day at HBS.

My name is Melanie Sperling and I am a first-year student here at HBS. Before attending school, I worked for four years at the One Love Foundation – America’s leader in health relationship education - and graduated with a BA in Psychology from Duke University. While my experiences gave me confidence in leadership, strategy, marketing, product development, and other categories – I was definitely worried about coming to HBS with no (and I mean zero!) finance or accounting experience.  

Here are some of the worries I had prior to coming to HBS: 

  • Will I be behind in accounting starting day one of class? 
  • Will I be the only student in my section without an accounting or finance background? 
  • How do I even learn accounting and finance through the case method? 

Despite these worries, I became excited when I learned about CORe, HBS Online’s Credential of Readiness program. CORe consists of three courses—Business Analytics, Economics for Managers, and Financial Accounting. I was so grateful that there was a resource that could provide me with the baseline of information that I would need to be successful at HBS – especially given that I knew many of my classmates would be coming to school with finance, accounting, and economic backgrounds. However, I was still hesitant about whether an online platform could actually prepare me for HBS. Luckily, I was very happily surprised. 

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HBS Online helped ease my worries by bringing me up to speed in accounting prior to my first day of class. Here were some key features: 

  • Flexibility in the online learning platform meant that I could go at my own pace. I could start an online session, take a break, and come back to it later that day. 
  • The course videos were short snippets of helpful information that put what I was learning into context. I never felt like I was being lectured at. 
  • I could access the index on the platform on any page, at any time. This meant if I ever came across a term I didn’t recognize I could still quickly find the definition. 

CORe was unlike any other online learning tool I’ve ever used. It tests your knowledge as you go and reveals what you may need to review further. HBS managed to make an online tool truly interactive. I felt prepared to pursue my MBA because CORe gave me the baseline knowledge that was vital for me to keep up in first semester courses.   

If you are an incoming student and do not feel as confident in your finance and accounting skills, I highly recommend taking CORe – and once you get to campus, don’t be afraid to lean on your section mates for support. Everyone comes to HBS with a different set of experiences, and that’s what makes the class discussions so rich. Your section mates will be happy to walk you through the class material that is tougher to grasp, and I can guarantee you that you won’t be alone if you don’t feel 100% confident in your finance and accounting skills. You’re at school to learn, and you’ll pick it up faster than you think – especially with the support of HBS Online CORe.