I don't get books like this new one called Ahead of the Curve by recent HBS graduate Philip Delves Broughton. He was apparently shocked to discover that students there are competitive! And graded on a curve! They work hard/play hard! And head off to stressful, high-paying jobs! This guy was a journalist for ten years before going to business school. Why were these newsflashes to him?
The HBS culture is a strong one, and it's pretty transparent. It's not for everyone, and that's fine. Why go there if it's not your cup of tea? I'm thinking this was more a failure of due diligence on his part than it was a failing of HBS.
With Round 1 deadlines right around the corner, this book is a good reminder to think hard about what kind of environment you want. People are seduced by name brands all the time, and the biggest, baddest name brands do have much to offer. There's nothing wrong with being brand-conscious, because brands have value, and they matter in the real world. (I doubt the author is suffering because he now has an MBA from HBS.) Still, if you're going to be miserable there, as this person obviously was, question whether you should go at all, and at a mininum make sure that the benefits (which can be considerable) outweigh that particular cost to you. And don't go there and then complain that HBS is... HBS.