The Carroll School of Management is the most prestigious of all Boston College's institutions. The most difficult of the four undergraduate schools to get into, CSOM prides itself on producing the most successful and outstanding of BC's alumni.
Were it not for the monetary donations of Carroll School grads, it is doubtful whether Boston College would even enjoy the proud reputation it does today. In all probability, it would exist solely as one of those tiny "liberal arts" colleges that no one has ever heard of, with 2,000 undergrads and zero endowment. Perish the thought.
I'm joking obviously. At least, I hope it's obvious. Although, as a senior double concentrating in Finance and Marketing in the Carroll School of Management, I'm not so sure that all of my non-CSOM friends would immediately pick up on the joke.
Coming into BC as a freshman in 2009, I had literally no idea that there was any type of CSOM stigma. Besides taking different classes than kids in the other three schools, my naive little self didn't think anyone cared about or even noticed the differences between CSOM-er's and non-CSOM-er's:
The night of our freshman boat cruise, I had a conversation I will never forget. Getting off the bus, I was talking to this fellow frosh I had just met. Our small talk led to the inevitable "what's your major?" question. He said he was pre-med. I told him I was in CSOM. And I kid you not, his eyes widened like he had just seen the devil. He muttered something about being impressed and he then turned and bolted before I could say another word. I swear to Benjamin Franklin that I have not seen him since.
So what's my point? It's that from the moment we get here, seemingly every one of us, whether in CSOM or not, develops preconceived notions about the Carroll School's student body. And you know what? They're stupid. All of them.
These stereotypes are the elephant in the room for every student in the Carroll School, and they reflect prejudices, insecurities and misplaced values that are going to contribute to a lot of misery to everyone who believes in them. So without further ado, enjoy my heated and thorough deconstruction of:
THE TOP 10 (FALSE) STEREOTYPES ABOUT CSOM
10. Everyone in CSOM knows each other. I'd say I don't know where this stereotype comes from, except I know exactly where it comes from. Yes, students in CSOM do work on a good number of group projects, but there are 496 CSOM-er's in the class of 2013 alone. Figure out how many groups of five I'd have to work in before I met everybody.
This stereotype isn't that offensive (which is why it's only number 10), but the tone of implied failure when my non-CSOM friend asks me why I don't know his or her friend in CSOM is a bit condescending. And yes, the irony of me using that word is not lost on me. We will get to that.
9. We're all natural salesmen (translation: we're all a bit sleazy). People don't like to be sold things. Shoot, think about how many "like my Facebook page" statuses you ignore every week - people don't even like being given free things if it requires moving a muscle. So when the phrases "natural salesman" and "CSOM-y" get tossed around interchangeably, don't think that the negative connotations are lost on us.
Sure, many enlightened folks realize that being a good salesman is not inherently evil. But I urge everyone else to think twice before using the sarcastic "everything you say to me is a manipulative lie" joke on your CSOM buddies next time you see them.
8. CSOM dudes love Sperry's and salmon shorts. I have absolutely no idea where this one came from. I get that "Sperry's and salmon shorts" is a codeword for "bro," and I won't deny that there exist dudes who love Sperry's and salmon shorts within CSOM. But until I see some type of scientific study with lab coats and research and stuff I will refuse to admit that CSOM reps the boat shoes and fish bottoms more than the rest of the school's
bros male population.
7. We're all going to be rich. In 2010 the median starting salary for a CSOM grad was $55,000. According to Barack Obama, "rich" means you make $250,000 or more. So okay, 50 percent of us are almost 25 percent of the way there. Not exactly a guarantee in my book, but I appreciate the optimism. On a related note, the next time one of my pre-med friends cracks a money joke or complains about being poor, I'm going to show them this graph. And then puke.
6. All of our classes are easy. Whenever a non-CSOM-er complains to me that my classes are easier than his or hers, I reply, "CSOM kids don't have less homework, we just don't complain about it as much." Four times out of five, this single sentence will shut the other person up.
But in that one last instance, I am forced to read out loud from my Financial Policy course pack about un-levering and re-levering beta at a given target debt-to-assets ratio for estimating the appropriate cost of equity in order to calculate a firm's weighted average cost of capital for the purpose of performing a net present value analysis with... are you still reading this sentence? Whoever I was reading this to would have left my Mod by now.
5. Every woman in CSOM is a five-letter word that rhymes with "witch." Last May, we (meaning the Gavel, not CSOM) published an awesome piece by Jon Dame called "Feminism from the male perspective." He sums up, far more eloquently than I could, the unconscious sexism that surrounds a woman who pursues a career or anything else in a male-dominated area. All I can add is that the genuinely awesome girls I've met in the Carroll School outnumber the "witches" 50 to one, and that the one professor who most impacted my life is also a female CSOM grad. The only reason this stereotype isn't higher on the list is that it is (thankfully) not as widespread as the next four.
4. We have no ethics. First semester of freshman year, every CSOM student takes a course called Portico. The first subject that Portico tackles is not "How to Make Money," contrary to popular belief, but ethics. Months or even years before our fellow Eagles are reading Plato, CSOM students are debating Aristotle, Kant and Rand both in the abstract, as well as with regards to the practical applications of each author's ideas in the real world. It's the first thing ground into our brains once we enter Fulton Hall. Literally all of us CSOM-er's know as much about ethics as the guy who made this video:
3. We all have our lives planned out. This one probably stems from the waves of suited-up CSOM juniors and seniors commuting from Fulton to the Career Center for job interviews throughout the year. And as frustrating as it may be to scour EagleLink and not see many job postings for your specific major, don't think that everyone with an Accounting or Finance concentration: A) is guaranteed a great job he or she will love or B) knows what he or she wants to do with that degree.
Believe it or not, most of us don't have Daddy guaranteeing us a job with a big Wall Street firm when we graduate. CSOM kids are as unsure of their future as anybody else and the stereotype that someone in CSOM has the next five years figured out by definition only compounds the stress.
2. All we care about is money.
This is not CSOM.
1. We all think we're better than you. If you fell for that opening paragraph for even a second, then you're guilty of this and you know it. None of those previous nine stereotypes comes close to the fallacy of this projected arrogance. I can obviously only speak from my own experience, but my own experience also tells me that everyone I know feels this way enough to joke about it.
And the most messed up thing about it is that it's a self-fulfilling stereotype. If you keep perpetuating this myth that all CSOM kids think they're superior to everyone else, then yeah, some CSOM kids are going to think "if everyone keeps saying this, maybe it's true." Then they're going to start acting like the arrogant jerks everyone else hates, tell all their English major friends that they can come be their secretary in four years and re-ignite the whole cycle.
For the record, I'm not saying that CSOM-bashing is the biggest issue on the BC campus, or that the occasional "Carroll School of Money" joke should get someone kicked out of the school. What I am saying is that the commonly accepted vilification of CSOM as BC's own Slytherin is a reflection of some very real and very undeserved inferiority and superiority complexes inside and outside of the school.
Just because your friend is in CSOM doesn't mean he's going to make more money than you, and even if he does, so what? You chose not to study business because you didn't want to and every college grad in the world will tell you that's the right decision. Doing something that truly makes you happy, not how much money you make doing it is what truly matters, and there's no need to be insecure about sacrificing potential income for long-term happiness.
And on the flip side, to anyone in CSOM who is actually embodying this stereotype - as someone who is much richer than you will ever be once said, "you can pay for school, but you can't buy class." On behalf of the vast majority of the students of the Carroll School of Management, please grow up.
Follow Robert Rossi on Twitter @RVRossi.