Pstt… there’s another section that you haven’t heard about. It’s not Section M, X or K. It’s P. Section P for Parents. The membership only requires you to have a baby and lead a very different lifestyle, but there are lots of priceless benefits such as unconditional love, even greater perspective on life and automatic productivity boost. Want to join?
The Admissions Office doesn’t have exact statistics on students who enroll as parents because it’s not something that’s asked on the application form. Last I counted, 5 ~ 8% of the student body either start HBS as parents or become parents during their two years here. With 1 ~ 4 kids per parent, there are almost enough kiddies to fill an entire Aldrich classroom each year!
If this is surprising to you, then you’re not alone. One thing that I’ve noticed through my RC year as a student Mom of 3 is that students with family tend to be quieter and less visible on the social scene (myself included). There are many reasons for this and here are a couple of the big (obvious) ones: the need to care for kids and to spend time with a partner. I think there is a third, less obvious reason… the desire to keep family life separate from work life.
I’m writing here in an attempt to open the dialog because I personally believe that when parents share more of their family life, both the parents and non-parents can benefit. Of course, in certain cultures and industries, the norm is very much against bringing personal life beyond the immediate inner family circle. I’m not saying that what’s private must now become public, but rather within the HBS, perhaps we can safely share a glimpse of what’s so important in our lives.
To all the Section P’s out there, consider posting a picture of your kid learning to sit, stand or walk on GroupMe. Text something funny you heard or saw. Share a realization that dawned on you from being a parent. I think you will be surprised at the reaction from your fellow classmates, much as I have seen when I started to share more about my own kids’ antics. I’ve started hosting small dinners at our off-campus apartment and realized that I really enjoy sharing my favorite moment of the day, which is when I come home to a little “welcome party” made up of very short and loud people.
To the unattached and unencumbered, if being a parent is a job you’d like to have some day, why not talk to someone to find out more? Better yet, invite yourself over to hang out, maybe bring some Chinese takeout to share? You too, might be surprised at what you would learn about your classmates and yourself.