MBA Student Issues

An MBA Degree's Great Value

A Master of Business Administration degree is a valuable credential. An MBA degree can open just the right door to the chief executive suite. Just ask Walmart CEO Doug McMillon and Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg, both proud holders of an MBA degree. An MBA can also equip the graduate with just the right skills to start and run the graduate's own business. One recent national story touts the MBA as the ideal degree for business skills and career acceleration. Another recent national account gives ten excellent reasons to earn an MBA. For many, an MBA fully warrants investing the time and money to earn it.

Don't underestimate the value of earning an MBA degree. If you face academic or other misconduct charges in your MBA studies, don't minimize what you have at stake in continuing those studies and earning your MBA degree. You believed in the value of an MBA degree when you began your MBA program. Don't let misconduct charges or similar obstacles suddenly dissuade you from pursuing your MBA degree. Nothing has changed about an MBA degree's value simply because you face a new obstacle to earning the degree. You believed in the degree's value before facing the new obstacle and should continue to believe in it now.

Instead, let national college and university defense attorney Joseph D. Lento and the Lento Law Firm help you defend and defeat those charges. Apply the same commitment, strategies, and resources to overcoming your new obstacle that you have applied in pursuing your MBA degree and that you will apply once in business. Once you earn your MBA and enter the field of business, you will seek out the best professionals to help your business along the way. Treat your present issue in the same way. Get the best help available, and persevere to overcome your new obstacle. Retain attorney Joseph Lento like so many of his clients recommend.

Unexpected Obstacles to Earning an MBA Degree

Students pursuing an MBA know that making time for studies and raising the money to pay for studies are the usual challenges. Everyone earning an MBA degree must put in the time and effort that business studies require. And most students, other than the few fortunate students on full-ride scholarships, have to find ways to pay for it. But in fact, MBA students often face other unexpected challenges that could prevent them from earning the degree or enjoying the degree's full benefit. Those challenges can include:

  • charges of cheating, plagiarism, unauthorized collaboration, or other forms of academic misconduct
  • allegations of sexual assault or other sexual violence, Title IX sexual discrimination or harassment, sexual exploitation, or other sexual misconduct
  • disciplinary charges involving alcohol abuse, drug possession or use, trespassing, unauthorized computer use, disorderly conduct, theft, or other personal misconduct
  • charges of violating professionalism standards such as disrupting class or professional work environments, disrespecting clinical supervisors, failing to attend to client or customer matters, or breaches of confidentiality

No one goes to business school for an MBA, expecting to face disciplinary proceedings for one of these forms of student misconduct. Yet misconduct charges are certainly possible. Business schools offering an MBA will have in their student conduct code policies against cheating or other academic misconduct, sexual misconduct, personal misconduct, and unprofessionalism. The University of Pennsylvania's Wharton School of Business is a prime example. The Wharton School's policies, like policies at other business schools, authorize the institution to charge MBA students with many different forms of misconduct.

Sometimes, business schools, even premier schools like Wharton, have clear grounds to charge students with misconduct. Consider the recent story of the Wharton MBA student whom federal officials charged with a billion-dollar fraud scheme. The student pled guilty to those charges, facing years in federal prison. A student who commits serious federal financial crimes should not expect to complete business school unimpeded. But far too often, colleges and universities, including business schools, enforce conduct policies against innocent, earnest, and well-meaning students. Read some of the stories of false misconduct accusations collected by the nonprofit advocacy organization Families Advocating for Campus Equality (FACE). The risk of a false, unfair, or exaggerated misconduct charge is real.

Why MBA Students Face Misconduct Charges

Indeed, the risk of misconduct charges may be greater for graduate students, and especially MBA students, than for students in undergraduate or other graduate programs. MBA students are not immune to the pressures, misunderstandings, temptations, and confusions that students can face in any college or university program. Indeed, graduate programs, MBA programs certainly included, elevate those conduct standards. What a college or university might have ignored or excused in an undergraduate program, where students are still learning adult and academic norms, a business school may well not excuse and may instead punish severely. Those MBA student issues as to which business schools may hold higher standards include:

Academic Issues:

  • turning in late or incomplete academic assignments
  • unauthorized collaboration on assignments with other students
  • copying or drawing on the work of others without attribution
  • referring to outlines or other resources when unauthorized
  • inaccurate, exaggerated, or incomplete information on applications

Sexual Issues:

  • making sexual jokes, innuendo, or requests for sexual favors
  • sexual contact with underage minors
  • voyeurism and invasion of privacy
  • consensual sexual relationships with school faculty or staff
  • consensual sexual relationships with subordinate supervised students

Personal Issues:

  • any on-premises possession or consumption of alcohol
  • intoxication in class or on business school premises
  • disorderly conduct on or off business school premises
  • trespass or unauthorized use or possession of school property
  • computer misuse, social media misuse, and electronic bullying
  • copyright and other intellectual property violations

Professionalism Issues:

  • absenteeism, tardiness, and other failure to attend and perform in a timely manner
  • emotional outbursts or other disrespect to students or staff
  • inability or unwillingness to work with peers on academic projects
  • refusal to respect the expressed views of others
  • breaches of confidentiality

Business schools may take these forms of misconduct more seriously than other higher-education programs because of the significance of rankings and reputation. Business schools compete with one another for rankings like those maintained by U.S. News & World Report. Millions of dollars in tuition revenue, grants, and alumni, corporate, and foundation donations can ride on small changes in business school rankings or minor changes in a school's perceived reputation. As a consequence, business schools jealously guard their reputations.

One way that some business schools do so is to make quick work of suspected student misconduct. Better, some schools feel, to sacrifice an innocent student falsely accused of notorious misconduct than to lose face with alumni donors and other influencers by affording the innocent student due procedural rights. Business schools may prefer to sweep things under the proverbial rug, scapegoating an innocent student rather than doing the messy and hard, but proper, work of determining truth, dispensing justice, and protecting the innocent.

The Costs of an MBA Program Misconduct Finding

While the risk of a false or unfair MBA program misconduct charge is real, the cost of a misconduct finding is substantial. When a business school finds that an MBA student has committed some form of misconduct, the school's policies will authorize the school to punish the student with anything up to expulsion. Again, the Wharton School of Business's policy provides the prime example, stating: “Appropriate sanctions include, but are not limited to, the following: Letter of Reprimand, Probation, Suspension, and Expulsion….” Other business schools may include reduced grades, lost course credit, required repeating of course or coursework, remedial training, community service, and other forms of sanction for misconduct.

When considering what might happen in the face of a misconduct charge, don't assume that a slap on the wrist is the standard business school punishment. On the contrary, the student's suspension for at least one term and perhaps longer is generally the sanction to which schools naturally default. The easiest thing for a business school to do when a professor, other staff member, or student complains of a student's misconduct is to remove the allegedly offending student. Out of sight, out of mind. Indeed, the complainant may insist that suspension or expulsion is the only acceptable remedy. Other remedies short of suspension or expulsion, like remedial training and community service, typically require the school to implement the corrective action, at some trouble and expense. These and other considerations make suspension the default sanction.

Suspension is no vacation, either. Missing a term, a year, or more of school delays graduation by at least that amount. Delayed graduation means delayed employment and delayed earnings. Delayed graduation also means accumulating costs, like room and board, and accumulating loans. Suspension also means losing meaningful peer relationships as classmates proceed on to graduation and joining a strange new set of peers who will inevitably wonder, and probably learn, why the student missed a term or more of school. Expulsion is worse, but suspension is a very serious, very disturbing sanction.

A misconduct charge alone can mark an MBA student's otherwise impressive record, causing the student to lose honors, internships, references, recommendation letters, and job opportunities. Businesses hire managers and executives who have integrity. A charge alone is a red flag. A reprimand, suspension, or similar punishment after a misconduct finding is more than a red flag. Misconduct findings with significant sanctions may close doors. Even the delay in graduation due to a misconduct proceeding or the student's suspension can add up to tens of thousands of dollars in costs and lost income. And a misconduct finding that results in expulsion can mean a lost business career. A tremendous amount rides on a misconduct charge against an MBA student.

MBA Program Misconduct Procedures

Fortunately, MBA programs routinely offer procedures through which students can defend against charges of misconduct. Those procedures typically entail a complaint stage, investigation stage, pre-hearing stage, the hearing, and appeal. Again, the Wharton School of Business's policy provides a good example, stating: “The Ethics Committee will be responsible for hearing complaints under the Code. Five members of the Ethics Committee will sit for a hearing, with the Code Advocate serving to investigate the complaint and present any evidence. Hearings will be conducted according to procedures maintained by the Ethics Committee and available to all students upon request.” Wharton directs appeals to an MBA Executive Committee.

Invoking those procedures is critical to a successful defense of MBA misconduct charges. Business schools like Wharton offer procedures. They don't guarantee procedures. An accused student must accept the offer and invoke the procedures. If the accused student does not respond or even ignores the matter, the school may short-circuit the procedures. The school may, in effect, enter the accused student's default, presuming that the charges are true and that they warrant serious discipline. That's why students accused of misconduct must act quickly, clearly, and firmly in response to any misconduct accusations, following the business school's procedures and demanding that the school comply. And invoking protective procedures is precisely where the services of national college and university defense attorney Joseph D. Lento and the Lento Law Firm come in.

What to Do When Facing MBA Program Misconduct Charges

Facing a misconduct charge in an MBA program is a serious matter, one that warrants serious attention. The first and best thing to do in any such instance is to retain a premier national academic misconduct defense attorney to represent you. MBA students generally don't have training and experience in administrative dispute resolution procedures. They also generally don't have the advocacy skills of an experienced academic misconduct defense attorney. If you or someone you know faces MBA program misconduct charges or other MBA-related issues and concerns, national college and university defense attorney Joseph D. Lento and the Lento Law Firm are available for aggressive and effective defense and representation. MBA students have enormous interests in their education. They also have ways to dispute false, unfair, or exaggerated misconduct charges. Call 888-535-3686 to schedule a consultation with attorney Joseph D. Lento and the Lento Law Firm or use the online service.

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If you, or your student, are facing any kind of disciplinary action, or other negative academic sanction, and are having feelings of uncertainty and anxiety for what the future may hold, contact the Lento Law Firm today, and let us help secure your academic career.

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