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Today's Students: Living Large

They're splurging like the high-paid executives they expect to become

An epidemic has hit America's top MBA programs. At Harvard Business School, it's called FOMO: fear of missing out. Symptoms include a chronic inability to turn down invitations to any party, dinner, or junket attended by anyone who might be a valuable addition to one's network—no matter the cost.

With their incomes about to get a big boost at graduation, many students are spending far more than absolutely necessary, in part on luxuries like leisure travel and in part on networking events. Nobody wants to quibble over the costs when they're partying with folks who may advance their career. Says Mike Altman, a student at the University of California at Los Angeles' Anderson School of Management: "It isn't worth coming off as cheap or petty when you're building a network for life."