MBA Snapshot: Stanford GSB

Stanford GSB holds the coveted title of most selective business school in the world.  Here’s three reasons why Stanford is so renowned…

1)      Entrepreneurship

Stanford GSB is located in the heart of silicon valley, which makes the campus a common ground for innovation.  Not only is the faculty well known for experiential, entrepreneurial education, but the alumni and friends of Stanford are also accomplished in the startup world.  CEOs of companies like Twitter, Microsoft, and Apple have spoken to students or guest-lectured in the classroom, and the leaders of new, yet-unknown companies are accessible to students as well.  This innovative environment is one of the biggest reasons why Stanford truly cares about what your hopes and dreams are, as evidenced by their application questions.  Very few GSB alumni enter the traditional world of banking or industry, opting instead for a “Shoot for the Stars” approach to business achievement.  If you are a dreamer, yet can backup your vision with a real plan for the future (which includes GSB), you may be on the right path.

2)      West Coast Culture

For anyone who has ever lived in or visited California, you know that the West-Coast attitude is a real cultural phenomenon.  Perhaps because of all the good weather and plethora of outdoor activities, or maybe simply because of the proximity to the Pacific Ocean and the Santa Cruz mountains, Stanford has a real “work hard, play hard” approach to business school.  Things feel more relaxed in general at Stanford vs. its competitors and many describe the program as driving towards the “touchy-feely” side of business.  For these reasons, you are probably not surprised that Stanford is considered to be the polar opposite of HBS, where things are a bit more traditional and buttoned-down.  Rarely would someone be able to make a good case for admission to both schools, so if you do decide to apply to both Harvard and Stanford, you will likely run into problems with the admissions committees at both schools, or at the very least, be perceived as someone who doesn’t know exactly what they want.  Generally speaking, you are either one or the other, so make sure you take the time to figure out which.

3)      Collaboration

Stanford’s student body at the business school is less than half the size of Harvard’s, and they take great pride in students getting to know each other.  In fact, Stanford boasts that by the time you graduate, you will likely know every member of your graduating class.  This kind of network has far more potential than the obligatory network of some of the larger schools because it’s based on real relationships vs. simply a common alma mater.  While still students, most of the work is done in teams and study groups, all of which fosters the same kind of tight-knit environment which births so many new companies.  While Chicago, Stanford and Wharton are all known for their competitiveness amongst classmates, Stanford has the opposite going on, with a strong sense of community and collaboration permeating every corner of the campus. 

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