The GSB Brand

One of the reasons I applied to the GSB is the strength of the brand. When I applied I had a very clear picture of my long-term goals, but was a bit more fuzzy on what my path would be in the years immediately following school. I wasn’t in love with any particular industry or job function, so it was important to me to pick a school that had a good reputation across many different areas.

That was a couple of years ago, and today I realize that the GSB brand is both stronger and more important than I had expected. I have realized this because I plan to be a triple-jumper, changing my location, industry, and job function. To get a head start, I have begun contacting people who work in the companies I am targeting. The minute I mention the GSB these people become more attentive and, if they are recruiting reps, they immediately offer to introduce me to just about anyone in the organization that I want to talk with.

To some people this might not seem all that surprising. But for many, including myself, this reaction is mind-blowingly impressive. The people I have been doing informational interviews with don’t know me at all. I could be an olympic athlete who has started five companies all worth a billion dollars or I could just be an ordinary person who wrote an interesting “what matters most” essay and got lucky. But that doesn’t matter. They assume that because I will be attending the GSB I am worth their time and effort. They willingly take a few minutes, or even a few hours, out of their busy schedules to help me figure out if I would be a good fit at their company. For me, trying to make the triple jump with work experience that is limited to mostly unknown nonprofits, the strength of the GSB is proving to be of vital importance.

Back when I was deciding which bschool to attend, I didn’t realize how important the brand would be. I read about lots of other applicants balancing out brand, fit, and the total cost of attendance. When I was applying, I ranked my favorite schools based mostly on fit- the strength of the brand was a secondary concern.  I just got lucky that the GSB accepted me and that it happened to be the best school for me in terms of both fit and brand.

In hindsight, I probably should’ve been much more concerned with the strength of each school’s brand. Of course, it’s not the be all end all for everyone. For prospective students who expect to return to their pre-bschool employer it hardly matters at all. For others who are targeting a specific industry or job function long before they apply they just need to make sure the brand is strong enough to help them get the job they want. If you’re in one of those categories, then you certainly have the freedom to pick fit over brand. But for many of us trying to make an ambitious change in our careers the brand definitely counts. And in my opinion, the GSB brand is as good as it gets.

(Yes, that entire post was biased. Before you complain, please consider that I am writing from the perspective of a future GSB student. I can guarantee you right now that EVERY post will be biased).


About backinthebay2015

Stanford GSB class of 2015
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6 Responses to The GSB Brand

  1. Interesting. Are you not concerned about the cost of attendance AT ALL? I am looking at GSB as well. I have a really good job in an industry I’m not interested in. I will be changing location, industry, and job function as well. But the thought of being in all that debt scares me.

    Also, do you think going to Stanford undergrad helped you get into GSB? Thanks.

  2. You hit the nail on the head…cost is definitely my biggest worry these days. However, I don’t think that I would be able to follow the career path I want to follow or get my dream job without an MBA. Cost didn’t have an impact on my school selection because all the schools I applied to cost the same. The biggest downside is that I won’t have complete freedom with my first post-MBA job– I’ll have to find something that pays enough to cover my debt and I might have to stick with that job longer than I’d like to. On the upside though the GSB gave me an incredibly generous financial aid package and it should be possible for me to pay off my debt in just 4 or 5 years. I think that as long as you go into bschool aware that you will have a lot of debt and already focusing on job opportunities that pay well enough to cover the debt you should be fine (that’s my hope anyway).

    As for going to Stanford undergrad…I would doubt that the GSB admissions people are biased towards Stanford undergrads in their decisions. There’s just no reason for them to be. But I do know that being on campus helped me get a better feel for the GSB and have a lot more interaction with current students. So in that sense, it definitely helped me get it.

  3. Ankur says:

    4 to 5 years to pay off debt? scares me already !

    • I wouldn’t be too worried. If money is a big concern, there are some great merit scholarships you can get the second year if you have really good grades the first year. You can also live more frugally before/during/after school to cut your debt down even more. If you do all of that and you pick a post-GSB job with a high salary you could probably pay it off a lot faster.

      • Sure. That’ll be my next post.

      • Ankur says:

        Thanks for the reply.

        You mentioned “pick a post-GSB job with a high salary” as though it was as easy picking tomatoes at a grocery store. I am sure that there will be cut throat competition between students for all the jobs. Moreover, the high average salary that many rankings talk about are mean/median which means there will be half the class below that level going down to god knows how low.

        Anyway, I was more stressed about the 4-5 years debt part because I (like many people) am interested in becoming an entrepreneur. Everyone knows that Stanford is amazing in that aspect of teaching. But the whole aim of going there to learn about it, connect with people, etc goes for a toss when after I finish the course i am deep in debt and then end up giving up my dream ( or delay it by so many years) and take up a job somewhere and work half-halfheartedly counting the years one by one after which I will be a free man.

        I am sure lot of people think about this a lot and its not just me.

        It would be great if you could do a post on ROI as you are pretty close to the school and know many students/alumni. It would be great to know about placements too (with some idea on lowest/highest salaries given recently, most placements in which sector etc)


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