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Saturday, May 08, 2004

Stanford  

Stanford has a really great computer system for booking visits. Visit the webpage, select what you want to do and when you want to do it, and it books you in. Except in my case, there was a bit of a hitch.

I arrived at the admissions office to find that they weren't expecting me at all, in fact they'd blocked off the day for round three applicants who were interviewing that weekend. Whether I'd booked before the day was blocked off and the system had failed to alert them, or whether it had let me book when it shouldn't have, I don't know. But all was very far from lost, as the amazing Nancy in admissions bent over backwards to help, and slotted me into the programme for the interviewees. So I had the added bonus of meeting some round three applicants who'd got over the first hurdle.

Reading through the B-Week forum, you see a number of posts along the lines of "I put in a great application to Stanford. I've got a 3.9 GPA, a 780 GMAT, wonderful work experience, interesting ec's, and everyone who read my essays said that they were so fantastic and moved them to tears. But I didn't get an interview. Stanford must be prejudiced against me because of my age, school, sock colour etc.etc." Well, having met some round three interviewees, I think it's safe to say that it has much more to do with being up against some really amazing people in a very competitive pool. (And remember, I'm a Brit, we don't tend to go for a whole lot of hyperbole.)

First was the class visit. Three of us sat in on 'Managing Organizational Networks', which is an organizational behavior elective looking at the role of social networks within and between organisations. There were about 23 students in the class, with roughly a 50:50 male, female split. The first half hour of the class was spent briefly running over what had been covered in the course so far, and the remainder in a discussion based on a case study concerning Italian banks. There was a very high degree of engagement and involvement, with only a couple of people who didn't contribute to the discussion. The classroom was completely enclosed, which I imagine could get a bit claustrophobic after a time, but it certainly cut out distractions and interference. (I noticed at Yale that there was quite a high level of street noise to contend with.) It was also a laptop-free room, which apparently is the norm. I was told that the wifi in the GSB has been done with short antennae so that it doesn't extend into classroom, thereby cutting out surfing or IMing during class.

After class there was lunch with some of the current first years. They were all really friendly and welcoming, a far cry from the 'Stanford MBAs are arrogant' stereotype that gets propagated by some people. I felt a got a very useful insight into life at Stanford in their experience. The one question I've asked everywhere is "If you could change one thing about the school, what would it be?" The most interesting response at Stanford, was someone who said that he thought that students segregated by type (national, professional background, etc) too much, birds of a feather tending to flock together for understandable reasons, but losing out on the opportunities to learn from different people by doing that. Having said that, I also got the impression of a class of people who were more than willing to share knowledge, experience and contacts.

The formal information session didn't offer a whole lot more explicit information than is available on the website or in the prospectus. But it was interesting, and I think useful, to get the 'school's eye' view on things. The session was led by Allyson Davies, Associate Director of Admissions, and by this point the interviews and I had been joined by an r2 waitilist, and another couple of potential applicants. I came away with clear sense of the transformational and holistic view that the GSB takes on its programme, both during the course and afterwards.

The tour took us round the GSB building, which felt compact but not too small, and Schwab, which was much nicer than any student residence I've ever come across. Not that much more to say about it really, except that it's a really beautiful campus.

By the time the tour was over, the extra three hours' time difference was catching up with me, so I headed back to my hotel for a nap. And on a similar note, I now have to convince my body that it really is half past midnight rather than 7.30pm and try to get some sleep so I can get up in the morning. Night night all.




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