The Tuesday Q&A: Why Should I Choose HBS over Stanford GSB?

QUESTION:

[This question came to us from a friend on Quora.]

Why should I choose HBS over Stanford GSB?

ANSWER:

Great question, eh? First off, anyone who has to choose between these two world class programs… well, that’s a GREAT problem to have. In most respects, you really can’t go wrong.  But let’s say you DID have to choose. Why should you choose one over the other?

[Just a note: I hate to pick sides here (since we send so many folks to BOTH programs each year), but the question was asked and I am going to answer from my personal experience.]

That’s a problem I had to face. I was admitted to both Stanford GSB and HBS. I was enamored by Stanford’s weather, their study method, and their laid-back style.  But I chose HBS.

Why?  BRAND.

Now, call me a sell-out all you want, but here’s the deal: Here at Admissionado, we do a TON of business in China. I spend a lot of time there, working with clients, holding seminars, etc. And had I gone to the GSB and not HBS, my own personal brand wouldn’t be as strong.  Of course, they know that Stanford is great (everyone knows Stanford is great), but HBS has more cache.  The HBS brand is second to none, and in business, brand is critical.  Maybe, just maybe, the most important thing. Especially as you make your way further and further away from the Bay Area, the US, etc.

At the end of the day, the HBS brand is unbeatable globally. Even GSB’ers will admit that Harvard is better known in many countries. Don’t get me wrong, arguable “reasons to choose the GSB” are aplenty: better education, better lifestyle, stronger alumni bonds, the list goes on.  But from a brand perspective, it is a no-brainer.

I know this is going to ruffle some feathers. I know many of you out there may not agree. But as I see from my personal experiences and from watching clients choose HBS over GSB every year, the HBS brand holds more weight.

And that, my friends, is why someone should choose HBS over GSB.

What would YOU choose?

– Jon Frank

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