Wednesday, July 25, 2007

The Phone Call and Decision

The phone conversation began similar to the hundreds of others I have seemed to have over the couple of weeks after my acceptances. I told her what my goals and ambitions were at this point and what I thought were the pros and cons of both Harvard and Stanford. She gave me many of the same statistics and figures that I have heard many times previously and it seemed that this would be the last call before I would "accept Harvard's acceptance!" We were wrapping the conversation up when she changed from giving me the facts to talking to me in the most straight forward manner I could have ever asked for. She told me that the name really doesn't matter and the Stanford name would open just as many doors as the Harvard name. While I think that is probably the case, I am already quite familiar with having an unknown undergraduate university on my resume' so it would be nothing new if I had to work just a bit harder to open those doors.

Our conversation came down to one thing that really stuck with me which would ultimately result in my decision. Yes, both Stanford and Harvard would be great schools and could easily propel me down the road of becoming a successful business leader. With either degree, I could be financially secure and would have incredible opportunities afforded to me. But, she told me I need to ask myself... do I truly want to be the best leader I can possibly be? If the answer is yes, then I need to put aside' advice... and reflect on myself.

What program suits who I am? Which institution will focus on developing my weaknesses, push me to the limit and create that top leader that I want to be?

I hung up the phone, so thankful to this woman who just changed my entire thought process on choosing my graduate school and so "un-thankful" that I was now back to square one. I grabbed the Harvard acceptance form and slid it in a drawer where it stayed.

Over the next few weeks, I did visit Stanford. It was not admit weekend so I had my own personal tour where I met pretty much everyone involved in the program, from first-years up to Dean Joss, each offering their own insight about the Stanford MBA program. I can honestly say I met some of the most amazing, humble, and kind people I have ever known that weekend. I came back to Ohio Wesleyan and, as the woman suggested, sat by myself and reflected on the questions she posed.

A few hours later, I called my father and told him I would be attending Stanford's Graduate School of Business next year.

Why? Every person I met there was incredible! They were so diverse in every way and had ambitions of changing the world. Everyone seemed to have ideas and there is nothing I love more. The program is much smaller (370 students vs. 900 students at HBS) creating a smaller, more intimate environment which I am more familiar with and thrive off of. Their curriculum is more personal and offers greater flexibility. Finally, in entrepreneurship it is unbeatable due to its proximity to Silicon Valley.

My decision was made and final. I am a member of the Stanford GSB Class of 2009!

Note: This was a VERY abbreviated version of my decision-making process and there were many more people who graciously gave their time to help me think through it. I thank everyone who helped me and would most definitely help anyone else who is going through a similar decision!


Esha said...

I'm so glad I chanced upon your blog. The sweet pain of choosing between Harvard and Stanford is getting unbearable. Would really be indebted to you for any help/advice. Is there an Email ID I can reach you on?

Amar Kumar said...

Hi - I also want to say thanks for detailing your thought process out on your blog. While it undoubtedly has to be a personal decision, it is really helpful to know how others thought through the problem.

Kelly said...

Thanks for posting this. I too and lucky to be choosing between HBS and the GSB - and am struggling. Do you have an email address so I could learn about your Stanford experience?

Josie said...

Hey, I also want to thank you for a bit of insight. I found out last week that I got into Harvard, after I had all but decided to accept my Stanford offer for Grad school. Now I am in the awkward position of choosing between the two, and it really is traumatic. Harvard is offering me more financial aid, and has the name, but Stanford would be amazing.
I really can't bear to turn down either :-S

Amar Kumar said...

Josie -
One interesting strategy my co-worker showed me that might help make your decision involves a coin flip (with a twist). Heads you go to Harvard, tails you go to Stanford. Flip the coin and right as it lands, you will definitely be hoping it's Heads or Tails -- you will know what you want to see. That's your answer. No need to even see the result of the flip - it's irrelevant, you already know what you want.

Josie said...

lol, thanks for the advice Amar! I tried it, and was surprised to find that I really wanted it to land Heads... I guess that's my answer then. Although I do fear choosing Harvard just based on the name and the scholarship they have offered me, even though Stanford is much superior in my field (Environmental Engineering). Basically it comes down to this post I read on another blog:

"You should go to Stanford but you won't, you will go to Harvard. Here's why: if you go to Stanford, you will always wonder what's going on or what could have been at Harvard. On the other hand, if you go to Harvard, you will never for a moment wonder about what it would have been like at Stanford. Power of the brand, my friend."

I guess I can always head to California post masters. Such a dilemma!

Amar Kumar said...

That is a very nice quote you pasted from another blog. The power of the brand is irrefutable. For me, when I finally mailed that tuition deposit, I felt like a huge burden had been lifted. I am not sure I would have felt that way had I made the decision to attend Stanford - because I would have wondered what if...Hope to see you either at Admit weekend in April or on campus in the fall!

Anonymous said...

wow - i am amazed at the position all of you are in. not sure if anyone is still reading these comments, but i would appreciate any advice on strengthening my chances at stanford. how can i get in contact with any of you? feel free to email me at provo03 at gmail dot com

Melinda said...

Great work.

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