Many of Knewton’s GMAT students are aiming for the top MBA programs in the world. Comparing those programs can be difficult —HBS and Stanford GSB both look pretty darn good on a resume, after all.Â In the end, deciding between those two business behemoths largely comes down to personality. The learning experience will not be the same — the case method dominates at Harvard, for example — but there’s no question you’ll get a first class education at either one.
So, how do you decide which business school is better for you?
With the recent addition to our Product Team of Nathan Lasche, a 2010 MBA from Harvard, we thought it the perfect time to take an inside look at these top institutions.
So, here begins Knewton’s series, MBA Life: Insiders’ Perspectives on Business School. First, we’ll hear from Nate about his experience at Harvard Business School. And stay tuned for Ben Jackson, a friend of Knewton, currently at the Stanford Graduate School of Business. We’ll mostly steer clear of the education itself and delve more into the experience, what it’s like to live there, who you’ll meet, how you’ll feel at these schools.
I spoke with Nate last week about his experience as part of Harvard’s class of 2010. Nathan did his undergrad at Stanford, so he also had some insight into differences between HBS and Stanford’s GSB.
Here are some of the highlights of our conversation
On networking at b-school: According to Nate, “It was awesome. HBS is incredibly international. You end up with friends from all over the world, from Russia, from India, from Africa. They’re known for that… Your alumni network is likely to range more widely across the globe.” Stanford claims a very similar percentage of international students per class, but, Nate explains, “It’s a volume thing. With three times the number of students, your network will probably be dispersed a little more broadly. Stanford has a reputation of being a bit more regional, not in terms of where students are coming from, but post-graduation — people of course head there from all over, but they may be more likely to be interested in staying in Silicon Valley afterward.”
On class size: “Classes at HBS are about 900. At Stanford, classes are about .Â [At Harvard] you’re constantly meeting new people, even up to your last semester. At Stanford, you might be a little more likely to max out. One of the consequences of the larger class size is that you’re always able to find your niche. There’s definitely going to be a full spectrum of students at both schools; there’s just more of a sense of magnitude at Harvard… Of course, at a smaller institution, you might get to know those three or four hundred classmates a little better. But Harvard tries to mitigate that with sections… Each class is broken up into sections of about 90 students, who go to the same classes their first year and share many activities.”
As for the facilities: “They’re perfect, all state-of-the-art.” (I can attest that myself — as an undergrad at Harvard, I used to walk over the river to study in the b-school’s library, with its row upon row of fine couches and arm chairs and huge windows letting in natural light. When I attended a couple of speeches over there, the lecture halls were stunning, with tight wood paneling and great desk chairs in tiered array. It’s all built to impress.) Nate adds that for those snowy New England winters, there are even “fully furnished tunnels connecting all the buildings.” Nevertheless, “You have to be alright with a little bit of snow [in Boston].”
Speaking of Boston… “Boston and the Bay Area are both really cool places. At HBS you’re in Cambridge, which is a cool, urban, college town. But Cambridge is also IN Boston, so you have that city life, whereas Stanford is a little further away from San Francisco. So, that’s something to consider, too, whether you’re looking for a more or less urban experience.”
Thanks, Nathan, for giving us a quick peek into life at HBS. My biggest take-away from the interview was Nate’s enthusiasm for my first question—he immediately started talking about how great all the people he met were.
Stay tuned for my interview with Ben Jackson on Stanford GSB.