Stanford GSB admit reconsidering options (US/Europe)

Hi everyone, thought this seemed like the right place to come for advice.

I'm an international student who was admitted to Stanford GSB with relatively low effort last year and due to the pandemic I was able to successfully request a deferral. The last few months have been great for developing greater clarity on my future personal goals and I have prioritized them as follows.

  1. Most importantly, I'd like to live in the US or Western Europe/the UK after graduation. I've given up on my home country, its depressing economic performance over the past 10 years has certainly hindered my career advancement, and I am confident it won't offer me any extraordinary work/life opportunities in the short term. Context: I have been rejected in the H-1B US visa lottery before as a non-STEM top school US undergrad, so that kinda scarred me.
  2. I'd like to bring over my partner, either during or after my graduation, and earn a visa that will allow them to work in whatever country I happen to end up. They're incredibly talented and I'd like them to thrive with me.
  3. I'd like to make a very good amount of money. I'm almost 30 and thought at this point in my career I'd have "made it". But despite working for renowned companies and being frequently promoted, I'm just not there yet. As a reference, in 2-5 years I'd like to have a very centrally located and nicely decorated modern apartment (either a rental or my own) in a big metropolis and be able to afford any international travel I want. Kids can wait and I don't care about cars or other forms of luxury.
  4. I'd like to travel frequently or at least have a decent amount of time off. Traveling is my favorite hobby and I don't mind working hard or being intellectually challenged as long as I can do it often and have fun at it. I know this screams "Europe" but I'd still would like further input/a reality check if needed. This is surely the least important of all 4 factors I've listed.

As you may have noticed, I don't care that much whether I end up at a big bank or tech startup, or anything, really. I've done a bit of everything in the past (except for management consulting). I have significant experience in Marketing and HR, but more I often get excited by more generalist managerial/entrepreneurial/consultive roles.

Despite having been admitted, I'm not sure GSB is the school that will offer me the clearest path to these goals. I'd love to hear whether you think I'm crazy or whether you think LBS, INSEAD, other US MBAs or even a non-MBA alternative would provide me with a better path.

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Comments (5)

Aug 29, 2021 - 4:12pm

GSB is an excellent school, your odds of making it in life are significantly higher with this school on your resume, regardless of what you do.

Previous H1b rejections don't mean you won't make it again, but the chances of making it are low. You can be rejected again despite a Stanford degree.

Regarding your life goals, they seem excellent to me. Can't say I know how to achieve them, some are conflicting. lots of time off and travel isn't always in line with high income.

maybe: Go to GSB, find your co-founder(s), start a business, sell it.

Most Helpful
Aug 29, 2021 - 7:38pm

I'll get to the point as my access to WSO is a lot more random than it used to be (I go way back).  The TL;DR is: the money will work itself out, so choose based on everything else. 

I'm circa 5Y out from my Top 5/M7 MBA.  I love my alma mater, but it definitely has less name recognition and wow factor than Stanford GSB.  I've also done my time at the usual suspects/bit of everything (BB, MBB, etc).  I haven't made a ton of money, but it's not like I lose sleep over that.  Recently married (to a doctor, so totally different career considerations).  Started in the US post-MBA, but now live (permanently) in Western Europe.  I travel all the time (20+ flights during the pandemic).  I make about the same money we all made in our first jobs post-MBA, but I've got the Western European lifestyle package to go along with it, ie. 5 weeks of official vacation and tons of unofficial vacation (ie. I've spent the last four Augusts entirely on Mediterranean islands), easier hours, longer lunches, lower cost of living, etc.

So, without being a perfect analogue, I get where you're coming from and where you want to go.

Having said that, if your profile needs a prestige boost (doesn't sound like it, but that's the "if"), you can do no better than Stanford GSB.  Its appeal is universal.  Yes, the East Coast likes to look after its own, and Western Europe has really, really weird (read: stupid, socialist and ill-informed) attitudes towards the MBA, but you can't go wrong.  I got a lot out of the actual MBA experience itself, and my life would be totally different without the MBA.  I emphasize my life, because I suspect my career earnings, purely in pecuniary terms, would've been roughly the same with or without the degree.    

As I said in the beginning, the money will work itself out.  That said, you have to decide whether you want to make it rain (stay in the US) or just try to have a good life (Europe).  I personally think the Bay Area has fallen from grace as a place to live, but YMMV.  Maybe that lame Bay Area social scene is the key to autistic pursuits of billions - I dunno.  I loved partying and working in New York - but I was in finance, so I had home turf advantage.  I love living in Western Europe - but I'm from here and I'm fluent in most of the languages here, so I also have home turf advantage.  I hate working here, but frankly, so does everyone - the economy is forever in the doldrums, and the bureaucracy is expanding to meet the needs of the expanding bureaucracy.    

So, I'm not really telling you what to do.  All I'll say is: choosing LBS (I didn't apply) over Stanford is troll-level dumb as a move.  INSEAD isn't as good as Stanford (I turned down my spot there), BUT it has a truly powerful European network.  I still wouldn't recommend it, but it's a more palatable trade than LBS.  The only school you should really consider vs GSB is, well, HBS.  Duh.  But you just seem like a Stanford type.  Definitely not a Wharton type.  Booth, Sloan and Kellogg are great, but not turn-Stanford-down-for-the-sake-of-a-shorter-flight-to-Europe great.  

So: want an MBA?  Take the GSB spot or try for HBS.  Want to skip the MBA?  You'll probably do just fine anyway.  Life might just force you to figure out what to do. 

The truth is you're the weak. And I'm the tyranny of evil men. But I'm tryin', Ringo. I'm tryin' real hard to be the shepherd.
  • 6
Aug 29, 2021 - 9:20pm

I don't think HBS and GSB are on the same level anymore. GSB can match HBS's PE%, but has 2-3x higher % going into VC, and entrepreneurship outcome is heads and shoulders above HBS. Sure it has a smaller class, but it's pretty much the top 50% of HBS's class. There's nothing HBS can get that GSB can't, but I think there are certain VC firms that only recruit at GSB but not at HBS. I'd say HBS is the half step between GSB and Wharton these days (esp looking at PE/VC numbers).

Sep 1, 2021 - 9:58am

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