Stanford GSB Takes Over A Comedy Club

An invite to a Stanford MBA information event takes a more accessible approach

Getting into Stanford’s MBA program is no joke. The school turns down nearly 94% of the candidates who apply for admission each year. Stanford’s Graduate School of Business boasts the highest average GMAT scores and the highest undergraduate GPAs of any incoming MBA class at a prestige business school in the world.

Yet, Stanford clearly wants to lighten the mood. In what is likely a first for any business school, Stanford is holding a recruiting event for would-be applicants in a comedy club. On July 11th, the school will roll out the carpet for interested potential candidates at the All Out Comedy Theater in Oakland, CA. It’s an unusual venue for an MBA info session but Stanford is promising “a fun and informative look at the Stanford MBA program.”

The invite itself is an interactive trip of sorts, featuring a canvas briefcase with brown leather straps and inviting users to sneak a peek. Inside, viewers discover that the average elective course size is just 38 students, the student-to-faculty ratio is a mere 6.1, and the average required course size is only 64 students. You’ll also discover that 78% of Stanford MBA students take classes outside the business school in other departments and schools at Stanford University.


And to play up the great Northern California weather, the school notes that the average temperature in June is 78. “That’s the forecast pretty much every day in June and a lot of the rest of the year. Leave your winter coat at home because you’re not going to need it.”

Some admission consultants are waxing positive about the light-hearted nature of the communication from Stanford. “It’s more of a human touch, and hopefully it reduces some of the anxiety students have about applying to a business school with such competitive admissions statistics,” says Betsy Massar, founder of Master Admissions, a leading MBA admissions consulting firm. “Like any other MBA program, Stanford is trying to reach out to as many students as possible and encourage them to apply. This is one way of doing it—to make themselves more fun and accessible. I hope it works! On the other hand, it just might force that 6% admissions rate even lower.”

Also in the briefcase is a description of the three core attributes Stanford seeks in an MBA admit: intellectual vitality, personal qualities and contributions, and demonstrated leadership potential. Here’s what the school now says about each of these:

Intellectual Vitality: “We won’t pretend your academic record and test scores don’t matter. They obviously do. But so does your attitude about learning. We’re looking for students with insatiable curiosity, a desire to learn and experience new things, and a willingness to take intellectual risks and share their knowledge and experiences.

Personal Qualities & Contributions: “Tell us your deepest, darkest secrets. No, we’re just kidding. Bu do tell us a lot about who you are and hat things motivate you. Your values, background, influences, and interests give us a sense of what kind of experience you’d have here at Stanford, and they’ll help us understand how you’ll contribute to the GSB community.”

Demonstrated Leadership Potential: “Captain of your college debate team? Did you step up to lead a project at work? Or maybe you spent years leading community improvement. We’re interested in every flavor of leadership, whether that’s extracurricular activities, community service, internships, research projects, part-time or full-time employment, or something we haven’t heard yet. So go ahead, surprise us. We want to know all about it so we can understand how you’re going to make an impact.”


Worried about paying for the degree? Stanford addresses this issue as well. The school notes that the average fellowship grant to first-year MBAs at Stanford is now $36,414.

“MBA programs are expensive and money doesn’t grow on palm trees (even in California),” according to the invite. “But we’re committed to helping you meet your financial need, and that means putting our money where our accpetance letters are. We’re committed to helping all admitted students meet their financial need. Unlike our need-blind admission process (which doesn’t consider your financial situation) financial aid is need-based. If you need a lot of help, you’ll get it through some combination of fellowships., loans, and outsie programs that we can help you locate. Once you’re admitted, we’ll work with you to understand your individual situation and get the process rolling.”




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