Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Why I didn't choose the GSB

I was chatting with someone who once described the GSB as a unicorn -- rare and kind of mythical. That analogy has stuck with me, because it just seems so apt. With an acceptance rate under 7% and a student body half of the size of that of HBS, the GSB truly is a unique place.

After my acceptance, Derrick Bolton and the GSB staff, students, and alumni truly made me feel wanted. From phone calls to in-person meetings, I was blown away by the attention and support I was given. I could so easily picture myself blending in to the GSB and becoming part of that legendary community.

In terms of the curriculum, the GSB offers more courses specifically geared towards my interests, as well as the flexibility to take those courses. I could get a joint degree in just two years! At HBS, the joint degree with the Kennedy school is a three year program; that means extra time and money. Therefore, I didn't even consider that option.

And of course, I can't fail to mention that while both schools were relatively generous in their financial aid packages, there was a pretty substantial difference between the two offers.

So given all of that, why am I not planning to move to California? Why aren't I hoping to get a room in Schwab? Why did I decline such an amazing program that is arguably a perfect "fit" for me?

In the end, the choice came down to my head versus my heart. My head told me all of the reasons that I should go to the GSB. Everyone around me seemed to think it was an obvious choice. I could easily find my tribe, people who are similar to me, do-gooders who want to change lives, change organizations, and change the world. I wouldn't be in so much debt for the next 10 years. Everything would be simpler.

However, my heart is what led me to HBS. When I initially started this crazy business school application journey, HBS was my absolute dream school. I figured my chances of getting in were slim, (I know amazing people with 770 GMAT scores who were rejected), but I figured it couldn't hurt to apply. And so, I submitted an application, hoped for the best, and expected the worst. When I actually obtained my dream, I knew that I would regret letting it go. Every other decision I have made throughout this process has been well thought out and logical. I made spreadsheets and took a very analytical approach. With the decision between HBS and GSB, I stopped being logical, I ignored my pros and cons lists, and I just went with my heart.

I know the next two years will be insane. I'll be forced out of my comfort zone; I'll be mentally exhausted; and I'll of course be freakin' cold in Boston. But I'm okay with that, because I'll be living my dream.


  1. I must say that reading your blog has made me realize that the only problem I had to explain why I chose a school other tan GSB was….plain lack of the proper words.

    Just like you, I was tremendously tempted by the warm and attentive welcome of both the GSB student/alum community and the admissions team. I chose to accept MIT’s offer, but my decision process was so long and elaborated that I’m not even sure I ever understood it completely.

    In the end, whenever I tell my story (there’s still a few people that will not forgive me for saying “thanks but no thanks” to Stanford the almighty), I tend to say that “It was really an exercise of honesty with myself”.

    After reading your article, I can see now that the decision process was really a process of “the heart over the head”.

    Thank you for helping me find some sense in my decision!

    1. Thanks so much for posting. The decision-making process can be incredibly overwhelming, especially since so many people tend to have strong opinions. I'm happy that you based your decision on what you truly wanted.

  2. Totally inspired by your journey! I will be starting mine this year and have started a blog of my own!

  3. Great decision!! I'll be one of your classmates next year! Go HBS!

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