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INSEAD vs. Stanford MSx

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Which program should I attend?

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INSEAD vs. Stanford MSx [#permalink]

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New post 26 Jul 2017, 20:47
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Admitted to both Stanford MSx (12 month EMBA equivalent) and INSEAD (10 month MBA). I already dropped my deposits (holy moly $$$$$) but am having second thoughts on the best fit program for my needs. I've read practically everything there is to read about these programs and am in need of some perspective.

Background: American 31 years with 9 years in consulting.
Post MBA goal: Looking to get out of consulting and work on social impact and business design/design thinking strategy. I am pursuing a MBA to acquire more strategic skills, facilitate a career pivot, and to open up additional opportunities.

Stanford MSx
- Small (~100 fellows per class), close-knit, and highly international class (60% international) of experienced professionals (8 years work experience minimum, 12 years experience average).
- Love the variety of hundreds of electives at Stanford. The education is unparalleled.
- I love the silicon valley energy and optimism although I'm not necessarily interested in the tech route and Stanford is a huge feeder to silicon valley. I wonder between Stanford/INSEAD which program will have the resources to propel my interests.
- Smaller MSx alumni network. The program has ~100 Fellows in each class although they are part of the Stanford Graduate School of Business (and can potentially leverage the same resources). They're still building their brand reputation, which doesn't yet have the recognition their MBA class does.

INSEAD
- As a world traveler, I expect INSEAD to be a like-minded community that embraces new environments/experiences. I anticipate an enjoyable year traveling with my classmates.
- As an American with a US undergraduate degree, I look forward to challenging my American perspective with other viewpoints and feel that it will bring about personal/professional growth.
- Worried that the INSEAD education will be too stodgy and old-fashioned. However they recently announced a refreshed curriculum for the 2018 classes and I hope that brings the education up to methods and creativity of M7 schools.
- Feel that it will be an uphill battle to avoid getting sucked into consulting/MBB and focus on that social impact track. I haven't heard much programming for social impact outside of a student group INDEVOR as well as a design thinking bootcamp at the Singapore campus. INSEAD seems to fall behind Stanford in electives in that regard.
- I hope that an international school will set me up to work in social impact internationally. INSEAD has a massive alumni network and connections all over the world.
- I am worried that this comparatively younger cohort won't challenge me as much as an experienced cohort will. One of my biggest fear is being too comfortable at whatever program I choose.

I'd appreciate everyone's insights and advice!

Last edited by karroty on 11 Dec 2017, 22:22, edited 2 times in total.

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Re: INSEAD vs. Stanford MSx [#permalink]

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New post 26 Jul 2017, 22:12
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Congrats on getting into two very impressive programs. The two programs could not me more different I think, and that's a bit of a challenge comparing Apples to Oranges.

My first-hand experience with MSx was back when it was the Sloan program about 4 years ago and my understanding is that it was pretty intense. I somewhat accidentally got a tour of the campus by one of the alums who was clearly extremely proud of the program- he was a well to do VC fund manager. He left me with a lasting impression about the program and he definitely felt it was a significant contributor to his career.

I am probably being somewhat swayed by a personal experience with just one person but I feel INSEAD is more of a BMW/Mercedes/Lexus while MSx is along the lines of Maseratti or Lotus - more exclusive and known by only a handful (of course the Stanford name is know but I am splitting hairs here). I am probably leaning towards MSx. It is a more like-minded program with people in a similar situation in their lives. INSEAD is work hard/play hard culture with amazing parties and dance nights - not my thing but it may be the energy you are looking for - search for INSEAD party on Youtube. A more tangible challenge with INSEAD is that it is not well known in the US and while there are alums and many claims about people getting jobs in the US, it is not a US School and i doubt your cousins or your uncle have heard of it. At the same time if you don't mind working somewhere abroad, you can tap into the network and for outside of the US, you are probably much better suited to go to INSEAD. I am not sure how that fits into your career and if Social aspect is getting developed in other parts of the world and who is leading there per se. I know California and Stanford put quite a bit of emphasis on it.... However, INSEAD is a school with strong consulting focus with strong placement stats and is a well-oiled machine.
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Re: INSEAD vs. Stanford MSx [#permalink]

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New post 30 Jul 2017, 23:44
Thanks for the insights! Could you elaborate more on your experience with the INSEAD alum? I have a good idea of Stanford, and have even visited the campus. I'll admit that INSEAD is still a fuzzy image even after all of the conversations I've had.

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Re: INSEAD vs. Stanford MSx [#permalink]

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New post 31 Jul 2017, 12:32
Also would love to hear from those of you voting for INSEAD! What makes you recommend the INSEAD program given my background? Thanks so much :)

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Re: INSEAD vs. Stanford MSx [#permalink]

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New post 01 Aug 2017, 17:32
Congrats on your tough decision! What a great problem to have! :wink:

I admit I voted for INSEAD - but that is because it is such a unique program, given campuses in two different countries. You mention that you are interested in international dealings, and frankly, this is what puts INSEAD on the map. That said, anyone can make the argument that MSx is also unique and could no doubt lead to opportunities overseas as well.

Recommend talking to INSEAD alums and current students to get a stronger feel for the culture - and the alums can give you some insight into life post-INSEAD too.

Good luck, whatever you choose I think you'll have a life-changing experience!

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Re: INSEAD vs. Stanford MSx [#permalink]

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New post 20 Sep 2017, 14:25
So which one did you go with and why?

Thanks and good luck!

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Re: INSEAD vs. Stanford MSx [#permalink]

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New post 24 Sep 2017, 08:28
I am an INSEAD aspirant. May I know your GMAT score, please?

Regards
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Re: INSEAD vs. Stanford MSx [#permalink]

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New post 15 Oct 2017, 18:55
I'm a current MSxer so maybe I'm biased. I considered INSEAD for a while though before applying to Stanford. I believe that the INSEAD MBA is a great program (probably one of the best one year MBA programs in the world) but I felt that it simply doesn't offer me the same flexibility and opportunities the Stanford MSx program does. It's a completely different experience in my opinion. I mean:
- yes the MSx cohort is about 100 people but we are together only for core classes. I have many opportunities to network with the 400 second year MBA students when that makes sense to me in the electives classes (they are definitely very bright but they tend to be way younger than me and have not the same corporate leadership experience that I have). I also can network with students across the street if I need to. It has been 3 months now since we started but I can say that I know quite well 100 fellows, I'm starting to interact with about 10 MBA students in project groups or in student clubs and I'll have also the opportunity to interact with students across the GSB. Between, I'm living in a residence on the campus and I have frequent BBQs and other community events with my neighbors from Engineering, Law, Med, etc...school;
- According to a recent count there are more than 175 Entrepreneurship classes at Stanford. I just said Entrepreneurship. Some of them are taught by billionaires or very wealthy people (that I saw only on magazine covers before coming here) or super successful Venture Capitalists;
- As for the International exposure, there is an "unofficial Antartica student trip", several other unofficial regional study trips (Israel, South America, etc...) and of course the official international study trips (about 20 destinations to choose) with countries covering all continents from New Zealand to Brazil, Rwanda, Mexico, Singapore, Hong-Kong, Germany, etc.... In some cases, students will meet with the head of states of the countries they visit;
- Finally my biggest surprise here so far is the people. Both those who run this program and my classmates. The staff is really devoted to make our experience as positive as possible and will go as far as helping fellows' families integrate in a North American environment. We are not left on our own and I feel I can share any personal topic with the MSx staff. As for the fellows, imagine you surround yourself by 100 resilient leaders and overachievers trying to change the world, to have an impact on the world or to do something really big. Think you will bask in that environment for about a year and imagine what impact it may have on your mindset.
Good luck for next year though. You're very privileged to have to make this difficult choice and whatever you choose, I'm sure you'll enjoy it.

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Re: INSEAD vs. Stanford MSx [#permalink]

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New post 27 Oct 2017, 05:27
Wow, great debates here. Being a Libra it always hard for to choose 1 out of 2. Anyway, I try to listen to people's advice as it' the most effective way for me to make a decision. So, I picked Stanford, if you're interested in it.

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Re: INSEAD vs. Stanford MSx [#permalink]

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New post 11 Nov 2017, 10:47
rouseyleendar wrote:
Wow, great debates here. Being a Libra it always hard for to choose 1 out of 2. Anyway, I try to listen to people's advice as it' the most effective way for me to make a decision. So, I picked Stanford, if you're interested in it.


Why did you decide to give your vote to the Stanford MsX?

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INSEAD vs. Stanford MSx [#permalink]

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Hi everyone,

Thanks for the discussion, advice, and your poll participation. I wanted to give an update on my decision. I have decided to attend the Stanford MSx program. This comes after a long period of reflection and also researching articles, blogs, and interviewing alumni. At the end of the day, for my interests, you just can't do better than Stanford. Stanford walks the talk on social entrepreneurship, design thinking, personal development and the school mission is a better fit for me.

The following were the major deciding factors to what was otherwise a very tough decision. As a caveat, since I ultimately chose Stanford the deciding factors will seem skewed:

More resources = more room to explore
There are overwhelmingly more resources at Stanford. Besides being a full-fledged University and a top business school, Stanford is also a powerhouse at fundraising. This means that they have the ability to support more fellowships, centers, programs, and more varied electives. With regards to my interest in Social Impact/Design they have the Center for Social Innovation, Impact Labs, D.School, Social Impact Fellowship, offer certificate programs and double-majors, publish the Stanford Social Innovation Review, and have professors recruited from the UN, World Bank, etc. INSEAD has a student group INDEVOR that runs a wide variety of social impact activities on campus and about 3 electives that I could find which are tailored to social impact, and a 3-day design thinking bootcamp. The INSEAD menu had one of everything that I was interested in, but it was more of an appetizer rather than a full course meal.

Pay to Play
At INSEAD you pay for add-ons what Stanford offers for free. Outside of coursework, INSEAD requires students to pay a discounted "student fee" for things like startup/design bootcamps (at the tune of 400+ Euros a pop). From what I can tell, Stanford students access these same types of opportunities for free as electives, can make use of the wider university resources for free, and in addition, can even get a student discount for Bay Area professional conferences and events. Also, it surprised me that the INSEAD deposit was the highest I had ever encountered at 10K Euros to reserve your seat. Between paying your own way for bootcamps, events, and social activities/travels, the cost of the full INSEAD experience can start climbing quickly.

Cohort and Alumni Network
Where INSEAD wowed me was with the friendliness and caliber of their students. All the alumni speak about the program with great enthusiasm. They're incredibly proud that INSEAD is grown into its potential. There is an instant camaraderie that I've come to find is characteristic of INSEAD students/alumni, which comes from the incredibly unique set of traditions and experiences that make up the INSEAD MBA program.

With Stanford, I was not connected to their alumni chapters as that's reserved for active students and alumni (not prospective students). This made it harder to compare programs and was initially a major disadvantage for Stanford as I had built a rapport with INSEAD alumni. However subsequent conversations with a few Stanford alumni connections helped set expectations. I'm relying on assurances from the alumni I interviewed that GSB has a vibrant community, unusually responsive alumni, and that the school takes a very active role in organizing and funding events for alumni to stay connected. INSEAD alumni events seem largely self-sponsored.

Pace of program
The pace of the full INSEAD experience seemed unnecessarily complex between squeezing in an exit foreign language, sightseeing other countries on the weekends, student clubs that meet over Skype to coordinate between France/Singapore, an entire period flying to multiple countries as part of the recruitment process, working around electives that are only available in one of the campuses, the pain of moving campuses halfway through school and finding new apartments/services, friends who come in and out of your circle because they switched campuses and later scatter to various corners of the earth after graduation - all within a 10 month span. Exhilarating for some, but exhausting for me.

I also felt that INSEAD's exit language and new leadership development requirements would not have enhanced my experience but rather burden an already packed schedule. As an aspiring career changer, I want more mental space to thoughtfully explore interests and tee up my future. Stanford's 12 month program and the fact that opportunities come to campus seemed a more effective use of time.

Culture of Changemakers
Although I value a culture of diversity, which INSEAD offers in spades, I value even more a culture of dreamers, moonshots, and change-makers. Stanford embodies an idealism yet down-to-earth quality that I find compelling. Personally, I'm looking for a journey of self-discovery and not a path to a MBB job. In addition, as another reply mentioned, the MSx program is 60% internationals and hosts their own 'National' event for fellow classmates. I am confident that I will still get an international perspective from my cohort.

When I reflected on my reasons for going to business school in the first place Stanford became a no brainer. Put another way, talking to INSEAD alumni made me excited about the social life, travels, and traditions at INSEAD. Talking to Stanford alumni made me excited about my future, encouraged to take risks, and try to "change the world". Between the "Best year of my life" vs. "Change my life", I opted for the program that I felt would bring the most personal and professional transformation.

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Re: INSEAD vs. Stanford MSx [#permalink]

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New post 13 Dec 2017, 12:35
Congrats on making the choice and thanks so much for coming back to report on it!
This will be super helpful to all those researching and deciding down the road.

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Re: INSEAD vs. Stanford MSx [#permalink]

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New post 14 Dec 2017, 21:53
karroty wrote:
Hi everyone,

Thanks for the discussion, advice, and your poll participation. I wanted to give an update on my decision. I have decided to attend the Stanford MSx program. This comes after a long period of reflection and also researching articles, blogs, and interviewing alumni. At the end of the day, for my interests, you just can't do better than Stanford. Stanford walks the talk on social entrepreneurship, design thinking, personal development and the school mission is a better fit for me.

The following were the major deciding factors to what was otherwise a very tough decision. As a caveat, since I ultimately chose Stanford the deciding factors will seem skewed:

More resources = more room to explore
There are overwhelmingly more resources at Stanford. Besides being a full-fledged University and a top business school, Stanford is also a powerhouse at fundraising. This means that they have the ability to support more fellowships, centers, programs, and more varied electives. With regards to my interest in Social Impact/Design they have the Center for Social Innovation, Impact Labs, D.School, Social Impact Fellowship, offer certificate programs and double-majors, publish the Stanford Social Innovation Review, and have professors recruited from the UN, World Bank, etc. INSEAD has a student group INDEVOR that runs a wide variety of social impact activities on campus and about 3 electives that I could find which are tailored to social impact, and a 3-day design thinking bootcamp. The INSEAD menu had one of everything that I was interested in, but it was more of an appetizer rather than a full course meal.

Pay to Play
At INSEAD you pay for add-ons what Stanford offers for free. Outside of coursework, INSEAD requires students to pay a discounted "student fee" for things like startup/design bootcamps (at the tune of 400+ Euros a pop). From what I can tell, Stanford students access these same types of opportunities for free as electives, can make use of the wider university resources for free, and in addition, can even get a student discount for Bay Area professional conferences and events. Also, it surprised me that the INSEAD deposit was the highest I had ever encountered at 10K Euros to reserve your seat. Between paying your own way for bootcamps, events, and social activities/travels, the cost of the full INSEAD experience can start climbing quickly.

Cohort and Alumni Network
Where INSEAD wowed me was with the friendliness and caliber of their students. All the alumni speak about the program with great enthusiasm. They're incredibly proud that INSEAD is grown into its potential. There is an instant camaraderie that I've come to find is characteristic of INSEAD students/alumni, which comes from the incredibly unique set of traditions and experiences that make up the INSEAD MBA program.

With Stanford, I was not connected to their alumni chapters as that's reserved for active students and alumni (not prospective students). This made it harder to compare programs and was initially a major disadvantage for Stanford as I had built a rapport with INSEAD alumni. However subsequent conversations with a few Stanford alumni connections helped set expectations. I'm relying on assurances from the alumni I interviewed that GSB has a vibrant community, unusually responsive alumni, and that the school takes a very active role in organizing and funding events for alumni to stay connected. INSEAD alumni events seem largely self-sponsored.

Pace of program
The pace of the full INSEAD experience seemed unnecessarily complex between squeezing in an exit foreign language, sightseeing other countries on the weekends, student clubs that meet over Skype to coordinate between France/Singapore, an entire period flying to multiple countries as part of the recruitment process, working around electives that are only available in one of the campuses, the pain of moving campuses halfway through school and finding new apartments/services, friends who come in and out of your circle because they switched campuses and later scatter to various corners of the earth after graduation - all within a 10 month span. Exhilarating for some, but exhausting for me.

I also felt that INSEAD's exit language and new leadership development requirements would not have enhanced my experience but rather burden an already packed schedule. As an aspiring career changer, I want more mental space to thoughtfully explore interests and tee up my future. Stanford's 12 month program and the fact that opportunities come to campus seemed a more effective use of time.

Culture of Changemakers
Although I value a culture of diversity, which INSEAD offers in spades, I value even more a culture of dreamers, moonshots, and change-makers. Stanford embodies an idealism yet down-to-earth quality that I find compelling. Personally, I'm looking for a journey of self-discovery and not a path to a MBB job. In addition, as another reply mentioned, the MSx program is 60% internationals and hosts their own 'National' event for fellow classmates. I am confident that I will still get an international perspective from my cohort.

When I reflected on my reasons for going to business school in the first place Stanford became a no brainer. Put another way, talking to INSEAD alumni made me excited about the social life, travels, and traditions at INSEAD. Talking to Stanford alumni made me excited about my future, encouraged to take risks, and try to "change the world". Between the "Best year of my life" vs. "Change my life", I opted for the program that I felt would bring the most personal and professional transformation.


Hi karroty

Big Congrats............. wish you a good luck for your future.
Can you please share your GMAT score?

Thanks
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Re: INSEAD vs. Stanford MSx [#permalink]

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New post 15 Dec 2017, 15:34
Thank you for the congratulations. I've gotten the GMAT score question a few times already. My GMAT was around 750. Although... I would advise people not to worry so much about the GMAT score. I consider the GMAT score the entry bar. As long as you're "in range" for that school your application will be considered. What really makes you stand out as a candidate is a good set of personal essays and great recommendations. Study for the GMAT, yes, but also focus as much time if not more on crafting your personal essays and creating a solid recommendation package for the people who are writing in on your behalf. Promote your accomplishments and sell your grand vision of what you want to accomplish with a business degree. Make sure your recommendation letters also back that up. Good luck!

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Re: INSEAD vs. Stanford MSx   [#permalink] 15 Dec 2017, 15:34
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