Got a few responses--pretty good, too. One said the weather was better. Can't prove that by me. When I went to Stanford the first two weeks were 100 plus with no air conditioning in the stupid dorm they had out there. Mark Twain said the coldest winter he ever spent was a summer in San Francisco. The hottest summer I ever spent was two weeks in Palo Alto.
Another response was more jobs. Illinois is basically a feeder school for the Chicago area so think the job thing is pretty much a push.
No, the real answer is that Stanford has a better golf course. Actually, Illinois has two golf courses but they don't match up to Stanford. I mean, c'mon, Tiger Woods went to Stanford. I doubt he even looked at Illinois.
The point is that I am not a big fan of going to a 'name' school. As pointed out yesterday there is one big advantage to a name school but if you don't have the smarts on the job, you're going to be out of a job no matter where you got your MBA. If you have the money and the smarts, go for it but if not, don't worry because THEY ALL TEACH THE SAME THING.
For example, me, again. I am now twenty years out of Illinois MBA school and doing pretty well when my boss calls me in and says I'm going to the executive program at Harvard. Dammit, Harvard doesn't even have a golf course. Eight weeks and no golf in the middle of the summer. Well, ok, one does have to make sacrifices for the career. Then there was some political shennigans which I never understood or cared about because my boss, called me in and said "How about Stanford?" No, not that, never.
Well, ok. My sister lives just down the road, she had an extra van that could carry lots of golf clubs, and the weather supposedly was better. Plus, I even had a reason for going--I wanted to see if a big name school was "better" than everything else. So off to be a Cardinal. (Stanfordites are not the Stanford Cardinals, they are the Stanford Cardinal which makes no sense to me. They used to be the Stanford Indians but PC got in the way so they are Cardinal. Which still may not be politically correct if you are a Catholic or a bird.)
There was another reason for wanting to go. The tech boom was in full swing and there was the New Paridigm. I don't think I spelled that right but you don't hear about it now because it blew up with the tech boom implosion but back then it was hot. So off to see the Wizard of Stanford and sit at the feet of the tech gods.
Got there and what a let down. The dorm was a dump, an un-air conditioned dump, the business school looked like it was designed by Communist Party architects, and there were 200 guys and 12 women. Business women. We won't go anywhere with this but you get the picture. The highlight was checking out the golf course. Note: There has since been the construction of the Charles Schwab center to house all future attendees. I don't care, I was in a dump. It was so bad that some of the foreign 'students', who had more money than all of us, actually stayed the whole two months in hotels.
Then we got the class schedule. Accounting--ok. Finance--ok. Marketing--ok. Organizational Behavior --code for Human Resources, a reluctant ok. Business Law--ok. Operations--oh, oh. But at least no Statistics. But except for Statistics the classes looked pretty familar since they were all the classes I took at Illinois. But, of course, the world has changed and I will learn all new stuff.
Nope. New stuff same as the old stuff. Accounting was taught by Charles Horngren, now retired, but the GUY in accounting. Nice enough guy but a Gross Margin is still a Gross Margin and a debit is still...you get the picture. Business Law was not as good as at Illinois--had a great professor there that was hilarious. The guy at Stanford was ok. Finance. Ok, has to be a bunch of new stuff. Nope. Discounted Cash Flow--the same thing I learned and applied twenty years ago. Finance was a little bit different in that they were really pushing Leverage which is debt instead of equity and really helped when the whole economy went in the dumpster four years later. Leveraged buyouts--been there, done that.
Finally, Marketing. Marketing was different. The marketing professor called in his wife who was some marketing VP at Sun and some poor innocent from, I think, General Mills. The General Mills guy started babbling about test marketing, focus groups, gradual rollouts, IRR's and DCF's and I couldn't get enough. Made me miss the old days at Quaker. Then the professor cut the poor guy off at the knees. There was blood in the aisles.
His wife (I think there was a case here for conflict of interest but I let it go) went on a rant about getting the product out there first and nationwide, no worldwide. Then she said, even if it didn't work. What? Her point was be first and then fix it. I was schocked but, hey, I'm from Illinois. What do I know? I looked around in disbelief but my fellow students just nodded heads, no protests. Obviously, the guy from General Mills was vindicated a few years later and I doubt if that lady works at Sun anymore.
The point? Things don't change much. That includes professors. The Stanford people were good. Good, not great. Worth the price? It was to me because I wasn't paying for it. And I got to play a lot of golf.
But if you are paying for it and you want the best deal and you want to learn and not just say you went to Stanford or Harvard, I would check out the alternatives before coughing up the big bucks and heading to Cambridge or Palo Alto. But that is just me.
Monday, a note on College Rankings. I hate that stuff.