Making New Connections: Using BrightCrowd as a Modern Student Directory for Stanford’s Graduate School of Business

November 2022 — By T.J. Duane

Entering a school for higher education is a massive milestone for any student. But a considerable part of a student’s experience in their new environment hinges upon their ability to meaningfully connect with those around them. That’s why many schools are focused on ensuring incoming grad students have an ample number of opportunities to connect with their classmates.

Unfortunately, the go-to choice for many universities is quite outdated – student directories. Most directories are:

  1. Challenging to access
  2. Limited to including contact information
  3. Cumbersome to navigate

This ultimately leads students to depend on social media networks and Facebook Groups to connect with others in their class. However, social media platforms also come with their own setbacks, as new students may be hesitant to share all their private social information with those they don't know. Additionally, usage of Facebook is on the decline, and many users are either accessing their accounts less frequently or leaving the app altogether.

It’s clear that universities must offer new, more holistic grad solutions that provide students with a safe space to create meaningful connections to other students and their new program.

That’s where Stanford and its Graduate School of Business got creative.

Challenges Introducing New Students at Stanford Graduate School of Business

Stanford GSB is known for many extraordinary things. It not only provides one of the top-ranked MBA programs in the U.S., but it also produces some of the top-paid graduates. Its notoriety is indisputable.

Despite these notable accomplishments, its student directory wasn’t up to par with the needs of the highly established school. As a result, it was hindering staff and students.

Staff Challenges

The Stanford GSB needed a structured way for students to connect before starting their graduate program. Instead, initial connections were largely dependent on Facebook Groups without the schools’ involvement. This made it difficult for staff to effectively help new students feel comfortable and confident in their new community.

Additionally, without a modern grad solution or structure, Stanford GSB relied on a google spreadsheet with student contact information. This spreadsheet was then shared amongst staff. Prone to human error and no cloud-based backup, this method was extremely risky, time-consuming, and inefficient.

Student Challenges

Ever wonder how many students does Stanford have? Out of ​​7,363 applications, Stanford GSB has a 6% acceptance rate, bringing in roughly 426 new students each year. There was no real way for all students to connect meaningfully before starting their new program.

It's worth noting that Stanford GSB attempted other software applications to host a student directory. However, these proved to be too cumbersome and reported abysmal participation rates.

Incorporating BrightCrowd to Welcome Stanford GSB Students

As an expert in university relations initiatives, BrightCrowd was the ideal partner for Stanford. BrightCrowd’s team works closely with universities to tailor digital welcome books in a way that accomplishes goals for both the university staff and students.

Stanford was already successfully incorporating BrightCrowd books into their alumni relations initiatives with positive responses and high participation rates. Now, it was time to roll it out to current students. The goal was to provide a super simple community directory where students could share contact information and be able to quickly get in touch with others while on the go. BrightCrowd’s mobile-friendly digital welcome books were the ideal solution. Not only were they a huge hit amongst incoming business school students, but they also saved Stanford GSB a ton of administrative time normally used to prepare student information, manage multiple platforms, and monitor Facebook Groups.

Now, three years later, the Stanford GSB welcome books have close to 100% participation rates. The school has rolled these books out every subsequent year for every MBA and MSx class. It’s a win-win-win for all. Students love building those relationships before the first day of school, staff love the convenience, accuracy, and security BrightCrowd welcome books provide, and faculty within the GSB especially love the book’s name pronunciation feature. Every student that creates a page also self-records how their name is pronounced, providing faculty with the opportunity to create a more personalized start to the year when they greet their new students for the first time.

Are you interested in learning more about BrightCrowd and how it can strengthen the various communities within your university? Schedule a free BrightCrowd demo here.

T.J. Duane