Ok, now for the details (after a nice sushi dinner in Palo Alto). Here are the things I noticed about Stanford that were different from HBS:
Students were more individualistic, tended to be more arrogant. For example, one student candidly told us that the rest of the University doesn't like the MBA program because the students are too arrogant. When asked if they deserved that reputation he admitted, almost proudly, that they probably did. Another student told me that "We don't need 'em" when asked how many come to admit weekend and go elsewhere. As for more individualistic, at HBS everyone was very interested in our story and our background. At a GSB dinner, it was 2.5 hours before anyone even asked my wife what she does for a living. In general I found the students to be very "me" oriented.
Different classroom dynamic. Several times over the course of the two days students remarked to us about how they really busted their butts studying because they didn't want to make an inappropriate comment in class. They almost feared the judgment of their classmates if they misspoke. I never got that impression at HBS.
Heavier quant, heavier workload. Stanford seems to be a lot more work and a lot more quant focused than HBS. Since I really want to be in management, this doesn't really benefit me. I got the feeling at HBS that you would get out of class what you put in, but at the GSB there seems to be more demands and more pressure to work hard. HBS seemed to be more laid back.
Stanford seems like a great school for people who really value these things: an entrepreneurial atmosphere, a location with a lot of great outdoors activities, a good balance between quant and "soft" skills. Since those things aren't really valuable to me, I have decided to attend HBS. HBS is more closely aligned with my career goals, I love the case method, and I really want to live in the Northeast.
So, tomorrow we are going to have breakfast in Palo Alto, then drive through SF to the Napa Valley area, and check out a few vineyards. I feel bad about skipping out on the rest of the activities, but it looks like this will be our last trip to Cali for some time, so I want to make the most of it.
Oh yeah, before I forget: Derrick Bolton made the decision much harder than it would have been otherwise. He is extremely friendly, professional, knowledgeable, etc. If you get a chance to talk with him be sure and take it. You'll see what I mean. To borrow a line from Jim Rome: He's Derrick freakin' Bolton.