Last week the Stanford Graduate School of Business released its admissions essay topics and deadlines for the 2009-2010 application season. Note that, just like HBS, this coming year Stanford will notify Round 1 applicants before the holidays at the end of the year.
Here are Stanford’s new admissions essays and deadlines, followed by our comments in italics:
Stanford GSB Application Deadlines
Round 1: October 7, 2009
Round 2: January 6, 2010
Round 3: April 7, 2010
(Last week Harvard matched Stanford by moving its Round 3 deadline back to April. Now, Stanford has matched HBS by moving its Round 1 deadline forward, to early October. For these schools, there’s now six months between the Round 1 and Round 3 deadlines! It will be interesting to see if other schools follow.)
Stanford GSB Application Essays
- What matters most to you, and why? (750 words recommended, out of 1,800 total)(This is Stanford’s tried-and-true essay question. Old timers will remember when this question had no word limit. Now, the essay’s 750-word limit forces applicants to be a little more economical with their words, which is a good thing. With this question, more than any other, applicants should heed Stanford’s words here: “Truly, the most impressive essays are those that do not begin with the goal of impressing us.” This question requires a great deal of introspection, after which you should create an essay that truly answers the question asked, whether or not you feel that it’s directly applicable to your candidacy. Obviously, the essay should be relevant to your candidacy, but where many applicants often go wrong is by offering grand ideas and big words, rather than a real glimpse into who they are as a person.)
- What are your career aspirations? How will your education at Stanford help you achieve them? (450 words recommended)(This is the more common “Why do you want an MBA, and why this school?” question that you will see on nearly every MBA programs’ application. In this essay you can feel more comfortable writing about the topics that business schools more often look for in their applications. Remember to keep it realistic and to demonstrate that you understand what the Stanford MBA experience will do for you as a growing professional.)
- Answer two of the four questions below. Tell us not only what you did but also how you did it. What was the outcome? How did people respond? Only describe experiences that have occurred during the last three years. (300 words recommended for each)Option A: Tell us about a time when you built or developed a team whose performance exceeded expectations.
Option B: Tell us about a time when you made a lasting impact on your organization.
Option C: Tell us about a time when you motivated others to support your vision or initiative.
Option D: Tell us about a time when you went beyond what was defined, established, or expected.
(There are some small but important differences vs. last year’s short essays. For Option A, they have added the “whose performance exceeded expectations” clause, indicating that last year’s applicants may not have put enough focus on results in their answers. Option B has changed from “Tell us about a time when you felt most effective as a leader.” The change to “the lasting impact” question also suggests that the school is looking for more results in its essay answers. Option C has evolved from a question about overcoming an obstacle or failure to a question that gets at one version of leadership — motivating others to support your ideas. Stanford considers this type of persuasiveness a key ingredient in the future leaders that it wants to produce. Option D remains the same; this is another results-oriented question that also gets at a core component of leadership)
If you would like to see what your chances of getting into Stanford might be, try the Business School Selector a fun tool that uses statistics to estimate your chances of success in MBA admissions.