Category Archives: Stanford Advice

Diversity Events at Stanford GSB

The Stanford Graduate School of Business has just announced that registration is now open for two events that can help you learn more about the Stanford MBA program. The Many Voices: Perspectives on Diversity event is …

The Stanford Graduate School of Business has just announced that registration is now open for two events that can help you learn more about the Stanford MBA program.

The Many Voices: Perspectives on Diversity event is hosted by the Stanford MBA Admissions Office with participation from the Black Business Students Association (BBSA), Hispanic Business Students Association (HBSA), GSB Pride (the student club for LGBT students and allies), and the Asian Society (AS).

XX Factor: Women Changing the World is an event geared towards women who are considering applying to business school.

Both of these events include an overview of the program, a class immersion experience, and opportunities to hear from Stanford GSB students, alumni, faculty, and staff. Space is limited, so you must complete a brief application if you’d like to attend.

Derrick Bolton, Assistant Dean for MBA Admissions at Stanford GSB, shares a few thoughts on how Stanford regards diversity, and why and how it matters in the admission process.

“At Stanford we believe the way you think is much more important than the way you look,” he writes, in an effort to dispel the notion that there is a “Stanford type”””in experience, essays, etc.””when in fact there is no such model.

“Stanford has no ideal background, aspiration, format, etc.””regardless of what you may hear from individuals claiming to have “inside knowledge” of admission processes,” Bolton notes.

“The best applications we see each year are those that do not begin with the goal of impressing us,” he writes. Staying true to your experiences and accomplishments, sharing your insights and aspirations—this is the key to crafting a successful application to the Stanford GSB.

For more Stanford advice, including essay tips from the Stacy Blackman team, please follow this link.

 

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Tips for Effective Essays From Stanford GSB’s Dean Bolton

The essays are one of the most time-consuming portions of any MBA application, precisely because they force you to focus inward, analyze your strengths, weaknesses, and accomplishments, and then present them to a group of …

The essays are one of the most time-consuming portions of any MBA application, precisely because they force you to focus inward, analyze your strengths, weaknesses, and accomplishments, and then present them to a group of strangers within a prescribed word count.

Derrick Bolton, Assistant Dean for MBA admissions at Stanford Graduate School of Business, offers insight to applicants struggling with how to best answer this year’s essay prompts. I’ve included excerpts from his recent posting on crafting effective essays below.

Stanford GSB Essay 1: What matters most to you, and why?

In the first essay, tell a story””and tell a story that only you can tell.

Tell this essay in a straightforward and sincere way. This probably sounds strange, since these are essays for business school, but we really don’t expect to hear about your business experience in this essay (though, of course, you are free to write about whatever you would like).

Remember that we have your entire application””work history, letters of reference, short-answer responses, etc.””to learn what you have accomplished and the type of impact you have made. Your task in this first essay is to connect the people, situations, and events in your life with the values you adhere to and the choices you have made. This essay gives you a terrific opportunity to learn about yourself!

Many good essays describe the “what,” but great essays move to the next order and describe how and why these “whats” have influenced your life. The most common mistake applicants make is spending too much time describing the “what” and not enough time describing how and why these guiding forces have shaped your behavior, attitudes, and objectives in your personal and professional lives. Please be assured that we do appreciate and reward thoughtful self-assessment and appropriate levels of self-disclosure.

Stanford GSB Essay 2: What do you want to do””REALLY””and why Stanford?

Tell us what you aspire to do. You don’t need to come up with a “safe” answer because you’re worried that your true aim is not what we want to see. REALLY. What are your ideas for your best self after Stanford? What, and how, do you hope to contribute in your professional life after earning your MBA?

Tell us what, in your heart, you would like to achieve. What is the dream that brings meaning to your life? How do you plan to make an impact? We give you broad license to envision your future. Take advantage of it. You may, however, find it difficult to explain why you need an MBA to reach your aims if those aims are completely undefined. Be honest, with yourself and with us, in addressing those questions. You certainly do not need to make up a path, but a level of focused interests will enable you to make the most of the Stanford experience.

Second, we ask why Stanford. How will the MBA Program at Stanford help you turn your dreams into reality? The key here is that you should have objectives for your Stanford education. How do you plan to take advantage of the incredible opportunities at Stanford? How do you envision yourself contributing, growing, and learning here at the Graduate School of Business? And how will the Stanford experience help you become the person you described in the first part of Essay 2?

From both parts of Essay 2, we learn about your dreams, what has shaped them, and how Stanford can help you bring them into fruition.

For the short answers of essay three, Bolton says “the best answers will transport us to that moment in time by painting a vivid picture not only of what you did, but also of how you did it. Include supporting details. What led to the situation? What did you say? How did they respond? What were you thinking at the time? What were you feeling at the time? Include details about what you thought and felt during that time and your perceptions about how others responded. From these short-answer responses, we visualize you ‘in action’.”

If you’re feeling overwhelmed by the essays, and wondering how you can possibly wow the admissions committee sufficiently to gain a seat at this highly coveted MBA program, take these words from the dean to heart.

“We will admit someone despite the application essays if we feel we’ve gotten a good sense of the person overall. Yes, the essays are important,” Bolton concedes. “But they are neither our only avenue of understanding you, nor are they disproportionately influential in the admission process.”

For more guidance on the Stanford GSB essays, read my essay tips here.

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Tuesday Tips – Stanford GSB Essay Tips

Nowhere is the mandate to be authentic more emphasized than with the Stanford GSB application essays. The Stanford GSB admissions website provides clear guidance and advice for what to do, and what not to do …

Nowhere is the mandate to be authentic more emphasized than with the Stanford GSB application essays. The Stanford GSB admissions website provides clear guidance and advice for what to do, and what not to do that all applicants should read and follow. As you approach topics for this set of essays think about the events of your life that have shaped your values and your future plans. Your accomplishments and achievements are part of why you have developed into the person you are today, however it’s far more important to explain your influences, lessons learned and motivations. Stanford GSB asks for candid self-examination in the first essay, and that theme of introspection should persist through the entire set of essays.

Stanford GSB Essay 1: What matters most to you, and why?
This is the keystone of the Stanford GSB essays and your chance to demonstrate who you are and what motivates you. Topics can range from personal history to grand visions of the future. While this topic should not be explicitly career related (and the strongest essays may not be career oriented at all) a truly cohesive life path will likely bring some of the aspects of what matters most into the topic of Essay 2.

If the open ended prompt is intimidating you can try brainstorming over a period of a few days. Ask friends and family what values they see you demonstrating in your life and choices. Keep a notebook by your bed so you can record your first thoughts upon waking up, or dreams that might help you understand your motivations.

Though the essay question may seem open-ended, answering the question with vivid and specific examples will provide solid evidence that you have demonstrated or experienced “what matters most” throughout your life. Keep in mind as you select examples that Stanford GSB specifically advises focusing on people and experiences that have influenced you, rather than accomplishments or achievements.

Stanford GSB Essay 2: What do you want to do””REALLY””and why Stanford?
The emphasis in the question on authenticity (what do you REALLY want to do?) is new this year. We’ve observed that in these economic times plenty of candidates are content to be conservative about their dreams. For Stanford that approach may backfire. Stanford likes to see applicants who dream big, and have the credibility to achieve their goals.

So think hard about what you REALLY want to do. Not what your parents or partner want you to do. Not what your boss wants you to do. Not what you think an MBA program wants to hear. What do you, with your own unique background and values, want for your life?

If the question seems too vast, take a few minutes to close your eyes and reflect. Envision your life in twenty years. Where do you live? How do you spend your days? What is your favorite activity? How does this vision fit into your career aspirations? Dream big about what two years at Stanford can bring into your life. Once you have identified your dream career, you also need to make sure an MBA is an important part of achieving your plans. Stanford wants candidates whose MBA will make an impact on the career they REALLY want, not candidates who are looking for a prestigious piece of paper.

One thing that is crucial “not to do” is be less than specific about why Stanford. You should know everything about the program that overlaps with your interests and aspirations. Have you met current students and alumni? Who are the professors you are excited about? What are the unique programs? Stanford GSB wants to know what you specifically need that will be uniquely satisfied by the program at Stanford GSB, and research will help you determine the specifics of the academic program, community and students will be essential to demonstrating your knowledge and fit with the program.

Stanford GSB Essay 3: 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.
Choose strategically here. What aspects of your background or career progress have not be highlighted in the previous two essays? Is there a community service involvement you would like to demonstrate? All examples must be from the past three years, and it is important to clearly describe your process and results. HOW is the key word for this set of questions. By asking specifically about your behavior, the admissions committee hopes to understand your motivations by clearly “seeing” your actions.

o Option A: Tell us about a time when you built or developed a team whose performance exceeded expectations.
Many candidates for Stanford have not led teams formally at work. If you have done so, this is an ideal essay to highlight your management experience. If you have no formal management experience think about the times you have served informally as a leader. Perhaps you led a team as part of a project, or led part of a project for your boss. If work did not provide an opportunity for you to lead a team, consider an example in your volunteer or extracurricular activities.

Whatever the situation, describe what happened and your role in the performance of the team. In addition to clear description, explain what the expectations were for the team and how your team exceeded them.

o Option B: Tell us about a time when you made a lasting impact on your organization.
Making a lasting impact through a discrete project or achievement is possible, yet less likely than creating impact through your relationships with others and the overall operations of the organization. Did you create a new initiative that involves many others? Have you impacted the culture or operations of your organization through an idea or by developing your team? Think about actions you have taken that may have lead to a fundamental shift in the way things are done or perceived within your company or organization.

o Option C: Tell us about a time when you generated support from others for an idea or initiative
This is a behavioral question focused on your ability to understand and motivate others. This question seeks to understand your leadership skills and ability to build support whether through action or persuasion. When answering the question it is important to demonstrate your own leadership skills through specific examples. Explain clearly how you (uniquely) were able to motivate your team or build support for the idea or initiative and what results you saw for the idea or initiative.

o Option D: Tell us about a time when you went beyond what was defined or established
The topic of this essay can be from almost any area of your life. It will be helpful to give the context around what was defined or established to clearly demonstrate how you went beyond. Why and how did you achieve results beyond expectations? This topic could be similar to Option A in scope, yet is focused on your individual achievement rather than directing a team’s actions.

As you put together your Stanford GSB application it will be helpful to read all of the essays together (and have others read them) to see the overall impression. It should be clear what your underlying motivations are, what you hope do you with your career, and how you operate as an individual and in a team within an organization. As Stanford GSB clearly requests, the best essays will illuminate your individual voice clear and strong.

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Stanford GSB Releases Deadlines

The Stanford Graduate School of Business has posted the deadlines for the Class of 2014. The three rounds are as follows: Round 1 Deadline: October 12, 2011 Notification: December 14, 2011 Round 2 Deadline: January …

The Stanford Graduate School of Business has posted the deadlines for the Class of 2014. The three rounds are as follows:

Round 1
Deadline: October 12, 2011
Notification: December 14, 2011

Round 2
Deadline: January 11, 2012
Notification: March 28, 2012

Round 3
Deadline:  April 4, 2012
Notification: May 16, 2012

For applicants wavering between Rounds 1 and 2, Stanford strongly encourages you to consider Round 1. “Over the past few years, we’ve noticed more applicants applying in Round 2 and, as a result, this round has become bigger and a bit more competitive. You should never rush your application. But, on the margin, earlier is better,” the school says.

All applications are due by 5 p.m. PST on the day of the deadline.

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Tuesday Tips: Video on Stanford GSB Essays

* Click for more posts containing Application Advice for the Stanford Graduate School of Business. To see our Stanford Graduate School of Business Essay Guide for MBA Applications, click here. To see our Stanford Graduate …

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Click for more posts containing Application Advice for the Stanford Graduate School of Business.
To see our Stanford Graduate School of Business Essay Guide for MBA Applications, click here.
To see our Stanford Graduate School of Business Interview Guide, click here.
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Tuesday Tips – Stanford GSB Essay Tips

This week Tuesday Tips provides tips to approach this year’s Stanford essay tips and communicate what really matters most to the admissions committee.

Nowhere is the mandate to be authentic more emphasized than with the Stanford GSB application essays. The transparent Stanford GSB admissions website provides clear guidance and advice for what to do, and what not to do that all applicants should read and follow. As you approach topics for this set of essays think about the events of your life that have shaped your approach to life and your future plans. Your accomplishments and achievements are key to who you are today, however it’s far more important to explain your influences, values and motivations. Stanford GSB asks for candid self-examination in the first essay, and that theme of introspection should persist through the entire set of essays

Stanford GSB Essay 1: What matters most to you, and why?
This is the keystone of the Stanford GSB essays and your chance to demonstrate who you are and what motivates you. Topics can range from personal history to grand visions of the future. While this topic should not be explicitly career related (and the strongest essays may not be career oriented at all) a truly cohesive life path will likely bring some of the aspects of what matters most into the topic of Essay 2.
If the open ended prompt is intimidating you can try brainstorming over a period of a few days. Ask friends and family what values they see you demonstrating in your life and choices. Keep a notebook by your bed so you can record your first thoughts upon waking up, or dreams that might help you understand your motivations.
Though the essay question may seem open-ended, answering the question with vivid and specific examples will provide solid evidence that you have demonstrated or experienced “what matters most” throughout your life. Keep in mind as you select examples that Stanford GSB specifically advises focusing on people and experiences that have influenced you, rather than accomplishments or achievements.

Stanford GSB Essay 2: What are your career aspirations? What do you need to learn at Stanford GSB to achieve them?
Unlike many career goals essays, Stanford GSB does not ask for specific short- and long-term goals. Aspirational goals are likely a bit further into the future, so think about where you want your career to ultimately be, in the best possible scenario. What do you need to get there? What is the role of an MBA in achieving your aspirations, and how will Stanford GSB specifically contribute to achieving your aspirations?
Stanford GSB wants to know what you specifically need that will be uniquely satisfied by the program at Stanford GSB, and research will help you determine the specifics of the academic program, community and students will be essential to demonstrating your knowledge and fit with the program.

Stanford GSB Essay 3: 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.

Choose strategically here. What aspects of your background or career progress have not be highlighted in the previous two essays? Is there a community service involvement you would like to demonstrate? All examples must be from the past three years, and it is important to clearly describe your process and results.

o Option A: Tell us about a time when you built or developed a team whose performance exceeded expectations.
This Stanford GSB essay is an opportunity to highlight an achievement specifically in the arena of leadership and teamwork. If your professional life hasn’t included formal management responsibility perhaps you were able to lead a project or part of a project. Leading a team from within could also be possible if you contributed to developing or building a great team. Another possibility is other leadership experiences outside of work. Describe what happened and your role in the performance of the team. In addition to clear description, explain what the expectations were for the team and how your team exceeded them.

o Option B: Tell us about a time when you made a lasting impact on your organization.
Making a lasting impact through a discrete project or achievement is possible, yet less likely than creating impact through your relationships with others and the overall operations of the organization. Did you create a new initiative that involves many others? Have you impacted the culture or operations of your organization through an idea or by developing your team? Think about actions you have taken that may have lead to a fundamental shift in the way things are done or perceived.

o Option C: Tell us about a time when you motivated others to support your vision or initiative.
This question seeks to understand your leadership skills and ability to build support. When answering the question it is far more important to describe your specific actions and results than to have an impressive vision or initiative. Explain clearly how you (uniquely) were able to motivate your team or build support.

o Option D: Tell us about a time when you went beyond what was defined, established, or expected.
The topic of this essay can be from almost any area of your life. Defining what was established and expected is important to clearly demonstrate how you went beyond. Why and how did you achieve results beyond expectations? This topic could be similar to Option A in scope, yet is focused on your individual achievement rather than directing a team’s actions.
As you put together your Stanford GSB application it will be helpful to read all of the essays together (and have others read them) to see the overall impression. It should be clear what your underlying motivations are, what you hope do you with your career, and how you operate as an individual and in a team within an organization. As Stanford GSB clearly requests, the best essays will illuminate your individual voice clear and strong.
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Click for more posts containing Application Advice for the Stanford Graduate School of Business.
To see our Stanford Graduate School of Business Essay Guide for MBA Applications, click here.
To see our Stanford Graduate School of Business Interview Guide, click here.
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