Tag Archives: Stanford GSB
September 30, 2013
This post originally appeared on Stacy’s “Strictly Business” MBA Blog on U.S.News.com People typically pursue an MBA because they are looking to improve their career opportunities and increase their future income. What some applicants don’t …
This post originally appeared on Stacy’s “Strictly Business” MBA Blog on U.S.News.com
People typically pursue an MBA because they are looking to improve their career opportunities and increase their future income. What some applicants don’t consider is that you can achieve both of those objectives even if you don’t make it into the business programs at Harvard, Wharton or Stanford.
While rankings are a valuable piece of the puzzle when you’re narrowing down your school list, don’t get hung up on the top few programs. It’s more important to be pragmatic and align your expectations with the MBA programs that match your particular profile, particularly if your GMAT score isn’t through the roof or your career trajectory has stalled out.
MBA programs update their career or recruiting reports annually and post them online, so a good strategy is to think about the company or industry you want to work in, and find out whether they recruit at your target schools.
[Research b-schools that match your learning style and personality.]
For example, top MBA employers including McKinsey & Co., Goldman Sachs, Boston Consulting Group, Bain & Co. and Deloitte Consulting recruit heavily at the most elite schools. But they also recruit other schools, such as at UCLA Anderson School of Management, Emory’s Goizueta Business School and Georgetown’s McDonough School of Business. These graduate business schools all placed in the Top 25 of the 2014 U.S. News Best Graduate Schools rankings.
While most schools don’t disclose the number of hires per company, MBA applicants can extrapolate that you might not need to get into a top school in order to land at the company of your dreams.
A few years ago, our client Priya had her sights set on attending one of the top three ranked schools in the U.S. However, as her consultant worked with her on her applications, it became apparent that her chances of admission were less than ideal.
Priya had taken a few swings at the GMAT, but test-taking was a significant weakness for her and her scores topped out at 640. She had a few years of work experience, but promotion freezes had left her stuck at her initial position without advancement.
[Find out how to fix a low GMAT score.]
Priya was starting to wonder if she should apply to business school at all. Before letting her quit, Priya’s consultant asked why she wanted to apply to those top three schools.
Priya wanted to work in corporate finance at a specific Fortune 500 firm after graduating, and had chosen the top schools where that company heavily recruited. With her career goal in mind, Priya and her consultant decided to change strategies.
Since an MBA was the key to achieving her career goals, Priya cast a wider net to include schools ranked in the top 50. She also retooled her application to emphasize her specific, concrete career plan, which helped shift focus away from her weaknesses.
Priya found a great fit in the University of North Carolina—Chapel Hill’s Kenan-Flagler Business School. Though not as competitive for admission as the very top schools, it ranks No. 20 in the U.S. News rankings and in the top twenty of several other lists, and offers a concentration in corporate finance that Priya found appealing.
She maximized her academic and networking opportunities while on campus and found a job with her chosen finance firm after graduating using the skills and contacts she gained, rather than relying solely on recruiting. Priya is now moving up the ranks and is encouraged by the fact that her firm’s CEO obtained his MBA from a school that rarely even appears on a business school ranking list.
[Get MBA admissions tips for applicants with a finance background.]
Location is often overlooked by candidates choosing a b-school, but is extremely important. Recruiters give priority to candidates who have already lived or worked in the same region where the position is located, and graduates tend to gain employment near the geographic location of their MBA program.
While an MBA from Harvard opens doors anywhere, if you’re interested in working in the energy sector, you might have a better shot going where the energy industry thrives. Examples in the oil and gas industry include the University of Texas—Austin McCombs School of Business or Rice University’s Jesse H. Jones Graduate School of Business.
Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business offers an MBA concentration in energy & environment, as well as a new concentration in energy finance.
The point is, if you’re not going into finance or consulting, you have greater flexibility in finding a niche program that’s the right fit for you.
While a degree from an elite business school is a goal and dream for many, several factors – such as test scores, undergraduate academic performance and tuition costs – influence whether it’s a viable option. If you believe the degree is critical to your career goals, consider expanding your school options while still getting a great return on investment.
May 28, 2013
Stanford Graduate School of Business has just published the essay questions without changes for this new application cycle, maintaining the theme of candid self-evaluation and authenticity. The Stanford GSB MBA admissions website provides clear guidance …
Stanford Graduate School of Business has just published the essay questions without changes for this new application cycle, maintaining the theme of candid self-evaluation and authenticity. The Stanford GSB MBA 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. Introspection and honesty should persist through the entire set of essays.
Total word count for all three essays combined must not exceed 1,600 words, so applicants must be judicious in deciding how much or little to write for each prompt. As a general guideline, Stanford GSB suggests 750 words for essay one; 450 words for essay two; and 400 words for essay three. Check your deadlines before you get started to make sure you are maximizing the time on your essays.
Stanford GSB Essay 1: What matters most to you, and why?
This classic Stanford GSB MBA essay is your opportunity to demonstrate who you are, what motivates you, and why. 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 are likely not career oriented at all) it may raise themes that you will continue in your career essay.
To generate ideas, 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, and mine your personal history for ideas.
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?
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. Remember that MBA programs want to help promising candidates reach their goals, not admit perfect people who will not learn from the two years in school.
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.
Essay 3: Answer one of the three 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 these two essays. By asking specifically about your behavior, the admissions committee hopes to understand your motivations by clearly “seeing” your actions.
Option A: Tell us about a time in the last three years when you built or developed a team whose performance exceeded expectations.
If you have formally led a team at work, this is an ideal essay to highlight your management experience. Most candidates for Stanford have little formal management or leadership experience. In that case, think about the times you have served informally as a leader. Perhaps you led a team as part of a project at work. 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. Be as specific as you can about the how: what were you thinking and doing as you built or developing the team?
Option B: Tell us about a time in the last three years when you identified and pursued an opportunity to improve an organization.
While formal management experience may be less common if you’ve only worked for a few years, improving an organization is something that is possible with any job description. Think about the times that you have seen a problem and proactively solved it. 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.
Option C: Tell us about a time in the last three years 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.
May 25, 2013
The Stanford Graduate School of Business has posted the essay questions and updated guidelines for letters of recommendation for the 2013-2014 MBA admissions season. The questions remain unchanged from last year’s application. Essay 1: What …
The Stanford Graduate School of Business has posted the essay questions and updated guidelines for letters of recommendation for the 2013-2014 MBA admissions season. The questions remain unchanged from last year’s application.
Essay 1: What matters most to you, and why?
- The best examples of Essay 1 reflect the process of self-examination that you have undertaken to write them.
- They give us a vivid and genuine image of who you are—and they also convey how you became the person you are.
- They do not focus merely on what you’ve done or accomplished. Instead, they share with us the values, experiences, and lessons that have shaped your perspectives.
- They are written from the heart and address not only a person, situation, or event, but also how that person, situation, or event has influenced your life.
Essay 2: What do you want to do—REALLY—and why Stanford?
Use this essay to explain your view of your future, not to repeat accomplishments from your past.
You should address two distinct topics:
- your career aspirations,
- and your rationale for earning your MBA at Stanford, in particular.
The best examples of Essay 2 express your passions or focused interests, explain why you have decided to pursue graduate education in management, and demonstrate your desire to take advantage of the opportunities that are distinctive to the Stanford MBA Program.
Essay 3: Answer one of the three 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.
- Option A: Tell us about a time in the last three years when you built or developed a team whose performance exceeded expectations.
- Option B: Tell us about a time in the last three years when you identified and pursued an opportunity to improve an organization.
- Option C: Tell us about a time in the last three years when you went beyond what was defined or established.
Your answers for all of the essay questions cannot exceed 1,600 words.
Stanford GSB suggests these guidelines as a starting point, but notes you should feel comfortable to write as much or as little as you like on any essay question, as long as you do not exceed 1,600 words total.
Essay 1: 750 words
Essay 2: 450 words
Essay 3: 400 words
Stay tuned for our Stanford MBA essay tips, coming soon, and here’s a reminder of the Stanford GSB important dates and deadlines.
May 1, 2013
The Stanford Graduate School of Business has posted the MBA application deadlines for the 2013-2014 admissions cycle. This year’s three deadlines are as follows: Round 1 Deadline: October 2, 2013 Notification: December 11, 2013 Round …
The Stanford Graduate School of Business has posted the MBA application deadlines for the 2013-2014 admissions cycle. This year’s three deadlines are as follows:
Deadline: October 2, 2013
Notification: December 11, 2013
Deadline: January 8, 2014
Notification: March 26, 2014
Deadline: April 2, 2014
Notification: May 7, 2014
The Stanford GSB notes that more applicants have been applying in Round 2 over the past few years, making the second round larger and more competitive. For those considering applying in either Round 1 or Round 2, the school strongly encourages applicants to consider Round 1. All applications are due at 5 p.m. PST.
For additional details, visit the Stanford GSB’s admissions website.
December 5, 2012
It looks like the admissions department at Stanford Graduate School of Business is on a mission to bring the truth to the people as Allison Davis once again takes to the MBA admissions blog and dispels three persistent assumptions regarding Stanford’s admit process.
MYTH 1: If I worked full-time during college, I can count those months as “full-time work experience.”
THE TRUTH: In the Full-Time Employment section, please include only the months of full-time work experience SINCE you graduated from your undergraduate university. We ask you to calculate how many months you will have from your college graduation until September 1, 2013.
You can list work you did during college, even if it was full-time, in the Part-Time Employment section of the application. That section includes a field for hours per week so you will be able to indicate that you worked full-time. We read everything and will connect the dots that you were working throughout college.
MYTH 2: After I submit my application, I will receive regular updates on my status throughout the application process.
THE TRUTH: Unfortunately, we do not have the staff to update each applicant’s status for every step in the process. When you submit your application (…) you will receive an immediate message thanking you for your submission. Your application status in Hobson’s ApplyYourself shows as “Submitted.”
Approximately two weeks after the application deadline, all applications are updated to “Your application is currently under review.” This line will appear under the “Submission Status: Submitted” line. (Note that all applications are reviewed even if they are missing documents like recommendations. We will evaluate your application and make a decision based on the application documents that you submitted.)
You will be contacted via email by our office if you are invited to interview; your application status will remain “Under Review.” On the decision notification date, you will receive an email that the decision on your application has been posted. You will be directed to log into your Hobson’s ApplyYourself account, where you will see your decision letter.
MYTH 3: It’s critical to visit campus before I apply. If I can’t schedule a visit before the application deadline, I’d better wait to apply in the next application round.
THE TRUTH: Visiting campus does not affect your chances of admission whatsoever. It may be of value to you as part of your research on which schools to apply to; that’s up to you. Keep in mind that many of our applicants come from outside the U.S. so we couldn’t expect everyone to visit. If you have only one chance to visit, come after you’ve been admitted for Admit Weekend, where you’ll meet students, alumni, faculty, and your future classmates.
So there you have it, folks, straight from the admissions team at the Stanford GSB. If you’re applying in Round Two, coming up on January 9, 2013, and would like guidance on your MBA application, Stacy Blackman Consulting can help with hourly and comprehensive consulting services. Contact us to learn more.
November 28, 2012
The Stanford Graduate School of Business offers a new post this week attempting to clarify any misconceptions or confusions related to the letters of recommendation required as part of the MBA admissions process. Here, Allison …
The Stanford Graduate School of Business offers a new post this week attempting to clarify any misconceptions or confusions related to the letters of recommendation required as part of the MBA admissions process.
Here, Allison Davis sets the record straight so you have plenty of time to get this aspect of your application sorted out in advance of the Round 2 deadline on January 9, 2013.
MYTH 1: I will be at a disadvantage if I cannot get a recommendation from a current direct supervisor.
THE TRUTH: Rest assured that you are not the only applicant in this situation. You may not be disclosing to your employer that you are applying to business school. You may have started a new job recently, and your supervisor does not really know you that well.
Perhaps you are self-employed, run your own company, or work in a family business where your direct supervisor is a relative (…) If you’re in one of these situations, you just need to be a little more creative in terms of where you get your recommendation. You could ask anyone who is in a position to evaluate your work: a previous supervisor, a client, or a member of your board of directors.
MYTH 2: It is okay to submit more than 3 recommendations. In fact, more is better!
THE TRUTH: We discourage you from sending additional letters. More is not better. In fact, it can have the opposite of the intended effect as it adds an additional burden to our staff who read literally thousands and thousands of pages over the application season. When we receive additional letters of reference, we do add them to your application file, but there’s no guarantee that they will be read.
MYTH 3: It is better to get my recommendations from three different sources to highlight different aspects of my professional and personal background.
THE TRUTH: It’s your decision how to present yourself in your application, what to highlight and what to focus on. And, this goes for your choice of recommenders as well. Some applicants get all their references from work; others include references from outside of work. Some get all their references from their current employers; others include previous employers.
There is no one right way. The mix of recommendations does not affect your chances of admission. When choosing a recommender, our best advice is to (1) choose someone who knows you really well and can provide the detail, examples, and specifics that support their assertions; and (2) choose someone who is truly enthused to write a recommendation for you and will spend sufficient time writing a thoughtful letter.
MYTH 4: Recommendations must be written in English.
THE TRUTH: Recommendations must be submitted in English, but we do not expect the English to be perfect in recommendations written by non-native speakers. We focus on the content of the letter, not the writing style, so we will ignore minor syntax or grammar errors or awkward phrasing.
However, if you and your recommenders think that their English is not sufficient to convey complex ideas, it may be to your advantage to have them write in their native language and then get it translated into English either by a friend or colleague of the recommender, or from a paid service.
The translation does not need to be from a paid service unless that is the only option available to the recommender. The translation is the responsibility of the recommender; the translator cannot be the applicant or a friend or family member of the applicant.
Your recommender would then upload both the original language and the English translation into the recommendation form, and must also supply us with the name and contact information of the translator in case we have additional follow-up questions.
For more on the subject of recommenders, I invite you to read my U.S. News blog post from September on how to strategize and manage the MBA recommendation process. In it, I recommend that applicants create a recommender package, which has four main components and provides instruction on both process and content. Your recommenders will appreciate your assistance and thoroughness, and will undoubtedly produce a better recommendation on your behalf.