Stanford GSB 2015 MBA Essay Tips & Deadlines

Want to learn more about Stanford? Check out our Stanford GSB B-School Zone!Stanford cut its essays from 3 to 2, actually returning to the same two essays it asked for several years (or slight variations of them) before it increased the number of  essays for the 2007 entering class. 

The other change in these questions is that Stanford has done away here with the behavioral questions that it added for the applications for the classes entering in 2007 – 2013. It will be interesting to see if those types of questions show up as short answer questions within the application or if they are used a lot more in the Stanford interview. 

Stanford gives a lot of advice and guidance as to what it’s looking for in the essays. You should access that advice. My tips are in blue below. 

Stanford GSB 2015 MBA Application Questions:

Essays help us learn about who you are rather than solely what you have done. Other parts of the application give insight to your academic and professional accomplishments; the essays reveal the person behind those achievements.

When writing your essays, resist the urge to “package” yourself into what you think Stanford wants to see. Doing so will only prevent us from understanding who you really are and what you hope to accomplish. The most impressive essays are the most authentic.

Essays:

We request that you write two personal essays. The personal essays give us glimpses of your character and hopes. In each essay, we want to hear your genuine voice. Think carefully about your values, passions, aims, and dreams prior to writing them.

Essay A. What matters most to you, and why?

A strong response to this question will:

• Focus on the “why” rather than the “what.”
• Reflect the self-examination process you used to write your response.
• Genuinely illustrate who you are and how you came to be the person you are.
• Share the insights, experiences, and lessons that shaped your perspectives, rather than focusing merely on what you’ve done or accomplished.
• Be written from the heart, and illustrate how a person, situation, or event has influenced you.

This superficially straightforward question has been Stanford’s first for the last several years, and it is actually one of the most difficult, if not the most difficult MBA essay questions to answer. It demands introspection. Before you put finger to keyboard or pen to paper, really reflect on what you value, how you have acted upon those principles, and why you value them. Stanford’s advice urges reflection. The question requires it.

When I reflect on our many successful Stanford clients, initiative in the face of need is the common thread among them. They are always the ones who revealed, especially in Essay A, that they do not turn away when they see a problem or need for action. They grab the initiative when faced with an opportunity to contribute. They are comfortable expressing emotion and their values, and their actions reflect both, but particularly the latter. Think purpose-driven, principle-driven lives.

More than anything else, initiative and self-awareness characterize the successful Stanford applicant. Implication: You have to know your values and those times you have acted upon them. Yes I wrote that a few seconds ago, but it bears repeating. Climbing Mt. Everest or suffering from terrible social ills is not a requirement of admission, but you do have to know the person occupying your skin.

Essay B. Why Stanford?

Enlighten us on how earning your MBA at Stanford will enable you to realize your ambitions.

A strong response to this essay question will:

• Explain your decision to pursue graduate education in management.
• Explain the distinctive opportunities you will pursue at Stanford.

Now that question is succinct, and really says what they want to know.

Similar to  questions that have occupied this Stanford application slot for years, this question is a variation of a standard MBA goals question, as revealed in the two bullet points after it. For this forward-looking question, you say why you want an MBA. The best way to do so is in terms of your desired post-MBA professional direction. Then explain how Stanford’s program specifically will help you attain them.

Understand the flexibility inherent in Stanford’s curriculum, its integrated approach to management, its entrepreneurial culture, and how both will help you learn what you need to know to achieve your career goals. Realize that the curriculum allows for personalization based on your goal and your past experience, specifically your previous business education. Two pieces of information are required to answer this question: A clear MBA goal and an in-depth understanding of Stanford GSB’s curriculum. (Folks: It’s not just the ranking, brand, or location.)

Essay Length:

Your answers for both essay questions combined may not exceed 1,100 words. Below are suggested word counts per essay, but you should allocate the maximum word count in the way that is most effective for you.

      •   Essay A: 650-850 words
      •   Essay B: 250-450 words

Additional Information:

If there is any information that is critical for us to know and is not captured elsewhere, include it in the “Additional Information” section of the application. Pertinent examples include:

• Extenuating circumstances affecting academic or work performance
• Explanation of why you do not have a letter of reference from your current direct supervisor
• Work experience that did not fit into the space provided
• Academic experience (e.g., independent research) not noted elsewhere

This is optional. Respond if you have something to explain or need the additional space because you can’t fit in your work experience or all academic info. Responses should be succinct and to-the-point and should provide the context necessary for Stanford to understand the circumstances surrounding whatever difficulty you are writing about. 

If you would like professional guidance with your Stanford GSB application, please consider Accepted’s MBA essay editing and MBA admissions consulting or our  MBA Application Packages, which include advising, editing, interview coaching, and a resume edit for the Stanford GSB application.

Stanford GSB 2015 MBA Application Deadlines:

Application Round  Submit Your Application By  Notification Date
Round 1 1 Oct 2014* 10 Dec 2014
Round 2 7 Jan 2015* 25 Mar 2015
Round 3 1 Apr 2015* 6 May 2015

* Applications and Letters of Reference are due by 5:00 PM, Pacific Time

Get Accepted to Stanford Graduate School of Business! Click here to learn more!

Linda Abraham By , president and founder of Accepted.com and co-author of the new, definitive book on MBA admissions, MBA Admission for Smarties: The No-Nonsense Guide to Acceptance at Top Business Schools.

  • http://www.accepted.com Linda Abraham

    If any readers would like a profile evaluation for Stanford GSB, please provide the following info:

    1) Brief description of your full-time work experience.
    2) Your GMAT or GRE. Percentiles preferred.
    3) College info: The name of the college, your GPA or grade average, your major, year of graduation. For any graduate degrees, please provide the same info. If you grades are low, please indicate if there were extenuating circumstances.
    4) Significant college and post-college extra-curricular activities or community service, especially leadership experience.
    5) Important certifications like CFA, CPA, FSA, or CA.
    6) Your post-MBA goal.

    Or if you just have a question about MBA admissions, I’ll do my best to answer it.

    • sivaram

      I had 92% in under graduation. I am working in TATA since last 2months. MYgre score 325. I have completed 5 projects n 3 papers in International journals. I have completed 3 summer trainings. I have experience on NATIONAL JOURNEY OF 8000KMS in India. Many certificates and achievements. Can u please evaluate my chance of getting admission in stanford GSB. or atleast MS in stanford?
      Thank you so much in advance.

      • http://www.accepted.com Linda Abraham

        Your percentage is competitive. It’s seems to be that your GRE score is a little low for GSB. While you list what you’ve done, you haven’t revealed the impact of what you’ve done or leadership. Stanford is a stretch. At the same time, if you have had significant leadership and impact or will have impact from your job, then you would be competitive, especially if your raise your GRE or do well on the GMAT.

    • Muhammad

      1) I have worked full time as an Assistant Engineer with Reliance Industries Ltd (which is a Fortune Global 500 company) for two months leading around 30-40 foreign workers, technicians and interns. Besides that, I have also completed internships with two renown oil and gas companies; Technip S.A. and Petróleos de Venezuela, S.A.

      2) GRE scores:
      Analytical writing: 4.5
      Verbal reasoning: 78
      Quantitative reasoning: 91

      3) Colleges:
      Undergraduate: University of Nottingham – BEng (Hons) Mechanical Engineering (First class honours with CGPA of 3.8)
      1st Postgraduate: University College London – MSc Mechanical Engineering (Merit with CGPA of 3.65)
      2nd Postgraduate: Imperial College London – PhD Aeronautical Engineering

      4) i. University tennis and football player (at national level)
      ii. Fluent in Spanish and Malay and intermediate in German
      iii. Chair of 2011 IEEE Conference held in Nottingham

      5) I do not have certifications related to CFA, CPA, etc. but I do have certificates in arc welding, steel milling and turning and others related to engineering software.

      6) Upon completing the MBA, I aim to join world leading companies and gain a few years of professional experience and expand my professional network before starting up my own business/firm.

      Could you kindly evaluate my profile? Thank you.

      • http://www.accepted.com Linda Abraham

        Muhammad,

        Your academics are strong, but your work experience is skimpy. you will need to show the personal qualities, especially the ability to achieve, innovate, and initiate, which Stanford values. You may have those experiences, but I don’t see them above.

        Also, your goal is very general and vague. Do you want to after your MBA go into a product or brand management role? A general management leadership development program? Consulting? And in which industry? It’s hard to say how Stanford will help you achieve your goals given how general they are because any top business school would help you now.

        I’d say Stanford is a stretch.

        Best,
        Linda

  • Muhammad

    1) I have worked full time as an Assistant Engineer with Reliance Industries Ltd (which is a Fortune Global 500 company) for two months leading around 30-40 foreign workers, technicians and interns. Besides that, I have also completed internships with two renown oil and gas companies; Technip S.A. and Petróleos de Venezuela, S.A.
    2) GRE scores:
    Analytical writing: 4.5
    Verbal reasoning: 78

    Quantitative reasoning: 91

    3) Colleges:
    Undergraduate: University of Nottingham – BEng (Hons) Mechanical Engineering (First class honours with CGPA of 3.8)
    1st Postgraduate: University College London – MSc Mechanical Engineering (Merit with CGPA of 3.65)
    2nd Postgraduate: Imperial College London – PhD Aeronautical Engineering
    4) i. University tennis and football player (at national level)
    ii. Fluent in Spanish and Malay and intermediate in German
    iii. Chair of 2011 IEEE Conference held in Nottingham
    5) I do not have certifications related to CFA, CPA, etc. but I do have certificates in arc welding, steel milling and turning and others related to engineering software.
    6) Upon completing the MBA, I aim to join world leading companies and gain a few years of professional experience and expand my professional network before starting up my own business/firm.

  • http://www.accepted.com Linda Abraham

    That quant score is low for these programs; they are stretch programs for you. Also consider Yale, UNC, and UCLA.

    Best,
    Linda

  • JD

    Hi Linda,

    I’m aiming to go to school at USC or UCLA but am considering Stanford. However, I’m not sure if my scores will automatically put me at the bottom of the list.

    1. Currently wearing two hats as a project coordinator and business development manager with a maritime company specializing in offshore support services based in Jakarta. I’ve been living abroad for just over a year. Previously, I worked as a managing editor for a news site and editorial writer for a newspaper for two years. I’ve also dabbled in political consulting and nonprofit management, and had internships in the fields of public policy, government affairs, biopharma, and wealth management.
    2. GMAT was a 680 (Q 52 percentile, V 96 percentile, IR 92 percentile). Retaking it in a couple of weeks because Q was terrible.
    3. UC Irvine, graduated in 2011 with a 3.36 GPA, majored in political science and minored in business management and conflict resolution.
    4. Anteater Mentorship Program: was a mentor, then cluster leader (mentoring mentors)
    Was involved with ASB, under student affairs and academic affairs
    Assisted in teaching student-run 2 unit class called Visions Leadership
    Also was involved with legislative branch of ASB
    5. CAPM certified (which is like mini-PMP)
    6. My goal is to work as a consulting in the oil & energy industry as a consultant with a company like Schulmberger or McKinsey. Eventually, I want to teach at universities and gradually move into government affairs.

    Would appreciate any help. Thanks.

    • http://www.accepted.com Linda Abraham

      What do you think your GMAT will be, especially the quant?

      Linda

      • JD

        Likely over 700. My Q score has been trending in the 70-80 percentile range so far.

        • http://www.accepted.com Linda Abraham

          JD,

          I still think Stanford would be a stretch. Even if your GMAT is 700 and your quant is over 70% your GPA is still low for Stanford. They would like your work in Indonesia, but I’m not sure that will be enough to get you in. You would be competitive at both UCLA and USC.

          Best,
          Linda

  • Carlos

    1) My job consists in leading savings oriented or productivity oriented
    projects within given categories inside the firm’s clients. We achieved savings
    through changes in the client’s process(es) or through multi-variable negotiations (2 years)
    – Analyzed and monitored the client’s salesforce and saved 12% of the commissions budget while increasing the salesforce productivity by 2% for CrediScotia (a Microfinance company in Peru and member of the Scotiabank Group)
    – Analyzed and monitored the client’s external salesforce and the rival companies salesforces and achieved a 10% savings in the client’s budget while avoiding to negatively affect the client’s productivity for Telefonica in Ecuador (a member of the Telefonica Group)
    – Led a 3-member team and reduced by 30% the amount of heavy machinery inside a steel-manufacturing company and managed to save 21% of the client’s heavy machinery rental budget for Aceros Arequipa (the main steel-manufacturing company in Peru)
    – Implemented 2 new gas stations in 2 steel-manufacturing factories and managed to save 9% of the client’s fuel expenses by implementing new controls measures over the client’s fuel disposal process and saved an additional 4% by a 3-rounds negotiation with 3 of the 4 biggest fuel companies in Peru for Aceros Arequipa
    1 year as a Deputy Manager in a Agro-industrial company
    2) GMAT 720 (Q 49, V 38, IR 8, AWA 5.0)
    3) UPC (Lima, Peru), 3.69 GPA, Bachelor in Economics and International Business, graduated on July, 2011
    4) Volunteer Service: helped to build houses for the poor from Oct-2010 to Nov-2012 and started a new volunteer service helping senior high school students with low resources developing their business ideas into actual small businesses
    5) None. Instead I list my own Language Skills: Native in Spanish and Intermediate Superior level in Portuguese
    6) My post-MBA main goal is to be able to develop a global career as a consultant and to acquire work experience in Silicon Valley based companies if I had the chance

    • http://www.accepted.com Linda Abraham

      Your goal is a little vague. Do you want to work in Silicon Valley or as a global consultant? And in either case, what do you want to accomplish in Silicon Valley or as a consultant? In what industry do you want to work. I think you need to clarify your goal.

      The other elements of your profile or competitive.

      Best,
      Linda

  • Farid Vij

    Linda,

    Appreciate your help. Below are my stats:

    1) Worked at an enterprise software start-up since graduating from Wharton in 2009. Lead the Sales & BD organization today; my team has tripled revenue in the last three years and I have grown our team from 4 people to 25. I also lead our largest deals and have personally generated over $15M of revenue for a sub-$30M company.
    2) GMAT score of 750 (98% percentile), V-42 (96%), M-49 (81%), IR-7 (82%), AR-6 (91%)
    3) Attended Wharton School (UPenn) for undergrad, BS in Economics (Concentrations: 1) Finance 2) Entrepreneurship) & Minor in French. GPA was 3.1/4.0.
    4) Recruiting Officer at ElevateSF (San Francisco non-profit that mentors low-income individuals to secure employment), Vice-President at Wharton Alumni Relations Council (while at Wharton), Captain of Club Tennis team at Penn (2008-2009)
    5) n/a
    6) Start my own venture in the data analytics space focused on helping to consolidate and provide seamless access to patient medical information for doctors and patient alike in India, which has one of the fastest-growing healthcare industries.

    I know my GPA is low for GSB but it is my top choice and I’m going to give it my best. Other schools are HBS & Kellogg (considering Berkeley). Your candid feedback is much appreciated!

    Thanks,
    Farid

    • http://www.accepted.com Linda Abraham

      Farid,

      Your GPA is low as you say and it is a hurdle. Obviously your GMAT, progression at work, community service, sports leadership are impressive. Is it possible that Stanford (or HBS or Kellogg) will overlook the GPA, yes. Is it likely? I’m not optimistic.

      Also consider Duke, NYU Stern, Yale, and Haas.

      Best,
      Linda

  • Urvashi Gupta

    Hello Linda,

    I need your help in profile evaluation. Your timely help is highly appreciated.

    Please find below my profile details:
    1) 6 years of strong experience in software/telecom industry, with exposure to various technical and business roles. Have strong technical and interpersonal skills. Diverse background includes solution integration, providing technical training, technical product verification, end-to-end customer presales, Client-handling, vast international exposure.

    Currently I am responsible for Presales & Solution Design activity via alliance with multiple regional and global partners, across EUROPE, US & LATAM.
    Have good experience in Client-Handling/Interaction, Conducting Customer Workshops, Conduction Solution presentations, Conducting Product Demos, handling end-to-end Presales activities and Solution Designing, Closing Customer bids technically and commercially, Bid Management, Submitting Bid/tender quotations

    2) GMAT (Yet to take, will be taking around 12th December). Target score 720+
    3) Education: Bachelor of Engineer (Electronics & Communication) from Gujarat University, INDIA – GPA: 3.83
    4) Extra-curricular activity or community service experience: Nothing concrete to show on paper. However, I do voluntary service for under-privilege kids, whenever possible. I teach under-privilege kids at home.
    5) Am also helping my brother to setup Edu based tech startup
    5) Post MBA goal: Want to work either in Consulting doamin or Global strategy

    Target Schools: Stanford, Wharton, Kellogg, London Business School, INSEAD, MIT Sloan, Columbia, Tuck, Duke, Dartmouth (any other suggestions?)

    • http://www.accepted.com Linda Abraham

      Assuming you are successful with the GMAT, I suggest you drop Stanford and apply to 3-4 from Wharton, Kellogg, LBS, INSEAD, MIT, and CBS and also to two from Ross, Darden, Duke and Yale.

      Best,
      Linda

      • Urvashi Gupta

        Hello Linda,

        Thank you for your prompt response and help.

        Apologies for I forgot to mention some more details about my profile Would like you your view on this. Would like to know if this will change the prospective colleges list as stated by you.

        I am a 30 years old female working in India, with an MNC. I have a 6 years of experience and 5 years into technical core. Rest since last 1 year I have been into more of a techno-business role, which has given me good international and business exposure.

        Also, would like to know the possibility with Booth, IESE, IE, IMD, UC Berkeley and HBS.

        Also, do let me know if i have something lacking in my profile, for getting into a good B-school.

        Your help most appreciated.

        Regards,
        Urvashi

        • http://www.accepted.com Linda Abraham

          Urvashi,

          Haas is a great idea for you, but I am concerned that lack of community service will hurt you there and lack of leadership will hurt you at HBS, not to mention the competition. Same with Booth. You have a competitive profile for IESE, IE, and IMD. You could easily add them to the second group of schools I suggested where you are more competitive. Booth would be in the first group. Frankly, I don’t think you would be competitive at HBS and Stanford.

          • Urvashi Gupta

            Hello Linda,

            Appreciate your prompt help.
            Will take care of your views while applying.

            Regards,
            Urvashi