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