Stanford GSB 2016 MBA Essay Tips & Deadlines

Want to learn more about Stanford? Check out our Stanford GSB B-School Zone!There is very little change between last year’s and this year’s Stanford GSB MBA essay questions.  One minor change to note: You get an entire 50 extra words for your two essays. Last year the total word count was 1100 words. This year the maximum length is 1150. This is noteworthy only because it represents one of the few  times in recent years that schools are allowing you to provide a little more information about yourselves than they allowed previously.  Stanford is bucking the trend here.

Stanford gives a lot of advice and guidance on its website as to what it’s looking for in the essays. You should access that advice. 

Stanford moved its Round 1 deadline up about a week (from Oct 1 to this year’s Sept. 22.). It moved its Round 2 deadline to January 12 from last year’s Jan 7. Round 3’s deadline for 2016 is April 5; last year’s final deadline was April 1.  As I said in a recent podcast, the MBA application cycle — like some sports’ seasons and certain individuals’ waistlines, is expanding.

My tips are in blue below. 

Stanford GSB 2016 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?

For this essay, we would like you to:

• Focus on the “why” rather than the “what.”
• Do some deep self-examination, so you can 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.
• Write 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 travel down that path.

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 1,150 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: 750 words
      •   Essay B: 400 words

Formatting

• 12-pt. font size
• Double-spaced
• Recommended font types: Arial, Courier, or Times New Roman
• Indicate the question you are answering at the beginning of each essay (does not count toward the word limit)
• Number all pages
• Upload one document that includes both essays

Be sure to save a copy of your essays, and preview the uploaded document to ensure that the formatting is preserved.

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 2016 MBA Application Deadlines:

Application Round  Submit Your Application By  Notification Date
Round 1 22 Sept 2015* 09 Dec 2015
Round 2 12 Jan 2016* 30 Mar 2016
Round 3 05 Apr 2016* 11 May 2016

* 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.

Related Resources:

• What Stanford is Looking for: Personal Qualities and Contributions
• What Stanford is Looking for: Demonstrated Leadership Potential
Valentine’s Day, Economics, and Stanford GSB

U.S. News 2016 Best Graduate Business Schools

U.S. News released its graduate school rankings today. Let’s see how our top b-schools fared…

Top 20 U.S. B-Schools – 2016

Visit our b-school zone page for info on the top business schools.1. Stanford GSB (1)
2. Harvard Business School (1)
3. UPenn Wharton (1)
4. Chicago Booth (4)
5. MIT Sloan (5)
6. Northwestern Kellogg (6)
7. UC Berkeley Haas (7)
8. Columbia Business School (8)
9. Dartmouth Tuck (9)
10. UVA Darden (11)
11. NYU Stern (10)
11. Michigan Ross (11)
13. Duke Fuqua (14)
13. Yale SOM (13)
15. UCLA Anderson (16)
16. Cornell Johnson (17)
17. Texas McCombs (15)
18. UNC Kenan-Flagler (19)
19. Washington Olin (22)
20. CMU Tepper (18)

25% of US News rankings is made up of survey responses from business school deans and directors; 15% is based on recruiters’ survey responses. The remaining 60% is based on statistical data reflecting program selectivity and placement success. (For details, read up on U.S. News methodology.)

Here are some highlights from the Poets & Quants article on the rankings:

• Last year’s three-way Stanford/Harvard/Wharton tie was broken this year with each school taking one of the first three spots (Stanford in first, HBS in second, and Wharton in third).

• The P&Q article states that Wharton’s slip to third is due to lower peer assessment and corporate recruiter survey scores.

• Wharton also reported an acceptance rate of 20.7%, up from last year’s 18.7% — this is another metric used by U.S. News in their methodology.

• Another factor contributing to Wharton’s position this year is its position regarding salary and bonus. Last year it took top slot at $141,243, while this year it slipped to fourth place at $142,574 – yes, higher than last year, but this year, Harvard, MIT, and Stanford reported even higher salaries/bonuses (HBS took the cake at $144,936 this year).

• Stanford’s top stats this year: average GMAT – 732; average GPA – 3.74; acceptance rate – 7.1%.

• In the top 20, there weren’t significant changes beyond a given school moving up or down a couple places. But further down in the rankings there were some big shifts. Texas A&M jumped 10 places to 27th place (tied with Carlson); Wake Forest jumped 13 places to 45th place; and Louisville moved up at least 31 places to 71st place – it was previously unranked.

• Big drops include Missouri Trulaske which fell 21 places from 58th to 79th place; Pepperdine Graziadio which fell at least 25 places, from last year’s 76th place to its unranked position this year.

Wondering how much rankings should play a roll in determining where you apply? Watch the video below for Linda Abraham’s answer:

Are You Misusing the B-School Rankings?

Accepted: The Premier Admissions Cosultancy

Related Resources:

• Financial Times Global MBA Rankings 2015
• What’s an MBA Really Worth?
• PayScale: How Much Can You Earn, and How to Earn It?

Valentine’s Day, Economics, and Stanford GSB

Listen to our interview with Dr. Paul Oyer!The Valentine’s Day episode of Admissions Straight Talk — the perfect opportunity to invite… an economist to be our guest on the show.

Listen to the full recording of our enlightening conversation with Dr. Paul Oyer, Professor of Economics, at Stanford’s Graduate School of Business. Dr. Oyer and Linda discuss the common thread between dating, economics, and admissions. Spot-on, right?

00:02:12 – Featured Applicant Question: Do I need to explain my low GPA to the adcom?

00:06:18 – Why Dr. Oyer wrote Everything I Ever Needed to Know about Economics I Learned from Online Dating.

00:11:04 – The limits of economics in explaining online dating.

00:15:49 – How offline dating is like an economic market too. (Yup, economists take the fun out of everything.)

00:17:42 – Signaling: Why education is a waste, but still serves a purpose. How virtual roses signify credibility. And what the college/grad school admissions process has to do with signaling.

00:32:06 – The parallels between economics and dating – Wonderful, but not surprising.

00:33:47 – An interesting aspect of the law and MBA student internship-to-job-offer ratios.

00:38:20 – A Stanford GSB professor’s reflection on the defining characteristic of students at that b-school.

00:40:51 – How Dr. Oyer’s books have changed his teaching.

00:43:36 – What MBA students need to know before they start school.

Listen to the full conversation to learn more!*Theme music is courtesy of podcastthemes.com.

Related Links:

• Everything I Ever Needed to Know about Economics I Learned from Online Dating
Roadside MBA: Back Road Lessons for Entrepreneurs, Executives and Small Business Owners 
• How to Be a Better Valentine, Through Economics
• Stanford GSB Zone
• Stanford GSB 2015 MBA Questions, Deadlines, Tips
• Get Accepted to Stanford GSB, a free webinar

Related Shows:

• A B-School Professor on Main Street, USA
• The Stanford MSx Program for Experienced Leaders
• MBA Project Search: Matchmaking for MBAs and Businesses
• Entrepreneurship at Stanford GSB: Carlypso Drives Down the Startup St.

Leave a Review for Admissions Straight Talk:

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Are Schools Reducing Their Number of Admissions Essays?

Applying to Stanford GSB? Check out our Stanford application essay tips!

Is Stanford a trendsetter?

Elite schools like Yale, Wharton, and Stanford looked like they were starting a trend in cutting the number of required admissions essays for applicants, but according to Kaplan Test Prep’s 2014 business school admissions officers survey, most U.S. MBA programs haven’t followed their lead. The survey indicates that just 13% of the participating 204 business schools say they reduced the number of essays for this admissions cycle, compared to last year. Only 3% of schools plan on further reducing the number of required essays for the next application cycle.

According to Kaplan Test Prep’s executive director of pre-business and pre-graduate programs, Brian Carlidge, “Our survey finds that the overwhelming number of MBA programs continue to see value in applicants submitting more information about themselves. From what we’ve seen, the business schools that have cut their number of admissions essays are doing so to streamline the process, believing they can get what they need from applicants through fewer, more focused essays. While it may sound counter-intuitive, some applicants may find fewer essays and lower word counts difficult as it forces them to be more succinct. We encourage all aspiring MBAs to put effort into their essays, no matter the number or word count, as this piece of the application gives them the opportunity to show admissions officers why they’d be a good fit for the school in a way that their GMAT score, undergraduate GPA and work experience cannot.”

Analysis.

I certainly agree with Kaplan that MBA applicants need to put serious effort into their essays regardless of how many there are, but I found the disconnect between the highly publicized drop in essays for top-ranked programs vs. the relatively constant number of essays for lower ranked programs curious.

I’m going to indulge in speculating about the causes of this discrepancy:

The competition among the elite programs is intense. Application volume is a factor in rankings and also in perception of a school’s panache. Since more application work essentially raises the cost of applying, more essays could mean fewer applicants for these highly competitive programs. And they don’t want the hit to their application volume.

Perhaps lower ranked programs are more concerned about yield than about application volume. They want to accept people who put a little more effort into their applications. That effort implies the applicants are more invested in the application and are signaling more strongly that they really are interested in attending the programs they are applying to.

Finally another thought that really calls into question the validity of the Kaplan conclusions: While the Kaplan survey asks specifically about essays, it doesn’t discuss information being collected in short-answer responses and in boxes in the application. Many schools, notably HBS, have moved much of the information gathering to these boxes and short-form answers as opposed to the essays of a few years ago.

It’s a mistake to assume that those short-form answers are any less important than the essays.
MBA 5 Fatal Flaws
Linda AbrahamBy Linda Abraham, president and founder of Accepted.com and co-author of the definitive book on MBA admissions, MBA Admission for Smarties: The No-Nonsense Guide to Acceptance at Top Business Schools.

Related Resources:

School-Specific MBA Application Essay Tips
MBA Rankings: What You Need to Know
How to Answer “Mini” MBA Essay Questions

Entrepreneurship at Stanford GSB: Carlypso Drives Down the Startup Street

Click here to listen to the podcast!Thinking of launching a disruptive start-up? Dying to attend a leading entrepreneurial MBA program? Well meet Nick Hinrichsen and Chris Colemen, founders of the start-up Carlypso, which Tech Crunch calls a “brilliant concept.” Oh, and they earned their MBAs in 2013 from Stanford GSB.

Listen to the recording of this intriguing interview as we discuss the founding of Carlypso, life as a Stanford GSB MBA student and the impact of the Stanford experience on the Carlypso launch.

00:01:37 – You asked, Linda answers! Linda explains why you should only give ONE example or story when application questions ask for one example.  Adding more than one can do more harm than good.

00:05:08 – What is Carlypso?

00:07:30 – Where did the idea for Carlypso come from.

00:10:39 – Who benefits from using Carlypso?

00:12:40 – Did their Stanford MBA degree really help them?

00:19:10 – Are people overestimating entrepreneurship at Stanford?

00:21:42 –  The Stanford MBA’s impact on Nick’s and Chris’s work.

00:23:10 – The $50,000 coffee that helped start Carlypso.

00:26:14 – Interested in attending Stanford? Nick and Chris give tips on how to get accepted (and rejected).

00:27:45 – Fail, and fail gracefully, but don’t do it again.

Listen to the full conversation to learn more!*Theme music is courtesy of podcastthemes.com.

Relevant Links:

• Carlypso
• Tushar’s comment and my response
• Carlypso Could Change Everything About How We Buy And Sell Used Cars
• Stanford GSB Essay Tips 

Relevant shows:

• Life as an HBS MBA
• Dr. Douglas Stayman Shares the Scoop on Cornell Tech NYC
• Business, Law and Beyond: An Interview with John Engelman
• The Stanford MSx Program for Experienced Leaders
• Which Schools are Good for PE/VC and VC-Backed Entrepreneurship
• Jeff Reid on Entrepreneurship

Leave a Review for Admissions Straight Talk:

Check Out Admissions Straight Talk in iTunes! Check Out Admissions Straight Talk in Stitcher!

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

Accepted.com: The Premier Admissions Consultancy