Both the relatively complex MSx application form and your resume will establish you as a leader in your organization (and possibly even your domain), and that leadership experience is essential if you want to be a qualified MSx applicant. It’s important, but it’s just a qualification. Being qualified isn’t enough because Stanford MSx always receives applications from more qualified applicants than it admits. Showing you’re qualified is the role of the resume and application form, and it’s the foundation of your application. However, your essays need to do more.
In reviewing current and former MSx student profiles, one thing stands out: they’re vibrant. They shine. They have impact, not just because of solid career strategies and impressive results, though that’s part of it. They are propelled forward by qualities of character: passion, courage, energy, curiosity, commitment, rigor, vision, big thinking, heart. These essays are your opportunity to reveal your own special character and clarify how it will add to the Stanford MSx mix. You’re already a substantial leader organizationally with a track record to show it. To shape the future, you must have something to say, a point of view, a distinctive voice – so don’t hesitate to take a stand in these essays.
Stanford MSx application essays
Our essay questions are meant to be straightforward, not trick questions. This is an opportunity for you to share reflections on your life and career and further describe your aspirations. (Your answers to the two essays questions combined may not exceed 1,150 words.)
Stanford MSx essay #1
What matters most to you, and why?
To really hit a home run with this essay, you need to bare your soul, at least a bit; take a risk, be open and probing about some essential aspect of yourself. That doesn’t mean the topic must be about your personal life, though for many applicants it is. You could, for example, discuss a political belief that truly drives you, and if it’s that strong, it will reflect your deepest values and relate to your significant experiences. I do suggest using a topic that has some profound meaning to you and that will allow you to ground this essay in your experience. Ultimately, it’s your experience and how you process or synthesize it that will be a key part of this essay. Keep in mind, though, talking about what matters to you is just that – talking (well, in this case, writing). To be credible, and to impress the adcom, present actions you’ve taken and impacts you’ve had related to what matters most. (You know the cliché: actions speak louder than words…)
Sometimes my clients worry when facing this question that their most intuitive topic isn’t “unique” – to which I say, it will be by the time you’re done with the essay, if you delve deep into your experience and deliver your message via detailed anecdotes and frank reflection.
Don’t make this essay overly or overtly strategic; that ends up feeling superficial and manipulative given the topic. One straightforward approach is to structure the essay as a story, with reflection and insight at various pivotal points.
Last, don’t forgot to explicitly address “why” your chosen topic is what matters most to you. The explanation need not be long, and the “why” may already be obvious from the thrust of the essay. But do still address it.
Stanford MSx essay #2
Why this program now? What are your personal and professional objectives, and how will the Stanford MSx Program help you achieve them?
I suggest starting with your professional objectives – include specific details about position, company, anticipated responsibilities, etc. Equally if not more important, however, is why you want to pursue this position/role: what motivates this projected career path, what impact you aim to have. This information will invigorate the essay and turn a competent essay into a compelling one. It ideally will get the adcom excited about supporting your career journey.
Toward the end of this section, add a specific point or two about your personal objectives for attending this program – this part of the question also reflects the program’s emphasis on holistic growth, and your application should respond to that emphasis. Personal objectives need not be divorced from professional ones – often, development of a given trait or capability will benefit various aspects of one’s life.
Do be explicit about “why now” – it’s an especially important point for mid-career professionals pursuing a full-time program. If you are being sponsored, you can include aspects of that condition as context; if you are shifting career focus, your answer to why-now may be more complex, e.g. market conditions combined with career factors.
In discussing how the program will benefit you, be specific: describe what skills and knowledge you need and how the program meets those needs. Also refer to the structure, culture, and special features of the program, detailing how they will support you and your goals.
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
- An explanation of why you do not have a letter of reference from your current direct supervisor
- An explanation of any academic suspension or expulsion
- Work experience that did not fit into the space provided
- Academic experience (e.g., independent research) not noted elsewhere
The wording of this question indicates that you should use this space only to explain things that need explaining in some way. Indeed, the application form plus the essay questions provide ample opportunity to present your holistic candidacy, so adhere to the parameters of this question, and stick to necessary topics – if any. If none, fine.
For expert guidance with your Stanford MSx application, check out Accepted’s Application Packages, which include comprehensive guidance from an experienced admissions consultant. We’ve helped hundreds of applicants get accepted to top schools and look forward to helping you too!
Stanford MSx Application Deadlines for 2019-20
|Submission Deadline||Decision Notification|
|Round 1||September 12, 2019||Early December 2019|
|Round 2||January 9, 2020||Late March 2020|
|Round 3||March 12, 2020||Mid April 2020|
***Disclaimer: Information is subject to change. Please check with individual programs to verify the essay questions, instructions and deadlines.***Want Cindy to help you get Accepted? Click here to get in touch!
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