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Stanford GSB 2016-2017 Essay Tips and Application Deadlines

Posted by Chioma Isiadinso

Those applying to the Stanford Graduate School of Business should start considering their application in-depth, as the 2016-2017 deadlines and essay questions are now available.

Stanford’s 2016 MBA application deadlines are:

– Round 1: September 21

– Round 2: January 10

– Round 3: April 5

Stanford GSB requires two personal essays, which they hope will give MBA admissions committee members “a glimpse of your character and hopes”.

These essays have not changed from last year’s essays. Their website clearly states that each applicant should strive to convey their genuine voice, values, passions and dreams in the essays. Combined, your two essay answers may not exceed 1,150 words.

Stanford GSB 2016-2017 Essay Tips and Application Deadlines

The Stanford GSB 2016 essay questions are:

– What matters most to you and why?

– Why Stanford? 

The first essay question is famous in the MBA world as both particularly insightful and particularly tough to answer. Stanford GSB suggests using the majority of your word total – about 750 words – to answer this question. That alone should indicate the importance of the question. Here are a few tips for answering it well:

– Commit time to self-reflection: In sharing tips for this essay, Stanford GSB admissions officials repeatedly emphasize writing from the heart after deep self-examination.

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Do not skimp on the self-examination portion. Before you type a word of your essay, you should spend a lot of time thinking carefully about the question, perhaps journaling or just taking a walk to think about what really matters most to you.

If you put in the time and self-reflect before you start writing, the actual task of writing will become much easier and your essay will be much more powerful.

– “Focus on the why”: On their website, Stanford GSB explicitly says that applicants should “focus on the why rather than the what”. They want to hear what matters most to you, but more than that, they want to hear why you believe that and how that topic has shaped you.

It is tempting to spend several paragraphs introducing your topic and sharing stories. After all, you are writing about something that (hopefully) you love to talk about. Doing so, however, would leave you little room to discuss “why”. Instead, introduce your topic with one powerful illustration or statement, and then move directly into explaining how it has shaped you.

– Be genuine: Do not tell the admissions committee what you think they want to hear. Sincerely tell them what matters most to you, even if you feel like that your answer is not that of a “typical MBA”. If you genuinely share what you love, that passion will shine through and impress the committee.

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The second essay question is a bit more straightforward, but no less important. This is your opportunity to show the committee that you have done your research and are prepared to not just be an MBA student, but a Stanford MBA student. Remember that you only have about 400 words for this essay.

Get straight to the point and keep your sentences concise and impactful. Pay attention to the brand of Stanford and make sure your brand fits with the school. Keep in mind that Stanford’s brand and culture is connected to innovation and being a change agent.

Think about how you embody these elements when tackling this essay. You should also consider these additional points when writing this essay:

– Share your decision-making process: The ability to make sound, well-reasoned decisions is a crucial quality in any MBA candidate. Let admissions officials see the reasoning behind your decision and illustrate how you decided to pursue this next step in your education.

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– Be specific: Make sure that your answers could not be applied to any MBA program, but are specific to Stanford GSB. Think about how Stanford GSB’s unique attributes suit your own unique talents and goals and show the admissions committee how those could match up. Where possible, mention specific programs and resources available at Stanford GSB that you would like to take advantage of. Avoid lists and instead focus on the specific things that you are truly excited about that you will get from Stanford.

– Identify your short and long-term goals: To the extent that you can, share your short and long-term career goals. It’s okay if you don’t know exactly what you want to do after business, but you should be able to give the committee some idea of the direction you will take after business school.

Stanford GSB has built much of its MBA brand around encouraging students to pursue their true passions. They are looking for candidates who can powerfully share their passion with the world. Your essays should prove that you are capable of meeting that expectation.