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California Dreamin: Admissions Deadlines for Stanford’s Graduate School of Business

May 26, 2011

Ok potential bschoolers – The Stanford Graduate School of Business has posted the deadlines for the Class of 2014!

The three rounds are:

Round 1 *(If you want to get in, apply First Round…trust me)

Deadline: October 12, 2011

Notification: December 14, 2011

Round 2 **(Round 1 is better…even the admissions office admits it…see below for more)

Deadline: January 11, 2012

Notification: March 28, 2012

Round 3 ***(Don’t even think about it)

Deadline: April 4, 2012

Notification: May 16, 2012

*Important: Stanford strongly encourages you to consider Round 1. An admissions representative says, and I quote:  “Over the past few years, we’ve noticed more applicants applying in Round 2 and, as a result, this round has become bigger and a bit more competitive. You should never rush your application. But, on the margin, earlier is better.” All applications are due by 5 p.m. PST on the day of the deadline.

Their essay questions are not up yet, but they pretty much stay the same year over year.  I’ve posted the questions from last year so that you can start thinking.  Stanford’s questions are very different from other schools'; they are much more introspective and require a lot of hard core reflection.

Thanks to Stacy Blackman Consulting for the tips / advice that are included after each question:

Stanford GSB Essay 1: What matters most to you, and why?
This is the keystone of the Stanford GSB essays and your chance to demonstrate who you are and what motivates you. Topics can range from personal history to grand visions of the future. While this topic should not be explicitly career related (and the strongest essays may not be career oriented at all) a truly cohesive life path will likely bring some of the aspects of what matters most into the topic of Essay 2.
If the open ended prompt is intimidating you can try brainstorming over a period of a few days.  Ask friends and family what values they see you demonstrating in your life and choices.  Keep a notebook by your bed so you can record your first thoughts upon waking up, or dreams that might help you understand your motivations.
Though the essay question may seem open-ended, answering the question with vivid and specific examples will provide solid evidence that you have demonstrated or experienced “what matters most” throughout your life.  Keep in mind as you select examples that Stanford GSB specifically advises focusing on people and experiences that have influenced you, rather than accomplishments or achievements.

Stanford GSB Essay 2: What are your career aspirations? What do you need to learn at Stanford GSB to achieve them?
Unlike many career goals essays, Stanford GSB does not ask for specific short- and long-term goals. Aspirational goals are likely a bit further into the future, so think about where you want your career to ultimately be, in the best possible scenario. What do you need to get there? What is the role of an MBA in achieving your aspirations, and how will Stanford GSB specifically contribute to achieving your aspirations?
Stanford GSB wants to know what you specifically need that will be uniquely satisfied by the program at Stanford GSB, and research will help you determine the specifics of the academic program, community and students will be essential to demonstrating your knowledge and fit with the program.

Stanford GSB Essay 3: Answer two of the four questions below. Tell us not only what you did but also how you did it. What was the outcome? How did people respond? Only describe experiences that have occurred during the last three years.

Choose strategically here. What aspects of your background or career progress have not be highlighted in the previous two essays? Is there a community service involvement you would like to demonstrate? All examples must be from the past three years, and it is important to clearly describe your process and results.

o Option A: Tell us about a time when you built or developed a team whose performance exceeded expectations.
This Stanford GSB essay is an opportunity to highlight an achievement specifically in the arena of leadership and teamwork.  If your professional life hasn’t included formal management responsibility perhaps you were able to lead a project or part of a project.  Leading a team from within could also be possible if you contributed to developing or building a great team.  Another possibility is other leadership experiences outside of work. Describe what happened and your role in the performance of the team.  In addition to clear description, explain what the expectations were for the team and how your team exceeded them.

o Option B: Tell us about a time when you made a lasting impact on your organization.
Making a lasting impact through a discrete project or achievement is possible, yet less likely than creating impact through your relationships with others and the overall operations of the organization. Did you create a new initiative that involves many others? Have you impacted the culture or operations of your organization through an idea or by developing your team? Think about actions you have taken that may have lead to a fundamental shift in the way things are done or perceived.

o Option C: Tell us about a time when you motivated others to support your vision or initiative.
This question seeks to understand your leadership skills and ability to build support. When answering the question it is far more important to describe your specific actions and results than to have an impressive vision or initiative. Explain clearly how you (uniquely) were able to motivate your team or build support.

o Option D: Tell us about a time when you went beyond what was defined, established, or expected.
The topic of this essay can be from almost any area of your life. Defining what was established and expected is important to clearly demonstrate how you went beyond. Why and how did you achieve results beyond expectations? This topic could be similar to Option A in scope, yet is focused on your individual achievement rather than directing a team’s actions.
As you put together your Stanford GSB application it will be helpful to read all of the essays together (and have others read them) to see the overall impression. It should be clear what your underlying motivations are, what you hope do you with your career, and how you operate as an individual and in a team within an organization. As Stanford GSB clearly requests, the best essays will illuminate your individual voice clear and strong.

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4 Comments leave one →
  1. Mac Mackie permalink
    May 27, 2011 9:17 pm

    Remember, knowing an editor always helps on those essays…

    • May 28, 2011 1:02 am

      This is true, unless the “editor” in question’s feedback devolves into nothing more than four-letter-word slurs against your life story…

      • Mac Mackie permalink
        May 29, 2011 11:07 pm

        If those slurs are warranted, then the writer is better off for knowing. So no, still helps.

      • Mac Mackie permalink
        May 29, 2011 11:09 pm

        And P.S. for all you potential MBAer’s:

        Your life story doesn’t matter if it doesn’t answer the question that the essay asks!

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