Our Thoughts on Stanford GSB’s Application Essays for 2015-2016

stanford-gsb-buildingApplication season at Stanford GSB is officially underway with the release of the school’s 2015-2016 essay questions. Let’s discuss from a high level some early thoughts on how best to approach these new essay prompts.

Essay 1:

What matters most to you, and why? (750 words)

The dreaded Stanford open-ended essay prompt has been one of the most feared parts of the school’s application process for years. For many students the more open the prompt the higher the anxiety – couple this with the inherent pressure that results from applying to Stanford, and many students derail their chances of success before they even put pen to paper. Many students struggle with how to tackle this type of essay question and with Stanford, it’s best to follow the direction provided by the Admissions Committee.

The “what” of your essay is less important than the “why.” Stanford GSB, as much as any other program, truly wants to know who you are. So give them the chance by offering up some direct insight into who you are as a person. Introspection is key in this essay, and walking the AdComm through the “what” of the question, as well as why you are uniquely motivates by this “what”, will serve to humanize your candidacy and make your response more personal. Stanford strives to admit people, not just GMAT scores or GPAs, so make sure you let them into your world. Breakthrough candidates will utilize structured storytelling effects to craft a compelling narrative that brings the Stanford AdComm deep into the candidate’s world.

This essay honestly at its core is about getting to know you, so don’t miss the opportunity by trying to craft the perfect answer for what you feel the AdComm wants to read.

Essay 2:

Why Stanford? (400 words)

This is a typical “Why School X Question,” however, you will want to avoid the typical boilerplate response with Stanford and dive a bit deeper here. Think of this prompt in two parts: “Why MBA?” and “Why Specifically a Stanford MBA?” Be specific and connect your personal and professional development goals to the unique programs at Stanford that are relevant to your success. Breakthrough candidates will not only select clear, well-aligned goals, but will connect these goals with a personal passion that makes their candidacy feel bigger than just business. Now do not reach here, the more authentic this personal passion is the better it will connect with the AdComm, but for years Stanford has maintained a track record of looking for something a bit different in their candidates.

Just a few thoughts on the new essays from Stanford, hopefully this will help you get started. For more thoughts on Stanfords’s deadlines and essays, check out another post here.

If you are considering applying to Stanford GSB, download our Essential Guide to Stanford, one of our 14 guides to the world’s top business schools. Ready to start building your applications for Stern and other top MBA programs? Call us at 1-800-925-7737 and speak with an MBA admissions expert today. As always, be sure to find us on Facebook and Google+, and follow us on Twitter!

Dozie A. is a Veritas Prep Head Consultant for the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University. His specialties include consulting, marketing, and low GPA/GMAT applicants. You can read more of his articles here

 

Stanford GSB Admissions Essays and Deadlines for 2015-2016

Stanford GSB has released its MBA application essays and deadlines for the 2015-2016 admissions season. After making some pretty significant changes to the essay prompts last year, the Stanford admissions team has only made one minor word count tweak (actually adding 50 words!) this year. As a result, our advice mostly remains the same. Keep reading to see Stanford’s relatively unique questions, and how we recommend that you go about answering them.

Here are the Stanford GSB application essays and deadlines for the Class of 2018, followed by our comments in italics:

Stanford MBA Application Deadlines
Round 1: September 22, 2015
Round 2: January 12, 2016
Round 3: April 5, 2016

The biggest change here is that Stanford Round 1 deadline is 10 days earlier than it was last year, pushing into September for the first time. Just as is the case with HBS, putting together a winning Stanford GSB application will require getting started no later than the beginning of August. Stanford’s Round 2 and Round 3 deadlines each actually moved back by a few days.

Note that, if you apply in Round 1, you will receive your decision by December 9. That’s critical if you plan on applying to some other programs in Round 2 if you don’t receive good news from Stanford in Round 1. It gives you close to a month to get your applications ready in time for most top schools’ Round 2 deadlines.

Stanford GSB Admissions Essays

  • What matters most to you, and why? (750 words suggested, out of 1,150 total)

    Despite all of the changes that have taken place in the MBA admissions essay landscape over the past few years, this question manages to hang on. Before you start to work on this essay, consider the advice that the Stanford MBA admissions team provides: “Reflect the self-examination process you used to write your response.”

    This question requires a great deal of introspection, after which you should create an essay that truly answers the question asked, whether or not you feel that it’s directly applicable to the job of getting into Stanford GSB. Naturally, telling a random story that has nothing to do with anything of relevance can hurt your chances, but mainly because you will have wasted this valuable space to reveal something about yourself. Where many Stanford applicants go wrong is by writing about their grand plans for the future, rather than providing a real glimpse into who they are as people. The latter is much more powerful and, ultimately, much more effective in helping you get in. With the other essays in this application, you have ample opportunity to cover the exact reasons why you want an MBA from Stanford.
  • Why Stanford? (400 words suggested)

    Wow! Stanford is giving applicants 50 more words than it did last year! Otherwise, this essay prompt carries over unchanged from last year. Stanford has the luxury of not having to spend too much time sleuthing how interested you are in the program. Most people who are admitted to Stanford end up going there. However, the guidance that the admissions team provides with this question (“Explain the distinctive opportunities you will pursue at Stanford.”) shows that they really are paying attention to see if you’ve done your homework, and if you have given any real thought to making the most of your time at Stanford (beyond “Get into private equity and get paid.”)

    Definitely resist the urge to do a few web searches and then simply drop the names of some programs or professors into this essay. An effective response will provide specific details that tie back to you (think about your past and your future) as much as they tie to Stanford. Many applicants will read that “distinctive opportunities” advice and think “The scavenger hunt is on! Let me find something no one else will write about!” but that misses the point. Stanford wants to know that you’re applying for reasons other than the fact that it’s such a platinum name in education, so spell out how You + Stanford = A More Effective Business Leader.

Note Stanford’s Take on “Feedback” Vs. “Coaching”
Stanford includes some noteworthy language re: what is an acceptable form of guidance to seek as you craft your application essays. As the admissions team writes:

Appropriate feedback occurs when others review your completed application — perhaps once or twice — and apprise you of omissions, errors, or inaccuracies that you later correct or address. After editing is complete, your thoughts, voice, and style remain intact. Inappropriate coaching occurs when you allow others to craft your application for you and, as a result, your application or self-presentation is not authentic

It is improper and a violation of the terms of this application process to have someone else write your essays. Such behavior will result in denial of your application or withdrawal of your offer of admission.

We appreciate that Stanford spells this out, and we couldn’t agree more with the school’s stance. If you can’t even write your own essays, then you already know that you’re not Stanford GSB material. For more than 10 years we have been helping people apply to the world’s most competitive MBA programs, and we have done it (pretty well, we might add) without writing essays or putting words in our clients’ mouths.

If you’re ready to start building your own application for Stanford and other top business schools, call us at 1-800-925-7737 and speak with an MBA admissions expert today. And, as always, be sure to find us on Facebook and Google+, and follow us on Twitter!

By Scott Shrum

Stanford GSB Application Essays and Deadlines for 2014-2015

Stanford GSB has released its MBA admissions essays and deadlines for the Class of 2017. Last year Stanford resisted the urge to cut an essay (while many other top MBA programs did reduce their number of required essays), but this year is another story: Stanford now only requires two essays, including its famous “What matters most to you, and why?” question. Plus, the Stanford GSB admissions team made a curious change to what we thought was one of last year’s most interesting application essays.

Here are the Stanford GSB application essays and deadlines for the 2014-2015 admissions season, followed by our comments in italics:

Stanford MBA Admissions Deadlines
Round 1: October 1, 2014
Round 2: January 7, 2015
Round 3: April 1, 2015

Not many changes here. Stanford’s application deadlines are virtually the same as they were last year. Note that, if you apply in Round 1, you will receive your decision by December 10. That’s critical if you plan on applying to some other programs in Round 2 if you don’t receive good news from Stanford in Round 1. It gives you close to a month to get your applications ready in time for most top schools’ Round 2 deadlines.

Stanford GSB Admissions Essays

  • What matters most to you, and why? (750 words suggested, out of 1,100 total)

    Despite all of the changes that have taken place in the MBA admissions essay landscape over the past few years, this question manages to hang on. Before you start to work on this essay, consider the advice that the Stanford MBA admissions team provides: “Reflect the self-examination process you used to write your response.”

    This question requires a great deal of introspection, after which you should create an essay that truly answers the question asked, whether or not you feel that it’s directly applicable to the job of getting into Stanford GSB. Naturally, telling a random story that has nothing to do with anything of relevance can hurt your chances, but mainly because you will have wasted this valuable space to reveal something about yourself. Where many Stanford applicants go wrong is by writing about their grand plans for the future, rather than providing a real glimpse into who they are as people. The latter is much more powerful and, ultimately, much more effective in helping you get in. With the other essays in this application, you have ample opportunity to cover the exact reasons why you want an MBA from Stanford.
  • Why Stanford? (350 words suggested)

    This essay prompt is new this year, and it’s sort of too bad that Stanford got rid of last year’s version, which asked, “What do you want to do — REALLY — and why Stanford?” We kind of liked that extra emphasis that they added last year, but for whatever reason, the Stanford admissions team has decided to tone it down a bit, and make it a bit more like the standard “Why an MBA? Why this school?” question that many business schools ask.

    Just like HBS, Stanford has the luxury of not having to spend too much time sleuthing how interested you are in the program. Most people who are admitted to Stanford end up going there. However, the guidance that the admissions team provides with this question (“Explain the distinctive opportunities you will pursue at Stanford.”) shows that they really are paying attention to see if you’ve done your homework, and if you have given any real thought to making the most of your time at Stanford (beyond “Plan to be insanely rich one day.”)

    However, you should resist the urge to do a few web searches and then simply drop the names of some programs or professors into this essay. An effective response will provide specific details that tie back to you (think about your past and your future) as much as they tie to Stanford. Many applicants will read that “distinctive opportunities” advice and think “The scavenger hunt is on! Let me find something no one else will write about!” but that misses the point. Stanford wants to know that you’re applying for reasons other than the fact that it’s such a platinum name in education, so spell out how You + Stanford = A More Effective Business Leader.

Note Stanford’s Take on “Feedback” Vs. “Coaching”
Stanford includes some noteworthy language re: what is an acceptable form of guidance to seek as you craft your application essays. As the admissions team writes:

Appropriate feedback occurs when others review your completed application – perhaps once or twice – and apprise you of omissions, errors, or inaccuracies that you later correct or address. After editing is complete, your thoughts, voice, and style remain intact. Inappropriate coaching occurs when you allow others to craft your application for you and, as a result, your application or self-presentation is not authentic.

It is improper and a violation of the terms of this application process to have someone else write your essays. Such behavior will result in denial of your application or withdrawal of your offer of admission.

We couldn’t agree more. If you can’t even write your own essays, then you already know that you’re not Stanford GSB material. For more than 10 years we have been helping people apply to the world’s most competitive MBA programs, and we have done it (pretty well, we might add) without writing essays or putting words in our clients’ mouths.

To see how we do it, download our Essential Guide to Stanford GSB, one of our 14 guides to the world’s top business schools… for free! If you’re ready to start building your own application for Stanford and other top business schools, call us at 1-800-925-7737 and speak with an MBA admissions expert today. And, as always, be sure to find us on Facebook and Google+, and follow us on Twitter!

By Scott Shrum

Stanford GSB Admissions Essays and Deadlines for 2013-2014

The Stanford Graduate School of Business has released its admissions essays and deadlines for the 2013-2014 application season. Stanford has actually made no changes to its admissions essays this year, which suggests that the admissions committee liked what it saw in the applications that it reviewed last year. Accordingly, our advice hasn’t changed much, although it has evolved subtly since last year. Let’s dig in.

Here are Stanford GSB’s application deadlines and essays for the Class of 2016, entering in 2014. Our comments follow in italics:

Stanford GSB Application Deadlines
Round 1: October 2, 2013
Round 2: January 8, 2014
Round 3: April 2, 2014

No big changes here. All of Stanford’s admissions deadlines are within one day of their 2012-2013 counterparts. Note that, if you apply in Round 1, Stanford has promised a response by December 11, 2013. That’s important since, if you’re rejected or waitlisted, it will give you more than three weeks until most other top MBA programs’ Round 2 admissions deadlines come in early January.

Regarding Round 3, Stanford is one top school that has gone out of its way to invite applicants to apply in Round 3. While you shouldn’t believe that your chances are as good in Round 3 as they would be in Round 1 or 2, if you’re reading this in early 2014 and are wondering if you absolutely must wait till the fall to apply to Stanford, know that the admissions committee will still look at strong Round 3 applications with a very open mind.

Stanford GSB Application Essays

  • What matters most to you, and why? (750 words recommended, out of 1,600 total)

    This question is probably the longest-running admissions essay prompt used by any prominent business school. Our advice has evolved a bit over the years, but only subtly. Before you start to work on this essay, take Stanford’s advice to heart: “The best examples of Essay 1 reflect the process of self-examination that you have undertaken to write them.” This question requires a great deal of introspection, after which you should create an essay that truly answers the question asked, whether or not you feel that it’s directly applicable to your candidacy. Naturally, telling a story that has nothing to do with your Stanford application can end up hurting you, but where many Stanford applicants go wrong is by writing about their grand plans for the future, rather than providing a real glimpse into who they are as people. The latter is much more powerful and, ultimately, much more effective in helping you get in. With the other essays in this application, you have ample opportunity to cover the exact reasons why you want an MBA from Stanford.
  • What do you want to do — REALLY — and why Stanford? (450 words recommended)

    This question also has not changed. With the part in ALL CAPS, the admissions committee is sending a clear message: “Cut the bull. We really want honest answers here.” Also, note that this question is deliberately pretty open-ended. Stanford invites you to dream big. The admissions committee is less interested in which exact blue-chip management consulting firm you want to work at after business school… They’re more interested in what you want to do with your life. Naturally, the job you take in the near term matters, but here is your chance to reveal some big dreams. If the first question is supposed to be a super-introspective look at your past, consider this the same exercise with your future. Finally, take note of the last part of the guidance they give for this question: “… and demonstrate your desire to take advantage of the opportunities that are distinctive to the Stanford MBA Program.” Obviously it’s a great school with a terrific brand name, but the admissions committee already knows that. Why is Stanford specifically the school that will help you achieve your dreams?
  • Answer one of the three 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. (400 words recommended)

    Option A:
    Tell us about a time in the last three years when you built or developed a team whose performance exceeded expectations.

    Option B: Tell us about a time in the last three years when you identified and pursued an opportunity to improve an organization.

    Option C: Tell us about a time in the last three years when you went beyond what was defined or established.

    This question also carries over unchanged from last year. If one thing is clear, it’s that Stanford is interested in hearing stories that happened more than three years ago. (Just kidding.) We kid, but the fact that the admissions committee inserted this phrase four times suggests that applicants still look past this seemingly simple instruction! Why the emphasis on more recent stories? Because you’re young. You may feel old and wise compared to people just coming out of college, but the fact is that you’re still changing and growing a great deal. Something that you accomplished five years ago is far less useful in helping the admissions committee gauge your potential as a professional.

    For Option A, note the emphasis on “whose performance exceeded expectations”… Results matter, and you need to show them here. This is a classic Situation-Action-Result (“SAR”) question. Option B is all about learning what impact you have had on those around you. The essay prompt doesn’t specifically use the word “impact,” but it is pretty clear what Stanford wants to see here — the admissions committee wants to find young professionals who leave a trail of success and positive, meaningful impact everywhere they go. Of the three essay prompts here, we like Option B the best. If you have a good example to use, you should respond to this prompt.

    Option C is another results-oriented question that also gets at a core component of leadership: the ambition and ability to do more than what is listed in your job description. We think the way this question is phrased may actually lead some to misinterpret it and tell an unremarkable story, but a great response will show that you’re someone who readily goes beyond your job description to make things happen. In some respects, we consider Options B and C to be very similar… It’s clear that Stanford wants to find go-getters who go beyond what’s expected to make things happen. But, we still prefer B because it puts a bit more emphasis on results than Option C does.

We work with dozens of Stanford GSB applicants every year. For more advice on getting into Stanford, download our Essential Guide to Stanford GSB, one of our 14 guides to the world’s top business schools. If you’re ready to start building your own application for Stanford and other top business schools, call us at 1-800-925-7737 and speak with an MBA admissions expert today. And, as always, be sure to find us on Facebook and Google+, and follow us on Twitter!

By Scott Shrum

Stanford GSB Admissions Deadlines for 2012-2013

Following Stanford GSB’s recent release of its admissions essays for the 2012-2013 admissions season, Stanford has just released its application deadlines for the coming year. Not too many changes, although the school’s Round 1 deadline keeps creeping a bit earlier. This can make your job seem tougher, but there is also a benefit in the grand scheme of things, which we discuss below.

Here are Stanford’s admission deadlines for the coming year, followed by our comments in italics:

Stanford Graduate School of Business Application Deadlines
Round 1: October 3, 2012
Round 2: January 9, 2013
Round 3: April 3, 2013
Continue reading “Stanford GSB Admissions Deadlines for 2012-2013”

Five Things That Makes Stanford GSB Different

We get no shortage of inquiries from clients about the Stanford Graduate School of Business, which isn’t surprising given that it sits at or near the top of any significant ranking of MBA programs. What’s not to love about an elite, cozy MBA program in the heart of Silicon Valley? Still, we’re often disappointed by how little these applicants actually know about Stanford before they apply. We always urge these applicants to go back and do their homework a bit more before they begin the application process.

Are you thinking about applying to Stanford? If so, why? How do you know if it’s really is a good fit for you? More importantly, how do you know the Stanford admissions team will think you’re a good fit for the school? Today we present five things that make Stanford GSB unique among top-ranked MBA programs:
Continue reading “Five Things That Makes Stanford GSB Different”

Stanford MBA Admissions Essays and Deadlines for 2011-2012

Stanford GSB recently released its MBA admissions essays and deadlines for the 2011-2012 application season. You may notice some changes to the essays since last year; we’ll dig into those changes below.

Note that, as it has done for the past several years, Stanford’s admissions committee provides some high-level advice right on its own website. While we think this advice is generally good, we do think that most applicants can benefit from a more in-depth look at these essays. But, of course, any advice that comes straight from the horse’s mouth deserves your attention!
Continue reading “Stanford MBA Admissions Essays and Deadlines for 2011-2012”

Stanford GSB Is a Good Fit for You If…

Stanford GSBStanford GSB sits at the top or right near the top of most major publications’ business school rankings. If you’re gunning for a top-tier MBA, chances are that you’ve at least considered sending an application to Stanford. But, besides knowing that it’s a small, top-ranked school with strong ties to Silicon Valley, how well do you really know Stanford? How do you know if it’s a good fit for you? And, perhaps more importantly, how do you know if the admissions committee will decide you’re a good fit for Stanford?

Today we look at six things that might make the Stanford Graduate School of Business a perfect fit for you:
Continue reading “Stanford GSB Is a Good Fit for You If…”

Sunil Kumar Named New Dean at Chicago Booth


Yesterday the University of Chicago Booth School of Business announced that Stanford GSB’s Sunil Kumar will assume the role of Dean at the school. Kumar’s appointment ends a search that began seven months ago, after Edward A. Snyder announced in December that he would leave the school at the end of the academic year after serving nearly two full five-year terms at the head of the school.

Kumar, who is currently the Fred H. Merrill Professor of Operations, Information and Technology at the Stanford University Graduate School of Business, will begin his five-year term at Booth starting January 1, 2011. He brings with him an extensive resume of thought leadership in the operations management space. Kumar also is familiar with the role of leading an MBA program, currently serving as Stanford GSB’s Senior Associate Dean for Academic Affairs.

This is an interesting appointment on multiple levels. For one, while longtime Chicago Booth faculty member Harry Davis never seemed to be a front-runner for the job, his extensive experience at the school made him someone the search committee had to at least consider. Davis was one of the key players who led the development of Booth’s relatively new LEAD program, which represented a very significant change to the school’s curriculum. Anyone who thought that Davis would be “too much of an insider” (i.e., unwilling to shake things up if needed) wouldn’t need to look any further than that program.

Additionally, over the past decade Booth has certainly spread its wings beyond hardcore quant and finance to gain a more well-rounded reputation among applicants and leaders at other schools. Appointing an “ops guy” like Kumar suggests that the school is comfortable with how far its reputation has come recently, and doesn’t feel a need to go any farther than it already has. Ten years ago, we wonder if the school, which has been interested in broadening its branding beyond the stereotype of hardcore quant-types, would have made this same appointment. That’s not to say that Kumar’s leadership will put a damper on the school’s other departments — everything we’ve seen about him suggests that he’s a well-rounded leader who happens to have a PhD in Electrical Engineering — but it’s an interesting signal about what the search committee thinks the school needs more right now.

Kumar had this to say about his appointment in Chicago Booth’s announcement:

“I am excited to become dean of Chicago Booth,” Kumar said. “I share the school’s passion for the pursuit of ideas that hold up under careful scrutiny. I look forward to helping strengthen and enhance Booth’s outstanding research environment and its rigorous, discipline-based approach to business education. I am eager to get to know the faculty, students, alumni, and staff of the school, and to engage with the business community in the city of Chicago.”

No doubt about it, Kumar has some large shoes to fill. Snyder’s tenure at Booth was arguably the most successful run by any business school leader over the past decade: In 2008 alumnus David Booth donated $300 million, a staggering sum that led to the school changing its name from the University of Chicago Graduate School of Business to Chicago Booth. The school also opened its new state-of-the-art Harper Center, which has significantly improved the quality of life for the student body. And, Chicago Booth’s global footprint has also grown significantly over the past decade, with a new campus in London and a planned campus expansions in Singapore. It’s hard to argue that any dean has had more of an impact on his or her school over the past ten years than Snyder had.

Getting ready to apply to Chicago Booth? Download our Chicago Booth Annual Report, one of 15 completely free guides to the world’s top business schools, available on our site. Every year we help many applicants get into Booth, and we can help you, too. Call us at 800-925-7737 to speak with a Veritas Prep MBA admissions expert today.

Stanford MBA Admissions Essays for 2010-2011

A couple of weeks after announcing its application deadlines for the coming year, Stanford GSB has released its MBA application essays for 2010-2011. Bucking the trend that some other top business schools have exhibited so far this year, Stanford hasn’t made a single change to its essays. Accordingly, our advice mostly remains the same.

One thing we really about Stanford’s essays is that they put so much emphasis on an applicant’s impact and willingness to go beyond what’s expected of him. While all top business schools look for these exact same traits, we like that Stanford hits these ideas right on the nose. Also, note how much coaching Stanford gives applicants right on its essay page. When in doubt, start with the advice that they explicitly give you!

Here are Stanford’s admissions essays, followed by our comments in italics:

Stanford GSB Application Essays

  1. What matters most to you, and why? (750 words recommended, out of 1,800 total)

    This question has been around for years. Believe it or not, it used to have no word limit. Now, the essay’s 750-word limit forces applicants to be a little more economical with their words. With this essay, take Stanford’s advice to heart: “Truly, the most impressive essays are those that do not begin with the goal of impressing us.” This question requires a great deal of introspection, after which you should create an essay that truly answers the question asked, whether or not you feel that it’s directly applicable to your candidacy. Obviously, the more relevant your essay is to the goal of getting into business school, the better, but where many Stanford applicants go wrong is by writing about grand ideas and using impressive-sounding words, rather than a real glimpse into who they are as a person. The latter is much more powerful and, ultimately, much more effective in getting you into Stanford GSB.

    We leave you with these words of advice, taken directly from Stanford’s own site: “[The best essays] do not focus merely on what you’ve done or accomplished. Instead, they share with us the values, experiences, and lessons that have shaped your perspectives. They are written from the heart.”

  2. What are your career aspirations? How will your education at Stanford help you achieve them? (450 words recommended)

    This is the more common “Why do you want an MBA, and why this school?” question. Here you can feel more comfortable writing about the topics that business schools more often look for in their applications. Remember to keep it realistic and to demonstrate that you understand what the Stanford MBA experience will — and won’t — do for you as a growing professional. Again, you will do well to heed Stanford’s advice here: “Use this essay to explain your view of your future, not to repeat accomplishments from your past.”

  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. (300 words recommended for each)

    Option A: Tell us about a time when you built or developed a team whose performance exceeded expectations.

    Option B: Tell us about a time when you made a lasting impact on your organization.

    Option C: Tell us about a time when you motivated others to support your vision or initiative.

    Option D: Tell us about a time when you went beyond what was defined, established, or expected.

    As noted above, these essays all carry over unchanged from 2009-2010. What that tells us is that the Stanford admissions office likes what it got from applicants last year. For Option A, note the emphasis on “whose performance exceeded expectations”… Results matter, and you need to show them here. This is a classic Situation-Action-Result (“SAR”) question. Again, we love the “impact” idea in Option B… Stanford is looking for young professionals that leave a trail of success and positive, meaningful impact everywhere they go. If you have a good example to use, we strongly urge you to answer Option B.

    Over the years Option C has evolved from a question about overcoming an obstacle or failure to a question that gets at one version of leadership — motivating others to support your ideas. Stanford considers this type of persuasiveness a key ingredient in the future leaders that it wants to produce. Option D is another results-oriented question that also gets at a core component of leadership: the ambition and ability to do more than what is listed in your job description. We think the way this question is phrased sounds a bit pedestrian, but a great response will show you you tackled a problem or pursued an opportunity (in the workplace or in your community) that would have otherwise gone ignored.

If you plan on applying to Stanford GSB this fall, download our Stanford GSB Annual Report, one of 15 free guides to the top business schools on our site. And, as always, be sure to subscribe to this blog and to follow Veritas Prep on Twitter so that you don’t miss a beat in the worlds of GMAT prep and MBA admissions!

Stanford MBA Application Deadlines for 2010-2011

Admissions ConsultantAnd the hits just keep coming this week. Just days after Wharton and Harvard announced their MBA application deadlines for the coming year, Stanford GSB has released its deadlines. Stanford’s essay topics have not yet been released, but we’ll analyze them here as soon as they come out.

Stanford GSB Application Deadlines
Round 1: October 6, 2010
Round 2: January 6, 2011
Round 3: April 6, 2011


Nothing too interesting here… these deadlines are almost exactly the same as last year’s. (That “666” is a little creepy, though.) Much like Harvard’s and Wharton’s Round 1 deadlines do for those schools, Stanford’s early October Round 1 deadline gives the school plenty of time to notify applicants before the holidays, and gives denied applicants plenty of time to rev up their Round 2 applications, if needed.

Applying to Stanford this year? Before you do, download our Stanford GSB Annual Report, one of 15 completely free guides to the world’s top business schools, available on our site. Ready to get to work on your Stanford application? Call us at (800) 925-7737 and speak with an MBA admissions expert today. And, as always, be sure to subscribe to this blog and follow us on Twitter!

Six Must-Have Classes at Stanford GSB

Stanford GSB GuideContinuing our series of admissions insights clipped from Veritas Prep’s Annual Reports, our in-depth insider’s guides to 15 of the world’s top business schools, this week we take a look at six classes that are universally popular among Stanford GSB students. (Our Annual reports are absolutely free with registration, but we thought we’d share some snippets here to help get you started in your Stanford research.)

Among Stanford GSB students, there are a handful of courses that are considered a “must” in order to have the full GSB experience. Not surprisingly, many of the top courses are related to entrepreneurship and venture capital, although there are a few that fall outside of that scope:

  • Entrepreneurship and Venture Capitalwith Peter Wendell, Andrew Rachleff, and Eric Schmidt. Peter C. Wendell is the founder and a Managing Director of Sierra Ventures and has been recognized by Forbes magazine as one of the top 100 technology venture investors in the United States. The class is co-taught by Google CEO Eric Schmidt and Andy Rachleff, founding General Partner of Benchmark Capital. This is one of the top classes at the GSB and provides an opportunity for second-year MBAs to learn about all aspects of the venture capital business from industry giants. This is a class known for its strong guest speakers and engaging class discussion. Also, the all-star faculty of entrepreneurship and Venture Capital is often willing to go to lunch with students after class.
  • Managing Growing Enterprises with Professor Harold Grousebeck. Professor Grousebeck founded Continental Cablevision, where he served as Chairman until 1985, has served on numbers nonprofit and corporate boards, and is a principal owner of the Boston Celtics. His course places MBA students in the role of CEO and challenges them to deal with difficult managerial situations through a process assessment, prescription, and execution, including frequent role-playing. He brings a mixture of industry credibility and an engaging teaching style to the class, which sets the tone and brings out the best in his students. Grousebeck is well-known for coldcalling in almost every class. This course is a common “Round Zero” pick for Stanford students.
  • Entrepreneurship and the Formation of New Ventures with Professor Garth Saloner and Professor Jim Phills. Professor Saloner is one of only two faculty members to twice win the Distinguished Teaching Award at the GSB, first in 1993 and again in 2008. He was recently named as the GSB’s new Dean and was instrumental in designing the new curriculum. His focus is e-commerce, entrepreneurship, strategy and strategic management. He teaches the Entrepreneurship course with Jim Phills, who is the Director of the Center for Social Innovation at the GSB. There is another section of this course taught by Andrew Rachleff (another GSB favorite) which is more “tech heavy,” but Garth Saloner is one of the best teachers at Stanford. Professors Saloner and Ellis are known to bring in a formidable line-up of speakers, many of whom are “GSB traditions” who visit year after year.
  • Investment Management and Entrepreneurial Finance with Professor John McDonald. Professor McDonald is known internationally for his work on investment in the context of global equity markets. He is one of the first professors to serve as vice chairman of NASDAQ, and also represented the public’s interest on the Board of Governors of the National Association of Securities Dealers in Washington, D.C. His private equity, venture capital and principal investing courses are some of the best at the GSB and provide insight into the grown of Silicon Valley and other venture capital hotbeds. This is not a technical finance course, but an opportunity for students to listen some of the best financial minds in the industry. It has been described by some students as one of the best finance speaker series in the world.
  • Entrepreneurial Design for Extreme Affordability with Professor James Patell, Professor David Beach, and Professor David Kelly. This relatively new course, offered in conjunction with the Stanford School of Design (“d.school”), is quickly becoming one of the top course offerings at the GSB. It is difficult to get into and requires an application. However, the professors teaching the course are very enthusiastic and this helps create a great classroom atmosphere. Professor Patell is one of the seven core founding faculty of the d.school. He also served as the GSB’s Associate Dean for Academic Affairs from 1985 through 1991, and was Director of the MBA program from 1986 through 1988. The class takes place over two quarters. While the coursework is exceptionally demanding, it is known to be one of the most rewarding classes at the GSB because the work results in a tangible output and
    students get the experience of working on a project with a multidisciplinary team. Each year, several class projects are taken forward and have real-world impact. In 2006, a team won the Draper Fisher Jurvetson Venture Challenge and $250,000. They launched their company, d.light designs, in June
  • Interpersonal Dynamics. While its name marks it as one of the “softer” classes at the GSB, Interpersonal Dynamics (aka “Touchy-Feely”) is a perennial favorite of GSB students. Almost all MBAs take this course at some point during their second year, with most taking it during the spring. If you have ever heard a GSB alumnus talking about their “t-group”, then you know it is a not-to-be-missed part of the Stanford GSB experience. Interpersonal Dynamics is offered as part of the Stanford GSB’s leadership curriculum and is focused on improving the way managers and individuals communicate.

Today’s blog post was clipped from our Stanford GSB Annual Report, one of 15 guides to the world’s top business schools, available for purchase on our site. If you’re ready to start building your own application for Stanford, Harvard, Wharton, or any other top MBA programs, call us at 1-800-925-7737 and speak with an MBA admissions consultant today!

Stanford MBA Application Now Available

In a brief note on the school’s web site, the Stanford Graduate School of Business announced yesterday that its application is now online for the 2009-2010 admissions season. You can access Stanford’s application here.

As we previously noted, Stanford has moved up its Round 1 application deadline to October 7th. In yesterday’s announcement, Stanford said that it may also extend interviews earlier this year.

For more advice on applying to Stanford, take a look at our Stanford MBA essay analysis for the coming year. Note the subtle changes in this year’s essays vs. last year’s… These should provide some clues as to what Stanford GSB looks for in its applicants.

Follow Veritas Prep on Twitter to stay up to date on all Stanford-related admissions news!

Stanford GSB Names New Dean

Last week, the Stanford Graduate School of Business announced that Garth Saloner will be its next dean, succeeding Robert Joss, who has served as dean for the past 10 years. Saloner’s appointment is effective September 1, 2009.

Saloner joined the Stanford faculty in 1990, and is currently the Jeffrey S. Skoll Professor of Electronic Commerce, Strategic Management and Economics. He also serves at director of the Center for Entrepreneurial Studies at the Graduate School of Business. Saloner led the overhaul of Stanford’s MBA curriculum, making this a natural transition as the school seeks to maintain leadership continuity.

“Over nearly two decades at Stanford, Garth Saloner has demonstrated that he is not only a top-notch scholar, but also a respected leader among his peers and distinguished teacher highly-praised by his students,” President John Hennessy said in the school’s official announcement. “His scholarship in the areas of entrepreneurship and electronic commerce is particularly pertinent to our times and the global economy.”

Saloner identified some of the challenges that he will face in his new role:

“The Stanford GSB has the opportunity to prepare future generations of principled critical analytical thinkers whose actions can change the world. Through our research, we will continue to develop the intellectual underpinnings of management and we will embody that knowledge in our teaching. From our sustainable new management center on the Stanford campus we will promote the free-flow of students, faculty, and ideas across disciplines and schools as we develop management knowledge and business leaders for the 21st century.”

To learn what it takes to get into a school like Stanford, visit Veritas Prep’s Stanford GSB information page. And, be sure to follow Veritas Prep on Twitter!

Stanford GSB Admissions Essays and Deadlines for 2009-2010

Last week the Stanford Graduate School of Business released its admissions essay topics and deadlines for the 2009-2010 application season. Notably, as is the case with HBS, Stanford’s Round 1 deadline is now in the first week of October, and the school will now notify Round 1 applicants before the holidays at the end of the year.

Here are Stanford’s essays and deadlines, followed by our comments in italics:

Stanford GSB Application Deadlines

Round 1: October 7, 2009
Round 2: January 6, 2010
Round 3: April 7, 2010

(Interesting… Harvard matched Stanford by moving its Round 3 deadline back to April. Now, like HBS, Stanford has moved its Round 1 deadline forward, to early October. For these schools, there’s now six months between the Round 1 and Round 3 deadlines! Perhaps one reason for this move is to make admissions officers’ lives easier during the peak season, by spreading it out a bit. It will be interesting to see if other schools follow.)

Stanford GSB Application Essays

  1. What matters most to you, and why? (750 words recommended, out of 1,800 total)

    (Ahh, Stanford’s tried-and-true essay question. Old timers will remember when this question had no word limit. Now, the essay’s 750-word limit forces applicants to be a little more economical with their words, which is a good thing. With this question, more than any other, applicants should heed Stanford’s words here: “Truly, the most impressive essays are those that do not begin with the goal of impressing us.” This question requires a great deal of introspection, after which you should create an essay that truly answers the question asked, whether or not you feel that it’s directly applicable to your candidacy. Obviously, the more relevant to the topic at hand, the better, but where applicants often go wrong is by offering grand ideas and big words, rather than a real glimpse into who they are as a person.)

  2. What are your career aspirations? How will your education at Stanford help you achieve them? (450 words recommended)

    (This is the more common “Why do you want an MBA, and why this school?” question. Here you can feel more comfortable writing about the topics that business schools more often look for in their applications. Remember to keep it realistic and to demonstrate that you understand what the Stanford MBA experience will — and won’t — do for you as a growing professional.)

  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. (300 words recommended for each)

    Option A: Tell us about a time when you built or developed a team whose performance exceeded expectations.

    Option B: Tell us about a time when you made a lasting impact on your organization.

    Option C: Tell us about a time when you motivated others to support your vision or initiative.

    Option D: Tell us about a time when you went beyond what was defined, established, or expected.

    (Some small but important differences here vs. last year. For Option A, they have added the “whose performance exceeded expectations” clause, indicating that last year’s applicants may not have put enough focus on results in their answers. Option B has changed from “Tell us about a time when you felt most effective as a leader.” The change to “the lasting impact” question also suggests that the school is looking for more results in its essay answers. Option C has evolved from a question about overcoming an obstacle or failure to a question that gets at one version of leadership — motivating others to support your ideas. Stanford considers this type of persuasiveness a key ingredient in the future leaders that it wants to produce. Option D remains from last year; this is another results-oriented question that also gets at a core component of leadership)

For more guidance on your Stanford business school application, visit our Stanford GSB information page. For even more advice on applying to Stanford GSB, download our FREE Veritas Prep Annual Reports! To get a feel for how strong your chances of getting into Stanford are, try Veritas Prep’s Business School Selector.

Stanford GSB: Looking for More Round Three Applicants?

We were a little surprised to see Stanford GSB’s Derrick Bolton post a message on Stanford’s blog last week encouraging anyone who’s on the fence to pull the trigger and apply to Stanford in this year’s Round Three. Could it be that the slow economy has hurt Stanford’s numbers? Could Stanford really need applicants this year?

Probably not. It’s doubtful that a school such as Stanford needs more applicants, or that the school’s yield has dropped much vs. previous years. What is true, though, is that Stanford’s Round 3 admissions deadline this year (April 8) is nearly three weeks later than last year’s, and no top business school has a Round 3 deadline nearly as late as Stanford’s. (Visit out site for a list of all business school admissions deadlines.) We’re not sure of Stanford’s reasons for this change, but it could be that Stanford made this move to snag a few extra top-tier candidates that HBS and Wharton, etc., may miss out on because of their earlier R3 deadlines. Now that Stanford is the last top school with its doors still open for 2008-2009 applicants, perhaps Bolton has so far been underwhelmed by the number (and quality?) of applicants that this strategy has brought in.

He writes:

The media hype says that business school applications soar when the economy is bad and, as such, there won’t be any spots left for third round applicants. This simply isn’t true. And we worry that some great people may delay applying because of these misperceptions. Historically, we’ve found that applications follow demographic cycles more than economic cycles.

We assure you that we admit outstanding individuals in all three rounds–this year is no exception. While it is true that the final round typically is smaller than the first two, we do admit excellent candidates in Round 3–including our current Director of MBA Admissions.

By this point in the 2008-2009 application season, odds are that you long ago already decided to apply this year, or know that you definitely won’t apply any sooner than this coming fall. It’s encouraging to see messages like this coming out of a top-tier MBA program, because it suggests that your chances this year may be a little better than some expected, but our advice remains the same: Only apply when you’re ready, and only when you have a competitive GMAT score, can get strong letters of recommendation, and have enough time to create strong admissions essays. Don’t apply in Round 3 just on a lark!

For more advice on applying to Stanford, visit our Stanford information page, or follow us on Twitter.

Stanford GSB Job Statistics for the Class of 2008

Recently Stanford GSB published its final job placement statistics for the Class of 2008.

Not surprisingly, consulting was the most popular single industry, with 27% of the class opting for a median starting salary of $1250,000 and a median signing bonus of $20,000. Private equity came next, at 14% of the class, with the median starting salary being $150,000 and the median signing bonus clocking in at $32,500.

Slicing it by function, consulting was still the most popular, at 29% of the class, with private equity (16%) and investment management (8%) coming next.

The most popular careers for the Stanford GSB Class of 2008 were:

Industry

Percentage of Class

Median Base Salary

Median Signing Bonus

Consulting

27

$125,000

$20,000

Private Equity/LBO

14

$150,000

$32,500

Hedge Funds

8

$150,000

$25,000

Internet Services/E-Commerce

6

$115,000

$22,500

Investment Banking/Brokerage

5

$ 95,500

$40,000

Nonprofit

5

$ 80,000

n/a

Venture Capital

5

$155,000

n/a

Investment Management

4

$127,500

$19,125

Real Estate

4

$112,500

$15,000

Consumer Products

3

$100,000

$20,000

Pharma/Biotech/Healthcare

3

$103,750

$20,000

Source: Stanford GSB Blog

Interesting to see that the non-profit sector accounted for 5% of Stanford GSB grads’ post-MBA career plans. While this is consistent with other top schools’ statistics, we wonder if this number will increase this year and next as the rough economy encourages more grads to pursue non-profit and social enterprise careers in place of high-paying consulting and banking jobs, which may not be plentiful in the near term.

To get a feel for your chances of gaining admission to Stanford, try Veritas Prep’s Business School Selector.

Top Ten Common MBA Application Mistakes from Stanford GSB

Last week LaNeika Ward, Acting Assistant Director of MBA Admissions at Stanford GSB, posted the top ten most common mistakes that the admissions committee finds in applications.

Some of them are pretty amazing (e.g., “Enter your name correctly”), but smart people do indeed make mistakes! Other mistakes are very important things that can be easily forgotten while cramming to complete your applications, such as failing to provide a good reason for leaving any of your previous jobs.

Other than these standout mistakes, several interesting things emerge from this list:

  • When discussing experiences, Stanford wants you to only focus on the past three years. In other words, it’s great if you were president of your fraternity in college, but the Stanford admissions committee puts much more emphasis on what you’ve done more recently.
  • The admissions committee asks that you explain any period of four months or more when you were not in school or working. I actually find it interesting that they’re not interested in ALL such periods. Perhaps they understand that some fresh college graduates may take some time to land on their feet and get their first job.
  • Ward makes a point of making sure that your letter of recommendation from a peer truly comes from a peer, not a supervisor whom you consider to be a friend.
  • Note the reference to the “application verification process over the summer,” which should serve as a clear warning against pulling any shenanigans in your application. Stick to the truth!

All in all, some good advice that applies to any MBA application. But the above points are interesting because they especially shed light on what Stanford GSB looks for in its business school applicants.

For more advice on applying to business school, read about the MBA application process at Veritas Prep.

Stanford GSB Announces Social Innovation Fellowship Pilot Program

Last week the Stanford GSB’s Center for Social Innovation announced the Social Innovation Fellowship Pilot Program to support social entrepreneurs.

The Fellowship was created for graduating Stanford MBAs who are ready to spend their first year after business school building a nonprofit venture. Starting this coming spring, a handful of second-year students will be selected to receive a stipend for the following year as well as access to the Center’s wide range of resources.

All second-year Stanford MBA students in good academic standing are eligible, and teams of two led by a Stanford MBA are also eligible (i.e,. teams can include non-Stanford members).

If you’re interested, learn more in this Q&A on the Stanford GSB admissions blog. And for more advice on applying to Stanford, visit the Veritas Prep Stanford GSB information page.

Nike's Gift of $105 Million

Philip Knight, founder of Nike, has just set a record for largest single donation to a business school. He has pledged $105 million to Stanford, to aid in the construction of their new business school complex, appropriately named the Knight Management Center. Knight earned his master’s degree in business administration from Stanford in 1962. He has already made several smaller donations to the business school, but cites this as a “once-in-a-lifetime chance to give back to the school.”

Source: Nike Founder’s Record Gift