Monday, June 4, 2012

Stanford MBA Essays for Fall 2013 Entering Class Released

The Stanford Graduate School of Business has released their essay questions for applicants aiming to enter the program in the fall of 2013.  On their admissions essay page, Stanford directs applicants to answer 3 essays, one less than the previous year.

Essay 1: What matters most to you, and why?

Essay 2: What do you want to do - REALLY - and why Stanford?

Essay 3: 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.

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.

The answers for all the essay questions cannot exceed 1,600 words in total.  The school offers a guideline as to how to use your space:

Essay 1: 750 words
Essay 2: 450 words
Essay 3: 400 words

Note however that these are only guidelines, not word limits per essay imposed by the school.

There is also an Additional Information section to the application. Detailed instruction are posted on Stanford's admissions essay page.

As always, do confirm all application elements directly with the school itself. Here is Stanford's main admissions page and here is their essay page.  Doing so is especially fruitful in the case of Stanford, as the school offers lots of information and commentary about their essay prompts, and how applicants may choose to approach writing them.  So do take the time to read the pages at Stanford's admissions site as you consider what topics and strategies might work best for you.

Quick thoughts:

1) Less word count and one less essay means less space overall to tell your story - so choosing topics will be of utmost importance.
2) In the past, Stanford asked for two different essays in part 3, allotting approximately 300 words to each. Clearly, they prefer one essay that is more developed and deeper as per their essay prompt.
3) By adding the phrase "in the last three years" to each essay question in essay 3, the school probably hopes no one will accidentally give a story that is much older.  Revealing a more recent experience better allows you to reveal who you are now - so don't make the mistake of writing about something that you did well in the past in Essay 3.

I will write a more thorough report later in the season.

John Couke