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The Stanford 2013-2014 Application
The Stanford GSB deadlines and application essays are out! Unlike many other business schools that are incrementally changing the look and content of their admissions essays (and some for the application deadlines as well), we have seen very few changes with the Stanford 2013-2014 application.
The application deadlines for the upcoming application cycle will be as follows:
Round 1: October 2, 2013
Round 2: January 8, 2014
Round 3: April 2, 2014
This year, Stanford released its admissions essays with no changes to the allowable word count or to the topics of its three mandatory essays. This means that the Stanford GSB admissions committee was pleased with the essay responses it saw from applicants last year.
As a big reflection on the Stanford culture, the Stanford admissions committee has carefully crafted its essay questions in a way that they feel gives the truest picture of its business school candidates – not only from a professional and academic perspective, but from a deeper, more introspective perspective as well. Appropriately so, many applicants approach the essay questions using anecdotes, short stories, self-reflection, and honest introspection. Additionally, Stanford GSB requires a total word count of 1600 divided among its three required essays. But it is up to the applicant to decide exactly how to allocate the words. Stanford gives a suggested word count for each essay, but applicants have the option to write one essay with 200 words, the next essay with 300 words, and then a final essay with 1100 words, if they so find appropriate. As long as the total word count does not exceed 1600, applicants can regulate their essay lengths however they choose.
Below are the essay questions for the Stanford GSB 2013-2014 application. Please note that while Essay 1 and Essay 2 are mandatory, essay prompt 3 gives applicants the option of pursuing any one of three essay questions, making for a total of three required responses.
Essay 1: What matters most to you, and why? (Suggested 750 words)
Essay 2: What do you want to do—REALLY—and why Stanford? (Suggested 450 words)
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. (Suggested 400 words)
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.
In looking for future members of the Stanford GSB community, the admissions committee looks for three main criteria: intellectual vitality, demonstrated leadership potential, and personal qualities and contributions. In Essay 1, Stanford wants to get to know what your interests and motivations are. It will be important not only to address an accomplishment or value, but what drove you to the accomplishment or to attain the value as well. The open-ended feel of the question may put some applicants aback at first, which is why it is important to self-reflect and construct an answer after a careful self-examination. Being able to articulate something deeper and more profound than a run-of-the-mill narrative is what the Stanford committee will most value.
Essay 2 drives at two key objectives: insight into applicant’s career goals, and why Stanford as opposed to any other B-school. To address the first part of the question, for most, what you want to do will encompass both short- and long-term goals. Also, take note of the emphasized word in the prompt — “REALLY”. Again, the admissions committee doesn’t want you to regurgitate a story that sounds nice; they want to gain real and genuine insight into your goals and drives. Second, why Stanford? It is critical to research and understand the specific qualities and advantages of the Stanford program in order to respond to this question. Take the time to learn about what in the program is unique from other schools, and why this aspect will make a real difference in your education and experience.
Finally, Essay 3 hones down from the broader questions in Essays 1 and 2 to asking for very specific anecdotes in Essay 3. Each essay option represents a certain value that Stanford places in its program: namely teamwork and exceeding expectations, striving for the best, and breaking out of the box. Showing how you possess and have used these abilities in a real-world situation will give the admissions committee great insight into your ambitions and influences.
Stanford will also allow applicants to submit one additional optional essay to explain any extenuating circumstances or anything that was not covered elsewhere in the application.
Additional Application Materials
In addition to the essay requirement, Stanford requires that all applicants submit with their application a valid GMAT or GRE test score (only the highest score is required to be submitted), an unofficial transcript, a TOEFL score for applicants whose first language is not English, a resume, 3 letters of reference (generally two professional letters – one of whom should be a current supervisor – and one peer reference), and a $265 application fee.
Dr. Shel (Shelly Watts)
President, MBA Admit.com