for those still working on essay a, i found the info here super helpful. i've exercepted out a few parts, but i encourage reading the entire page.http://www.gsb.stanford.edu/mba/admissi ... ays-p.html
"We are not always aware of the forces that ultimately move us. While focusing on the "how" questions—how to survive, how to get ahead, how to make a name for ourselves—often we forget the "why" questions that are more essential for finding and staying on the best course: Why pursue this objective? Why behave in this manner? Why aspire to this kind of life? Why become this type of person?
These "why" questions help us realize our highest aspirations and our truest interests. To answer these questions well, we must decide what matters most to us, what we will be able to contribute to in our careers, what are the right (as opposed to the wrong) ways of behaving as we aim toward this end, and, ultimately, what kind of persons we want to become. Because everyone, everywhere, wants to live an admirable life, a life of consequence, the "why" questions cannot be ignored for long without great peril to one’s personal stability and enduring success. It is like ignoring the rudder on a ship—no matter how much you look after all the boat’s other moving parts, you may end up lost at sea."Essay Philosophy
The Stanford MBA Program essays provide you a disciplined opportunity to reflect on your own "truest interests" and "highest aspirations."
While the letters of reference are stories about you told by others, these essays enable you to tell your own story, what matters most to you and why, as well as how you have decided you can best contribute to society.
Please think of the Stanford essays as conversations on paper—when we read files, we feel that we meet people, also known as our "flat friends"—and tell us your story in a natural, genuine way.
Our goal is to understand what motivates you and how you have become the person you are today. In addition, we’re interested in what kind of person you wish the Stanford MBA Program to help you become.
Reflective, insightful essays help us envision the individual behind all of the experiences and accomplishments that we read about elsewhere in your application.
The most important piece of advice on these essays is extremely simple: answer the questions—each component of each question.
An additional suggestion for writing essays is equally straightforward: think a lot before you write. We want a holistic view of you as a person: your values, passions, ideas, experiences, and aspirations.Essay A
In the first essay, tell a story—and tell a story that only you can tell.
This essay should be descriptive and told in a straightforward and sincere way. This probably sounds strange, since these are essays for business school, but we don’t expect to hear about your business experience in this essay (though, of course, you are free to write about whatever you would like).
Remember that we have your entire application—work history, letters of reference, short-answer responses, etc.—to learn what you have accomplished and the type of impact you have made. Your task in this first essay is to connect the people, situations, and events in your life with the values you adhere to and the choices you have made. This essay gives you a terrific opportunity to learn about yourself!
Many good essays describe the "what," but great essays move to the next order and describe how and why these "whats" have influenced your life.
The most common mistake applicants make is spending too much time describing the "what" and not enough time describing how and why these guiding forces have shaped your behavior, attitudes, and objectives in your personal and professional lives.
Please be assured that we do appreciate and reward thoughtful self-assessment and appropriate levels of self-disclosure.
Myth #1: Tell the Committee on Admissions what makes you unique in your essays.
This often leads applicants to believe that you need to have accomplishments or feats that are unusual or different from your peers (e.g., traveling to an exotic place or talking about a tragic situation in your life).
But how are you to know which of your experiences are unique when you know neither the backgrounds of the other applicants nor the topics they have chosen? What makes you unique is not that you have had these experiences, but rather how and why your perspective has changed or been reinforced as a result of those and other everyday experiences.That is a story that only you can tell. If you concentrate your efforts on telling us who you are, differentiation will occur naturally; if your goal is to appear unique, you actually may achieve the opposite effect.
Truly, the most impressive essays that we read each year are those that do not begin with the goal of impressing us.
http://gmatclub.com/forum/post558169.html#558169 - a compilation of b-school interview questions
http://gmatclub.com/forum/8-66345.html - my (detailed) gmat debrief
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