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Hi...I've never posted here before, but I thought my experience during an admissions event at Stanford might be of help to someone. Take it for what it's worth: the outdated ramblings of some random guy.
1:00 AM, Sunday, November 21, 2004
Hello, my name is David, and this is the story of my journey towards obtaining an MBA. So, what am I doing up at 1:00 in the morning, writing about grad school? I really donâ€™t know. Iâ€™ve been looking at MBA admissions blogs for an hour now, and thought it might be good to record my thoughts and experiences in this phase of my life. Iâ€™m planning to apply to school in October 2005, and start whenever the school starts, which would most likely be in August or September of 2006. The three main schools Iâ€™m considering at this point are Stanford, UCLA and Santa Clara University.
Iâ€™ve been to information sessions for all three, as well as the MBA tour, and a session for UC Berkeley. I actually visited UCLA on Monday, November 15th, and went to the Many Voices event at Stanford on Friday, November 19th. Here is what I remember from my experience with Stanford.
My alarm clock went off at 5:00 AM. I rolled out of bed at 5:20. It was still dark, but the e-mail I received from Stanford said that registration would begin at 7:30. I didnâ€™t want to be late, and I needed to take a shower, drive there, factor in time for getting lost (which didnâ€™t happen), and park.
Day was barely beginning as I drove away from my apartment complex in Campbell, CA. After exiting on Page Mill Road from I-280, I noticed that â€œCreepâ€
I don't think anyone can tell you what you want to know. Stanford to me is one of those weird schools. Most all of the Stanford students have excellent GPA's, excellent GMAT's but that alone guarantees you nothing at Stanford (for eg. they did not accept anyone with an 800 GMAT last year). What I saw in common among Stanford students when I visited was that they had NOTHING in common. One guy worked in investment banking and then quit to become a carpenter for three years, another person worked for the Clinton administration and decided that she wanted to do non-profit work. Stanford seems to look for talent in unusual places, I think that's there schtick. I mean even in their essays they are different. They have no word limit. They ask open-ended questions like "What's most important to you and why?". It seems to me that diversity is key at Stanford and when I mean diversity I don't mean this many Asians, this many white people etc. I mean diversity where it really matters, diversity of experience and of thought. When i walked away from Stanford thats what I got. So if this is the case then you might want to ask yourself, what makes you different and then highlight those differences in your essays when applying to Stanford. Personally I think that this is the best way to go about applying to Stanford...atleast that's how I'm going to go about it.
As a generality, I would not place too much stress on trying to appeal to any particular school. It is far more useful to find an institution that matches your personality than to try to change who you are to conform to what you think a particular school wants.
If Stanford does not match your personality you have a number of schoolse from the same cluster to choose from such as Harvard or Northwestern or Chicago or Penn or . . .
I agree to some degree with you Hjort...But realistically, on interviews and applications you don't present yourself, you present the best version of yourself, and all I was saying was at Stanford it seems that they like people who are the best versions of themselves but are different from your standard "best version" of people....So for example it would seem to me that they would prefer an I-banker with a GMAT of 720 who quit two years to become a peacekeeper in Uganda over a I-banker with a GMAT of 790 who worked consistantly and did well in their job...tha's all. Of course these are huge generalizations but what I was stating was first impressions, and that is definately what I got from Stanford.
Oh and if you hadn't guessed by now "Guest" was me
I think we are in agreement regarding the need to present one's "best self" in these situations. I just get nervous when applicants start trying to outguess the school and conform to some sort of "profile" for that school since this can be counterproductive.