Stanford GSB 2018-2019 MBA Essay Tips and Application Deadlines

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If you’re thinking about applying to Stanford Graduate School of Business, now’s the time to get started. The school has released their essay prompts and application deadlines for the 2018-2019 application season, and the round one deadline will be here before you know it:

  • Round 1 Deadline: September 18, 2018
  • Round 2 Deadline: January 10, 2019
  • Round 3 Deadline: April 3, 2019

All deadlines are 11:00am Pacific Time on the date specified. The school’s admission website also notes that this deadline applies to your letters of recommendation – a good reminder for all MBA applicants to stay on top of their recommenders so that they aren’t surprised by the deadline.

For the class entering in fall 2019, Stanford requires two essays. The first required essay question is:

“What matters most to you, and why?”

The admissions committee at Stanford GSB has long been a fan of deceptively simple, extremely open-ended essay questions. Their approach is to give you the faintest suggestion of a prompt, and see where you go with it.

Note that “what matters most” to you can be a possession, an experience, a person, an ideal, a goal… essentially anything.

This is not a high school essay you write the morning before it’s due, and it’s not the time to toss out a clichéd narrative about how you value your grandfather’s tie clip the most because he wore it to his first job interview and it makes you want to achieve more too.

Understanding this subtlety is vital to writing a successful Stanford MBA application essay. The adcom will be looking for real evidence of introspection and thoughtfulness here.

That’s where your personal brand comes in. Before you can write a compelling MBA essay, it’s crucial that you spend some time developing your brand, so that the examples you choose and the stories you tell reinforce the truth about why you would be an excellent candidate.

Authenticity is key. Stanford tells students to “Resist the urge to ‘package’ yourself into what you think [we] want to see.” I have always told applicants the same thing.

When you’re trying to write an essay to sound like the type of person who should be admitted, there’s no depth there. But when you’ve committed the time to understanding your own brand, you’ll be able to answer the question of what matters most to you in an honest and compelling way.

Note that the “what” of the essay should only be a very small part of your response. The “why” is what really counts, and where you should spend the bulk of your word count.

Answering the second Stanford 2018 MBA essay question

The second required essay for Stanford GSB’s 2018-2019 application is even simpler than the first:

“Why Stanford?”

Most schools you apply to will ask you some variation of this question. And when we exhort you to “Do the research” for your target schools, this is why.

It’s incredibly important to demonstrate in this essay that you are familiar with the program, you’ve talked to alumni, you know what professors you’re excited to work with, you have a sense of the courses and the extracurriculars that you want to pursue.

Note that I am not telling you that your essay should describe why Stanford GSB is a great school. They already know they are a great school and have a top-ranked program and prestigious faculty and so-on.

What they really want to know is why you should be a part of the Stanford program. What will you bring to the classroom? How will you engage with the community? What will you accomplish while you’re there, and what are your goals for after you’ve graduated?

The admissions committee recommends that this response should be the shorter of the two essays; out of a maximum permitted word count of 1,150 words (1,200 if you’re applying to both the MBA and the MSx programs), they suggest approximately 400 words for the second prompt.

Remember that shorter essays are not necessarily easier to write. With a limited space in which to respond, it’s especially important that every word counts, and that you’ve clearly communicated your point to the admissions committee.

Are you ready to apply to Stanford GSB?

If you want to apply to Stanford’s MBA program – especially in the first round – it’s important to get started as soon as possible. Choosing your recommenders, compiling your resume and transcripts, and writing and revising your essays will take up more time than you expect. If you’d like help with your MBA application essays, or feedback on your overall application package, EXPARTUS can help.

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