Essay A: “What matters most and why?”
Essay B: “Why Stanford?”
Yup, those are again the questions that Stanford is asking you to write about in your MBA app this year.
A few weeks ago, Stanford admissions very quietly announced that there would be no significant changes to their application this year. Those same two questions are what they asked last season, and have been asking with only slight variations for practically eons. We’ve got a whole collection of commentary on how to deal with them on our Stanford Essay Questions page. You’ll find many many posts there on these two deceptively simple questions, including a bunch of essay critiques like this one on “what matters most”, which will help you understand what not to do.
We didn’t make a big announcement here on the front page of the blahg when we heard that this year’s Stanford essay questions would be the same because, well, we know that nobody is really working on essays yet. It’s too early. You should be focusing on things like GMAT (or maybe GRE if you have a good reason for that test instead) and researching your schools. Stanford also released their deadlines and their Round 1 of September 21 isn’t even the earliest. You can expect HBS to take that slot. Or, if you’re trying for Columbia Early Decision or J-Term, then you’ll want to hustle an app in well ahead of September if you can manage it. But none of these other schools have yet hinted at what their app requirements will be. So, too early to start on those, either.
Anyway, you won’t want to start with Stanford as your first app. Too hard. Like, way way way too hard. You don’t want to deal with the difficult learning curve of learning to write MBA essays at the same time as you’re tackling the hardest essays around (not to mention, the essays for the hardest school on the planet to get into). The stakes are too high. The first application you write will not be your best. Struggle through another school’s essays first — ideally, a school with more straightforward questions. Columbia, conveniently, tends to offer those. Again, we don’t know what they’ll be doing this coming season, but it’s likely that theirs will be easier to deal with than Stanford’s.
So what should you be working on right now?
As we stated above:
- GMAT (or GRE). If you’re serious about making a good impression at Stanford or any other top school, then make sure you’re bringing your best self. You’re reading this early, in the Spring. You have plenty o’ time to deal with any weaknesses in your profile. Take advantage of that now, BSer.
Read more in the ‘Snarchive of posts on GMAT & GRE
- School research. If Stanford is asking you, “Why Stanford?”, then that means you need to know why you’re applying there. It’s not just because it’s the “best” bschool (whatever that means). Stanford is a special place — but then so is every other school. It’s up to you to articulate to the adcom, at Stanford and every other program you’re applying to, why you’re choosing them. If you’re going on rankings alone, then by definition, you’re taking someone else’s opinion on what school is “best” — and we can guarantee that you will have trouble articulating why that school is “best” for YOU. This can come about only through your own effort of learning about each place and what they offer, which comes from talking to people, and hopefully visiting if you can.
Read more in the ‘Snarchive of posts on Selecting Schools
If you’re feeling especially eager, then sure, you can pick up our Stanford MBA Application Guide which does have some long-term planning advice that is super helpful for those who are motivated and who are starting early. It currently covers last year’s app but as you can see from this post, the questions are going to be the same. And, even though it’s still valid and accurate, we plan to update that guide sometime this summer, once we have seen the new GSB application and all app requirements have been confirmed by admissions. When we do, we’ll also be able to integrate the most up-to-date advice and learnings gleaned from coaching a bunch of Brave Supplicants last year who are now headed to Stanford this Fall. That’s what makes EssaySnark’s MBA application guides so useful, BTW: We bring in real-world examples and nuggets of experience from the trenches, based on the work we’ve done with the prior crop of candidates. We frequently hear from BSers that our guides are the best available, and that’s why. Anyway, if you subscribe to the guide today, you’ll get instant access to any update that’s published during your 90-day subscription term, or you’ll be able to re-up for another 90-day subscription later on to get the 2017 version for $4.95. (Sorry that we can’t be definitive on when this 2017 update will go out; suffice to say, one is planned, but the timing is unknown.) Or you can hold off and plunk down your pennies for the updated version when it’s released at whatever price it’ll be published at.
Sorry folks, didn’t mean to turn this post into an infomercial.
If you’re starting to think about these very challenging Stanford MBA questions, like “what matters most” and how in heck do you write an essay on that, please stay tuned over the coming weeks, as we have a new series planned for a novel approach to applying to bschool.
It’s called, Tell the Truth.
And we don’t just mean that MBA apps are no place for alternative facts.
The best way to get into bschool — especially Stanford GSB — is to be yourself. Tell the truth about who you are, what you’ve done, why you need an MBA.
It’s not that most people intentionally make stuff up. It’s that it’s really hard to answer questions like the ones that Stanford asks unless you figure yourself out first.
Maybe what we’ll title our coming series: How to be authentic in your MBA applications
If you’re serious about Stanford then that’s the very best advice we can offer.
More to come on that important topic! Y’all come back now, ya hear.
And enjoy your weekends in this wondrous springtime pre-app-season lull. There will come a time in the not-too-distant future where you will have no life. Enjoy your freedom while it lasts.