Stanford MBA Application Essays for Class of 2015 (entering Fall 2013)

If you are applying to the Stanford MBA program, the admissions team at Admit1MBA is here to make your life easier. Read our analysis of the Stanford MBA application essays to help you get started.

Essay 1: What matters most to you, and why?

Analysis: This is one of the most challenging yet exciting topics we’ve ever seen for an MBA Essay. In this essay, applicants should reflect on their life experience and identify crucial events, people and actions that have shaped and influenced them. While many students decide to write about big topics like human rights, sustainability or girls’ education in third-world countries, writing about your own personal experience is probably the best way to go.  To write this essay in a way that is meaningful and will impress Stanford MBA Admissions, you need to open up and share your thoughts, feeling and difficult moments.  If you are not used to talking about yourself, you may need to develop this essay in steps, starting with a basic (and perhaps superficial) story and delving deeper as you keep re-writing and developing the essay.

Essay 2: What do you want to do—REALLY—and why Stanford?

Analysis: A classic MBA question – “why do you need an MBA, why now, why Stanford?”  Stanford MBA added the word “REALLY” to this essay question because they felt applicants were just coming up with career goals that would sound good, but did not reflect their true interests. I saw a super-star candidate last year (IB, PE, very competitive GMAT+GPA) who messed up his HBS essays – he  said that he wanted to go into health-care, although his true passion was in media and entertainment. The Admissions staff read thousands of application for GSB, and they can feel it if something is wrong. It’s that’s split-second decision described by Malcolm Gladwell in Blink. Don’t make this mistake.

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.

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.

Analysis: This Stanford essay requires that you pick a recent story; this means that many of the obvious stories about adolescence and early years in college can’t be included. This is the place to brag about your biggest success, whether in your work or outside it. If you are covering a story that’s likely to be mentioned in your letters of recommendation for Stanford, be mindful and discuss and analyze other aspects of it.  Follow Stanford’s instruction on the focus of the essay – it’s not merely about your actions, but about the reactions of others, the team dynamics, the cultural issues and more.

Essay Length: Your answers for all of the essay questions put together may not exceed 1,600 words. Suggested guidlines:Essay 1: 750 words,Essay 2: 450 words,Essay 3: 400 words.

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