Stanford GSB MBA essay analysis – 2023 admissions

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The Stanford Graduate School of Business is one of the world’s leading business schools. Located in Silicon Valley, the school is known for its highly selective admissions process, strong academic programs, and close ties to the tech industry. The school offers a variety of MBA and Ph.D. programs, as well as executive education courses. In recent years, the school has been ranked highly by Businessweek and the Financial Times. With its strong reputation and close connection to the tech industry, the Stanford Graduate School of Business is an excellent choice for any business student.

Since Stanford GSB is one of the most selective Business Schools in the US it becomes really important that you should be able to impress the MBA admissions committee with your essay.

Stanford GSB MBA essay tips and analysis

In this article, we’ll share helpful tips for the Stanford GSB MBA essay for the 2023 admissions:

Why are essays important for Stanford GSB admissions?

Essays convey more about you as a person than just what you have accomplished.

Your academic and professional accomplishments are covered in other sections of the application, but the essays show who you are as a person.

The Stanford Graduate School of Business, as in previous years, requires MBA applicants to submit the same two required essay questions

For 2023 admissions, the word limit has been set to 1,050 words, with the recommendation of 650 words for Essay A and 400 words for Essay B.

Essay prompts for Stanford GSB MBA 2023 intake

You will write two essays for the Stanford GSB as part of your application.

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

For this essay, Stanford GSB asks you to reflect deeply and write from the heart. Once you’ve identified what matters most to you, help them understand why. You might consider, for example, what makes this so important to you? What people, insights, or experiences have shaped your perspectives?

Essay B: Why Stanford?

Essay B poses the question, “Why Stanford?” to applicants.

You have the chance to discuss your post-MBA goals and how Stanford can support them in this essay. If you are applying to both the MBA and MSx programs, use Essay B to address your interest in both programs.

Optional essays

You can also submit an optional short response essay question to Stanford GSB. This question is entirely optional and provides you more space to talk about subjects that you might not have been able to in other parts of your application. 

The essay prompt is as follows:

Think about times you’ve created a positive impact, whether in professional, extracurricular, academic, or other settings. What was your impact? What made it significant to you or to others?

You can share up to three examples – up to 1,200 characters, or approximately 200 words, for each example.

Stanford GSB MBA application deadlines

Application RoundDeadlinesDecisions
Round 113 Sep 202208 Dec 2022
Round 205 Jan 202330 Mar 2023
Round 311 Apr 202325 May 2023

Essay Analysis and Tips

Essay A

This infamous question, which has come to represent the Stanford GSB essays, is known for tying up applicants as they attempt to come up with an answer they feel is smart, eye-catching, or even meaningful. 

Stanford GSB seeks students who are not only exceptionally bright and accomplished but also who have strong moral principles and a desire to make a meaningful contribution to society. The ‘true you’ that emerges from this introspection helps the GSB assess your fit for the class. Taking the time to thoroughly consider this question will provide you with significant insight into your life’s purpose and beliefs.

In short, This essay is an opportunity to demonstrate who you are, what motivates you, and why.

Essay tips from Stanford MBA adcom

If you’re starting from scratch, perhaps we can start with some of the advice provided by Stanford GSB. They advise you to consider who you are, the lessons and insights that have shaped your perspectives, and the events that have influenced you. They also encourage you to write from your heart.

The admissions committee at Stanford looks for authenticity. While you may not be able to completely control your uniqueness because another candidate’s profile may be similar to yours, you can control your authenticity by telling your true story.

This is also voiced by Lisa Giannangeli, Stanford MBA admissions director who advises

“Don’t sweat too much trying to find things about yourself that no one before has done. Instead, focus on telling the MBA admissions committee who you are and differentiation will occur naturally”

Stanford’s Assistant Dean of MBA Admissions, Derrick Bolton has been quoted to say, ‘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.” If you look up ‘story’ in the dictionary, you will find a definition along the lines of “an account of imaginary or real people and events told in an entertaining way.” The best essays are told in a compelling ‘story-like’ way that may involve emotion, humor, inspiration, wit, insight, honesty, and simply – being yourself. A Stanford GSB admissions officer may be reading 20 applications today, 30 tomorrow, and hundreds more in the following weeks. So how can you make an impact, sound intelligent, be original, and engage your reader? This is no easy task but it’s time to put on your thinking hat and reach inwards to tell the story that you are the best qualified to write.

Think about all the important events of your life and try to find an underlying theme among all these events. 

Things to do before writing your essay

According to Jayce Hafner,  (Stanford class of 2019), “Before you sit down to write your personal statement, spend some good time thinking about the moments in your life that have been meaningful and transformative. Write down these scenes individually and consider them in the larger trajectory of your past and your intended future.” She goes on to say, “Own up to your sense of self: your quirks, your decisions, your beliefs. In this way, you are not only creating an authentic essay but you’re also giving yourself permission to show up completely in the later stages of your application process: during your interview, your school visits, and your chats with students, faculty, and alumni.”

Here are a few questions that will help you get started.

  • How was growing up like? How did your parents or guardians, as well as your environment, mold you?
  • How did school feel? Did you pay attention? What impact did your buddies have on you? What sort of individuals did you associate with? What emotions did you experience as a teenager?
  • How has your professional life been? Are you satisfied with your decisions? Any remorse? What aspects of your employment do you like or dislike, and why?
  • What extracurricular activities do you participate in and what hobbies do you have, and why?
  • What about life do you love or hate? What makes you joyful or depressed, angry or frustrated?
  • What causes you to wake up in the morning? What do you actually care about in this life?
  • If you knew that you’d die in the next 1 week, what would you do?

How to approach essay A?

Here’s how you should approach this essay:

  1. Find a person, occasion, or experience that had a significant impact on you to start.
  2. What lessons, principles, and values have you learned from this experience?
  3. How do these principles, values, and lessons affect your drive, motivation, and worldview today? How do you employ them? (Keep in mind that the aim of Stanford is to “transform lives, change organizations, and change the world.”)
  4. How has the progression of your career been related to the aforementioned?
  5. Reiterate the connection between your values and your career goals and explain why these objectives are significant to you.

Remember that this essay is one of the most personalized essays asked by any business school. Therefore, focus on your life stories and weave them to convey ‘what matters to you the most and why?’

Focus on the “why” rather than the “what.”

Derrick Bolton, the former Stanford admissions director, has been quoted saying that your essay should “… be so personal that if you were working on it at 2 AM and accidentally printed a copy to your office printer, you would break out in a cold sweat, grab the keys, floor it and drive as fast as you could to the office to snatch the essay before anyone could read it.”

To learn more about what Stanford GSB is looking for and how to make your application stand out, get in touch with us at contactus@admitexpert.com

How to write Essay A?

  1. Pick a theme

Selecting a theme is the first stage in writing any essay.

The ideal strategy for the Stanford GSB essay A is to brainstorm; consider all the things that are significant to you and why you think they are significant. Consider your accomplishments as well as the motivation behind your goals. Find a common theme among those experiences.

  1. Create a layout

Once you’ve made a list, you can focus on one aspect of your subject and start writing. You can create a general framework for your Stanford MBA essay by creating a list of relevant bullet points that you would expand in your essay.

  1. Start writing

Start expanding on the bullet points based on the accomplishments that you have chosen. Use specific examples to make your case.

  1. Revise, Redraft, Revise

Create multiple drafts and revise each draft and make sure there are no spelling or grammatical mistakes.

Do you want to impress the Stanford GSB Adcom?

At Admit Expert, we have helped hundreds of students get into top MBA programs around the world. We would be happy to help you too.
Schedule a free call with us today to learn more about our services and how we can help you achieve your goals.

Essay B

Essay B: Why Stanford?

Describe your aspirations and how your Stanford GSB experience will help you realize them. If you are applying to both the MBA and MSx programs, use Essay B to address your interest in both programs.

If the first essay focuses on your past and present, the second “Why Stanford” essay focuses on your future. 

There are just two words. That’s all. This question is succinct and expresses exactly what the Stanford GSB adcom wants to know.

To properly answer this question, two pieces of information are required: A well-defined MBA goal and a thorough understanding of the Stanford GSB curriculum, clubs, competitions, placements, professors, location, etc.

In essence, Stanford asks you to explain your decision to pursue an MBA and the unique opportunities you will pursue at Stanford in this essay. 

If you want to excel at writing this essay then your school research must be excellent. What classes, clubs, events, or other programme and community elements will catalyze the impact you want to make in the short, medium, and long term? 

Show Stanford that you’ve done more than just read about the various programmes on the GSB website by digging deep and getting specific.

If you don’t know what makes the Stanford MBA programme unique, you won’t be able to respond to the question. Understand how Stanford’s curriculum flexibility, integrated approach to management education, entrepreneurial culture, and other features will help you gain the skills you need to achieve your goals. Recognize that the curriculum can be customized based on your objectives and prior experiences, particularly any business education you may have had.

Let us help you get into Stanford GSB

We will help you write essays that portray your unique strengths and experiences in the most favorable light so that your application shines above the rest. We have helped hundreds of students get into top US business schools. Let us help you too.

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