How To Write Your Stanford GSB Essay

Laveta Brigham

Andrew Brodhead – Stanford News Stanford’s Graduate School of Business consistently ranks as one of the most prestigious b-schools in the world. To maintain its prestige, the b-school is highly selective of who it accepts. Matt Symonds, co-founder and director of Fortuna Admissions, recently discussed what kind of applicants Stanford […]

Andrew Brodhead – Stanford News

Stanford’s Graduate School of Business consistently ranks as one of the most prestigious b-schools in the world.

To maintain its prestige, the b-school is highly selective of who it accepts.

Matt Symonds, co-founder and director of Fortuna Admissions, recently discussed what kind of applicants Stanford GSB looks for and how applicants can write strong essays.


The ideal student at Stanford GSB, according to the school’s evaluation criteria, is someone who possesses three main characteristics: intellectual vitality, demonstrated leadership potential, and personal qualities and contributions.

“Stanford is looking not just for extremely bright and successful professionals, but also young people who have strong values, and who want to have a positive impact in the world,” Fortuna’s Heidi Hillis, Stanford GSB alum and former alumni interviewer, says. “The school genuinely wants to get to know you and to understand your values. Stanford MBAs are driven by a desire not just to excel in their careers but also to help others and to have a positive impact. The Stanford GSB admissions office works very hard to bring together a group of students who are open, humble and have strong integrity, which leads to the incredible level of camaraderie and trust that you find at the school. This is really core to Stanford’s brand and the identity of its community.”


Stanford GSB’s first essay asks applicants to explain “What Matters Most to You and Why?

Symonds says this essay is the heart and core of the GSB application. Rather than thinking of clever or profound ways of answering this prompt, Symonds recommends applicants to really take the time to think about the question and uncover insights in their life’s purpose and values.

“To best tackle the structure of this essay, start with identifying a person, event, or experience that greatly impacted you, and think about the morals, values, and lessons you gained from this experience or interaction,” Symonds writes. “How do you use these lessons today, and how do they impact your drive, your motivation, and your vision of the world? Perhaps you can link them to the development of your career and the life choices you have made? This is a place to get personal, dig deep and to be courageous.”


The second GSB essay asks applicants the classic “Why Stanford?”

This essay, unlike the first one, focuses on a student’s future and how an MBA from GSB will help students achieve their goals.

“Here, your school research really needs to shine,” Symonds writes. “What classes, clubs, events or other elements of the program and community will catalyze the impact you are aiming to make in the short, medium and long term? Dig deep and get specific, show Stanford that you’ve done more than just read the GSB website.”

Read additional tips for writing the GSB options essays here.

Sources: Fortuna Admissions, Stanford GSB, Poets & Quants

MIT Sloan Exterior

MIT Sloan’s application requires applicants to submit a video statement in addition to their cover letter.

Putting together an application, let alone without a video statement, can be nerve-wracking for applicants. What should you write about? What should you be highlighting?

The experts at Stratus Admissions Counseling recently offered a few tips for how applicants can put together a compelling cover letter and video statement for the Sloan application.


Sloan specifically seeks out applicants whose personal characteristics demonstrate that they will make the most of the incredible opportunities at MIT, according to the school’s website.

It’s important to clearly convey what you’ve been able to accomplish in the cover letter.

“MIT Sloan believes that the best indicator of future success is past success, so don’t spend a lot of time talking about your dreams,” according to Stratus. “Instead, talk about your accomplishments. They are explicit: they want ‘doers,’ so show them what you have done.”

Additionally, it can be helpful to let your numbers do the talking when it comes to accomplishments.

“Anywhere you can, adding metrics to your accomplishments would be a big advantage,” according to Stratus. “Did you increase sales by 50%? Cut costs by $100M? Or increase efficiency by 30%? Let them know.”


Sloan wants students who actually want to go to Sloan.

Experts say it’s important to highlight how you’ve gotten to know the school and its culture.

“Stay on top of webinars and be sure to attend local events,” according to Stratus. “If possible, make a trip to Cambridge to visit campus and sit in on classes. And by all means, talk to alumni.”


The 60-second video component is an opportunity for applicants to add more color to their who they are as a person.

“The process is straight-forward, tell people who you are in 60 seconds,” according to Stratus. “One warning, 60 seconds is a long time. And please, don’t recount your resume, this is the time to say things that no one else can say, what is unique to you?”

Sources: Stratus Admissions Counseling, MIT Sloan

The COVID-19 pandemic has affected nearly industry. And that includes business schools.

As b-schools replace in-person classes with online and hybrid programs for the fall, many are left wondering: is the MBA still worth it?

Vicky McKeever, a reporter for CNBC, recently spoke to students who decided to pursue the degree despite the pandemic’s effects to understand what value they still see in the MBA.


For many, the decision to pursue an MBA despite the pandemic stems from the uncertain job markets.

And experts say that reasoning has held true throughout the history of recessions.

“I don’t wish a recession on anybody,” Bill Boulding, dean of Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business, tells P&Q. “Let’s keep people working and in jobs. But historically there is a counter-cyclical effect on application volumes to business school. As the economy worsens, applications go up and as the economy improves, applications go down.”


Another reason why people are seeking an MBA degree right now is access to cheaper loans.

According to Nerd Wallet, a number of loan lenders have introduced low-rate, small-dollar loans to consumers dealing with financial hardships in response to the COVID-19 crisis.

“U.S. Bank and Capital Good Fund are two lenders offering small loans at reduced rates,” Annie Millerbernd, of Nerd Wallet, writes. “Neither lender requires borrowers to show proof that the coronavirus crisis has had an impact on their finances.”

Maxime Arnulf, who will start the MBA program at HEC Paris this August, says he was able to take out a low-interest bank loan that only requires him to start repaying in three years’ time.

“So it’s quite a good deal that I got from the bank and many banks with the coronavirus, they’re being more lenient,” Arnulf tells CNBC.


But some set on pursuing the MBA say that the pandemic, if anything, has highlighted that the business world has some serious problems.

“I think again the pandemic has really magnified (that) some things are really broken and have been really broken for a long time, about how we live or how we do business or how we work,” Sydney Nolan, who will be starting her MBA at Trinity Business School, tells CNBC.

Nolan, who currently works for a nonprofit mental health center, hopes to help bring about that change in her work post-MBA.

Sources: CNBC, Austin Business Journal, Nerd Wallet, Poets & Quants

The post How To Write Your Stanford GSB Essay appeared first on Poets&Quants.

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