June 21, 2019

Stanford GSB MBA Essay B

Stanford GSB

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.

Note: Your answers for both essay questions [A & B] combined may not exceed 1,150 words (1,200 words if you are applying to both the MBA and MSx programs). Each of you has your own story to tell, so please allocate these words between your essays in the way that is most effective for you.


Same deal as Essay A, going to borrow some KEY words from Stanford: Your aspirations. Stanford.

  • This is what I want to do—and here is why YOU should be excited about it. (This doesn’t require a ton of backstory or setup—some setup, yes—you need our buy-in. If your idea is uninspired, guess what, so too are “you.” Sell it. Give us just enough background and then in simple terms, walk us through your aspirations. With surgical efficiency.)
  • I’m confident I’m going to succeed because I’m good at it, I know what it takes to succeed, and I frickin’ LOVE the thing to death. Let me show you what I mean. This is how it’s all going to look, step by step. Notice how each step as I’ve laid it out SNAPS into place perfectly. I understand the logic behind all of it because I “get” it, I “get” my vision, only people who get it so keenly are likely to succeed.
  • This confidence comes from careful consideration of how it’s all going to go down, which has led me to recognize the importance of not just why an MBA is key, but why Stanford, in particular, supports my vision the BEST—I am, in effect, turning down Harvard, Wharton, Booth, etc., you name it, because none of these places can do XX, YY, and ZZ to catapult me toward my vision like Stanford can.

That’s the essay. In a nutshell. That’s what we call “the subtext.” Underneath the actual stuff you write, this should be communicated.

In order to NAIL this essay, you must understand Stanford and what they’re all about. This may take some research on your end, and this is what Stanford is hoping—that after a TON of research, you have determined that THIS place, unlike any other, is your best fit. Articulate THAT not just when you address the “why Stanford” piece, but even as you articulate your goal. The folks who get into Stanford demonstrate a synergy with the school in every fiber of their application. It’s gotta come through EVERYWHERE.

But so, after you’ve walked us through points 1 and 2 above, let’s dig in a bit to point 3.

How to understand Stanford well enough to approach this? Spend time on the website. Read about the school elsewhere—articles, anything written by current or former students. Talk to former students. Talk to current students. Visit the campus. Lots of ways to engage—where there’s a will, there’s a way. Read stuff by current or former professors. Notice the trends of what kinds of professors came from Stanford. Notice what kinds of companies were started at Stanford. Get a sense.

Now, whatever you do, please don’t think that there is a magical phrase or a set of classes you can name drop that will trigger a successful outcome. The demonstration of “fit” here is a wildly organic one. It’s in between the lines, never the lines themselves. Stanford’s assets have to match YOU in a way that won’t necessarily apply to the guy sitting next to you. This is the whole point about “individuality” and “uniqueness.” Stanford is curious to see how aspects of its program and culture uniquely affect your appetite for an MBA, or for your career goals. It’s not “mentioning a class,” folks. Or “a club.” Or “a professor’s name.” It’s much, much, much more than that.

It’s an argument.

An argument that PROVES connectivity. Proves that there is something about Stanford that not even a place like Harvard or LBS or Wharton or Top School X can quite satisfy in the same way. That’s a great conceit to adopt here. You have a free ride to HBS. Why would you PAY to go to Stanford instead? Convince me, as though I’m your spouse, why this is not an insane decision. A great essay here can be between 400-500 words, no need for it to live outside that range.

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