Stanford GSB Essay Topic Analysis 2010-2011

3已有 651 次阅读  2010-06-18 11:01   标签Analysis  Topic  MBA  Essay  GSB  Stanford 

Essay 1: What matters most to you, and why? (Recommended 750 words)
The open-ended and somewhat philosophical nature of this question can make it a challenging starting point. If a topic doesn’t immediately spring to mind, a constructive approach might be to think about your experiences to date (growing up, attending school, working, pursuing outside activities and general interests) and look for some unifying theme among some or all of them. Because it’s always a good idea to introduce specific details and anecdotes to really tie the general ideas expressed in your essays to the key elements of your candidacy, it would be wise to select a topic that not only gives the adcom a sense of your values and priorities, but also allows to you discuss some of the ways you have translated these into action.  Needless to say, this is one of the more challenging essays in the business school world.

In addition, keep in mind that the Stanford admissions team also offers the following clues for this essay:

The best examples of Essay 1 reflect the process of self-examination that you have undertaken to write them.
They give us a vivid and genuine image of who you are—and they also convey how you became the person you are.
They do not focus merely on what you’ve done or accomplished. Instead, they share with us the values, experiences, and lessons that have shaped your perspectives.
They are written from the heart and address not only a person, situation, or event, but also how that person, situation, or event has influenced your life.

Essay 2: What are your career aspirations? What do you need to learn at Stanford to achieve them? (Recommended 450 words)
All told, this is a fairly standard career goals essay. In fact, Stanford narrows the scope of the question to keep the focus on one’s professional objectives. Though Stanford leaves the question somewhat open, it will still be to the applicant’s benefit to sketch out a specific short and long-term goal, explaining the motivation and reasoning behind each, and to provide a detailed discussion of the ways an MBA, and specifically an MBA from Stanford, is necessary to achieve these aims, as well as the potential contribution he or she could make to the program.

As is the case with most schools, demonstrating an understanding of the unique merits of Stanford’s program is crucial to an effective response to this question.  Taking the time to learn about the school’s curriculum, special programs and extracurricular activities – whether through a visit to campus or conversation with alumni will pay dividends here.

In addition, as with Essay 1, Stanford offers their own guidance for Essay 2, which applicants may want to keep in mind when responding to the prompt:

Use this essay to explain your view of your future, not to repeat accomplishments from your past.
You should address three distinct topics:
1. your career aspirations
2. the role of an MBA education in achieving those aspirations
3. and your rationale for earning that MBA at Stanford, in particular.
The best examples of Essay 2 express your passions or focused interests; explain why you have decided to pursue graduate education in management; and demonstrate your desire to take advantage of the opportunities that are distinctive to the Stanford MBA Program.

Essay 3: Answer two of the four 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. (Recommended 300 words each)

Option A: Tell us about a time when you built or developed a team whose performance exceeded expectations.

Option B: Tell us about a time when you made a lasting impact on your organization.

Option C: Tell us about a time when you generated support from others for an idea or initiative.

Option D: Tell us about a time when you went beyond what was defined, established, or expected.

Following the broader, more philosophical tandem of essays 1 and 2, these brief questions lend themselves to crisp, concise anecdotes from the recent past.  Looking at the first item in the set, Stanford has retained last season’s question about building or developing a team that exceeded expectations.  Here, the Stanford adcom signals a pointed interest in exceeding expectations, though the spotlight remains on one’s abilities to foster the growth of others while working together toward a goal.  Meanwhile, the words “built” and “developed” allows applicants to include instances in which they have built a team from scratch or recruited key players to work on a project.  To summarize, applicants should aim to discuss how they established a cohesive and effective team that achieved X, Y, and Z.

Option B, with its focus on lasting impact, encourages applicants to discuss positive change that they have brought about that was a transforming and enduring improvement.  To illustrate this improvement, applicants might establish a “before” and “after” picture in their essay to highlight the importance of their actions in the particular situation.

Option C is slightly rephrased from last year, prompting this year’s applicants to discuss their ability to be persuasive and effective while working with a team.  In answering the question, applicants should highlight their ability to come up with an idea or initiative as well as be persuasive in selling that idea.  Some applicants may choose a story in which their idea encountered resistance, in which case showcasing one’s ability to be diplomatic in garnering support for the idea will be key.  Overall, you should ensure that in explaining how you were able to generate support for your initiative, you demonstrate your ability to inspire others to adopt your ideas.

Option D is a long-standing essay topic and looks for an anecdote in which applicants set themselves apart from the pack.  The adcom is looking for someone with the confidence to deviate from the norm, explore new channels, or see a situation or problem in a different light.  Fitting topics might include developing an innovative solution through nontraditional channels or challenging the norm with an eye for how operations could be enhanced.  Ideally, the end result would be one in which you reached new insight or perspective, created a new process, took a stand in a professional or extracurricular setting, etc.

While these action-oriented essays serve as a contrast to the preceding broad questions about the candidate’s motivations and objectives, truly effective applications will find a way to make these responses work in conjunction with Essays 1 and 2, reinforcing themes and complementing the ideas already presented, and completing the picture of who you are.

In addressing any of these questions, it will be important to provide a clear description of the initial situation at the outset of the essay, as this will help the reader to understand the reasons for your thoughts, feelings, words and actions. Providing a detailed “before picture” will also allow the adcom to fully appreciate the difference you made. To decide which two of the four options to select, it would be wise to consider all of the situations you could discuss in response to each question, and select those that will provide a balanced picture of your activities and interests (one story from work and another from a key extracurricular might be a nice balance) while supporting the message set forth in response to Essays 1 and 2.

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