Stanford Graduate School of Business MBA Essay Analysis 2020-2021

August 31st, 2017

| Last Updated on December 10, 2020
Stanford Graduate School of Business MBA Application Essay Analysis 2020-2021

Did you always think that the Stanford Graduate School of Business is an Ivy League school? It is a common misconception that a lot of MBA aspirants have. But, given the reputation of the B-school, nobody can really be blamed for believing that it is one among the Ivy League schools. Either way, if you are looking to apply to Stanford this year, we will help you understand the B-school and the MBA program better and guide you on how to approach their MBA application essays for 2020-2021 applicants.

Just to get warmed up, let us share these three points with you:

1. Arguably, Stanford competes with Harvard as one of the top B-schools in the world.

2. Stanford’s MBA candidates have very high GMAT scores (The average GMAT score of the 2019 class was 737!).

3. Stanford has a very diverse peer set in its MBA class.

Now, let’s look at Stanford’s real USPs, shall we?

Stanford has just 400 students

If you compare Stanford’s MBA class with that at Harvard, you will understand how small each batch at Stanford is. Harvard has about 900 students. And, Stanford takes pride in the fact that it has a small class.

How does this help?

Small classes will always help students to bond better with each other. Moreover, the students get a feeling of a personalized program. There is always more connection and personal touch to the classes and the people at Stanford.

Stanford allows students to tailor their courses

Starting from the first year of the MBA program, you can pick your electives. With this, you get to choose what you want to learn.

This is a great program feature because it allows you to acquire knowledge in the fields of your choice and to pick up skills that you feel are necessary to get ahead in your career.

Stanford is in the heart of Silicon Valley

You might actually wonder why the B-school is such an important factor, right?

Every location has its own specialties and your B-school location can impact your thought process and career aspirations without you even realizing it!

Silicon Valley, as we know, is the birthplace of most of the significant technology players – Google, Yahoo, and Apple. If you think about it, the place fosters a sense of entrepreneurship.

It’s a very cultural thing at Stanford, where you’re enamored by all these entrepreneurs around you. You get inspired by them, and you want to start something on your own.

So, if you’re an entrepreneur in the technology space, the Bay Area is where you need to go; Silicon Valley is where you should be. Which other B-school than Stanford for this? 😉

If you would like to know more about Stanford, the MBA program, the class profile, and the recruiters, please check out the page we have created for you.

Before we get into the MBA application essays, here’s something you might not want to miss. if you’d like to know what advice our GMAT and MBA expert, Arun Jagannathan, has to give you with regards to your Stanford application, don’t forget to check out this video!

Stanford Graduate School of Business MBA Application Essays 2020-2021

Unlike most of the business schools, Stanford does not provide a word limit for each of their MBA application essays. Instead, they have given an overall word limit of 1050 words.

You have to answer two essay questions to complete your Stanford application and you are free to decide the word count for each of your essays.

The word limit we have mentioned against each of the essays is based on the suggestion that Stanford has made on their website. 🙂

MBA Application Essay A

What matters most to you, and why?
Word limit: 650 words

This particular essay has been a part of Stanford’s MBA application for several years, and we’ve helped many students at CrackVerbal in writing this essay.

So, the one thing that we usually tell our students, and what we would like to now tell you, about this essay is that you need to pick that one grain, that one single thing.

We will give you a couple of examples below. They should help you understand the thinking process that goes behind answering this essay question.

One of our students at CrackVerbal who was an IT professional wrote about one of his experiences in Nigeria. He had gone to Nigeria and was mugged by armed robbers who kept a gun to his head. He had a providential escape; he was an inch away from being dead as such people are often high on drugs.

In the essay, he mentioned that it was at that point that he realized what matters to him the most.

He said, “I was away from my family. What would have happened if I died? Would people really remember me for the money that I earned or the stuff that I have?” These are the questions that he said were in his mind when he was being mugged.

He realized that what mattered to him the most was the people around him.

“People” could be family, friends, or the community.

He then quit his job, came back to India, and started something in the area of social entrepreneurship. He wanted to give back to society because he felt that the biggest legacy he could have will be what he gives back to society and not what he takes from it.

This is the kind of story that gets you thinking, right?

What is that one thing!

In this case, what mattered most to him was the impact he could create in the world.

Let us give you another example:

This is a story of a student who had written about how he tried and tested working in various sectors but in the end, picked entrepreneurship.

In the essay, he spoke about why being an entrepreneur meant so much to him.

Here again, it is about impact.

How he was able to give back, and in this case, it was not ‘not-for-profit’; it was a “for-profit” organization.

But he said that the biggest jumps that happened in the history of human civilization happened because someone somewhere decided to do things differently.

There was some innovation that was happening always; not an invention but innovation, there is a difference. Someone decided that they are not going to do something the usual way, but was going to do it differently.

That’s precisely when mankind started to progress.

In this story, what really mattered to the student was innovation; doing things differently. He said he was not someone who was going to be happy with the status quo.

You have 650 words to write this essay. That is quite a lot of words honestly.

What you can do is take multiple stories and thread them to an underlying theme.

You could have a story of when you were growing up, a story of what happened when you joined college, a story of what happened at your workplace. But all of this must be woven into an underlying theme.

It’s very important that you bring in your personal aspect.

Don’t make it look like a resume.

Don’t make it look like a few bullet points you’re reading through.

It should be personal; it should be about you.

It should make the Stanford AdCom. want to meet you because you sound interesting; make them wonder what else they can learn from you.

That’s the kind of impact you need to have on them!

MBA Application Essay B

Why Stanford?
(400 words, or 450 words if applying to both the MBA and MSx programs)

When you see this question, we are sure that you are thinking, ‘Stanford is one of the best B-schools’, ‘Stanford MBA is very personalized’, etc. But, this is the kind of list that anyone can come up with. It is all there on their website.

In fact, this is the biggest trap people fall into when they try to address this essay.

They go to the Stanford website and say, “Oh, it’s in Silicon Valley’. But, how does that matter to you?

Then people write that a Stanford MBA will help them build a great network. But you need to write how the network matters to you.

You need to connect “why Stanford” to your personal cause; what is it that you want to do, and how you think that Stanford will enable you in that mission, in that journey. Unless and until you make that connection, it’s a waste of your time.

And the Stanford AdCom. does not want to know what they have already provided on their website. They want to know why it all matters to you. Why is it important to you? How are you going to make use of all these factors?

Here’s a litmus test.

For every sentence that you write, ask yourself, “Is this a sentence only I could have written?”. The essay has to be unique to you as it ties back to the requirements you have from a B-School. If it is going to be a sentence that anyone could have written, it’s probably not going to be worth the real estate of your application essay.

So, after you write each sentence, just relook at it and see if it is telling your story.

Additional information section on the application

Once you finish writing your two essays, you will realize that you have actually told them your story. You have told them about you.

In some of your cases, you might find the need to provide additional information. And Stanford does ask you to provide them separately if you feel it is absolutely necessary.

The additional information addresses something that is deficient; it could be a gap in your employment or a gap in your education.

It should be something that you think is important information for them to know.

The mistake which students make in this section is that they try to retrofit a story.

It’s like, “I have a bunch of stories that I want to tell a B-School. I have gone through five of them; there are these two orphan stories and I don’t know what to do with them”. Then you see an opportunity like this, and you say, “Wow! Here is the time for me to plug it in.”

Don’t do that.

You will do more disservice to your application by writing things that are random than by not writing anything at all. Keep that in mind always and go ahead with your Stanford application.

Stanford MBA Application Deadlines 2020-2021

Application deadlines for the Stanford class of 2021-22 are:

RoundsApplication Deadlines
Round 1Sep 15, 2020
Round 2Jan 6, 2021
Round 3Apr 6, 2021

Want to know more about the MBA Application Deadlines for Top B-Schools? Here’s the entire list of top B-Schools along with their deadlines – MBA Application Deadlines 2020-2021

Do you think that you want another pair of eyes to look at your application? If you want someone who is been there and done that to vet your stories, someone who comes with, maybe, an Indian perspective, or even someone with an Ivy League MBA, please reach out to us by clicking on the image below.

We will be happy to help you with your Stanford MBA application 🙂

Want to know more about the business school? Get all the information about the Stanford Graduate School of Business!

If you require our help in drafting and reviewing your essays, you can always reach out to us. Click on the image below and get in touch with our expert.