Following Harvard Business School’s decision to cutback on its required essays for applicants, Stanford Graduate School of Business also has eliminated one of four required essays from its application this year.
The change, made quietly without an announcement on the school’s website, is largely incremental and not as significant as the alternations in Harvard’s admissions process. Harvard cut in half its required essays for all applicants to two from four and then added a third essay for applicants who are invited to interview. That essay is required within 24 hours of the interview.
Columbia Business School also made one significant change, requiring applicants to view a video on community at the school and then write about it. Wharton, which is also considering some significant changes, expects to post its essay questions in early July and the full application in early August.
In releasing its essay questions for the 2012-2013 application cycle on May 30, Stanford retained its first two essays from last year. They include: “What matters most to you, and why?” with a suggested word count of 750 words, and “What do you want to do—REALLY—and why Stanford?” with a suggested word count of 450 words.
Last year, the school asked applicants to then select two of four options, suggesting a total of 1,800 words. This time around, however, the school is asking MBA candidates to answer one of three questions, with a suggested word count of 400 words.
Option A: Tell us about a time in the last three years when you built or developed a team whose performance exceeded expectations.
Option B: Tell us about a time in the last three years when you identified and pursued an opportunity to improve an organization.
Option C: Tell us about a time in the last three years when you went beyond what was defined or established.
Two of the three options, A and C, have been kept from last year. The new question on the application is B.
SUGGESTED WORD COUNT DROPS TO 1,600 FROM 1,800 LAST YEAR
Stanford suggests that applicants keep their total word count to no more than 1,600 words this year, down from 1,800 last year.
As usual, the school provides some general writing guidance for each of its essay questions. Stanford said that 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.”
For essay two, the schools instructs applicants to “use this essay to explain your view of your future, not to repeat accomplishments from your past. You should address two distinct topics: your career aspirations and your rationale for earning your 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.”
APPLICANTS ARE ASKED TO PICK A THIRD ESSAY FROM THREE OPTIONS
Finally for the third essay chosen from three options, the school is suggesting that applicants “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.”
What did the school cut from last year’s application? These two options:
Tell us about a time when you made a lasting impact on your organization.
Tell us about a time when you generated support from others for an idea or initiative.
Stanford has yet to announce its new application deadlines. Last year, its round one deadline was Oct. 12, while round two closed on Jan. 11, and the final round three deadline was April 4.