Stanford Class of 2016 Essays Same As Last Year

If you’re applying to the Stanford Graduate School of Business for the Class of 2016, the school just made it slightly easier for you. Stanford said its essay questions this year will remain unchanged from last year’s application.

“The big news about essay questions for application to the Class of 2016 is that there is no news. Last year, we reduced the number of essays from four to three, and increased the suggested word count in one of the essays. This worked really well, so essay questions are remaining the same as last year,” the school said on its website.

The school announced some changes in its Letters of Reference requirements, however. “We are streamlining the questions we ask your recommenders, merging two questions on the professional recommendation, and making the last of the four questions on the peer recommendation optional,” the school said. “We honed our questions to garner the most essential information needed to evaluate your application. This way, we ask only for what we need and your recommenders’ time is well spent.”

One other small change to the application: Last year Stanford added a “Just for Fun” question that asked what applicants to name their favorite foods. “We found this made the admission readers hungry, so this year we’re asking what your favorite place is instead,” the school said.

The round one deadline this year is Oct. 2, with notification by Dec. 11. The round two deadline is Jan. 8, with notification by March 26th. The third and final deadline is April 2, for notification on May 7.

The Stanford GSB notes that more applicants have been applying in Round 2 over the past few years, making the second round larger and more competitive. For those considering applying in either Round 1 or Round 2, the school strongly encourages applicants to consider Round 1

Essay 1: What matters most to you, and why?

  • 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 do you want to do—REALLY—and why Stanford?

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.

Essay 3: Answer one of the three 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.

  • 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.

Essay Length

Your answers for all of the essay questions cannot exceed 1,600 words.

Stanford GSB suggests these guidelines as a starting point, but notes you should feel comfortable to write as much or as little as you like on any essay question, as long as you do not exceed 1,600 words total.

Essay 1: 750 words

Essay 2: 450 words

Essay 3: 400 words


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