3 Invaluable Tips For Getting Into Stanford GSB

GSB MBA students gather outdoors. Photo Credit: Elena Zhukova

3 Insider Tips for Getting Into Stanford GSB

Stanford Graduate School of Business, ranked number one in P&Q’s “Top Business Schools” ranking, is a place where leaders come together and embody the school’s mission: “Change Lives, Change Organizations, Change the World.”

But changing the world is no easy feat. Nor is gaining admission into Stanford GSB.

Heidi Hillis, a Senior Expert Coach at Fortuna Admissions and former MBA admissions interviewer at Stanford GSB, recently offered a few tips on how applicants can position their MBA application to set themselves apart from the competition.


Too often, applicants make the mistake of putting all their efforts into one aspect of their application.

“So many people come in totally focused on that one essay, ‘What matters to you and why.’ People get hung up on it and think it’s what the application is all about, but it’s really so much more,” Hillis says.

Rather, applicants should look at their application cohesively and have each component compliment the other.

“I advise people to think about it almost like a work of art, with lots of layers, depth, color, and texture,” Hillis says. “You can use every part of the application to add that depth and color and texture.”


Stanford GSB seeks out leaders. In fact, leadership is a requirement for admission. The B-school has recommenders rate applicants on 12 different leadership qualities across five different rating levels. It’s essential that applicants highlight their values and provide examples of leadership within their essay.

“Show, don’t tell,” Hillis says. “If your message in that iconic essay is that you are really passionate about the environment and are going for a career that’s going to help address issues in climate change, don’t tell them that, show them by telling the story of when you were a child and something happened, or when something happened at work that really made you think about this.”


One mistake applicants often make is trying too hard to be the “ideal Stanford applicant.”

“People will say, ‘I read that Stanford really likes it when you say this, or when you say that,’” Hillis says. “I will say, ‘Stop that.’ Really, just think about the question and answer it genuinely for yourself.”

Stanford GSB wants to know who you are and what perspectives you can bring to campus.

“They are really constructing this incredibly diverse and talented cohort of 400 people, so they want to hear your unique story,” Hillis says. “Don’t try to do what someone else has done. If it worked for someone else, don’t assume it would work for you.”

Sources: Fortuna Admissions, P&Q

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