Stanford GSB: How To Write A Compelling Essay

Stanford Graduate School of Business

MBA students outside class. Photo Credit: Elena Zhukova

Stanford Graduate School of Business is one of the hardest B-schools to gain admission into with an acceptance rate of just 6%.

Stacy Blackman, founder of Stacy Blackman Consulting, recently offered insight into what exactly the B-school looks for in applicants and why the essay plays an important role in your admissions decision.


 Admissions officers spend on average 15 to 20 minutes reading your application and gauging your candidacy. By the end of those 20 minutes, they should be left with an impression of who you are and where you’ve come from. Your essays, Blackman says, are an opportunity to create an impressionable personal brand.

“The best essays are a balanced combination of a lot of different things,” Blackman says. “You’ll see personal stories, specific accomplishments, and experiences. At the same time, you’ll get insights into what people have learned and how they’ve grown.”


If you want to write a compelling story, it can help to take some time for introspection.

“Thinking through your prior achievements, struggles, and how they have impacted your individual growth can be immensely beneficial,” Blackman says. “Give yourself ample time (even months) to draft multiple versions until they truly reflect your identity.”


When it comes down to the writing, you can bring your story to life by utilizing a few techniques.

“Use vivid backstories, engaging anecdotes, or detailed future visions to explain how completing an MBA at Stanford GSB will help you achieve success in business leadership roles,” Blackman says.

Additionally, be sure to highlight your most significant accomplishments throughout your essay.

“For instance, describe the challenges you faced while leading a team project and how you overcame them to achieve outstanding results,” Blackman says. “You can demonstrate to the admissions committee that you are a qualified candidate for Stanford GSB by highlighting your leadership skills and problem-solving abilities.”

Your essays should aim to do two things: convey information and emotion.

“Remember, authenticity is everything,” Blackman says. “Share your passions and point of view to increase the emotional impact on the reader.”

Sources: Stacy Blackman Consulting, Forbes 

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