Breaking Down Stanford's New Essays for 2012-2013

Well, it's déjà vu all over again.  Stanford GSB rolls out their 2012-2013 essays and makes Yogi Berra proud. Rest assured that we will be following up this post with a more indepth analysis, as well as our new "How to Apply to Stanford GSB" guide, but it's business as usual for the GSB admissions committee.

It's a good thing that GSB has it dialed in, because we are a big fan of the "What Matter Most?" question - a prompt which tends to weed out the assholes among us.  If you read my blog post on it - - you'll see what I mean.

In the meantime, here are Stanford's "new" essay questions (

Essay Questions for Class of 2015 (entering Fall 2013)

Tell us in your own words who you are. Answer essay questions 1, 2, and one of the three options for essay 3.

  • 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.