MBA Admissions Insights: Being A Great Applicant | Summary and Q&A

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August 25, 2016
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Stanford Graduate School of Business
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MBA Admissions Insights: Being A Great Applicant

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Summary

In this video, the MBA admissions team at Stanford Graduate School of Business discusses what it means to be a great candidate for their program and provides tips on how to strengthen your application. They emphasize the importance of focusing on being a great candidate rather than just creating a great application, as well as the value of taking on new projects and experiences outside of the application process. The team also addresses common questions and misconceptions about the admissions process, such as the role of age and the evaluation criteria used. They encourage applicants to be authentic and true to themselves, and to reach out to the school directly if they have any doubts or questions about what they are looking for.

Questions & Answers

Q: What steps can people take to be a stronger candidate?

One step is to focus more on being a great candidate than creating a great application. The admissions team wants to make the process as simple and efficient as possible and only asks for what they need to know to create a great class. However, it is important to put in hard work and effort to be successful. It is also suggested that applicants prioritize taking on new projects and experiences that can help them grow and become better students.

Q: Is it okay to pursue new job opportunities instead of staying in the same job until after getting into school?

It is encouraged for applicants to pursue new job opportunities if they are ready and excited about them. Staying in the same job solely for the purpose of getting into business school is not necessary. The admissions team values candidates who are ready for a change and are not using the application process as an excuse to stay in a job they are bored with.

Q: How can applicants strike a balance between what they feel strongly about and what people tell them will help get into business school?

It is important for applicants to follow their own interests and not let others dictate their career decisions. The admissions team advises applicants to come directly to them or to other schools to find out what they truly want, rather than listening to what others think they should do. Being authentic and true to oneself is more important than trying to mold oneself into what they think the admissions committee wants.

Q: What can applicants do to demonstrate their value to the program and their potential as a candidate?

Applicants are advised to show their best self, while also being true and factual about their experiences. It is important to research the schools and understand why they want to attend that specific institution. By narrowing down and applying to schools that are a good fit, applicants can demonstrate their understanding of what the program can offer them. Following instructions, being aware of deadlines, and presenting oneself well in the application are also important.

Q: What are the evaluation criteria used by the admissions committee?

The three main criteria considered are intellectual vitality, demonstrated leadership potential, and personal qualities and contributions. Intellectual vitality refers to a candidate's engagement and interest in topics or issues. Demonstrated leadership potential includes the skills a candidate possesses and their openness to learning and developing new skills. Personal qualities and contributions are more difficult to define, but they encompass an individual's unique background and how they might contribute to the program.

Q: What are some common mistakes made by applicants in their essays?

A common mistake is not directly answering the essay question or pushing one's own agenda instead of addressing the question asked. It is important for applicants to take the time to reflect on their true answers and articulate them honestly. There is no need to focus on trying to distinguish oneself from other applicants, as it is impossible to know what others are saying or doing.

Q: How can applicants demonstrate their leadership potential if their current position does not provide opportunities for it?

Leadership potential does not need to be demonstrated through formal or traditional roles. The admissions team looks at qualities that can contribute to a candidate's effectiveness as a leader, such as self-awareness and the ability to learn from situations and adjust behavior. It is not necessary to have extensive leadership experience; rather, focus on the qualities you have and how they can contribute to your future leadership potential.

Q: How can applicants with a low undergraduate GPA demonstrate their intellectual capacity and academic rigor?

The admissions team looks at the entire transcript, not just the GPA. Applicants can provide evidence of their intellectual capacity, discipline, and academic rigor through their entire academic history and any accomplishments or experiences since graduating. It is important to focus on how you can succeed in the classroom and contribute to your classmates, showing that your GPA does not define your abilities.

Q: How can international applicants engage with the school and demonstrate their interest?

International applicants are not expected to visit the campus, but they can take advantage of opportunities to learn more about the school through alumni interactions, webinars, and website resources. It is important to focus on learning about the school to make an educated decision, rather than trying to impress the admissions committee with outside factors. The application is the primary way for the admissions team to get to know the candidate.

Q: How should applicants reference personal or professional relationships with GSB alumni in their application?

It is not necessary to reference personal or professional relationships with alumni unless it is directly relevant to the applicant's decision to apply or provides unique insights. Applicants should focus on getting strong recommendations from individuals who know them well and can speak to their performance at work, rather than relying on alumni connections.

Q: How can re-applicants who did not get interviewed improve their chances in the application process?

Re-applicants are welcome and should approach the application process with a fresh mindset. It is important to not let previous negative outcomes dominate the process and to focus on presenting oneself as a new applicant. While certain parts of the application, such as essays, can be reused, it is recommended to seek fresh recommendations and present a new perspective to strengthen the application.

Takeaways

The admissions team at Stanford Graduate School of Business emphasizes the importance of being a great candidate rather than just creating a great application. They value authenticity and encourage applicants to follow their own interests and not let others define their career decisions. The evaluation criteria used include intellectual vitality, demonstrated leadership potential, and personal qualities and contributions. Applicants are advised to research the schools, demonstrate their value, and be true to themselves in the application process. The team reassures applicants that the application is the primary way to get to know candidates and that they do not need to rely on personal connections or specific activities to impress the admissions committee. Re-applicants are welcomed and should approach the process with a fresh perspective.

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