Q&A with Kirsten Moss, Assistant Dean of MBA Admissions | Summary and Q&A

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October 16, 2018
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Stanford Graduate School of Business
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Q&A with Kirsten Moss, Assistant Dean of MBA Admissions

TL;DR

Stanford MBA Assistant Dean shares insights on the admissions process, debunking myths and offering advice on applications and interviews.

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Key Insights

  • 🎟ïļ Stanford MBA admissions do not rely on a magic checklist of requirements, but rather seek diverse individuals with unique experiences.
  • ðŸĪĐ Academic engagement and potential for making an impact are key factors in the evaluation process.
  • ðŸ’Ŋ Test scores and GPAs are considered, but applicants with lower scores can still be admitted if they demonstrate other strengths.
  • 💌 Letters of reference are crucial and should be chosen carefully to provide objective perspectives on the applicant's work and impact.
  • ⌛ Applicants should take the time to prepare for interviews and come up with compelling stories that highlight their achievements and aspirations.
  • ðŸĪŠ The personal growth experienced during the Stanford MBA program goes beyond business skills and includes introspection and a better understanding of oneself.
  • 😒 Applicants should make use of resources provided by Stanford, such as information sessions and alumni conversations, to learn more about the program and gain insights from current students.

Transcript

[MUSIC] Welcome, my name is Jessica Talbert and I'm a second year MBA at Stanford Graduate School of Business. And I'm here today with Kirsten Moss, Assistant Dean and Director of Admissions and Financial Aid. >> Hi, Jessica. Thanks for the introduction. As admissions officers, we spend much of our time traveling around the world and meeting with c... Read More

Questions & Answers

Q: What are some common myths about the Stanford application process?

The most common myth is that there is a checklist of requirements for admission. In reality, Stanford seeks individuals with diverse backgrounds and experiences.

Q: How does Stanford evaluate whether an applicant is academically engaged?

Stanford looks at transcripts to assess the rigor of courses taken and the applicant's curiosity in exploring different disciplines. They also consider evidence of engagement beyond the classroom, such as research or problem-solving at work.

Q: Can an applicant with a low GPA or test scores still get into Stanford?

Stanford looks at GPAs in the context of the applicant's institution and major. They also consider additional information provided by the applicant, such as personal circumstances that may have influenced academic performance. Lower test scores can be compensated by other strong aspects of the application.

Q: How should applicants choose recommenders?

Recommenders should be people who know the applicant well and can provide detailed insights into their work and impact. It is essential to find recommenders who are enthusiastic and willing to invest time in writing a comprehensive recommendation.

Summary

In this video, Jessica Talbert, a second-year MBA student at Stanford Graduate School of Business, interviews Kirsten Moss, Assistant Dean and Director of Admissions and Financial Aid. They discuss common myths about the Stanford application process, how admissions decisions are made, and tips and advice for applicants. Kirsten emphasizes the importance of showcasing academic engagement and potential for impact in the application. She also addresses concerns about test scores and GPA, and provides insights on choosing recommenders and preparing for interviews.

Questions & Answers

Q: What are some common myths about the Stanford application process?

One common myth is that the Admissions Committee has a magic checklist for admission, but in reality, Stanford admits students based on their achievements and who they are as individuals, not just because of their educational institution or industry experience.

Q: How does the Admissions Committee decide whether an applicant has a shot at getting into Stanford?

The Admissions Committee considers two main questions: whether the applicant will be academically engaged and what kind of impact they will have after graduation. They want students who are curious, willing to share their perspectives, and seek new ideas in a collaborative manner.

Q: How did Jessica decide to apply to Stanford?

Jessica decided to apply because she felt ready to take the next leap in her career and make a significant impact. After spending five years in retail and tech, she wanted a program that could help her succeed in those industries.

Q: How did Jessica approach the application process?

Jessica approached the application process through introspection and information gathering. She reflected on her values and goals through journaling and sought to understand what business school would really be like through Stanford's resources, town halls, and conversations with alumni and current students.

Q: How does the Admissions Committee evaluate whether someone will engage academically at Stanford?

The Admissions Committee looks for students who are curious, willing to share their perspectives, and actively seek new ideas and insights in a collaborative manner. The transcript and evidence of curiosity and engagement in other aspects of life are key factors in the evaluation process.

Q: Can low test scores negatively impact an applicant's chance of admission to Stanford?

While test scores are important, they are just one data point in the application. Stanford accepts students with a wide range of test scores, but it's crucial to prepare and ensure that the score reflects the applicant's capabilities. If test taking is not a strong suit, the committee looks for other evidence of curiosity and engagement.

Q: Is it possible to get into Stanford with a low GPA?

Stanford does not have a minimum GPA requirement. The committee considers the GPA in the context of the institution and major, acknowledging that rigor and grading standards vary. International GPAs are also evaluated differently, considering the educational system of the country. Applicants should explain any unique circumstances or provide additional information to help the committee understand their trajectory.

Q: What advice does Kirsten have for choosing recommenders?

Choosing recommenders is important as their insights provide an objective perspective on an applicant's achievements and character. One recommendation should ideally come from a current direct supervisor or the best alternative, while the second recommendation can be from someone who supervised the applicant's work in any context. It is important to find someone who knows the applicant well, can speak to their impact and work style, and shows enthusiasm in their recommendation.

Q: Are there resources available to help recommenders write stronger recommendations?

Stanford provides clear advice and tips to recommenders through their portal on the admissions website. However, it ultimately depends on the recommender's investment and willingness to write a thoughtful and detailed recommendation. Recommenders should take the time to really support the applicant and provide specific examples of their accomplishments and character.

Q: Are reapplicants at a disadvantage compared to first-time applicants?

Reapplicants are not at a disadvantage. Each application is evaluated fresh, regardless of whether the applicant has applied before. It is unnecessary to explain what has changed since the previous application. Applicants should start fresh and focus on presenting the best version of themselves, highlighting anything that may have become more compelling since the last application.

Q: How should applicants prepare for the interview if they receive one?

Applicants should consider themselves fortunate if they receive an interview, as it is a positive sign. The first part of the interview is a behavioral-based segment where the applicant shares stories of their accomplishments and impacts. The second part is an opportunity to develop a relationship with someone from the Stanford community, so it's crucial to come prepared with questions about Stanford and to see it as one step toward being part of a larger community.

Q: What are the best resources for applying to Stanford?

Applicants should start with the information available on the Stanford admissions website. It provides accurate and reliable information about the application process. Attending information sessions, both in person and virtually, is also highly recommended to learn about the experiences of current students and alumni.

Takeaways

Kirsten Moss and Jessica Talbert provide insights into the Stanford application process, debunking common myths and offering tips for applicants. The Admissions Committee evaluates candidates based on academic engagement and potential impact. They emphasize the importance of curiosity, collaboration, and a growth mindset. Test scores and GPA are considered, but the committee looks for other evidence of curiosity and engagement. Choosing recommenders who know the applicant well and can provide objective insight is crucial. Reapplicants are evaluated fresh, and it's unnecessary to explain changes from previous applications. Preparing for interviews and developing a relationship with the interviewer is important. Applicants should refer to the Stanford admissions website and attend information sessions to gather accurate and comprehensive information. Ultimately, applicants should believe in their potential and present their authentic selves in the application.

Summary & Key Takeaways

  • Stanford MBA admissions committee evaluates applicants based on their potential for academic engagement and future impact.

  • The committee seeks curious and collaborative individuals who embrace new ideas and want to make a difference.

  • Test scores like GMAT and GRE are important but not the sole deciding factor, and applicants with lower scores can still be admitted.

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