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May 16, 2014

Stanford GSB cuts 1 Essay and 1 Recommendation for Fall 2015 Admission

The Stanford MBA Admission Blog announced the following on May 15, 2014 (My comments follow the announcement):

“Get Ready to Apply for Fall 2015

We’re gearing up for a new application season and we hope you are, too. We’ve made some changes to this year’s application. To help you prepare, whether you’re a first-time applicant or are reapplying, here’s a sneak peek at what’s new when the application launches in early July.

Letters of Reference
This year, we are asking for two references. One reference must come from your direct supervisor (or next best alternative) at work. Your second reference may come from either someone senior to you (i.e.,who has observed your performance) or a peer. This recommender may be someone from your work, or not. For example, someone senior to you could be a client or previous work supervisor or board member. A peer could be a work teammate or a colleague in an extracurricular activity. You get to choose.

With choice comes responsibility. You’ll need to decide what works best in your situation. Do you have a former direct supervisor that knows your work exceptionally well? Then a second professional reference is probably in your best interest. Have you worked on a significant project with peers outside your workplace? You might want your second reference to come from a peer.

The most important consideration is, choose recommenders who can best express your abilities and potential–people who know you and believe in you.

We streamlined here, as well. This year we will ask two essay questions, instead of three. “What matters most to you and why?” remains the primary essay prompt (750 words). The second question, “Why Stanford?” (350 words), asks you to explain how the Stanford MBA Program, specifically, will help you get where you’re trying to go. Tell us how the Stanford experience will help you become the individual you aspire to be professionally and personally.

Luckily, some things don’t change. There are three application rounds for admission in fall 2015; you may apply in one of them.
Round 1: 1 October 2014
Round 2: 7 January 2015
Round 3: 1 April 2015″

While the deadlines are not changing, everything else.

Over the last couple of years, MBA programs have been reducing the number of essays and total essay word count significantly and Stanford has now done so as well. By cutting out the leadership/impact essay, Stanford has returned to the core essay questions it is has always asked applicants. One other change not mentioned would apparently be that Stanford is no longer giving applicants the choice to determine how to allocate their word count between the essays. This was something that only Stanford did before, which was often helpful to applicants. Of course, it might just be an omission in the announcement above, but it would appear that the questions now have specific word count maximums and not recommended word counts. I will put up my analysis for both essays very soon. The big content change is that since goals are not mentioned directly in Essay 2,  it is possible that goals can be discussed in either Essay 1 or Essay 2. Given the nature of Essay 2, it would be difficult to explain that without factoring in what one wants to do the future.  While I have to modify my own essay analysis from last year a bit as a result of this, it will just be a big editing job for me.  I intend to have that essay analysis up very soon.

I am glad that Stanford is reducing the number of recommendations down to two, which follows the change that HBS made last year.  Eliminating a mandatory peer recommendation will be quite helpful to applicants.

While the Stanford application will not launch until early July, the US MBA application season for fall 2015  admission begins now! Start writing your essays!

-Adam Markus
I am a graduate admissions consultant who works with clients worldwide. If you would like to arrange an initial consultation, please complete my intake form. Please don't email me any essays, other admissions consultant's intake forms, your life story, or any long email asking for a written profile assessment. The only profiles I assess are those with people who I offer initial consultations to. Please note that initial consultations are not offered when I have reached full capacity or when I determine that I am not a good fit with an applicant.
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