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Analysis of Stanford GSB Essay 2: What do you want to do—REALLY—and why Stanford?

What do you want to do—REALLY—and why Stanford? (Recommended 450 words)

The wording of Stanford’s second question has changed somewhat significantly for this admissions season, though at heart it remains focused on the candidate’s career goalsand the reasons for his or her particular interest in Stanford.  The all-caps qualifier “REALLY” may represent an extra encouragement of authenticity on the part of the admissions committee, or signal a willingness to entertain career goals that may not flow naturally or obviously from an applicant’s work experiences to date.  Stanford leaves the question somewhat open, and applicants may want to consider keeping their comments fairly high-level rather than sketching out specific short- and long-term goals, focusing instead on the broad impact they hope to make on a group, service, or sector through their career plans.  Of course, it will also be important to provide a detailed discussion of the ways an MBA, and specifically an MBA from Stanford, is necessary to achieve these aims, as well as the potential contribution he or she could make to the program.

As is the case with most schools, demonstrating an understanding of the unique merits of Stanford’s program is crucial to an effective response to this question.  Taking the time to learn about the school’s curriculum, special programs and extracurricular activities – whether through a visit to campus, conversation with alumni or reading the Clear Admit School Guide to Stanford – will pay dividends here.

In addition, as with Essay 1, Stanford offers their own guidance for Essay 2, which applicants will want to keep in mind when responding to the prompt:

  • Use this essay to explain your view of your future, not to repeat accomplishments from your past.
  • You should address three distinct topics:
    • your career aspirations
    • the role of an MBA education in achieving those aspirations
    • and your rationale for earning that 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.

To read our analysis of all of Stanford’s essay questions, click here.

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Posted in: Essay Topic Analysis

Schools: Stanford GSB

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