Nov 18, 2011

Admission Tips from Stanford GSB's Director of Admissions


Admissions Tips from Derrick Bolton, Assistant dean and director of M.B.A. admissions at Stanford University's Graduate School of Business -

1. Recommendations: "They [canditates] often think about it from the perspective of, 'I need to pick three references who show different aspects of my personality,' not from the perspective of, 'I need to pick three people who are going to be my strongest advocates.'"

2. Positioning - "Don't try to stand out. We'll see 50 people writing about a time in Machu Picchu, situations that seem very dramatic. There was a while when almost every military essay that we saw started out with a vivid recollection of a battle."

3. On Admissions Consultants - "Does it help? Does it hurt? It's candidate by candidate. What I would always ask is, 'How can someone who doesn't know you help you be a more authentic version of yourself?' Some people probably can, if they're asking the right questions. There's a fine line." [ and we at BizSchoolPrep completely agree!]

4. Is there any GMAT cutoff - "That would rob us of a lot of talent. The GMAT is helpful in terms of understanding how someone can perform in the first year, but that's one small piece of the overall M.B.A."

Read more at WSJ.

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  1. Hi,

    I would like to ask one thing here regarding Bolton's comment about admissions consultants. He says its viewed on a candidate by candidate basis. I'm just wondering how adcoms come to know whether or not a candidate uses the help of an admissions consultant. Or am I being thick-headed here in that Duh! adcoms know because they've been doing this for years

  2. What he actually meant is probably the extent of how much admissions consultants are useful depends on candidate by candidate. Yes, you are right. There is no foolproof way of knowing if someone has indeed used one other than if applicants themselves admit to it. For e.g. Duke specifically asks a question in its application about whether the applicant has used any consultant's help. Also, if someone has a 3.0 AwA score and out-of-the-park essays, it may raise some eyes. The same is true if you have a resume with a different writing style than your essays and hence, it is always recommended that if you use external help, it should be across the application.

  3. Hi Guys,

    I also have another question regarding the Stanford Essays in general. For the optional essays one has to write from experiences from only within three years. I'm a college senior trying to apply but the biggest experience impact wise happened in 2007 with the firm I volunteer with. BUT I still continue to work with them and this impact has grown bigger. Is it okay if I write about it?

  4. Just to clarify, has grown bigger means that the magnitude of the activity and impact both has grown over the years though it came out of the action I initiated in 2007 (but still work toward even today).

  5. It is always better to talk about recent experiences than the ones that happened in the past because adcom is trying to gauge the recent you and not how you were many years back. If you want to use the same story, linking it to present is definitely a better idea than just talking it in the past.

    Hope it helps. Good luck!