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December 2008 Archives

5 December 2008

Avoiding 10 common mistakes on your application

With the Round 2 application deadline just a little over a month away (7 January 2009) I wanted to draw your attention to the Top Ten most frequent (and avoidable) mistakes we find on your applications:

--Enter your name correctly. In the application, you enter your family name (also called last name) before your first name (also called given name). Yes, smart people make this mistake.

--Provide a specific reason for leaving any of your previous jobs--as opposed to a reason for accepting your next job. In the application verification process over the summer, this is the cause of many issues.

--Submit your application only after your recommenders have submitted your Letters of Reference. Stanford's instructions may differ from some other schools in this regard, but your application processing works best when you follow our advice. Trust us on this.

--If your university provided A/B/C/D grades, calculate your grade point average on a four-point scale (A=4, A-=3.7, B+=3.3, B=3, C=2, D=1, etc.). Do this even if your university did not calculate the grade point average. This is the easiest math problem that you're likely to see in an MBA program.

--If there is any period of four-plus months when you were neither in school nor working, tell us what you were doing during that time.

--For Essay C (Options 1-4) discuss experiences that have occurred in the last three years. Work, community, or college experiences are terrific, as long as they took place within the last three years. Be sure to tell us the "how" and "why," not just the "what."

--If you can't get a recommendation from your current supervisor, provide a brief explanation (one or two sentences) in the Additional Information section of the Online Application.

--For your Letter of Reference from a peer please make sure the person you pick is indeed a peer (an equal). Though few people like hierarchy, our supervisors are not our peers. Even if your supervisor is your friend, he/she by definition is not your peer. While many peers also are friends, remember that not all friends are good choices for recommendations.

--Check your transcript after you scan/upload it. As a general rule, if you can't read it, we can't read it.

--When calculating your months of work experience, only include post-college work and provide the months (not the years) through September of the year in which you plan to enroll (not as of the date you're applying).

As always, if you have any questions please contact us.

Thank you and best wishes,
LaNeika Ward
Acting Assistant Director of MBA Admissions

17 December 2008

Executive Challenge 2008

On December 3rd, 370 first-year students showed up for the final exam for Strategic Leadership, one of our core classes. But unlike most testing situations, everyone was wearing a suit. At the same time across campus, more than 160 senior level alumni and executives were being drilled on how to judge student performance. The all-day test is not a written exam, but is something called the Executive Challenge, and while it does count as a final exam for the class, it also serves as a unique opportunity to gain real-world learning from some of the most influential global leaders today.

The judges included current and former CEOs from multiple Fortune 500 companies and high-profile startups, managing partners of well known VC firms, and senior executives in finance, consulting and a myriad of other industries. Most flew in for the day - many from international destinations - excited to engage with students one-on-one and participate in a uniquely Stanford experience.

Working in teams of eight, students had to complete four experiential leadership challenges throughout the day, each simulating a typical situation faced by senior executives. One challenge required students to play the role of Chairman and CEO, working to convince reluctant board members to pursue an acquisition. A successful effort required both good business analysis and strong interpersonal skills. Alumni judges played the board members, each of whom had objectives and personalities that could have derailed the meeting if mishandled. One of the judges, Stu Francis, an alum from 1977 and Vice Chairman of Barclays Capital, told us, "It is very interesting to watch the students deal with things that come up in a day-to-day context in business. You do not learn it until you do it, except at Stanford. You learn it here."

The student response was overwhelmingly positive. One explained, "The Executive Challenge was terrific, particularly as it put learning in a real-world context where we were graded not on specific frameworks but on actual efficacy." It also served as a vehicle for connecting students with the deep alumni network. Many students and the alumni they met have since exchanged emails, or arranged to get together for coffee or dinner. Most students were floored to see how many high-profile alums made the time to stay connected to the school, making themselves accessible and providing valuable feedback.

The final exam ended as uniquely as it started, with a party-like atmosphere, as hundreds of students, alumni, faculty and GSB staff packed in an auditorium to honor the day's winners. But the biggest winner was clearly the Stanford GSB community as a whole, and everybody there feeling like a real part of it.

Congratulations on a job well done!

Mike Hochleutner, MBA '01
Executive Director
Center for Leadership Development & Research

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19 December 2008

First Round Interviews

As of mid-week, we have extended around 400 interview invitations to first round candidates. We expect to invite an additional 150-200 applicants to interview in the next few weeks, as we read and evaluate first round applications before the notification deadline of 22 January 2009.

On the January 22 first round notification deadline, we also may ask 50-100 applicants to join the waitlist without having been interviewed, and may interview those candidates later.

I hope this is helpful. Best wishes for the holiday season.