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November 2013 Archives


8 November 2013

Let the Myth Busting Begin

It's that special time of year again. Halloween is just behind us, Round 1 applications are being reviewed, and the Round 2 deadline is coming up soon. It can all mean only one thing - time to debunk some common myths surrounding the admission process.

MYTH 1: The interview has a lot of weight so if I blow the interview, I have blown my chances of being admitted.
THE TRUTH: There is no specific weight assigned to the interview; the interview is one part of a comprehensive process. A positive interview does not guarantee admission, while a less than favorable interview does not, by itself, preclude admission. The written application, including the essays and letters of reference, is a critical part of the evaluation process. The interview is a key source of supplemental information.

MYTH 2: I received my interview invitation early in the round so it must mean I have a better chance of getting admitted.
THE TRUTH: The timing of your interview invitation reflects only the order in which your application was reviewed (and the order in which your application was reviewed doesn't mean anything, honest!). Applications are not reviewed in any particular order, and applicants are not ranked.

MYTH 3: Visiting campus before or after I've submitted my application is an important way to demonstrate my interest in Stanford and increase my chances of being admitted.
THE TRUTH: Visiting campus does not affect your chances of admission whatsoever. Think of it this way - we wouldn't want to bias the process towards only people with the proximity, time, or resources to visit. You may wish to visit if it's helpful to your research and decision-making process about schools. Of course, we always welcome visitors! But we also understand that for some of you that may not be feasible. If you have only one chance to visit, save your time and money and come after you've been admitted for Admit Weekend, where you'll meet students, alumni, faculty, and your future classmates.

Thanks for reading! Check back next week for more myth busting, or if you can't wait, you can learn more about our admission process on our website.


Video Profile of Student Veteran Dan Berschinski, MBA 2015

In honor of Veterans Day, cbsnews.com recently profiled GSB student Dan Berschinski, MBA '15, a former Army first lieutenant who lost both legs in Afghanistan. The video and accompanying article describe Dan's journey from the battlefield to the classroom, where he is preparing himself to grow a business so that he can hire other disabled vets.

Amputee vet studying business of employing wounded troops
Dan Berschinski

Stanford University is committed to supporting student veterans. Application fee waivers for the MBA Program application are currently available to active duty U.S. military service members or U.S. military veterans who have been honorably discharged. Learn more about the military fee waiver on our website.


11 November 2013

Recommendation Myths Debunked

This is the second of three posts in our Myth Busters series. Last week we kicked it off by upending misconceptions around interviews and campus visits. This time, we're focusing on Letters of Reference. For all the facts, we highly recommend visiting the Application Materials section of our website.

MYTH 1: If I work in a family business, am self-employed, or can't tell my boss that I'm applying, I will be at a disadvantage since I cannot get a recommendation from a current direct supervisor.
THE TRUTH: Rest assured that you are not the only applicant in this situation. You may not be disclosing to your employer that you are applying to business school. You may have started a new job recently, and your supervisor does not really know you that well. Perhaps you are self-employed, run your own company, or work in a family business where your direct supervisor is a relative (not a good choice for a recommendation!). If you're in one of these situations, you just need to be a little more creative in terms of where you get your recommendation. You could ask anyone who is in a position to evaluate your work: a previous supervisor, a client, or a member of your board of directors.

MYTH 2: It is okay to submit more than three recommendations. In fact, more is better!
THE TRUTH: We discourage you from sending additional letters. More is not better. In fact, it can have the opposite of the intended effect as it adds an additional burden to our staff who review literally thousands and thousands of pages over the application season. When we receive additional letters of reference either before or after the application deadline, we do add them to your application file, but there's no guarantee that they will be reviewed.

MYTH 3: It is better to get my recommendations from three different sources to highlight different aspects of my professional and personal background.
THE TRUTH: It's your decision how to present yourself in your application, what to highlight and what to focus on. And, this goes for your choice of recommenders as well. Some applicants get all their references from work; others choose a peer reference from outside of work. Some get all their references from their current employers; others include recent previous employers. There is no one right way. When choosing a recommender, our best advice is to (1) choose someone who knows you really well and can provide the detail, examples, and specifics that support his/her assertions; and (2) choose someone who is truly enthused to write a recommendation for you and will spend sufficient time writing a thoughtful letter.

MYTH 4: Recommendations must be written in English.
THE TRUTH: Recommendations must be submitted in English, but we do not expect the English to be perfect in recommendations written by non-native speakers. We focus on the content of the letter, not the writing style, so we will ignore syntax or grammar errors or awkward phrasing. However, if you and your recommenders think that their English is not sufficient to convey complex ideas, it may be to your advantage to have them write in their native language and then get it translated into English either by a friend or colleague of the recommender, or from a paid service. The translation does not need to be from a paid service unless that is the only option available to the recommender. The translation is the responsibility of the recommender; the translator cannot be the applicant or a friend or family member of the applicant. Your recommender would then upload both the original language and the English translation into the recommendation form, and must also supply us with the name and contact information of the translator in case we have additional follow-up questions.

MYTH 5: It's OK to provide a letter of recommendation from a professor as long as I did really well in the class.
THE TRUTH: We love professors - we are a school, after all - but faculty members typically are not the best choices for MBA recommendations. We find that they often ignore the questions we ask of recommenders, and instead, focus on how well you did in their classes (which we already know from your academic transcripts). If you are applying as a college senior and do not have much professional experience, there may be cases when a recommendation from a faculty member would be appropriate. For example, if you worked with a faculty member outside the classroom, perhaps as a teaching assistant or on an independent research opportunity, then that professor might be in a position to write a helpful recommendation. Still, you need to think carefully about whether that person can address the questions we ask in the recommendation form.

Thanks for reading! Check back next week for even more myth busting, or visit our website for myth-free admission process details.


21 November 2013

Even More Admissions Myths Debunked

We're wrapping up our Myth Busters series this week by shedding some light on reporting work experience on your application, our evaluation criteria, and the GMAT vs. GRE. For more myth-busting, read last week's post on letters of reference, or dust off the very first post in the series from two weeks ago.

MYTH: If I worked full-time during or before college, I can count those months as "full-time work experience."
THE TRUTH: We value all work experience, including jobs or military service you've had before graduating college. We ask that in the box for “months of full-time work experience," you include only the months of full-time work experience SINCE you graduated from your undergraduate university, calculating the number of months from your college graduation until September 1, 2014. This is simply for data reporting purposes. You'll see that statistic in our class profile so we want the data to be consistent across the entire applicant pool. It has NOTHING to do with how we evaluate applications. If you pursued a full-time career prior to graduating college, we would be eager to hear about your personal journey and the choices you've made.

Since the application form doesn't fit every person's situation, we ask that applicants who have worked full-time before graduating college report that in the Part-Time Employment section and indicate 40 hours in the "hours/week" box. We will connect the dots that you were working before or throughout college. Also, the resume we ask you to submit will show us your career path.

MYTH: If my application doesn't meet certain criteria, the admissions office won't even look at it.
THE TRUTH: We review each and every application to understand your background, aspirations, and potential. While scores and grades command attention in the blogosphere, each of you is more than a combination of statistics; we are building a community as well as a class. Real people are getting to know you through your application. This is not an automated process; it's a very human process that takes time and deliberation.

MYTH: Even though Stanford GSB accepts either the GMAT or GRE, it's better to submit GMAT scores.
THE TRUTH: Nope. We don't have a preference either way; and if we did, we'd tell you. Do what makes sense for you. For example, if you're applying to Stanford's joint MBA and MS in Computer Science, the Department of Computer Science requires the GRE. Or, if you're applying to other graduate programs that accept only the GRE, there's no reason to spend your time and money taking the GMAT, too, unless it's required by another MBA program that you are applying to. If you're applying to multiple MBA programs, some schools only accept the GMAT so just make sure you've done your research on which tests certain schools accept.

Thanks for reading! Continue learning about our application process by visiting our website. For advice and encouragement along the way, we also recommend having a look at these perspectives from the Assistant Dean for MBA Admissions.