Getting into Stanford GSB

If you're applying to the highly competitive Stanford GSB, you are going to need a coach. Here are some tips on how to choose a coach.Getting into a Stanford GSB program is a lofty goal.

The acceptance rate is puny and the competition is fierce. Even if you have what seems like an automatic in – “My boss has a building named after him,” or “My cousin serves on the board**,” there is no guarantee beyond being a candidate they want to accept. In order to get into a Stanford GSB program, you have to prove yourself.

If you are in the application process now, your jello is set. Your work experience and choices up to this point are behind you. You only have the essays and letters of recommendation to convince them that you are the candidate they need. So make those work for you.

Biggest piece of advice: Consider getting a coach.

A coach is not an essay editing service. And yes, the application itself calls out “coaching” as inappropriate. You are allowed to get feedback, but not coaching. Yes and no. Here are the differences between an inappropriate coach and a good idea coach:

Inappropriate coach:

– Writes any portion of the essays/resume/letters of recommendation for you – big no!
– Asks you to write the essay, but tells you what GSB wants to hear – big no!
– Will mimic what your friends have said GSB wants to hear
– Will help you create a cookie cutter presentation of your career and service that can’t be traced.

Good idea coach:

– Asks you to consider where you will be and what you will be doing in 10+ years. Helps you figure out who you really are and what is important to you.
– Has you investigate schools that are appropriate for your goals, not public rankings. Unless your goal is bulge bracket. Then rankings matter more.
– Has you develop your career thesis, even if untested.
– Has you write practice essays on related topics so you can get all the trite phrases out of your system – the more you love your phrasing, the more likely it is crap. Ditch it.
– Then lets you write the essays. At this point, all you need is feedback. Were you able to put your thesis forth? Are you being authentic?
– Will call you out on your BS.
– Will help you make sure you don’t embarrass those writing letters on your behalf.

So find a coach. But look for someone who is willing to understand you and will reflect back to you the message you are putting forth until you can find the message that most rings true for you.


**By the way, the kid who told me he was squared away with his application because “his cousin serves on the board” submitted a sloppy app and was not accepted. Not all Board members are created equal and please, don’t embarrass the ones you lean on. DBD. DBD.

4 thoughts on “Getting into Stanford GSB”

  1. Hello Kate,

    Thank you so much for your advice about coaches! I believe that following all of the points you have addressed would make it easier to find an acceptable coach.

    Thanks again!

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