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We’ve invited mbaMission to share their Business School Essays Analyses as they’re released for the 2013-2014 application season. Here is their analysis for Stanford Graduate School of Business.

The Stanford Graduate School of Business (GSB) is apparently content with its essay questions, because it has made no changes to them or to the allowed word count this season. Having made slight tweaks to its prompts in recent years, the GSB’s MBA admissions committee seems to have found an approach that elicits the information it wants.

With respect to word count, Stanford is unique in that it asks you to limit yourself to 1,600 words total but allows you to determine how you would like to distribute them among the various questions. Stanford does offer some guidance”recommending 750 words for Essay 1, 450 words for Essay 2 and 400 words for Essay 3”but you can take the school at its word (small pun intended!) and use a different distribution if you feel that you can better reveal yourself through, for example, a 650-word Essay 1 and 500-word Essay 3.

Stanford’s admissions committee offers some great advice on how to write its application essays here:http://www.gsb.stanford.edu/mba/admission/dir_essays-p.html. We feel that the committee’s most important guidance is the following:

Stanford Graduate School of Business

Because we want to discover who you are, resist the urge to package yourself in order to come across in a way you think Stanford wants. Such attempts simply blur our understanding of who you are and what you can accomplish. We want to hear your genuine voice throughout the essays that you write and this is the time to think carefully about your values, your passions, your hopes and dreams.

In truth, this is good advice not just for Stanford’s essays, but for all business schools’ essays. Rather than trying to portray yourself as something in particular (which you may or may not in fact be), focus on showcasing who you actually are and give the admissions committee the information and picture of you it needs to make its decision. Stanford is not interested in classifying its applicants as certain types but in discovering individuals and what they have to offer.  And now, on to the essays

Essay 1: What matters most to you, and why?

When candidates ask us, What should I write for what matters most to me?, we offer a pretty simple tip”start brainstorming for this essay by asking yourself that very question: What matters most to me? This might seem like obvious advice, of course, but many applicants get flustered by the question, often believing that an actual right answer exists that they must identify, and never pause to actually consider their sincere responses, which are typically the most compelling.

So, we advise that you brainstorm in depth and push yourself to explore the psychological and philosophical motivations behind your goals and achievements”behind who you are today. We cannot emphasize this enough: do not make a snap decision about the content of this essay. Once you have identified what you believe is an appropriate theme, discuss your idea(s) with those with whom you are closest and whose input you respect. Doing so can help validate deeply personal and authentic themes, leading to an essay that truly stands out.

Once you have fully examined your options and identified your main themes, do not simply provide a handful of supporting anecdotes”or worse, recycle the stories you used in a similar essay for another school. A strong essay response to this question will involve a true exploration of the themes you have chosen and reveal a thorough analysis of decisions, motives and successes/failures, with a constant emphasis on how you conduct yourself. If you are merely telling stories and trying to tie in your preconceived conclusions, you are most likely forcing a theme on your reader rather than analyzing your experiences, and this will be transparent to any experienced admissions reader. In short, be sure to fully consider and develop your most sincere answer(s), outline your essay accordingly and then infuse your writing with your personality, thoughts, feelings and experiences.
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GMAT NewsCatch up on some business school news and tips with a few of this week’s top stories:

Networking Tips for Online MBA Students (U.S. News Education)

Networking is just as important for online MBA students as it is for on-campus students. Take advantage of face-to-face meetings and pick up the phone to network in an online MBA program.

Ranking Business Schools on Research (Poets & Quants)

A fresh look at business school rankings. This week Poets & Quants shares which business schools’ professors crank out the most research.

Getting Down To Business In The Business Schools (Forbes)

Larry Zicklin, current professor at NYU’s Stern School, has a revolutionary proposal to fix the crisis of irrelevance that today’s business schools are facing: business school teachers should teach business!
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gmat exerciseI just read a really fascinating post on the New York Times’ Well blog. We’ve known for a long time that exercise has a whole host of good benefits, including benefits associated with memory. Two recent studies have delved even deeper into how this works.

How does exercise help memory?

In the blog post, New York Times journalist Gretchen Reynolds details the two new studies “ one conducted on humans and the other conducted on rats.

In the human study, elderly women who already had some mild cognitive impairment were split into three groups. One group lifted weights, the second group engaged in moderate aerobic exercise, and the third group did yoga-like activities.

The participants were tested at the beginning and end of the 6-month exercise period and the results were striking. First, bear in mind that, in general, we would expect elderly people who are already experiencing mental decline to continue down that path over time. Indeed, after 6 months, the yoga group (our control group) showed a mild decline in several aspects of verbal memory.

The weight-training and aerobic groups, by contrast, actually improved their performance on several tests (remember, this was 6 months later!). In particular, these groups were not losing as much of their older memories and they even became faster at some spatial memory tests involving memorizing the location of three items. In other words, the women were both better at making new memories and better at remembering / retrieving old ones!

Another group of reseNavigators conducted a similar study, only this time rats were getting some cardio in or lifting weights. (The rats ran on wheels for the cardio exercise and, get this, for the weight lifting, the reseNavigators tied little weights to the rats tails and had them climb tiny ladders!)

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GMAT NewsCatch up on some business school news and tips with a few of this week’s top stories:

10 B-Schools Where Full-Time Students Have the Highest GMAT Scores (U.S. News Education)

This week U.S. News shares its short list of the top business schools where full-time students average the highest GMAT scores.

The Exorbitant Cost of An MBA Has to Go Down (Business Insider)

According to NYU Stern School of Business professor Larry Zicklin, the days when getting an MBA costs well north of $100,000 are coming to an end.

U.S. Business Schools See Slower Growth From Foreign Applicants (Bloomberg)

According to Bloomberg News, international applications to U.S. graduate business programs are taking an unexpected plunge in the number of potential candidates from China.

Old-School Business Practices Worth Bringing Back (Harvard Business Review)

Harvard Business Review shares four elements of mid-twentieth-century business  culture that may be worth preserving.

Did we miss your favorite article from the week? Let us know what you have been reading in the comments below or tweet @ManhattanGMAT

GMAT News

Catch up on some business school news and tips with a few of this week’s top stories:

Who’s Smarter? Law or Biz Students? (Poets & Quants)

Poets & Quants explores the provocative and tongue-in-check question of whether business students are smarter than law students or vice versa.

Business School Tuition: An Overview of Business School Tuition Costs (About.com Business School)

While the cost of business school is notoriously expensive, it is important to remember that there are many different ways to lower and pay your business school tuition.

Should Entrepreneurs Get an MBA? An Inside Perspective From an MBA Entrepreneur (Forbes)

An entrepreneur interested in startups shares how the majority of successful entrepreneurs and investors that she admires hold an MBA.
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iStock_000012655127XSmallCatch up on some business school news and tips with a few of this week’s top stories:

6 Great Jobs for MBA Grads (U.S. News Education)

Trying to decide what to do after you’ve been accepted into an MBA program? Here are a few outstanding careers that may be a good fit.

Mistakes to Avoid During the MBA Admissions Process (Graduate Guide)

It’s important for prospective business students to be aware of the common admissions mistakes. Here is some helpful advice to avoid application pitfalls.

An Interview with Stanford Dean Garth Saloner (Poets and Quants)

The dean of the most expensive MBA program in the world talks about why business school is worth every penny.
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iStock_000012655127XSmallCatch up on some business school news and tips with a few of this week’s top stories:

10 B-Schools That Lead to Jobs (U.S. News Education)

According to U.S. News, four MBA programs boast 100 percent employment rates for students three months after graduation. Read on for the top ten list.

MBA Admissions Decisions Coming Down to the Wire (Bloomberg Businessweek)

Bloomberg reports that many top schools expect to announce round-two admissions decisions by March 28, and many schools, including Virginia, Chicago, Stanford, Duke, Harvard, and Cornell, are still accepting applications for round 3.
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iStock_000012655127XSmallCatch up on some business school news and tips with a few of this week’s top stories:

Can You Get Into Harvard’s B-School? (Poets & Quants)

Find out what it takes to get into Harvard Business School”the best MBA program in the world”and how HBS’s average GMAT scores and GPA compare to those of other top b-schools.

2014 Best Graduate Schools Preview: Top 10 Business Schools (U.S. News Education)

U.S. News has plans to release their full list of graduate school rankings on March 12th but here is a sneak peak of the top 10 highest-ranked business schools.

Business School Chart of the Week: Liberal Arts College Boasts Best GMAT Scores (mbaMission)

MbaMission’s chart of the week shows that test takers who score the highest overall on the GMAT apparently come from a school that does not even offer a business major. Can you guess which college made the top spot?
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