Guides: Admissions Guides

“What Matters?” and “What More?”: 50 Successful Essays for the Stanford GSB and HBS (and Why They Worked)

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“What Matters?” and “What More?”: 50 Successful Essays for the Stanford GSB and HBS (and Why They Worked)

The application essay questions for the world’s two most competitive MBA programs—Harvard Business School and the Stanford Graduate School of Business—are notoriously challenging. Even if these schools had more generous acceptance rates (currently 10% and 6%, respectively), their essay prompts would still vex candidates with both their simplicity and open-ended nature. Yet therein lies the beauty of these essay questions—you are in control! You are a unique individual, and this is your chance to show HBS and the GSB who you really are and why you are an applicant worthy of admittance.

Having helped hundreds of candidates gain acceptance to these programs, Jeremy Shinewald of mbaMission and Liza Weale of Gatehouse Admissions, in partnership with Poets&Quants, have pooled their collective experience to now help you. Using a carefully curated collection of 50 successful essays to HBS and the GSB, they have broken down why each one worked and created a truly essential guide to crafting essays for these schools more confidently and effectively.

“What Matters?” and “What More?”: 50 Successful Essays for the Stanford GSB and HBS (and Why They Worked) is a 190-page digital book offering the following:

  • Actual HBS and Stanford GSB essays, submitted by past candidates who were ultimately admitted, along with expert commentary on the strengths (and sometimes weaknesses!) of each one
  • Ten “pairs” of essays for HBS and the GSB, showing how the same candidate approached the two schools’ differing essay prompts
  • Two essays by reapplicants, highlighting useful tactics for writing these essays the second time around
  • Overviews and examples of four different approaches you can take to composing your essays: thematic, inflection points, single anecdote, and mosaic
  • Best practices for each program’s essay question, such as how to handle the prompts’ vastly different word counts and what not to include in your essays

The widely varying essays in this guide prove that no one definitive path to success exists. On the contrary, the schools are clearly open to a vast range of topics, experiences, styles, and voices. The guidance, samples, and critiques in What Matters? and What More? will help you find the best approach for sharing your strongest stories with these programs—and position yourself for success!

If you plan to apply to Harvard Business School or the Stanford GSB, this book is a must-have resource!

Click here to read an excerpt from the book.

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