London Business School: A Complete Breakdown of Admissions, Essays, and Basics

MBA applicants to London Business School
earn admission to LBS

Each year, helps hundreds of applicants earn admission into their dream schools. We help clients earn admission into all kinds of MBA programs, including quant-heavy ones, more traditional kinds, or ones that focus on relatively newer disciplines like social impact. Our client reviews speak for themselves. Check us out today!

The 2022-2023 admissions cycles added to a long streak of Gurufi clients earning admission to London Business School. Since we’ve been tracking this data, 22 of our 25 LBS clients have earned admission, including our last 7 applicants last year. Our approach to helping clients build compelling personal statements that reflect their experiences positively and project a sense of passion and optimism about their futures is the key to this success.

In this free guide, we detail the basics of the school, LBS’s admissions criteria and timeline, and what the school values and looks for.

The London Business School’s (LBS) MBA program prides itself on offering students a diverse and international student body, a dynamic learning experience, and the opportunity to engage with a robust curriculum tailored to global business leadership.


Basic Stats of the LBS MBA Class (MBA 2025)

Statistic MBA2025 Class
Total Students 487
Percentage of Women 43%
Nationalities Represented 63


Industries Graduates Enter

Industry Percentage of Graduates
Consulting 29%
Finance/Accounting 21%
IT & Technology 8%
FMCG/Retail/Luxury Goods/E-commerce 8%
Healthcare/Pharmaceuticals/Biotech 6%
Energy/Power Generation 5%
Manufacturing/Engineering/Construction 5%
Public Sector/Not for Profit/Education 5%
Automotive/Aerospace/Transport/Logistics 3%
Other Industries 10%


Admissions Deadlines and Timelines

Admission Stage Round 1 Round 2 Round 3
Application Deadline September 8, 2023 January 3, 2024 March 25, 2024  
Interview Decision October 12, 2023 February 6, 2024 April 25, 2024  
Admission Decision November 30, 2023 March 27, 2024 June 7, 2024  


Program Strengths

  • Diverse Class Profile: The LBS MBA program is known for its diversity. The MBA 2025 class, for instance, consisted of 487 students with 43% women and representation from 63 nationalities, bringing together a wide array of professional backgrounds, including consulting, finance, technology, and healthcare.
  • Rigorous and Flexible Curriculum: The program spans 15 to 21 months and is structured to provide a strong foundation in business fundamentals, along with a wide range of electives and experiential learning opportunities. This flexibility allows students to tailor their MBA experience to their personal and professional goals.
  • Global Exposure: The LBS MBA program emphasizes global business, offering opportunities like the London Core Application Practicum, global experiential courses, and an international exchange program. This global perspective is further enhanced by the school’s location in London, a major business hub.
  • Career Support: LBS provides extensive career support, including personal and professional development programs and a dedicated Career Centre, to assist students in navigating their post-MBA career paths.


Ideal Applicants

Applicants who excel at LBS typically possess a blend of strong academic backgrounds, meaningful professional experience, and a clear vision of their career goals. The school values diversity and seeks candidates who can contribute unique perspectives and experiences to the program.


Admissions Process

  • Eligibility: Candidates must meet general application requirements, which include academic qualifications, professional experience, and, for international students, visa requirements.
  • Application Components: Key elements of the application include a strong GMAT or GRE score, compelling essays, and a concise, achievement-focused CV. The main essay should articulate post-MBA goals and how LBS will help achieve them, with an optional essay to address any application gaps.

  • Interviews: Successful applicants are invited to an interview, often conducted by alumni. The interview process assesses not only professional aspirations but also personal journeys and global perspectives.

Often the most challenging and time-consuming part of the application is Personal Statement and other admissions essays. At Gurufi, we can help you with this, but if you’d like to go it alone, here are some tips for nailing these essays.

Writing essays for the London Business School MBA application requires a strategic approach, as each essay has a specific purpose and word limit. Here’s a breakdown of the essay prompts and tips for each:


  1. Required Essay

Prompt: “What are your post-MBA goals and how will your prior experience and the London Business School programme contribute towards these?” (500 words maximum)



  • Clarify Your Goals: Start by clearly defining your short-term and long-term career goals. Be specific about the role and industry you aim to be in post-MBA.
  • Connect Past Experiences: Demonstrate how your previous experiences have prepared you for your future goals. Highlight specific skills, knowledge, and accomplishments. Remember, your essay needs to be coherent in the sense that your past, present, and future selves seem like the same person and that these three points demonstrate an upward trajectory. Personal Statements are ultimately about the future, but proving to the reader that your planned future is achievable requires you first to show that it flows naturally from your past and present.
  • LBS’s Role in Your Journey: Explain how specific aspects of the LBS program (courses, clubs, network, location, etc.) will help you achieve these goals. Research the program thoroughly and mention details that resonate with your aspirations. Importantly, DO NOT turn your essay into a dump of everything you found on the website. Curate what you include carefully. Just a few well-chosen things that are clearly linked to the rest of your essay is much better than simply listing all the clubs that seem cool to you.
  • Personal Growth and Contribution: Mention how you plan to grow personally at LBS and how you can contribute to the LBS community.


  1. Optional Essay

Prompt: “Is there any other information you believe the Admissions Committee should know about you and your application to London Business School?” (500 words maximum)


  • Addressing Gaps or Weaknesses: Use this space to explain any part of your application that might raise questions (e.g., gaps in employment, lower GPA/GMAT scores). If you’re unsure of how to do this, check this video out that we did for GMATClub. (or, if you’re more of a 60-second recap kind of person, this one or this one)
  • Adding Depth to Your Profile: Alternatively, you can discuss a significant achievement, personal challenge, or unique aspect of your background not covered in other essays.
  • Be Relevant and Concise: Ensure that what you share is relevant and adds value to your application. Avoid repeating information already covered elsewhere.


  1. Short Answer Questions

Within the application form, LBS includes several short-answer sections. These are not traditional essays but require thoughtful responses.


  • Responsibilities and Leadership: When discussing your current role, emphasize leadership experience, team management, and any global or cross-cultural exposure.
  • Explaining Employment Gaps: If applicable, explain what you are doing or plan to do during any employment gaps. Focus on activities that enhance your MBA candidacy.
  • Employer Support: If your employer is sponsoring you, outline the specifics. If not, state it clearly.
  • Academic Performance: Address any academic weaknesses and provide context, but also highlight areas of strength or improvement.
  • English Language Proficiency: Share your experiences in English-speaking environments, emphasizing your communication skills.
  • International Experience: Highlight a significant international experience, focusing on its impact on your perspective or skills.
  • Extracurricular Activities: Share your interests and activities outside work, emphasizing leadership roles and community involvement.
  • Family and Friends Support: Discuss the support from your close circle regarding your MBA plans, showing a balanced view of your personal and professional life.

In each response, be authentic and focused. Ensure that your answers collectively paint a complete and compelling picture of your candidacy, complementing the information provided in your essays and other application materials.

Application Tips

  • Research and Prepare: Familiarize yourself with commonly asked questions and conduct mock interviews. Reflect on your personal and professional journey and how it aligns with LBS’s offerings and values.
  • Present a Strong Narrative: In your essays and interview, present a clear narrative that connects your past experiences, MBA goals, and how LBS fits into this trajectory.
  • Demonstrate Global Awareness: Stay informed about global business trends, as LBS values candidates with a global perspective.
  • Prepare Thoughtful Questions: Show your interest and proactive approach by preparing insightful questions for the interviewers.
  • Showcase Leadership and Impact: Highlight experiences where you’ve demonstrated leadership and had a significant impact, aligning with LBS’s focus on developing global leaders.

By understanding these aspects of the LBS MBA program and tailoring your application accordingly, you can enhance your chances of gaining admission to this prestigious program.

Remember, the key is to present a well-rounded profile that aligns with LBS’s values and program strengths.

For more help with your personal statement, check us out at Our personal statement editors and consultants have decades of experience helping clients get into top MBA programs. Our specialty is helping you craft compelling personal statements that move the needle in your admissions process! For questions, shoot us an email at Check us out on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.

Applying to MBA Programs with a Social Impact Focus

Each year, helps hundreds of applicants earn admission into their dream schools. We help clients earn admission into all kinds of MBA programs, including quant-heavy ones, more traditional kinds, or ones that focus on relatively newer disciplines like social impact. Our client reviews speak for themselves. Check us out today!


In today’s evolving business landscape, the pursuit of an MBA isn’t just about climbing the corporate ladder. For many, it’s about making a meaningful impact in society. MBA programs with a social impact focus are gaining traction, attracting individuals passionate about driving change. This blog post explores how you can successfully apply to these programs and kickstart a career in social impact.


Understanding Social Impact MBAs

Social impact MBA programs are designed for those who seek to use business skills for societal good. These programs combine traditional business acumen with an in-depth understanding of social and environmental issues.


Why Choose a Social Impact MBA?

  • Alignment with Personal Values: If your career aspirations include making a significant societal difference, these programs align perfectly with your values.
  • Diverse Opportunities: Graduates can work in various sectors, including nonprofits, social enterprises, corporate social responsibility (CSR) roles, and impact investing.
  • Growing Demand: There’s an increasing demand for professionals who can blend business knowledge with social consciousness.


Key Steps in Applying


  1. Research and Select the Right Programs
  • Curriculum Focus: Look for programs that offer courses in social entrepreneurship, sustainability, ethics, and nonprofit management.
  • Experiential Learning: Prioritize programs that offer internships or projects with NGOs, social enterprises, or in CSR departments.
  • Faculty and Alumni Network: Consider the program’s faculty expertise in social impact and the strength of its alumni network in your areas of interest.


  1. Craft a Compelling Application
  • Highlight Relevant Experience: Showcase any volunteer work, involvement in social causes, or relevant professional experience.
  • Personal Statement: Your essay should articulate your passion for social impact and how an MBA will help you achieve your goals.
  • Letters of Recommendation: Choose recommenders who can vouch for your commitment to social change.


  1. Ace the GMAT/GRE and Supplemental Essays
  • Standardized Tests: A strong GMAT or GRE score is often essential, even for specialized MBAs.
  • Supplemental Essays: Some programs require essays focusing on your views on social issues or past social impact initiatives.


  1. Prepare for Interviews
  • Articulate Your Vision: Be prepared to discuss your long-term vision for social impact and how the MBA fits into this plan.
  • Demonstrate Knowledge: Show an understanding of current social issues and trends in social entrepreneurship.


Financing Your MBA

  • Scholarships: Look for scholarships offered by the universities or external organizations focused on social impact.
  • Sponsorships: Some nonprofits or social enterprises may sponsor part of your MBA in exchange for a commitment to work with them post-graduation.


Career Prospects

Graduates can pursue various roles, including:

  • Social Enterprise Management: Leading organizations that address social problems through innovative business models.
  • Impact Consulting: Providing consultancy to businesses on incorporating social impact strategies.
  • CSR and Sustainability Roles: Managing CSR initiatives in larger corporations or driving sustainability practices.



Applying for an MBA with a social impact focus is a journey toward integrating business skills with a passion for societal change. It’s about preparing yourself to be at the forefront of social innovation and impact. If you’re driven by the desire to make a meaningful difference, these programs offer the tools, knowledge, and network to turn your vision into reality.

For more help with your personal statement, check us out at Our personal statement editors and consultants have decades of experience helping clients get into top Masters and Ph.D. programs in STEM, humanities, fine arts, and social sciences. Our specialty is helping you craft compelling personal statements that move the needle in your admissions process! For questions, shoot us an email at Check us out on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.

Admissions Tips for Indian MBA Applicants

Each year, helps hundreds of applicants earn admission into their dream schools. Many of our successful clients come from “over-represented” backgrounds like Indian IT workers, and we pride ourselves on making all of our clients’ lives and accomplishments come across as compelling, individual, and meaningful. Our client reviews speak for themselves. Check us out today!


In this video, we speak with a successful Indian IT applicant to Harvard Business School about his journey to HBS.



For people from over-represented demographics and backgrounds, here are some additional tips for making your application stand out.


Breaking Barriers: How Indian IT Professionals Can Stand Out in Top MBA Admissions

In the highly competitive world of MBA admissions, candidates from over-represented demographics, particularly Indian IT professionals, often face unique challenges. With so many applicants boasting similar professional backgrounds and technical expertise, standing out from the crowd is crucial. This blog post aims to provide actionable insights for Indian IT workers aspiring to gain admission into top MBA programs.

Understanding the Challenge

Indian IT professionals are a significant presence in the global tech industry. While this demonstrates the strength and capabilities of this group, it also means that MBA admissions committees see a high volume of applications from this demographic. The key challenge is differentiation – how do you set yourself apart?


  1. Building a Unique Profile


Diversify Your Experience: Seek opportunities that go beyond typical IT roles. Leadership positions, international projects, or involvement in significant business decisions can add a unique flavor to your profile.


Pursue Passion Projects: Engaging in activities outside of work that showcase leadership, creativity, or community involvement can make your application more compelling.


  1. Highlighting Non-Technical Skills

Top MBA programs look for well-rounded individuals. Emphasize skills such as:

  • Leadership and Team Management: Showcase instances where you led a team, managed conflicts, or inspired innovation.
  • Cross-Cultural Communication: Highlight experiences working with global teams or clients, showcasing your ability to navigate diverse environments.
  • Business Acumen: Discuss any exposure to business strategy, marketing, or finance, which can be especially valuable if you’ve mostly had technical roles.


  1. Ace the GMAT/GRE

A strong GMAT or GRE score is critical. It not only reflects your academic readiness but also helps in setting you apart from peers with similar backgrounds.


  1. Craft a Compelling Narrative

Your application essays are a golden opportunity to narrate your unique story.

  • Connect the Dots: Illustrate how your past experiences, MBA, and future goals align.
  • Showcase Growth and Learning: Reflect on your journey, challenges overcome, and lessons learned.
  • Be Authentic: Authenticity resonates. Be honest about your aspirations and motivations.


  1. Strong Recommendations

Choose recommenders who know you well and can vouch for your abilities and potential. Guidance from mentors who’ve observed your professional growth can add significant value to your application.


  1. Networking and School Interaction

Engage with alumni and current students of your target programs. Attend MBA fairs, information sessions, and webinars. Such interactions can provide insights into the school culture and help tailor your application accordingly.


  1. Acing the Interview

Prepare for common MBA interview questions but also be ready to discuss your unique experiences in the IT sector. Practice articulating your story in a way that highlights your uniqueness.



The journey to a top MBA program as an Indian IT professional is challenging but achievable with the right strategy. It’s about showcasing your uniqueness, diversifying your experiences, and articulating your story compellingly. Remember, MBA programs are not just looking for candidates with impressive technical skills, but leaders who can bring diverse perspectives and drive change. With determination and thoughtful preparation, you can turn your dream of attending a top MBA program into a reality.

For more help with your personal statement, check us out at Our personal statement editors and consultants have decades of experience helping clients get into top Masters and Ph.D. programs in STEM, humanities, fine arts, and social sciences. Our specialty is helping you craft compelling personal statements that move the needle in your admissions process! For questions, shoot us an email at Check us out on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.

How to Craft a Winning Personal Statement that Doesn’t Come Across as Boastful

Each year, helps hundreds of applicants earn admissions into their dream schools. One thing we pride ourselves on is making our clients’ lives and accomplishments come across as compelling, individual, and meaningful. Our client reviews speak for themselves. Check us out today!

 Over the past 17 years, Gurufi has worked with more than 10,000 clients, helping them earn admission into top schools. Through our clients’ successes, we have shown how crafting an effective MBA personal statement is a pivotal step in your journey to business school. It’s an opportunity to narrate your life and achievements in a way that positions you as the protagonist of your own MBA journey. One of the frequent concerns people express, though, is that in advocating for themselves, they don’t want to come across as boastful.

In this video, we cover that important question: how do you come across as a star without also seeming boastful?

Here are some additional tips for building your MBA personal statement.


  1. Beware of Gimmicky Hooks: Strive for Authenticity

You want to build an opening that engages the reader, but don’t think in terms of ‘hooks.” Avoid gimmicky or overly dramatic openings because they feel inauthentic. The best opening is one that tells an important story and is authentic and reflective of your true experiences. Begin with an honest, compelling moment from your life that naturally sets the stage for your essay, whether it’s a significant challenge, a career milestone, or an event that sparked your interest in business.


  1. Showcase Your Unique Journey

Every hero has a distinctive path. Detail the experiences that have shaped you, both in your professional and personal life. Highlight the challenges you’ve faced and the successes you’ve celebrated. Make sure to unpack the challenges so that the reader understands the difficulty and the stakes involved. Focus on moments where you demonstrated leadership, resilience, and innovation.


  1. Demonstrate Growth and Self-Reflection

A hero’s journey is about transformation. Reflect on how your experiences have helped you evolve. Discuss the skills and knowledge you’ve acquired, and how they have prepared you for an MBA and a subsequent career in business. Admissions committees look for candidates who are self-aware and capable of introspective growth.


  1. Link Your Past to Your MBA and Future Goals

Articulate how your experiences have led you to pursue an MBA. Explain how the program you’re applying to aligns with your career trajectory. Be specific about your goals and how the MBA will facilitate in achieving them.


  1. Overcoming Adversity

Heroes often face and surmount adversity. If you’ve encountered significant challenges, discuss your approach and resolution. This isn’t about garnering sympathy, but about demonstrating resilience, problem-solving skills, and determination.


  1. Exhibit Your Values and Passions

Your personal statement should authentically reflect who you are. Include your passions, core values, and how these have influenced your career choices and aspirations. This depth makes your narrative more engaging and relatable.


  1. Conclude With a Vision

Conclude your statement by integrating all components of your story… but don’t just recap. Reiterate your passion for business, your preparedness for an MBA program, and your future vision. This conclusion should leave the reader with a sense of your potential and excitement about what you will contribute to their program. Your final paragraph should be optimistic, passionate, and forward-looking. Give this final paragraph a sense of completion by taking specific words, ideas, and phrases from your introductory paragraph and plant them in the conclusion.


  1. Polish and Personalize

Ensure that your statement is well-written and error-free. Tailor it to each program you apply to, demonstrating that you’ve researched and understand how the program aligns with your goals. Of course, the consultants and editors at Gurufi can certainly help you with this!

Your MBA personal statement is more than a summary of your resume; it’s a narrative that should position you as the hero of your own journey. By focusing on authenticity, self-reflection, and a clear vision, you can make your application stand out and truly reflect who you are and what you aspire to achieve.

For more help with your personal statement, check us out at Our personal statement editors and consultants have decades of experience helping clients get into top Masters and Ph.D. programs in STEM, humanities, fine arts, and social sciences. Our specialty is helping you craft compelling personal statements that move the needle in your admissions process! For questions, shoot us an email at Check us out on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.


Tips for Chicago Booth MBA

         The structure of Booth’s two main personal statement essays is unusual and difficult. The essay below is a clear enough guideline for building your own essays, especially if you’re already a strong writer. But if you need additional help, has 17 years of helping MBA applicants get into their dream schools, including five of our seven clients who applied to Booth in the last full cycle. All we do is admissions writing, and we’re expert at it!

         Chicago Booth’s personal statement prompts are a bit different. Rather than having a single longer essay, you’re required to break the essay in two, with one focusing on your career goals and the other asking you to be a bit more personal. For people who are quite adept at weaving together multiple narratives and ideas into a single coherent essay, this can feel like a frustrating lost opportunity… but for the other 99% of people, it seems much simpler and more straightforward. That said, this format requires you to place great emphasis on clarity, precision, and efficiency, and to plan out beforehand what you want each essay to say and how they complement each other. Thus, much like Stanford’s two essays, there is a sense in which you should view these two mini-essays as a single interconnected idea divided over two essays.

         What does that mean? It means that you should begin this exercise by identifying three things: who you were (and stories / examples that demonstrate that), who you are (what are you doing now?), and what you aspire to become. All three should align and make sense as a coherent trajectory. I talked more about this here, but if you don’t want to watch the video, here’s the short version: when you talk about your past, your present, and your future, it needs to feel like they’re all the same person. So, Essay 1 asks you to focus on the future. But, as you plan and write Essay 2, which is asking you to talk about your background and values, think about how your life, background, and values inform, guide, and inspire the person you seek to become. This needs to feel connected, and it’s important that these two essays have that point of tangency.

         A few other big-picture things before we dive into the specifics. As the world’s most flexible full-time MBA program, Chicago Booth emphasizes academic preparedness, intellectual curiosity, and communication skills. The program seeks ambitious, intellectually curious professionals—bold leaders eager to advance their careers at a leading academic business school. Try to embody that in your essay.

Essay #1: Career Goals and the Booth MBA

Essay One: How will the Booth MBA help you achieve your immediate and long-term post-MBA career goals? (250-word minimum)

Understanding the Prompt:

The prompt for Essay #1 focuses on your career goals and how an MBA from Booth will help you achieve them. It requires a blend of professional insight and academic aspiration.

Structure and Content:

  • Career Background: Start with a brief account of your career history. Highlight key skills, knowledge, and achievements, setting the stage for your future ambitions. Remember, you can’t credibly talk about what you hope to do unless you can tie that aspiration to what you’ve already done. (again, think in terms of past, present, and future needing to make a straight coherent line)
  • Short-Term Goals: Clearly define your immediate post-MBA goals. Include desired roles, industries, and potential organizations. Ensure these goals align logically with your current skill set, indicating a realistic yet ambitious trajectory. The point here is that these should be designed to procure you the final bits of knowledge, skill, experiences, and / or connections you need to attain your long-term goal.
  • Long-Term Vision: Articulate your broader career vision. Show how your short-term goals are stepping stones towards these long-term aspirations.
  • Identifying Skill Gaps: Reflect on the skills and knowledge you need to acquire to achieve your goals. This introspection is crucial for the next part.
  • Booth’s Role: Connect your goals and identified gaps with what Booth offers. Dive deep into Booth’s curriculum, culture, and resources. Be specific about how these will bridge your gaps and propel you towards your career objectives. DON’T turn it into a brochure for Booth where you simply list off stuff you found on their website; instead, thoughtfully curate one or two key advantages or resources that are unique to Booth and mention those.
  • Demonstrating Fit: Convey your understanding of and alignment with Booth’s ethos. Show self-awareness and a clear vision of how you’ll contribute to and benefit from the Booth community.


Essay #2: Personal Growth and Development

Essay Two: An MBA is as much about personal growth as it is about professional development. In addition to sharing your experience and goals in terms of career, we’d like to learn more about you outside of the office. Use this opportunity to tell us something about who you are. (250-word minimum)

Understanding the Prompt:

This essay seeks to uncover who you are beyond your professional life. It’s about your personal journey, values, and motivations. As noted above, you should still try to build points of tangency between these essays, though the tone might be a bit different.

Structure and Content:

  • Personal Stories: Share meaningful anecdotes from your life outside work. Focus on experiences that shaped your values, priorities, and character. These aren’t random stories, though. They should explain your journey to the role / goal you aspire to achieve.
  • Leadership and Passions: Highlight any leadership roles or significant passions. Discuss hobbies, volunteer work, or personal projects that are integral to who you are.
  • Challenges and Growth: Don’t shy away from discussing difficulties. Show how overcoming challenges has contributed to your personal development.
  • Aligning with Booth: Explain how your personal attributes and experiences resonate with Booth’s values and offerings. Illustrate how you’ll engage with the community and contribute uniquely.

General Tips for Both Essays:

  • Self-Awareness: Exhibit a deep understanding of yourself, your motivations, and how your experiences have shaped you. Self-awareness is key to both essays.
  • Research and Specificity: Your knowledge of Booth’s program should shine through. Avoid generic statements; instead, provide details that show you’ve done your homework.
  • Storytelling: Use stories to bring your essays to life. Whether discussing professional achievements or personal experiences, narratives make your application memorable.
  • Alignment with Booth: Demonstrate how your goals and values align with Booth’s culture and offerings. Show that you are not just seeking any MBA, but specifically Booth’s MBA.
  • Reflection and Insight: Go beyond narrating experiences. Reflect on their significance and how they’ve prepared you for the challenges and opportunities at Booth.
  • Balance and Cohesion: Ensure that your essays complement each other, presenting a well-rounded picture of your professional and personal sides.

Crafting your Chicago Booth personal statement is an opportunity to introspect and articulate your career aspirations and personal journey. By thoughtfully responding to the prompts, showcasing your alignment with Booth’s ethos, and demonstrating your unique value proposition, you can make a compelling case for your admission. Remember, Booth values intellectually curious and ambitious individuals who are ready to make a significant impact in the business world. Your essays should reflect these qualities, along with a clear understanding of how Booth’s MBA will facilitate your goals.

For more help with your personal statement, check us out at Our personal statement editors and consultants have decades of experience helping clients get into top Masters and Ph.D. programs in STEM, humanities, fine arts, and social sciences. Our specialty is helping you craft compelling personal statements that move the needle in your admissions process! For questions, shoot us an email at Check us out on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.

Acing INSEAD’s MBA Application Essays

two young applicants have earned admission to INSEAD
Gurufi Got Them In! Use these strategies for earning admission to INSEAD

         In last year’s admission cycle, Gurufi editors and consultants helped nearly a dozen applicants earn admission into INSEAD. INSEAD’s approach and values are a bit idiosyncratic, and their multiple admissions essays require a lot more thought and planning than schools that use just a single, longer essay. Below is a comprehensive guide to INSEAD’s essays, but if you need additional help reach out to us. We have sixteen years of experience helping MBA candidates earn admission into their dream schools. Gurufi focuses on the written parts of the application -personal statement, CV, etc.


Applying to INSEAD’s MBA program can feel like navigating a complex labyrinth, with its requirement of seven essays totaling 2,000 words, not including the optional ones. People looking to simply repurpose their other personal statements will be bitterly disappointed, as the structure and format of INSEAD’s application doesn’t really allow that. Their admissions staff suggests dedicating eight weeks to planning and wring their essays. With focus and a plan, it needn’t be that long (and certainly I can help you with that!), but the point remains: this application shouldn’t be an afterthought; it requires its own planning and effort.

Unlike many top-tier MBA applications that force candidates to choose between highlighting their career achievements or personal qualities, INSEAD provides ample space for both. This allows applicants to delve into the nuances of their career paths and personal journeys, presenting a well-rounded profile to the admissions committee.

The upside, though, is that INSEAD’s process aligns with its mission of wanting to assess you holistically. The multiple essays (along with the interviews and letters of rec), provide a chance for you to paint detailed, nuanced, granular, and vivid picture of your personal and professional lives.

Essay Strategies


  • Career Essay 1: Career Essay 1 in the INSEAD application is your opportunity to provide a clear, concise snapshot of your current or most recent professional role. This essay acts as a foundational piece, setting the stage for the detailed narrative that will unfold in your subsequent essays.

This essay should be a succinct summary of your current or most recent job. You want to focus on major responsibilities, leadership roles, and significant achievements. Also think in terms of “what did I accomplish?” and “how did I contribute substantively?” Also, avoid industry jargon. Using too much jargon makes you sound less human and often people don’t quite realize that terms that are common in their industry aren’t universally known, even to business-savvy readers. Most importantly, though, jargon often obscures the basics of your job. You want to convey your role, how you’ve exceled, and areas where you’ve grown, and talking like an HR bot will obscure that.

Some additional tips:

  1. Contextualize Your Role: Begin by situating your position within the broader framework of your organization. Specify your title, the nature of the business, and your department’s function. This helps the reader understand the scope and scale of your role.

  1. Highlight Key Responsibilities: Distill your day-to-day responsibilities into a coherent narrative. Focus on aspects that showcase your skills and leadership abilities. If you manage a team, describe the size and scope of your leadership. If you handle budgets, give a sense of scale.

  1. Achievements and Impact: While brevity is key, weaving in one or two significant achievements can add depth. Choose accomplishments that demonstrate measurable impact, such as revenue growth, project success, or process improvement. Use quantifiable metrics to add credibility.

  1. Leadership and Teamwork: If relevant, mention instances where you led teams or collaborated on international projects. This demonstrates your ability to work in diverse environments, a quality highly valued at INSEAD.

  1. Avoid “leveraging”: People use “leverage” as a verb far too loosely. You want to be precise. As a rule, I usually tell clients not to use the word at all. Instead, think specifically about what you did and use that insight to select a more precise verb.

  1. Connect to Your MBA Goals: Implicitly, your essay should start painting a picture of why an MBA, and specifically an INSEAD MBA, is the logical next step in your journey. While you won’t delve into future goals here, the skills and experiences you mention should align with the narrative you’ll build in subsequent essays.

Career Essay 2: The Next Career Step

For Career Essay 2, your task is to outline your anticipated next step within your current organization. This essay allows you to illustrate your career trajectory and potential within your current context.

  1. Define the Next Role: Clearly state what your next position would be. If possible, include the job title and a brief description of new responsibilities and the potential for increased leadership. Obviously, all aspects of the essay that project forward should feel connected to your past, present, and the education you seek at INSEAD. The things you hope to do in the future should, therefore, inform which experiences and moments from your past you choose to highlight.

  1. Contextualize the Promotion: Explain why this role is the logical next step. Discuss any new skills or experiences you would gain and how they align with your long-term career aspirations.

  1. Brevity and Clarity: With only 200 words, be succinct. Focus on the essentials that convey a clear picture of your upward mobility within your company. Again, make sure your future is logically connected to your past and present as well as your goals at INSEAD.

Career Essay 3: Career Path Narrative

This essay is your opportunity to elaborate on your career journey since university.

  1. Chronological Narrative: Start from your first role post-university and work your way to the present. This chronological approach helps in painting a clear picture of your career progression.

  1. Rationale Behind Choices: Emphasize why you made specific career moves. This insight is crucial in understanding your decision-making process and career strategy.

  1. Highlight Transitions: If you’ve made significant shifts, such as industry changes or geographical moves, explain the reasoning and what you gained from these experiences.

Career Essay 4: Post-MBA Aspirations

With a tight 100-word limit, this essay must be direct yet impactful.

  1. Immediate and Long-Term Goals: Clearly state your post-MBA goal and your vision for 10-15 years down the line. How does one lead to the other?

  1. Specificity: Mention specific roles, companies, industries, and locations. Explain briefly why you are passionate about this trajectory.


Motivation Essays


Motivation Essay 1: Candid Self-Description

This essay is a deep dive into your personal characteristics, strengths, weaknesses, and influential life events. Be honest, but make sure that you’re neither overly negative nor too effusive in self-praise. One good trick is to ask that person in your life who both loves you AND can speak to you bluntly about your missteps. Ask them, “what’s my superpower, what’s my kryptonite, and if you had to introduce me to a stranger at the start of a long trip together, what would you say?” These sorts of lighthearted questions can help your friend provide you with useful insights that can inform how you write this essay.

  1. Personal Qualities: Identify and discuss the personal traits you consider to be your strengths and weaknesses. Be honest and introspective.

  1. Life Influences: Reflect on the key factors and events that have shaped your personal development. Use examples to illustrate these influences.

  1. Depth Over Breadth: Choose a few significant themes rather than trying to cover too much. This approach allows for more meaningful insight into your personality.


Motivation Essay 2: Achievement and Failure

This essay requires you to discuss a proud achievement and a situation where you failed.

  1. Balanced Narrative: Allocate roughly equal space to both the achievement and the failure. Be specific about the circumstances, your role, and the outcome. Also, you’re likely smart to avoid something that is cringy and overly personal, BUT don’t humble brag. Saying something like, “I fail because I just work too hard and care too much” will make your reader groan with annoyance.

  1. Lessons Learned: Reflect on what these experiences taught you and how they have affected your relationships and personal growth. Frankly, the lesson you learned is the most important part of the failure piece of this essay, so focus mostly on that. The specific mistake is less important than your response to it, how you grew, and how it highlights the kind of person you aspire to become.

  1. Professional and Personal Balance: While professional examples are valuable, don’t shy away from including a personal story if it provides meaningful insight into your character.

Motivation Essay 3: Extra-Professional Activities

This essay is about your life outside of work and how these activities enrich you.

  1. Diverse Activities: Discuss various involvements such as volunteering, hobbies, or sports, focusing on those with significant time commitment or impact.

  1. Personal Enrichment: Explain how these activities have contributed to your personal development. What skills or insights have you gained?

  1. Depth and Insight: Go beyond a mere listing of activities. Delve into why these activities are meaningful to you and how they shape your worldview.


NSEAD’s Holistic Admissions Approach

Finally, a note about INSEAD’s holistic admissions approach. They take this very (!!) seriously, so make sure that your essay shows lots of different aspects of your life and passions. Their admissions process is multifaceted and seeks to understand applicants as individuals, assess their fit with the program, and look beyond mere test scores or

professional achievements. This approach is about uncovering the person behind

the application. As such, keep these things in mind:

  1. Understanding the Individual: INSEAD aims to grasp the entirety of an applicant’s journey, including their personal experiences, values, and motivations. This understanding allows the admissions committee to see how applicants have evolved over time and how they respond to challenges and opportunities.

  1. Assessing Fit: Fit is about more than academic ability. It’s about how an applicant’s aspirations, personality, and values align with INSEAD’s culture and ethos. The school looks for evidence that applicants can thrive in its dynamic, diverse, and rigorous environment.

  1. Looking Beyond Clichés and Test Scores: INSEAD values uniqueness and authenticity. The admissions committee seeks applicants who can bring fresh perspectives and diverse experiences to the table, rather than those who fit a stereotypical mold.

  1. Comprehensive Evaluation: Every aspect of the application is important. Essays, recommendations, interviews, and academic records collectively paint a picture of the applicant. This comprehensive approach ensures a fair and thorough assessment of each candidate’s potential. They values:

* Originality is Key: Avoid clichés. Be honest and reflective about your unique

experiences. Balance professional details with personal insights.

* Diverse Profiles: INSEAD values diversity. Whether your background is in business, medicine, humanities, or the military, focus on what sets you apart.

* Personal and Professional Anecdotes: Use stories from different stages of your life to illustrate your points. Ensure these narratives are relevant and add depth to your answers.

For more help with your personal statement, check us out at Our personal statement editors and consultants have decades of experience helping clients get into top Masters and Ph.D. programs in STEM, humanities, fine arts, and social sciences. Our specialty is helping you craft compelling personal statements that move the needle in your admissions process! For questions, shoot us an email at Check us out on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.

Ten Tips for Acing Your MBA Interview

At Gurufi, we focus on helping clients brainstorm, build, write, and revise powerful personal statements that move the needle on their admissions. But just because we don’t charge for the other stuff doesn’t mean we don’t give it away for free! 🙂 With that in mind, here are ten tips for nailing your MBA interview!

If there’s one part of the MBA admissions process that rattles many applicants, it’s the interview. At many schools, earning an interview is an achievement in itself, and you don’t want to fumble this important opportunity. It’s a precious opportunity to elevate above your written application and showcase your personality, aspirations, and fit for the program. The committee can see you as a fully formed person and ask you about your aspirations. Excelling in this interview requires more than just thorough preparation; it demands an understanding of nuanced interpersonal skills, research acumen, and an ability to engage genuinely and thoughtfully.

Mastering Interpersonal Skills and Politeness

The foundation of a successful MBA interview lies in getting the basic interpersonal dynamics right. Politeness and courtesy are not just niceties; they are critical indicators of your ability to navigate future professional interactions. This includes simple gestures like greeting the interviewer with a warm, confident smile, maintaining appropriate eye contact, and showing gratitude for the opportunity. These seemingly minor details can set a positive tone for the entire conversation.

If you do an in-person interview, be polite and kind to secretaries. They have remarkable sway in office settings, and a bad word from them because you couldn’t deign to be nice to someone you saw as maybe beneath you can (rightly) sink your application.

Also, afterward, be sure to send a short thank-you email to your interviewers. It shouldn’t be more than 100ish words long. I actually prefer sending a short hand-written note instead, but other people find that old-fashioned.

Research: Your Secret Weapon

One cannot overstate the importance of doing your homework on the school and the interviewer. Understanding the school’s ethos, culture, and values helps tailor your responses to align with what they are looking for in a candidate. If possible, research your interviewer’s background. This knowledge can provide valuable context during the conversation, allowing for a more personalized and engaging interaction.

Preparing Questions: Show Your Engagement

Coming prepared with thoughtful questions is a strategy often overlooked by candidates. These questions should not be generic but tailored to the specific program and its offerings. Inquiring about aspects like faculty, course structure, or specific initiatives demonstrates your genuine interest and investment in the school. It also provides an opportunity to further assess whether the program aligns with your career objectives.

Responsive and Genuine Answers

While it’s crucial to prepare for common interview questions, equally important is the ability to be responsive and genuine in your answers. Listen attentively to the questions asked and provide direct, succinct responses. This reflects your ability to process information and communicate effectively — key skills in any business setting.

Avoiding the Humble-Brag Pitfall

A common misstep in interviews is the tendency to ‘humble-brag’. It’s essential to showcase your achievements and strengths, but this should be done with humility and authenticity. Overstating accomplishments or framing them in a boastful manner can leave a negative impression. Instead, focus on sharing experiences and learnings that genuinely reflect your growth and potential.

The Virtual Interview Environment

In today’s digital age, many interviews are conducted virtually via platforms like Zoom or Skype. It’s crucial to ensure your background is clean, professional, and free of distractions. An interesting, yet appropriate background can also serve as a conversation starter. Test your equipment beforehand to avoid technical glitches and ensure good lighting and sound quality.

Practice Makes Perfect

Extensive practice is the key to confidence. Engage in mock interviews, record yourself to analyze body language and speech patterns, and seek feedback from mentors or peers. Practicing under simulated conditions can help alleviate anxiety and improve your overall performance.

You Can Do It!!!

Nailing your MBA interview is an art that balances preparation with spontaneity, professionalism with personality. It’s about demonstrating your capability and fit for the program while also assessing the school’s alignment with your goals. Remember, the interview is not just an evaluation of you — it’s a two-way street. Approach it with the right mindset, and you’ll not only impress your interviewers but also gain valuable insights into your own aspirations and potential as a future business leader.

For help with your MBA personal statement, check us out at Our personal statement editors and consultants have decades of experience helping clients get into top Masters and Ph.D. programs in STEM, humanities, fine arts, and social sciences. Our specialty is helping you craft compelling personal statements that move the needle in your admissions process! For questions, shoot us an email at Check us out on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.

Acing Duke Fuqua’s “25 Random Things” Essay

Fuqua MBA application
Duke Fuqua’s ’25 Random Things’ essay requires thought and planning helps clients brainstorm, build, write, and revise their personal statements. With 17 years of industry experience, Gurufi’s Ivy League-educated consultants and editors have helped thousands of applicants earn admission to their dream schools.

         Let’s face it: most MBA admissions essays are pretty much the same: what have you done, how do you fit, what do you hope to do? While it’s obviously smart to tailor these essays to particular schools, it’s also true that once you’ve written your first personal statement, you can repurpose much of that text for subsequent schools. But Duke Fuqua’s “25 Random Things” list / essay is its own thing.

         Now, as a consultant, I love this prompt because it forces people to break through the carefully constructed “Application Self” that they deploy anytime they’re trying to sell the best version of themselves and instead embrace the discomfort of moving beyond their controlled and comfortable self-presentations. That’s why this prompt works… and why it’s so confusing and borderline terrifying.

         Here at Gurufi, we’ve had great success helping people get into Duke, and in part it’s because of the advice we provide them when constructing this list, both in terms of what to select and how to say it. So here are seven tips that you can use, including a list of potential questions to ask to help you create a strong, personal, and effective list that reflects your personality, values, and yes, quirks. Remember, rather than focusing solely on professional achievements, this prompt asks for a glimpse into the more personal and human sides of candidates. Understanding how to tackle this essay

can set you apart in the admissions process.



  1. Embrace the ‘Random’ but Keep It Relevant

The term ‘random’ may suggest that anything goes, but the best essays show a strategic selection of

facts that collectively paint a picture of who you are. Random does not mean irrelevant. Each fact should offer a fresh perspective or insight into your character, values, and how you engage with the world. Whether it’s your knack for remembering obscure facts, a passion for salsa dancing, or your experience volunteering across continents, each tidbit should add a new color to the portrait you’re presenting to the admissions committee. A good place to start is to ask three good friends: “suppose you were going to tell your mom about me. What stories about me would you include to give her a picture of who I was, what I cared about, and what I was like to be around?” These replies might give you some insights into things that people find most distinctive about your and / or what moments from your life best exemplify your personality and character.

  1. “We, Not Me.” Your Character and Team Spirit

During a recent conversation with Duke Fuqua’s Russ Morgan, he noted that the admissions staff often keep an informal tally of how many times applicants use “me” versus “we.” The idea being that Duke cares deeply about collaboration and building a dynamic and interactive community, and as such want to see whether applicants view success as mostly personal as opposed to within the context of a shared goal. As such, your essay should reflect your ability to contribute to and thrive in a collaborative and collegial environment. Rather than simply stating that you work well in a team, share anecdotes that show your collaborative spirit in action. This could include a story about a time you resolved a conflict, led a group to success under tight deadlines, or went above and beyond to support a teammate.


  1. Diversity and Cultural Competency Are Key

With a significant international student body and an emphasis on diverse perspectives, Fuqua

values cultural competency. Indeed, in recent years, the school has redoubled its efforts to make DEI a substantive part of its education. Your essay should highlight your experiences and comfort with diversity. Have you worked on global teams, navigated cross-cultural communication challenges, or learned a great deal from someone with a very different background? These stories can demonstrate your readiness to join and contribute to the diverse Fuqua community.


  1. Honesty and Vulnerability Can Be Strengths

As a whole, your essay should have balance. This means showing successes and achievements, but also including a bit of quirkiness and also a few moments where you talk about vulnerabilities or setbacks. Admission officers are well aware that no candidate is perfect, and they appreciate honesty and self-awareness. Sharing a fear, a mistake, or a lesson learned shows maturity and depth. It reassures the admissions team that you are someone who is reflective, able to grow from experiences, and relatable. Similarly, talking a bit about passions outside of work can show that you’re well-rounded and also allow you to show that you’d bring some variety and spice to the incoming class.


  1. Verbs.


In terms of writing an interesting set of random factoids, a great exercise for revision is to highlight every verb in the text. If you find that you are repeating verbs, especially “to be” (and its variants: am, was, were, are, etc.) then swap those out. Verbs show what you DID, which is ultimately the most important information in these essays. Give real attention to them.

  1. Vary the Length and Depth to Create Dynamic Rhythm

Since you have a maximum word count (750), use it strategically. Not every entry needs to be a deep

dive; some can be short and light-hearted, while others may require more explanation. A mix of lengths and tones will keep the reader engaged and offer a more complete view of your multi-faceted personality.



  1. I’m at 17, and I’m Stuck!!!


If you’re having trouble populating your list, here are some ideas that you can explore to generate additional items.


  • Regrets and Learning: Share a regret not just as a missed opportunity, but as a catalyst for future actions, showing your growth mindset and resilience.
  • Unique Skills as Superpowers: Relate a unique skill to how it has helped you in your career and personal life, showing your resourcefulness and impact on others.
  • Soft Spots and Personality: Your penchant for something unusual can reflect your creativity or unique way of seeing the world.
  • Quirks and Individuality: Your differences make you memorable. Illustrate how these quirks play into your life choices and interactions.
  • Ever got lost? Is there some city, place, or time that you remember with particular vividness? Why? What about that place or moment excites you still?
  • Pride and Accomplishments: Share what you’re proud of with an emphasis on the journey, not just the destination.
  • Desires and Motivations: Talk about something you desire, not for its material value but for what it represents in your life story.
  • First Experiences: Reflect on a ‘first’ that was a turning point or a significant learning moment.
  • Wishes and Aspirations: Connect a deep wish to your overall narrative, showing how it aligns with your life’s mission.
  • What does your family mean to you? Are you close? A parent? How has family shaped your worldview? Are you a spunky youngest child? A deal-making middle kid? A confident and assertive oldest child?
  • Nicknames and Stories: Use a nickname to introduce a story that offers insight into your character and past experiences.
  • Likes with Meaning: Explain a like or preference in a way that reveals more about your personality or values.
  • Entrepreneurial Ventures: Describe a time you made money in an unconventional way, showing your initiative and problem-solving skills.
  • Conquering Fears: Share a fear you’ve overcome, the process behind it, and what it taught you about yourself.

Remember, the point of this essay isn’t to show that you’re perfect and amazing in 25 different ways. Lean into your individuality, and for each one, ask yourself “why?” and “why is this important?” View this essay / list as a chance to stand out as an individual and showcase the unique attributes you would bring to the Fuqua community. By being thoughtful, honest, and creative, you can craft an essay that will capture the attention of the admissions committee and help pave your way into the Duke MBA program.

For more help with your personal statement, check us out at Our personal statement editors and consultants have decades of experience helping clients get into top Masters and Ph.D. programs in STEM, humanities, fine arts, and social sciences. Our specialty is helping you craft compelling personal statements that move the needle in your admissions process! For questions, shoot us an email at Check us out on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.

Stanford GSB Essay Tips

Stanford GSB MBA essays
How to earn admission into Stanford GSB helps clients brainstorm, build, write, and revise their personal statements. With 17 years of industry experience, Gurufi’s Ivy League-educated consultants and editors have helped thousands of applicants earn admission to their dream schools.


         Last year, seven of our nine clients who applied to Stanford GSB earned admission (not bad for a school with a 6% acceptance rate!), so I was happy to see that they kept the same personal statement that they’ve used the past several years. But beyond the selfish reason of not having to learn and build strategies for a new essay, I was also happy because I think that this is one of the best personal statement prompts at any school. It does a fantastic job of allowing applicants to express their strengths, shine a light on their values, and demonstrate how they fit into arguably the best business school in the world. (Hey Wharton and HBS… before you get mad, I said, “arguably!” you and about a dozen other schools also are in this discussion)

         But what does that mean for YOU? In other words, what are some strategies YOU can use to conquer these two essays? I’ll give you three tips for each of the respective essays, but before I do, I want to give three big-picture hints that apply to these two essays as a package.

  • First, it’s important to view these essays as complementary. When planning them out, almost think of them as one essay broken in two. Obviously, each needs to have its own structure, theme, and ideas, but while you should want the essays to feel connected -in terms of tone and theme- you don’t want to content or ideas to be too repetitive. If you go over something at length in Essay 1, don’t feel the need to do anything more than mention or nod at it in Essay 2.
  • Second, keep the core strengths of Stanford GSB in mind. This is a school that loves entrepreneurs; they’re not looking to train the next generation of middle managers. So, don’t be afraid to talk about the big ideas you want to conquer so long as you can ground those big ideas in substantive accomplishments and personal knowledge.
  • Lastly, perhaps more than any other school, Stanford’s prompt really is begging you to open up your soul. So think in terms of stories and experiences, and how they inform, created, or explain your values and also why these sensibilities make you a good fit for Stanford.

Okay, now to explain how we at Gurufi like to think about these two essays. First, Essay One: “What matters most to you and why?”

The mindset I’d like you to keep throughout this process is that this essay isn’t an application, it’s a journey of self-discovery and deep reflection. Now look… obviously it IS an application, but allow yourself to shift your mindset so that you’re thinking in ways that produce meaning and deeply personal stories.

  1. Delve Deep Into Self-Reflection

At its heart, this prompt asks for a narrative that transcends professional achievements and the kinds of rote clichés that litter MBA applications. It’s an invitation to introspection, a call to articulate the values and experiences that define your essence. The foundational tip here is to engage in profound self-examination. Reflect on the moments that have sculpted your character, the lessons that have crystallized your values, and the reasons why these elements have risen above all else in importance.

How can you do this? Ask friends, “what do you think seems most important to me?” Ask yourself, “what moments have been the most important to me? Why did they have such importance?” Then, sit and engage in a process of brainstorming where you just write out your ideas about this topic. You want to make sure that the value you define is clear, direct, and relates to everything else you’re going to build in this essay.

(also, a small point: many people feel the need to open their essay with “Nothing matters more to me than…” This is very middle school. Don’t do that. You can trust that the reader won’t stop reading if you don’t say it right away. In fact, two of my applicants (who were admitted last year) began their essays with framing / introductory stories and then had their “nothing matters more to me than…” at the start of Paragraph Two)

  1. Craft a Cohesive and Engaging Narrative

In other words: think in terms of stories that show you putting your most cherished value in action. Your essay must not only present your values but also weave them into a narrative that resonates with authenticity and engagement. Tell a story replete with emotion, humor, or inspiration, one that imbues your personal growth with relatable and vivid anecdotes. Remember that admissions officers seek to uncover the ‘why?’ behind your values through this conversation on paper. The effectiveness of your essay hinges on how well you translate your values into compelling life stories.

  1. Link Your Values to Your Vision

Finally, Stanford is not just looking at who you are, but who you aspire to be. Your values should not exist in a vacuum; they should propel you forward. Stanford’s mission—to change lives, organizations, and the world—should echo in your narrative. Illustrate how your values have shaped your vision and how they drive your purpose and future ambitions.

Essay B: Why Stanford?

  1. Identify Unique Aspects of Stanford GSB… But don’t turn it into a Stanford brochure

When addressing ‘Why Stanford?’, specificity is key. It’s not enough to laud the school’s prestigious reputation or vibrant location. A good question to ask when thinking about whether to mention something is, “do all top schools have this?” For instance, if you add, “the school’s use of the case method and its strong alumni connections…” could be said of any top business school. So either go deep and get more specific, or leave that out. Instead, pinpoint particular resources, opportunities, and facets of the GSB experience that align precisely with your aspirations. Show how Stanford’s distinctive offerings intertwine with your goals and how they are instrumental in your envisioned future.

But, also make sure that you don’t turn this essay into just a list of stuff you found on Stanford’s website. The easiest way to avoid this is to select just a few specific things (say, no more than 4-5) and explain their meaning and utility to you, giving specific attention to how your past would prepare you to maximally leverage these opportunities and why doing so would position you to attain your long-term goals.

  1. Exhibit Intellectual Curiosity and Problem-Solving Orientation

Stanford prizes intellectual rigor and a problem-solving mindset. To convey this, focus on the challenges you wish to tackle post-MBA and how Stanford’s curriculum, culture, and community are conducive to equipping you for these endeavors. Demonstrate a clear understanding of how the school’s academic ethos and practical opportunities serve as a catalyst for your problem-solving capabilities.


  1. Contribute to the Stanford Community

Admissions officers also want to discern what you’ll contribute to Stanford. Reflect on your unique experiences, skills, and perspectives. How will you enrich the GSB community? Articulate your potential contributions and envisage your role within the school’s tapestry, reinforcing why your presence at Stanford will be mutually beneficial.


I know that this is a lot to take in, but these are two deceptively complex prompts that require a nuanced, thoughtful, highly specific, and polished essay. These two essays, taken together, should narrate the stories of your life that reveal your deepest values and aspirations and delineate a future intertwined with Stanford GSB’s transformative education. With these tips, take the challenge head-on: reflect deeply, narrate compellingly, link values to vision, specify your reasons for choosing Stanford, demonstrate intellectual vitality, and project your contributions to the GSB community. By doing so, you’ll not only answer Stanford’s questions but also engage in an exercise of profound self-awareness. Remember, at the heart of these essays is you—your truth, your story, and your vision for a future that Stanford can help you realize.

For more help with your personal statement, check us out at Our personal statement editors and consultants have decades of experience helping clients get into top Masters and Ph.D. programs in STEM, humanities, fine arts, and social sciences. Our specialty is helping you craft compelling personal statements that move the needle in your admissions process! For questions, shoot us an email at Check us out on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.


Avoid This Mistake in Your MBA Personal Statement!

Much more so than any other professional or graduate school, extracurricular life and activities play a huge role in the MBA experience. Indeed, many MBA graduates believe these extracurricular experiences were the most important part of their MBA experience. As such, it’s vital that you talk about your intended clubs and extracurriculars in a thoughtful way that integrates well with your broader application’s themes, experiences, and aspirations. Many applicants seem to just read the school’s website, find a list of clubs they “think would be fun” and don’t really do much work in terms of explaining the how and why those clubs would align with and enhance their MBA and long-term professional goals. This is a mistake.

You should avoid the “club dump” in your MBA application, where you simply list the clubs without providing the proper context or integration with your application and aspirations. Instead, look to include fewer clubs, explain your interest in them more substantively, and make sure they seem to align with what you’re hoping to convey about yourself in your application. This can be a tricky needle to thread, so if you’re concerned or confused, feel free to reach out to us at with help crafting your personal statement. We have a fantastic record of getting clients into top schools, have perfect reviews on GMATClub, and because we focus only on the written aspects of your application (personal statements and CVs), we can offer this service at a competitive price point!

Now, back to the show! Here are two strategies that you can think about using in your personal statement that could make a real difference.

The first is the most straightforward: align your club selection with the rest of your personal statement and your professional aspirations. For instance, if after graduating with your MBA from Bigtime University, you want to found a healthcare startup that operates in the Global South, it makes sense to highlight the Healthcare Club, Young Entrepreneurs Workshop, and the Global South Development Clubs. You could then talk about some of the specific initiatives, programs, and opportunities they offer and provide a brief explanation of how they align with what you aspire to do and become. This is a more coherent approach than, say, writing your essay about your desire to found a healthcare startup and then at the end drop an, “oh, by the way, I also love food, so I’ll be joining the Foodie Club and since I love dancing the Salsa Club, too.” In a personal statement, *mentioning* something in passing is usually a bad idea.

The second approach is a bit more complicated and takes more skill as a writer. (don’t worry, we can help you with that!  ) As an example, let me mention a client I worked with a few years back who ended up getting into her top four choice elite MBA programs. She had a pretty standard background (consulting, etc.) and her professional interests were also not surprising (she wanted to move up within the kind of consulting she had built her career in). In the first draft of her personal statement, she did the standard “club dump” we’re talking about, where she talked about the Culinary Club, the Foodie Outings, and other related extracurriculars that she hoped one day to join. I advised her not to do this, and she replied that food was, in fact, *very* important to her, that it had deep cultural roots, and in many ways defined how she saw the world.

My reply was, “great, let’s build your essay around that theme.” The personal statement that we ended up writing talked about how much cooking, baking, and the social experiences that came with it informed her worldview. Baking was about precision, following exact recipes, and a more meticulous form of culinary artistry. Cooking her native Vietnamese dishes was more about feel, flair, flavor, and emotion. She learned to balance these two sides of her personality -the analytical and emotional- by learning cooking and baking at her mother’s and grandmother’s side. These traits made her both more analytical and more adept at communicating with clients and understanding their needs.

By moving from “mentioning” to writing a more genuine essay about how and why cooking and baking were so important, the essay came to life, and she revealed herself in a way that was far more substantive than “just another consultant.”

Remember, best personal statements favor depth over breadth and embrace the idea that saying two things well is far better than mentioning five things.

If you’re struggling to master this, or any other, aspect of your personal statement, be sure to check us out at All we do is admissions writing, so helping you build a fantastic essay is our specialty.