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Stanford MBA Admissions Director's Advice

Applying to business school can be stressful. Applicants must send in their best standardized exams, impressive undergraduate transcripts, and compelling personal essays. But what are the aspects of an MBA application that candidates should really focus on? Derrick Bolton, assistant dean and director of MBA admissions at Stanford University's Graduate School of Business, offers his perspective to the Wall Street Journal, appearing in "Ticket to an MBA," by Melissa Korn.

Advice to B-school applicants, straight from the source

Stanford's acceptance rate was 7 percent last year - that's 397 students out of all applications received. A 1998 Stanford MBA graduate turned director of MBA admissions, Bolton knows what he's looking for, and it's not always what the typical candidate might think. Bolton answered a series of questions that included topics such as how admissions counselors look at the application package itself, GMAT scores, diversity, and what not to do. For example, when asked what applicants worry about too much, Bolton said, "They worry most about scores, they worry about essays. I think they should spend more time thinking about references."

Perhaps his most interesting response was to a question about how to stand out. "This will sound counter-intuitive, but the best advice is: Don't try to stand out," he said. He suggested that applicants be natural and compelling in the way they tell their story, and that that is how a candidate truly stands out.

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