Compiling a list of possible Fit Qualities is a great step forward, but you’ll want to do some more detective work to define each quality clearly. The best sources for your definitions are again: admissions officers, current students, professors, and alumni.
A clear definition of each Fit Quality is important indeed because you will be using those definitions to guide the content choices you will soon be making in your application design.
Every element of your application – resume, essays, recommendation letters, and interview responses – offers you a chance to highlight the qualities the school is looking for. Simply knowing that Stanford values “Intellectual Vitality” is not sufficient.
If a Stanford Admissions Officer asked you to write an essay displaying your “Intellectual Vitality” would you know what to write about? Your next logical questions might be, “What do you mean by Intellectual Vitality?” Before you could begin brainstorming possible stories to tell the admissions officer, you would need an operating definition of what that term means.
If the admissions officer told you that an Intellectually Vital individual is “a person so intellectually alive that they inspire other people to learn and contribute to other people’s learning,” then you would have a much better sense of what kind of story we are looking for. As we said before, however, you probably will not be handed this definition on a silver platter. You need to go looking for it.
Case Study: Define Each Fit Quality – Stanford
Mary gathered additional evidence to define the three Fit Qualities she had identified so far. In another part of the admissions web site, she found another definition of Intellectual Vitality.
“The intellectually vital individual possesses the intellectual curiosity to spark a lively and provocative discussion in a seminar and a dinner-table conversation and has the initiative to take that same topic and turn it into a research proposal or honors thesis.”
A quote from an admissions officer gave her some additional insight on the term “other-oriented:”
“Collaboration is such an over used word in business schools now. Other-Oriented students care that their classmates are achieving success and about the impact they can have on the world around them.”
For “Legacy Leadership” she did not find that exact term used, but she did find a number of references to leadership that makes an impact and leaves a legacy, including the following quote on Stanford’s web site:
“We look for evidence of lasting impact on the people and organizations around you.”
Keep in mind that you are only seeing a small sample of Mary’s investigative work. She will have collected other qualities, quotes, and working definitions in her Stanford GSB research. Generating plenty of evidence is important because in the next step in our process you will weigh that evidence to create a definitive list of Fit Qualities and then rank those Fit Qualities.
Unit Review: Define Each Fit Quality
- The sources for clear definitions of Fit Qualities are the same as the sources for identifying them initially.
- The working definition of any given Fit Quality is what you will use later to guide your choice of content for your essays, resume, and interview answers.
- Generate plenty of evidence so that you can confidently rank and finalize your list of Fit Qualities.