This blog post is part of our weekly "Application Insider" blog post series that provides insider information, tips, and advice about applying to the UCLA Anderson MBA program.
APPLICATION INSIDER TOPIC:
First things first, our essay question has remained unchanged from the prior year. New applicants* are required to answer the following:
We believe that the best results are achieved when you share success, think fearlessly and drive change. With this in mind, what are your goals at UCLA Anderson and in your short-term and long-term career? (750 words maximum)
*New applicants are those who are first-time applicants or those who have not submitted a completed UCLA Anderson MBA application within the previous two years (i.e., those who did not apply for the MBA program that started in 2015 or 2016). Note that the re-applicant essay will be addressed in a future blog post.
As you sit down to write and edit your essay, we hope the following tips will help you make the most of the research and work you've done to craft an essay that truly represents YOU.
So you may be thinking...where do I even start?
If you're staring at a blank page and don't know where to begin, here are a few recommendations:
- The skills you gained and the qualities you've learned about yourself in your past career experiences will often influence your future professional goals; so take the time to self-reflect on what you liked and didn't like in your past job(s) to help understand where you see yourself in the future. It's important that we understand how your past experiences fit into your future goals.
- With this better understanding of your past, you can start by thinking about your long-term goals and work backwards to short-term goals, and then work backwards even further to what you would do at UCLA Anderson to achieve those goals.
- Do research on career paths of MBAs to see what resonates with you and your interests. For example, you can connect with our students and even check out our Club Webpages to explore the career paths of our second-year student club leaders on their LinkedIn pages.
- Do research on UCLA Anderson's MBA program. Some of the most compelling essays are the ones that effectively show how the specific opportunities at UCLA Anderson will be used to achieve your future goals.
How do I fit everything into one essay in only 750 words? What should I focus on?
Your essay should help the Admissions Committee understand that you can develop a feasible plan for your career and how UCLA Anderson can help you achieve them.
- A good essay should address the path you intend to follow in our program and beyond into your post-MBA career; it should be based on your interests and past professional and personal experiences, and also show insights into the areas you wish to develop.
- Research our MBA program (such as on our website, on our social media accounts, and by speaking with current students and/or alumni), and identify any insights into resources and tools the program may offer to help you achieve your goals. Examples may include classes, activities, programming, clubs and other extra-curricular opportunities.
- The goal is to communicate that you are ready for an MBA and that you have a solid understanding of what is needed to make the most of your experience here at Anderson.
The essay should NOT be a restatement of projects from your resume or a listing of your leadership positions. It should be a clear "story" of your goals, and round out your profile as an applicant by providing insights that cannot be found or easily derived from the other parts of your application.
Please be respectful of the 750 word limit -- the essay should be concise, clear, and focused.
But what if my plans change once I start school?
The Admissions Committee understands that our MBA program may expose you to other professional opportunities that, in turn, may change your goals. But for the purpose of the essay, we need to know that you can set a goal, research the paths to get there and develop a well-articulated plan on how you will leverage and grow your skills with an MBA from UCLA Anderson to help you get there.
Is the "share success, think fearlessly and drive change" portion of the question really necessary to address?
At UCLA Anderson, we are a community defined by three core qualities -- we share success, think fearlessly and drive change -- so the Admissions Committee is looking for these same qualities in prospective applicants. While there may be evidence of these qualities throughout your application, this essay question is an excellent opportunity to communicate how you fit into our Anderson community.
Here's a snapshot from our MBA Brochure to give you more information about these core values:
When should I use the optional essay? Is it really optional?
For those of you that may have additional situations to address (for example, an unexplained leave of absence from work or context to the reason for a less-than-stellar course grade in college), you might consider using the following optional essay to address those situations:
Are there any extenuating circumstances in your profile about which the Admissions Committee should be aware? Please use your best judgment. (250 words maximum)
No preference is given in the evaluation process to applicants who submit an optional essay. The essay is truly optional and should only be used to explain situations not evident on the application, not act as an extension to the main application essay.
When will I know my essay is finished?
After you feel that your essay is in good shape, it is advisable to have at least two people read and review it. Here are our recommendations on who you should ask:
- A person who knows you very well and can quickly conclude if the essay faithfully represents you, your values and your goals.
- A person who may not know you as well. This person should be able to give you an objective perspective on how the essay may come across to the admissions committee, who are unlikely to have met you before. Are your goals clear and concise? Can they tell how excited you are about UCLA Anderson? Is it evident that you've done the work to get to know the school?
By getting insights from people with varying levels of knowledge about you, you should be able to refine your essay(s) further. After another review for clarity & conciseness, typos, grammar, etc., you'll be ready to press submit!
Ultimately, our main application essay is the platform to distinguish yourself from all other applicants through your story, your goals, your passion, and your desire to be a part of our wonderful UCLA Anderson family. We hope these essay tips help you... now, get back to writing!
Check back next week for the next "Application Insider" blog post that will cover TEST SCORES!