UCLA Anderson Application Essays and Deadlines for 2009-2010

The UCLA Anderson School of Management has released its admissions essays and deadlines for the coming application season. Here they are, followed by our comments:

UCLA Anderson Application Deadlines
Round 1: October 14, 2009
Round 2: January 6, 2010
Round 3: March 17, 2010

(Unlike most top business schools, Anderson actually moved its Round 1 deadline back vs. last year, although only by five days. Note that Anderson has moved its Round 3 deadline up by about two weeks.)

UCLA Anderson Admissions Essays

For first-time applicants:

  1. Describe the ways in which your family and/or community have helped shape your development. (750 words)

    (This question has been reworded this year, but is substantially the same as last year’s first question. What’s interesting to us is that it’s been reworded to include less in the way of specifics than last year’s question. Actually, in some ways, it’s a combination of the first two questions from last year’s application. While we don’t know the Anderson admissions committee’s motivations for certain, it seems as though they wanted to “open up” the question to give applicants enough room to talk about whatever they want, instead of limiting them too much with specific requests for details. Consider answering this question on with your personal development in mind. Your tendency will be to tie it right back to your career and why you’re pursuing an MBA, but consider this input from the admissions office: “Please be introspective and authentic in your responses. We value the opportunity to learn about your life experiences, aspirations, and goals.”)

  2. Describe the biggest risk you have ever taken, the outcome, and what you learned in the process. (500 words)

    (This question is new this year, and it’s a classic opportunity to employee the “SAR” method: Situation, Action, Result. The admissions committee lays out exactly what they’re looking for — not just what happened, but what you learned as a result. Be sure to spend enough time discussing this last point. Your best story may come from your professional life or your personal life; use the one that gives you the best chance to demonstrate growth and introspection.)

  3. Describe your short-term and long-term career goals. What is your motivation for pursuing an MBA now and how will UCLA Anderson help you to achieve your goals? (750 words)

    (This question carries over unchanged from last year, and should be approached the same as most other “Career Goals” / “Why an MBA?” essays.)

  4. Select and respond to one of the two following questions. We would like you to respond to the question by recording an audio or video response, 1-2 minutes long (up to 5 MB maximum), for upload in the online application. If you are unable to submit your response via audio or video, then please prepare a written response instead. (250 words)

    a. Entrepreneurship is a mindset that embraces innovation and risk-taking within both established and new organizations. Describe an instance in which you exhibited this mindset.

    b. What is something people will find surprising about you?

    (Wow, now video, too! Last year Anderson made waves by introducing an audio response, but now, in the age of YouTube, a video response is also now acceptable. We’re not surprised that Anderson dropped one of the audio essay options from last year, which asked, “What global issue matters most to you and why,” which probably prompted a lot of “hot air” answers from applicants who were more concerned about sounding impressive than they were about giving authentic answers that revealed more about themselves. We think the Anderson admissions committee is interested in seeing and hearing how you communicate as much as they want to hear your specific answer. As we recommended last year, we think you should prepare well and make sure you deliver your answer smoothly, but a more impromptu-sounding response will sound warmer and more authentic than an overly scripted response. Lastly, have fun with this! Your response doesn’t need to be funny or wacky, but brightening the admissions committee’s day always helps.)

  5. OPTIONAL: Are there any extenuating circumstances in your profile about which the Admissions Committee should be aware? (250 words)

    (Our advice for this type of question is always the same: Only use this question as necessary. No need to harp on a minor weakness and sound like you’re making excuses when you don’t need any.)

Reapplicants who applied for the entering Fall 2008 or 2009 class have a different set of requirements than first-time applicants. Instead of submitting two letters of recommendation and the four regular essays, reapplicants are required to submit precisely one new letter of recommendation and the two essays below:

  1. Please describe your career progress since you last applied and ways in which you have enhanced your candidacy. Include updates on short-term and long-term career goals, as well as your continued interest in UCLA Anderson. (750 words)

    (The admissions committee’s goal here is clear: to be able to quickly judge how much stronger your candidacy is this year. Like all top schools, UCLA Anderson IS very receptive to receiving applications from reapplicants, but you need to show up with a a noticeably stronger application than what you submitted a year ago. What’s changed? Have you been promoted at work? Achieved a higher score on the GMAT? Taken on a leadership role in your community? This is your chance to showcase it all in a single essay.)

  2. Describe the biggest risk you have ever taken, the outcome, and what you learned in the process. (500 words)

    (Since this essay didn’t exist last year, it makes sense that the admissions committee also wants to see reapplicants’ responses to this question.)

  3. OPTIONAL: Are there any extenuating circumstances in your profile about which the Admissions Committee should be aware? (250 words)

For more advice on applying to UCLA Anderson, visit the Veritas Prep UCLA Anderson information page. For even more advice on applying to Anderson, download our FREE Veritas Prep Annual Reports! And, be sure to follow us on Twitter!

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