Today we dig into UCLA Anderson’s MBA admissions essays for the coming year. You will notice that Anderson has changed its essays pretty extensively this year. And, the school’s famous “video essay,” which is optional, returns for 2010-2011. Pay special attention to our advice regarding the video response, below.
Here are the school’s essay topics (for new applicants) for the coming season, followed by our comments in italics:
UCLA Anderson Application Essays
- What event or life experience has had the greatest influence in shaping your character and why? (750 words)
This question is new, although it’s not radically different from last year’s first essay prompt. Really, the admissions committee is trying to dig deep into who you are and what makes you tick. We actually prefer last year’s wording, since this year’s version seems to put extra emphasis on a single event, which may create some pressure in applicants’ minds to come up with a dramatic single incident. In reality, the “or life experience” part of this year’s question still leaves it open-ended enough that you shouldn’t feel the need to focus on one single point in time. Try to answer this question 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. Content is more important than style of delivery. We value the opportunity to learn about your life experiences, aspirations, and goals.”
- 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. Note that the “Why an MBA?” component is very important, but you absolutely MUST demonstrate in this essay a knowledge of and a passion for UCLA Anderson. One way any school protects its admissions yield is by ferreting out those who don’t demonstrate enough enthusiasm for the program. Failing to answer the “how will UCLA Anderson help you achieve your goals” part of the question is a sure way to get ferreted out by the admissions committee.
- You may respond to the following question via written essay, audio or video clip: What is something people will find surprising about you?
It’s back! But, this year the school only gives you one answer option, rather than giving you a choice between a question about entrepreneurship and the one presented here. It’s easy to get too worked up over this video response. But, in short, we do recommend that our clients take advantage of it, despite the point that Anderson makes about not giving preference to those who submit one. Why? It’s simply easier for an admissions officer to envision you at the school if he or she can see your face and feel at least some connection with the real you. It’s simply human nature, despite their best efforts to remain objective. 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.
- 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.
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