UCLA’s Anderson School of Management recently released its admissions essays and deadlines for the Class of 2014. At first glance, there are not a lot of changes this, but what’s most interesting with Anderson’s essays this years is something that’s not included. Let’s dig into the school’s deadlines and essays, followed by our comments in italics:
UCLA Anderson Admissions Deadlines
Round 1: October 26, 2011
Round 2: January 11, 2012
Round 3: April 18, 2012
All three of Anderson’s admissions rounds have been pushed back by close to a week. Keep in mind that, if you apply to Anderson in Round 1, you may not receive your final decision until late January, meaning that you won’t know where you stand with Anderson before most other top business schools’ Round 2 deadlines come and go.
Also, note how late UCLA Anderson’s Round 3 deadline is compared to most other top MBA programs final deadlines. Anderson previously expressed that it doesn’t want to miss out on strong applicants who may choose an international program such as LBS simply because that school still accepts applications as late as April. This is a smart move for Anderson. For you, it means that Round 3 is certainly still an option for you if you’re coming into the MBA admissions process relatively late in the game.
UCLA Anderson Admissions Essays
- What events or people have had the greatest influence in shaping your character and why? (750 words)
This question has been slightly reworded from last year. With this essay, the admissions committee is trying to dig deep into who you are and what makes you tick. We prefer this new wording, since last year’s version seemed to put extra emphasis on a single event, which may have created some pressure in applicants’ minds to come up with a dramatic single incident. In reality, in may be multiple events or people that together shaped you the most, and this this question reflects that. Try to answer this question with your personal development in mind. Your tendency may 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.”
- What are your short-term and long-term career goals, and how will an MBA from UCLA Anderson specifically help you achieve these goals? (750 words)
This question carries over from last year with some small changes, 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 show enough enthusiasm for the program. Failing to answer the second part part of the question — how will UCLA Anderson help you to achieve your goals — is a sure way to get ferreted out by the admissions committee.
- (Optional Essay) Are there any extenuating circumstances in your profile about which the Admissions Committee should be aware? (250 words)
As we always advise our clients when it comes to optional essays, only use this essay if you need to explain a low undergraduate GPA or other potential blemish in your background. No need to harp on a minor weakness and sound like you’re making excuses when you don’t need any. If you don’t have anything else you need to tell the admissions office, it is entirely okay to skip this essay!
Finally, we should note that UCLA Anderson has apparently dropped the audio/video question that had been a part of its application for the past there years. When a school drops an essay question, that normally means that it’s not doing its job — i.e., it doesn’t help the admissions committee get to know applicants better and separate out the great applicants from the rest of the pack. Perhaps that was what happened here. Could the school have been concerned that this unusual essay was actually discouraging potential applicants from applying? Or, could someone have raised questions about how admissions can be race- or gender-blind when applicants submit video responses? We don’t know for sure, but it’s an interesting development given that one of the chief complaints we hear from MBA admissions officers these days is that the essays they read tend to sound too similar to one another. We thought the audio/video question was a novel way to try to overcome this problem.
Applying to Anderson this year? Take a look at our UCLA Anderson Annual Report, one of 15 guides to the world’s top MBA programs. And, as always, be sure to find us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter!