UCLA Anderson Admissions Essays for 2013-2014

UCLA AndersonWe can add UCLA Anderson to the long list of top business schools that have cut down their essay requirements for the coming admissions season. Anderson recently released its admissions essays and deadlines for the coming year, and the school dropped one essay prompt, going down to just one required essay for 2013-2014. We can’t wait until next year, when schools go from one essay down to zero. (Just kidding!)

Without further ado, here are UCLA Anderson’s application deadlines and essays for the Class of 2016, followed by our comments in italics:

UCLA Anderson Application Deadlines
Round 1: October 22, 2013
Round 2: January 7, 2014
Round 3: April 15, 2014

Anderson’s deadlines have barely changed since last year. Note that, unlike most other top schools, Anderson will not get back to you before January if you apply in Round 1. With other programs, one benefit of applying in Round 1 is that you will receive a decision before the holidays, giving you plenty of time to work on Round 2 applications (which usually have deadlines in early January). But, no such luck at Anderson. For some applicants, this is enough to push back their Anderson applications from Round 1 to Round 2.

Also, note that UCLA Anderson’s Round 3 deadline is pretty late compared to those of most other top MBA programs. The Anderson MBA admissions team has stated that it doesn’t want to miss out on strong applicants who may choose an MBA program outside the U.S. simply because that school still accepts applications as late as April. However, note this language on the Anderson website: “Round 3 becomes more competitive as seats in the class fill up, and we look for distinctive profiles to round out the student mix.” So, Round 3 is very much an option at Anderson, but be realistic about your chances, especially if you submit a mediocre application.

UCLA Anderson Application Essays

  1. 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 — the only required question on this year’s Anderson application — carries over unchanged from last year. Accordingly, our advice mostly remains the same. This question is pretty much your standard “Career Goals” / “Why an MBA?” essay. Note that, while the “Why an MBA?” component is very important, 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 eliminating applicants 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 quick and easy way to get weeded out by the admissions committee.

    One other thought: We find this advice from the Anderson website to be interesting: “Essays are more compelling if they include specific courses, programs, groups, opportunities, activities, etc. from which you would benefit, if admitted to UCLA Anderson. These references are best found through website research, personal discussions and a campus visit (if possible).” Every year we see applicants who lazily browse a school’s site and drop one or two course or professor names into an essay to seem more interested in the program, and we wonder if Anderson’s guidance here will only make the problem worse.

  2. (Optional Essay) Are there any extenuating circumstances in your profile about which the Admissions Committee should be aware? (250 words)

    As we always tell applicants when it comes to optional admissions essays, answer this question 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. That advice especially holds now that Anderson’s application only includes on essay prompt… Don’t feel the need to submit extra essays simply to command more of the admissions committee’s attention!

For more advice on getting into Anderson, download our Essential Guide to UCLA Anderson, one of our 14 guides to the world’s top business schools. If you’re ready to start building your own application for Anderson and other top business schools, get a free profile evaluation from an MBA admissions expert today. And, as always, be sure to find us on Facebook and Google+, and follow us on Twitter!

By Scott Shrum

13 Dos and Don’ts for your MBA Application Essay

Got Writer’s Block?  We are here to help! It can be hard to tell your story in 500 words or less, but we are here to provide a few tips to help get you started in tackling your admissions essays.

Take a look at the Dos and the Don’ts of essay writing and let us know if you have any questions.

 


Do:

  • Do proofread your essays.  Again and again.  And ask a buddy to as well.  It is amazing the number of essays that are turned in with typographical and grammatical errors.
  • Tell your story – tell it as a story if it helps.   You want to be memorable and unique.  And while you may not think that you stand out from the crowd, we all do in our own way.  Find your voice.
  • Do ensure that you are answering the question. Don’t get so wrapped up telling your story that you miss the point of the essay.
  • Definitely do your research.   There are a lot of blogs with expert advice (including Veritas Prep’s!) that will give you great information and strategies on crafting your essays.
  • Research also includes information about the specific program that you are applying to.   Make sure to tie specifics about the program to your goals.
  • Do dig deep and be vulnerable.  Many Type-A’s are afraid to let people see their softer side.   Several top business schools challenge applicants now to let that side come through.
  • Do write your essay initially without too much thought to the word limit.  Get it all out and then worry about editing it afterwards.

Don’t:

  • The Admissions Essays are much more than the writing assignments you faced in grade school.  Don’t treat it as a Q&A session and regurgitate part of the question as the opening of your response.  “My long-term goal is….”
  • Don’t try to tell a sob story to get pity points unless it really answers the essay question (which is rare, but occasionally does), otherwise, your essay may end up as part of the body count.
  • Don’t disregard word or page limits entirely.   While there can be some flex in the limit, don’t turn in three pages if the limit is one.
  • Don’t blatantly change the font size, margins and spacing to get it to fit the page requirement (unless you do it for all the essays).  It is pretty obvious when one essay is in an entirely different font type and size than the others.
  • Don’t use a lot of acronyms or industry jargon.   If the reader can’t understand what you are saying, they may miss the point of your story (and this doesn’t showcase your communication skills very well).
  • Avoid the “find and replace” essay.  Find name of school and replace with name of another school.  While it is more work, you need to customize your essays to each school you apply to.

Happy Writing!

If you are interested in receiving more information on our Admissions Consulting services, please call us at 1-800-925-7737 and speak with an MBA admissions expert today. And, as always, be sure to find us on Facebook and Google+, and follow us on Twitter!

Nita Losoponkul, a Veritas Prep head consultant for UCLA, received her undergraduate degree in Engineering from Caltech and went from engineering to operations to global marketing to education management/non-profit. Her non-traditional background allows her to advise students from many areas of study. She has successfully helped low GPA students get admitted into UCLA. 

Duke (Fuqua) Admissions Essays and Deadlines for 2013-2014

Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business recently released its MBA application essays and deadlines for the Class of 2016. Bucking the trend among most top MBA programs, Duke has actually made no changes this year! However, last year the school made some pretty radical changes, so one could argue that other schools are now coming around to some of these aggressive and creative changes. Further, the fact that Fuqua hasn’t made any changes this year suggests that the admissions committee likes what it saw last year, so following their advice and giving them what they want is key.

Here are the Fuqua School of Business’ admissions deadlines and essays for the coming year:

Duke (Fuqua) Application Deadlines
Early Action: September 18, 2013
Round 1: October 21, 2013
Round 2: January 6, 2014
Round 3: March 20, 2014

Fuqua’s admissions deadlines have barely changed since last year, which each deadline moving by no more than a few days. On important note about the school’s Early Action deadline: Even though it’s called “Early Action,” Fuqua considers it to be binding. So, we only recommend applying in this round if Fuqua is clearly your first choice. If that’s not the case, then save your application for Round 1, which still gets you your final decisions from the admissions committee before the holidays.

Duke (Fuqua) Application Essays

Required Short Answer Questions (Just 250 characters each)

  1. What are your short-term goals, post-MBA?
  2. What are your long-term goals?
  3. Life is full of uncertainties, and plans and circumstances can change. As a result, navigating a career requires you to be adaptable. Should the short-term goals that you provided above not materialize what alternative directions have you considered?
  4. This trio of short questions (and really short answers!) carries over unchanged from last year, and so our advice mostly remains the same. The three above short answers should add up to only about 150 words, if it’s easier for you to think about them that way. With the three short questions, the admissions team really is just looking for the facts. That doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t put any thought into these responses, but rather that they’re looking for less hand-waving and “big picture”-speak and for more headlines to help them quickly get a read on why you’re even applying to Fuqua in the first place.

    Think of this as your chance to make the admissions team’s job a little easier… Rather than having to sort through your application essays to figure out why you’re applying, you’re spelling it out in three bold “can’t miss” headlines. One more thought: Many applicants consider the third question to be a curve ball, but this sort of adaptability is important to show. No one knows how exactly their career will unfold, and with this question Fuqua wants to see if you “get” that idea and have at least thought through some alternatives.

Required Essays

  1. The “Team Fuqua” spirit and community is one of the things that sets The Duke MBA experience apart, and it is a concept that extends beyond the student body to include faculty, staff, and administration. When a new person joins the Admissions team, we ask that person to share with everyone in the office a list of “25 Random Things About Yourself.” As an Admissions team, we already know the new hire’s professional and academic background, so learning these “25 Random Things” helps us get to know someone’s personality, background, special talents, and more.

    In this spirit, the Admissions Committee also wants to get to know you—beyond the professional and academic achievements listed in your resume and transcript. You can share with us important life experiences, your likes/dislikes, hobbies, achievements, fun facts, or anything that helps us understand what makes you who you are. Share with us your list of “25 Random Things” about YOU.

    Please present your response in list form, numbered 1 to 25. Some points may be only a few words, while others may be longer. Your complete list should not exceed 2 pages.

    This question also carries over unchanged. This exercise makes many applicants uncomfortable since it’s so far removed from the “typical” MBA admissions essay, but we like it. While you shouldn’t generate a completely frivolous list, you also shouldn’t simply rehash what else is in your application. Seemingly random facts such as “I once narrowly lost a pizza-eating contest to the eventual state champion” are relevant and reveal something important about you (that you’re fun!), whether you realize it or not.

    We have seen some advice out there that tells applicants that all 25 items must be “unique” and “ownable,” but it would be a mistake to apply that rule to all 25 items. If the favorite part of your week is spending a couple of hours on Sunday morning reading the paper, then it would be crazy for that not to make it into this list, whether or not other applicants might possibly say the same thing. For us, a good rule of thumb is that approximately half of this list should reinforce your application themes (which you should have nailed down long before drafting this list), and the other half can be more “fun”… Don’t run the risk of putting the admissions committee to sleep with your list. Finally, take a look at some examples that Fuqua admissions officers and students have posted about themselves… You’ll see that they’re far from 100% serious!

  2. When asked by your family, friends, and colleagues why you want to go to Duke, what do you tell them? Share the reasons that are most meaningful to you.

    Your response to this essay question should be no more than 2 pages in length. Please respond fully and concisely using 1.5 line spacing.

    While the “25 things” question gets talked about more, we actually think this is the response the Duke admissions team may pay more attention to. The purpose of this question is really to assess your fit with the school. The school used to simply ask, “Why Duke?” in an essay, and last year the admissions committee tried this new approach, but it’s still about fit: This is your opportunity to demonstrate that you have really researched the program, understand its culture, and really want to spend the rest of your life as a member of the Fuqua community. The first eight words of this question are the Fuqua admissions committee’s way of saying, “Please don’t just tell us what you think we want to hear.”

    Some pragmatic components to your response are totally fine — it has strong ties to the health care industry, or has a specific research center that interests you, for instance. That’s a completely real, honest response. But the school wants you to go beyond rattling off lists of professor and course names from its website and convince them that you will be eager to attend Fuqua if you’re admitted.

For more advice on getting into Fuqua, download our Essential Guide to Fuqua, one of our 14 guides to the world’s top business schools. If you’re ready to start building your own application for Fuqua and other top business schools, get a free profile evaluation from an MBA admissions expert today. And, as always, be sure to find us on Facebook and Google+, and follow us on Twitter!

By Scott Shrum

Dartmouth (Tuck) Admissions Essays and Deadlines for 2013-2014

Dartmouth’s Tuck School of Business recently released its MBA application essays and deadlines for the Class of 2016. Tuck has bucked the trend among top business schools and left its essay count and total word count unchanged compared to what they were last year. The Tuck admissions team has made some subtle tweaks to its essay prompts, though, and we’ll dig into those below.

Without further ado, here are the Tuck School’s essays and deadlines for the coming year, followed by our comments in italics:

Dartmouth (Tuck) Application Deadlines
Early Action round: October 9, 2013
November round: November 6, 2013
January round: January 3, 2014
April round: April 2, 2014
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Michigan (Ross) Admissions Essays for 2013-2014

Michigan Ross MBA Admissions GuideThe University of Michigan’s Ross School of Business has released its MBA application essays and deadlines for the Class of 2016. Ross is the latest top MBA program to shed an essay, going from four required essays last year to just three this year. The school has also trimmed word counts on a couple of its essays. However, the school’s most interesting question (its first one) remains unchanged.

Without further ado, here are Ross’s admissions deadlines and essays for the coming year, followed by our comments in italics:
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Kellogg Admissions Essays and Deadlines for 2013-2014

Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management has released its MBA application essays and deadlines for the 2013-2104 admissions season. To no one’s surprise, Kellogg is the latest top-ranked MBA program to drop a required essay from its application this year — the school now requires just three essays of first-time applicants. Kellogg has also reduced how many word limits in some cases. What is most interesting is that the essay that Kellogg dropped was a mere 25-word question that appeared on last year’s application. We liked that one, but apparently the Kellogg admissions team didn’t.

Here are Kellogg’s application deadlines and essays for the Class of 2016:
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UC Berkeley (Haas) Admissions Essays and Deadlines for 2013-2014

UC Berkeley (Haas) Admissions EssaysUC Berkeley’s Haas School of Business has released its MBA application essays and deadlines for the Class of 2016. Haas has not only dropped an essay this year (as many other top-ranked MBA programs have done), but it has also dropped a whole admissions round! Beyond that, the content of Haas’s application has actually changed very little this year, at least compared to the more radical changes we have seen in other business schools’ applications.

Without further ado, here are Haas’s application deadlines and essays, followed by our comments in italics:
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Chicago Booth Admissions Essays and Deadlines for 2013-2014

Chicago Booth has released its application essays and deadlines for the 2013-2014 admissions season. The Great Essay Reduction continues… Consistent with what we have seen many other top-ranked business schools, Booth has dropped an essay this year. The school has, however, kept its more unique “PowerPoint” question, suggesting that the admissions committee likes what it sees with the responses it gets from this prompt.

Without further ado, here are Chicago Booth’s essays and deadlines for the coming year, followed by our comments in italics:

Chicago Booth Application Deadlines
Round 1: October 3, 2013
Round 2: January 8, 2014
Round 3: April 3, 2014

Booth’s application deadlines are virtually unchanged since last year. Note that applying in Round 1 means that you will hear back from Booth by December 19, giving you a couple of weeks to pull together Round 2 applications for other schools, if needed. Also, note the school’s relatively late Round 3 deadline. As always, we recommend against applying in Round 3 if you can pull together a strong application earlier, but moves like this show that Booth really does give Round 3 serious consideration.
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MIT Sloan Application Essays and Deadlines for 2013-2014

MIT’s Sloan School of Management has released its admissions essays and deadlines for the Class of 2016. There are a few big changes this year, including Sloan’s removal of the cover letter that had famously accompanied its more traditional MBA admissions essays over the years. Sloan’s application is now down to just two essays, and they’re both new this year, continuing the trend that we have seen at most of the top-ranked MBA programs.

Here are MIT Sloan’s deadlines and essays for the 2013-2014 application season, followed by our comments in italics:
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Yale SOM Admissions Essays and Deadlines for 2013-2014

Yale School of ManagementThe Yale School of Management has released its MBA application essays and deadlines for the 2013-2014 admissions season. Building on the trend that we have seen at other prominent MBA programs so far this year, Yale has reduced its essay count, going from four last year to just two this year. Yale did beef up the word limits on the individual essays, though, so your total recommended word count wasn’t cut in half — it drops from 1,050 to 750.

Without further ado, here are Yale SOM’s admissions deadlines and essays for the Class of 2016, followed by our comments in italics:

Yale SOM Application Deadlines
Round 1: September 25, 2013
Round 2: January 9, 2014
Round 3: April 24, 2014

The big change here vs. last year is that Yale’s Round 1 deadline has moved up from early October to the last week of September, making Yale the latest MBA program to inch its Round 1 deadline forward yet again. Note that applying to Yale in Round 1 means that you will receive a decision by December 9, giving you plenty of time to put alternate Round 2 plans into action if you don’t receive good news from Yale. The school’s Round 2 and Round 3 deadlines have barely changed, although Yale actually pushed its Round 3 deadline even later for this coming application season, giving Yale one of the latest final admissions deadlines among top business schools.

Yale SOM Application Essays

  1. What motivates your decision to pursue an MBA? (300 words)

    This question replaces a similar “Why MBA?”-type question that Yale used last year. That one actually was more specific and gave applicants more guidance, but had a word limit of only 150 words. Now, it’s more wide-open and gives you much more room to work with, although 300 words is still pretty tight.

    Note that there is no “Why Yale?” component to this essay; that comes in the second essay. Here you want to show that you have specific, credible reasons for wanting to pursue an MBA, and that you have realistic expectations for what the degree will help you achieve. You don’t need to spell out exactly where you think you will be in ten years — that’s not the point of this essay — but you do need to show that this is not something you’re doing on a whim. Also, keep the focus on what you want to move toward (e.g., “I want to grow as a general manager”) and not what you want to get away from (e.g., “My boss doesn’t understand my brilliance and I’m bored”). Finally, keep it succinct… The Yale admissions committee wants to know why they’re reading your application, and doesn’t want too much fluff and drama here.
  2. The Yale School of Management provides leadership education for broad-minded, rigorous, and intellectually curious students with diverse backgrounds; a distinctive integrated curriculum; connections to one of the great research universities in the world; and the broad reach of an innovative and expanding global network of top business schools.

    What motivates you to apply to the Yale School of Management for your MBA? What will you contribute to Yale and Yale SOM? (450 words)

    Yale used a very similar essay last year, but has tweaked it and added words for this application season. At its core, it’s a “Why Yale?” question that asks you to demonstrate that you have done your homework on Yale and are passionate about the program. They have a particular vision for Yale SOM and its student body… Help them see that you share that vision and will fit in at Yale. Also, note that the school gave you 300 words for the “Why an MBA?” question and 450 words for this one… We’ll leave it to you to determine which one is more important in the admissions officers’ eyes.

For more advice on getting into Yale, get yourself a copy of our Essential Guide to Yale SOM, one of our 14 guides to the world’s top business schools. For even more personalized advice, sign up for a free profile evaluation by one of our MBA admissions experts. And, as always, be sure to find us on Facebook and Google+, and follow us on Twitter!

By Scott Shrum

Wharton Admissions Essays and Deadlines for 2013-2014

Wharton Admissions GuideWharton has released its admissions essays and application deadlines for the 2013-2014 admissions season. Following the trend that we have seen at other top MBA programs this year, Wharton has cut its required essay count from three to two, although you will actually have more words to work with for the first essay this year.

Without further ado, here are Wharton’s deadlines and essays for the coming year, followed by our comments in italics:
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NYU Stern Application Essays and Deadlines for 2013-2014

NYU’s Stern School of Business recently released its admissions essays and deadlines for the full-time MBA Class of 2016. NYU’s application essays haven’t changed at all since last year, so our advice mostly remains the same. However, the admissions committee now lets you choose between two prompts (including Stern’s famous “Creative Expression” submission) that both used to be required, reducing the total amount of “stuff” that you will submit to the school.

Without further ado, here are NYU Stern’s MBA admissions essays and deadlines for the coming year, followed by our comments in italics:
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New Releases: Yale SOM, Duke Fuqua, & NYU Stern Admissions Preview 2013-2014

AdmissionsAs schools continue to release admissions deadlines and essays for the 2013-2014 application season, Veritas Prep will periodically bring you a preview of what’s to come. Already, Yale SOM, Duke Fuqua, and NYU Stern have released their new application deadlines for the upcoming season, with Stern also releasing its application essay questions. Look below for the new deadlines and check back for more commentary next week!

 

Yale SOM Admissions Deadlines:
Round 1: September 25, 2013
Round 2: January 9, 2014
Round 3:  April 24, 2014

Duke Fuqua Admissions Deadlines:
Early Action: September 18, 2013
Round 1: October 21, 2013
Round 2: January 6, 2014
Round 3: March 20, 2014

NYU Stern Admissions Deadlines:
Round 1: October 15, 2013
Round 2: November 15, 2013
Round 3: January 15, 2014
Round 4: March 15, 2013

NYU Stern Application Essays: 

Essay 1: Professional Aspirations (750 word maximum, double-spaced, 12-point font)

  • Why  pursue an MBA (or dual degree) at this point in your life?
  • What actions have you taken to determine that Stern is the best fit for your MBA experience?
  • What do you see yourself doing professionally upon graduation?

Essay 2: Choose Option A or Option B (500 word maximum, double-spaced, 12-point font)

  • Option A: Your Two Paths — The mission of the Stern School of Business is to develop people and ideas that transform the challenges of the 21st century into opportunities to create value for business and society. Given today’s ever-changing global landscape, Stern seeks and develops leaders who thrive in ambiguity, embrace a broad perspective and think creatively about the range of ways they can have impact.

    – Describe two different and distinct paths you could see your career taking long term. How do you see your two paths unfolding?
    – How do your paths tie to the mission of NYU Stern?
    – What factors will most determine which path you will take?

  • Option B: Personal Expression — Please describe yourself to your MBA classmates. You may use almost any method to convey your message (e.g. words, illustrations). Feel free to be creative. If you submit a non-written piece for this essay (i.e., artwork or multimedia) or if you submit this essay via mail, please upload a brief description of your submission with your online application.

    Guidelines and Restrictions:
    – Your submission becomes the property of  NYU Stern and cannot be returned for any reason.
    – If you submit a written essay, it should be 500 words maximum, double-spaced, 12-point font. If you submit a video or audio file, it should be five minutes maximum.
    – If you prepare a multimedia submission, you may mail a CD, DVD or USB flash drive to the Admissions Office. These are the only acceptable methods of submission. Please do not submit an internet link to any websites or to a video hosting service such as YouTube.
    – The Admissions Committee reserves the right to request an alternate essay if we are unable to view your submission.
    – Do not submit anything perishable (e.g. food), or any item that has been worn (e.g. clothing).
    – Mailed materials must be postmarked by the application deadline date. Please follow our mail and labeling instructions.

Essay 3: Additional Information (optional)

  •  Please provide any additional information that you would like to bring to the attention of the Admissions Committee. This may include current or past gaps in employment, further explanation of your undergraduate record or self-reported academic transcript(s), plans to retake the GMAT, GRE and/or TOEFL or any other relevant information. If you are unable to submit a recommendation from your current supervisor, you must explain your reason. If you are a re-applicant from last year, please explain how your candidacy has improved since your last application.

Stay tuned for our comments coming out next week. For more advice on getting into Yale, Duke, NYU or another top choice school, be sure to download our Essential Guides, 14 different guides to the world’s top business schools. If you’re ready to start building your own application for these and other top business schools, call us at 1-800-925-7737 and speak with an MBA admissions expert today. And, as always, be sure to find us on Facebook and Google+, and follow us on Twitter!

 

Harvard Business School Application Essays and Deadlines for 2013-2014

Last week Harvard Business School released the details of its application for the 2013-2014 admissions season. While there was some moderately interesting news around Harvard’s admissions deadlines, much of the chatter has been about Harvard’s drastically revised essays. Make no mistake — this is a very different application than what HBS has used in the past, but keep in mind that Harvard still wants to see the same qualities (across your entire application) that it has been looking for in applicants for years. Harvard still wants to find bright budding leaders who are ready to undergo a transformational experience. The admissions committee is just going about finding those applicants a little differently this year.

Without further ado, here are Harvard’s admissions deadlines and essays for the Class of 2016, followed by our comments in italics:
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Stanford GSB Admissions Essays and Deadlines for 2013-2014

The Stanford Graduate School of Business has released its admissions essays and deadlines for the 2013-2014 application season. Stanford has actually made no changes to its admissions essays this year, which suggests that the admissions committee liked what it saw in the applications that it reviewed last year. Accordingly, our advice hasn’t changed much, although it has evolved subtly since last year. Let’s dig in.

Here are Stanford GSB’s application deadlines and essays for the Class of 2016, entering in 2014. Our comments follow in italics:

Stanford GSB Application Deadlines
Round 1: October 2, 2013
Round 2: January 8, 2014
Round 3: April 2, 2014

No big changes here. All of Stanford’s admissions deadlines are within one day of their 2012-2013 counterparts. Note that, if you apply in Round 1, Stanford has promised a response by December 11, 2013. That’s important since, if you’re rejected or waitlisted, it will give you more than three weeks until most other top MBA programs’ Round 2 admissions deadlines come in early January.

Regarding Round 3, Stanford is one top school that has gone out of its way to invite applicants to apply in Round 3. While you shouldn’t believe that your chances are as good in Round 3 as they would be in Round 1 or 2, if you’re reading this in early 2014 and are wondering if you absolutely must wait till the fall to apply to Stanford, know that the admissions committee will still look at strong Round 3 applications with a very open mind.

Stanford GSB Application Essays

  • What matters most to you, and why? (750 words recommended, out of 1,600 total)

    This question is probably the longest-running admissions essay prompt used by any prominent business school. Our advice has evolved a bit over the years, but only subtly. Before you start to work on this essay, take Stanford’s advice to heart: “The best examples of Essay 1 reflect the process of self-examination that you have undertaken to write them.” This question requires a great deal of introspection, after which you should create an essay that truly answers the question asked, whether or not you feel that it’s directly applicable to your candidacy. Naturally, telling a story that has nothing to do with your Stanford application can end up hurting you, but where many Stanford applicants go wrong is by writing about their grand plans for the future, rather than providing a real glimpse into who they are as people. The latter is much more powerful and, ultimately, much more effective in helping you get in. With the other essays in this application, you have ample opportunity to cover the exact reasons why you want an MBA from Stanford.
  • What do you want to do — REALLY — and why Stanford? (450 words recommended)

    This question also has not changed. With the part in ALL CAPS, the admissions committee is sending a clear message: “Cut the bull. We really want honest answers here.” Also, note that this question is deliberately pretty open-ended. Stanford invites you to dream big. The admissions committee is less interested in which exact blue-chip management consulting firm you want to work at after business school… They’re more interested in what you want to do with your life. Naturally, the job you take in the near term matters, but here is your chance to reveal some big dreams. If the first question is supposed to be a super-introspective look at your past, consider this the same exercise with your future. Finally, take note of the last part of the guidance they give for this question: “… and demonstrate your desire to take advantage of the opportunities that are distinctive to the Stanford MBA Program.” Obviously it’s a great school with a terrific brand name, but the admissions committee already knows that. Why is Stanford specifically the school that will help you achieve your dreams?
  • Answer one of the three questions below. Tell us not only what you did but also how you did it. What was the outcome? How did people respond? Only describe experiences that have occurred during the last three years. (400 words recommended)

    Option A:
    Tell us about a time in the last three years when you built or developed a team whose performance exceeded expectations.

    Option B: Tell us about a time in the last three years when you identified and pursued an opportunity to improve an organization.

    Option C: Tell us about a time in the last three years when you went beyond what was defined or established.

    This question also carries over unchanged from last year. If one thing is clear, it’s that Stanford is interested in hearing stories that happened more than three years ago. (Just kidding.) We kid, but the fact that the admissions committee inserted this phrase four times suggests that applicants still look past this seemingly simple instruction! Why the emphasis on more recent stories? Because you’re young. You may feel old and wise compared to people just coming out of college, but the fact is that you’re still changing and growing a great deal. Something that you accomplished five years ago is far less useful in helping the admissions committee gauge your potential as a professional.

    For Option A, note the emphasis on “whose performance exceeded expectations”… Results matter, and you need to show them here. This is a classic Situation-Action-Result (“SAR”) question. Option B is all about learning what impact you have had on those around you. The essay prompt doesn’t specifically use the word “impact,” but it is pretty clear what Stanford wants to see here — the admissions committee wants to find young professionals who leave a trail of success and positive, meaningful impact everywhere they go. Of the three essay prompts here, we like Option B the best. If you have a good example to use, you should respond to this prompt.

    Option C is another results-oriented question that also gets at a core component of leadership: the ambition and ability to do more than what is listed in your job description. We think the way this question is phrased may actually lead some to misinterpret it and tell an unremarkable story, but a great response will show that you’re someone who readily goes beyond your job description to make things happen. In some respects, we consider Options B and C to be very similar… It’s clear that Stanford wants to find go-getters who go beyond what’s expected to make things happen. But, we still prefer B because it puts a bit more emphasis on results than Option C does.

We work with dozens of Stanford GSB applicants every year. For more advice on getting into Stanford, download our Essential Guide to Stanford GSB, one of our 14 guides to the world’s top business schools. If you’re ready to start building your own application for Stanford and other top business schools, call us at 1-800-925-7737 and speak with an MBA admissions expert today. And, as always, be sure to find us on Facebook and Google+, and follow us on Twitter!

By Scott Shrum

Columbia Business School Admissions Essays and Deadlines for 2013-2014

Columbia Business SchoolThis year Columbia Business School leads the charge, releasing its MBA application essay prompts before any other top business school. The school has also released the admissions deadlines for its two intakes in 2014.

Remember that Columbia is unique among top U.S. business schools because each year it has a large January intake in addition to the more common August/September intake. Columbia’s “J-Term” program allows students to complete their degrees in less than a year and a half, and is ideally suited for applicants who don’t plan on switching careers or may want to start their own venture after school. The January intake deadlines are also covered below.
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Struggling to Meet Essay Word Counts? Try These 3 Editing Tips

If you’re hurrying to finish your MBA admissions essays before the Round 2 application deadlines, chances are that at least one essay is giving you trouble when it comes to meeting word length requirements. While MBA admissions officers are fairly understanding and are not out to penalize you for going over a word limit by a couple of extra sentences, adhering to word limits as closely as possible is a strong signal that you can communicate clearly and succinctly.

It’s also a matter of consideration for admissions officers: If application readers need to get a few dozen applications in a day, they will appreciate the fact that you didn’t take up any more of their time than absolutely necessary. This sort of positive karma counts in admissions!

With that in mind, here are three things to try if you’re having a hard time getting your word counts down to within 10% of a school’s stated limits:
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Three Critical Steps to Revising an Admissions Essay

It is shocking how often applicants present essays (either to professors, consultants, or even to the admissions committee) that are nothing more than glorified drafts. Crafting an essay is a time intensive process that requires a great deal of revision in order to write with economy, power, and persuasion. You will almost certainly go through multiple revisions with your consultant, but the client who takes the time to execute multiple drafts on their own will be leaps and bounds ahead when it comes time to take the next step.

Whether you are drafting admissions essays for college or for graduate school, proper revision requires at least these three crucial steps:
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UCLA Anderson Application Essays for 2012-2013

UCLA AndersonUCLA’s Anderson School of Management has released its admissions essays and deadlines for the 2012-2013 admissions season. While Anderson has made fewer dramatic changes than some other prominent business schools have this year, the school did change one of its two required essays, and trimmed the word count for each by 50 words. The essay word count diet continues…

Let’s dig into Anderson’s deadlines and essays, followed by our comments in italics:

UCLA Anderson Admissions Deadlines
Round 1: October 24, 2012
Round 2: January 9, 2013
Round 3: April 17, 2013
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Duke (Fuqua) Application Essays and Deadlines for 2012-2013

Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business has released its MBA application essays and deadlines for the Class of 2015. Like most other top-ranked business schools, Fuqua has made some pretty substantial changes to its essays this year, including the introduction of a “25 things” list that we think is pretty exciting. Before you start drafting your Fuqua admissions essays, take a look at this blog post from the Fuqua admissions team to gain some insight into the thinking behind the recent changes.

This quote sums up Fuqua’s point of view pretty well:

This year at Duke, we are stretching the definition of “essay” in an effort to harness the sort of insight that we’re looking for from applicants. The Daytime MBA application now includes three very straightforward short answer questions about the applicant’s goals. Here, we’re just looking for the facts, with minimal embellishment.

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Michigan (Ross) Application Essays for 2012-2013

Michigan Ross MBA Admissions GuideThe University of Michigan’s Ross School of Business recently released its application deadlines and essays for the Class of 2015. While Ross hasn’t made changes quite as big as those at some other schools this year, Ross’s essay word count has slimmed down a bit, continuing the trend we have seen among most top-ranked MBA programs. We’ll dig into the Michigan’s essays and deadlines below, followed by our comments, in italics:

Michigan (Ross) Admissions Deadlines
Round 1: October 10, 2012
Round 2: January 3, 2012
Round 3: March 4, 2012
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Chicago Booth Application Essays and Deadlines for 2012-2013

Chicago Booth Admissions GuideThe University of Chicago Booth School of Business recently released its admissions essays and deadlines for the Class of 2015. Once again, as we predicted earlier this year, a top MBA program has significantly cut back on its essay load this year: While last year’s essay word count was 1,350 (not counting the presentation and an essay meant only for reapplicants), this year’s total word count is just 900 words. Read on to see what we make of the changes.

Here are the school’s new deadlines and essays, followed by our comments in italics:

Chicago Booth Admissions Deadlines
Round 1: October 2, 2012
Round 2: January 8, 2013
Round 3: April 4, 2013
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UC Berkeley (Haas) Application Essays and Deadlines for 2012-2013

UC Berkeley (Haas) Admissions EssaysUC Berkeley’s Haas School of Business has released its MBA application essays and deadlines for the Class of 2015. As has been the case with nearly every other top-ranked MBA program this year, Haas has trimmed down its essays, going from six to five required essays in this year’s application, and shortening one from 1,000 to 750 words. Outside of that, there haven’t been too many dramatic changes this year, although the school’s new Essay #1 is an eye opener!

Here are Haas’s application deadlines and essays, followed by our comments in italics:
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Dartmouth (Tuck) Application Essays and Deadlines for 2012-2013

Darmouth’s Tuck School of Business recently published its application deadlines and admissions essay topics for the Class of 2015. Once again, as we predicted a couple of months ago, another top school has slimmed down its essay count this year. In this case, Tuck actually merged two questions into one, reducing the total number of essays you will need to write for your Tuck application.

Here are the school’s new deadlines and essays, followed by our comments in italics:

Dartmouth (Tuck) Admissions Deadlines
Early Action round: October 10, 2012
November round: November 7, 2012
January round: January 3, 2013
April round: April 2, 2013
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MIT Sloan Admissions Essays and Deadlines for 2012-2013

MIT Sloan has released its admissions essays and deadlines for the Class of 2015. Sloan has made some tweaks this year, including dropping an essay, which continues a trend that we have seen among top MBA programs so far this year. However, the school’s famous cover letter returns. This cover letter is still unique among other top MBA programs’ application essays; apparently it still works well enough that the Sloan admissions committee wants to keep it around.

Here are MIT Sloan’s application deadlines and essays for the coming year, followed by our comments in italics:

MIT Sloan Application Deadlines
Round 1: October 24, 2012
Round 2: December 27, 2012
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NYU Stern Admissions Essays and Deadlines for 2012-2013

NYU’s Stern School of Business recently released its application deadlines and essays for the Class of 2015. Just as we have seen with other top-ranked business schools so far, Stern has made some notable changes to its essays this year. In Stern’s case, we don’t see any trimming of essays or words, but we do see a new push to make sure you’ve researched the school as well as an entirely new career goals essay that we like for its creativity.

Here are NYU Stern’s deadlines and essays for the coming admissions season, followed by our comments in italics:

NYU Stern Application Deadlines
Round 1: November 15, 2012
Round 2: January 15, 2013
Round 3: March 15, 2013
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Yale SOM Application Essays and Deadlines for 2012-2013

Yale School of ManagementThe Yale School of Management has released its MBA application essays and deadlines for the Class of 2015. Continuing the trend we’ve seen emerge among top business schools over the past month, Yale has changed a lot this year. However, in Yale’s case, once you dig down a bit deeper you realize that Yale is still mostly looking for the same attributes in its applicants this year.

Here are the school’s deadlines and essays for the coming year, followed by our comments in italics:

Yale SOM Admissions Deadlines
Round 1: October 4, 2012
Round 2: January 8, 2013
Round 3: April 18, 2013
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Wharton Application Essays and Deadlines for 2012-2013

Wharton Admissions GuideWharton has released its application deadlines and essays for the 2012-2013 admissions season. Last year Wharton didn’t make too many big changes after really mixing it up the year before. Let’s dig into this year’s application and see how much things have changed this year.

Here are Wharton’s deadlines and essays for the Class of 2015, followed by our comments in italics:

Wharton Admissions Deadlines

Round 1: October 1, 2012
Round 2: January 3, 2013
Round 3: March, 2013 (exact date TBD)
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Stanford MBA Application Essays for 2012-2013

Stanford GSB recently released its MBA admissions essays for the 2012-2013 application season. You may notice some changes to the essays since last year; we’ll dig into those changes below. Perhaps most significantly, just as we predicted last month, Stanford removed one of its required essays this year, although the total recommended word count remains the same.

As it has done for the past several years, Stanford’s admissions committee provides some high-level advice right on its own website. While we think this advice is generally good, we don’t see anything in Stanford’s advice that hasn’t been said many times before. Still, any advice that comes straight from the horse’s mouth deserves your attention!
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Columbia Business School Application Essays and Deadlines for 2012-2013

Columbia Business SchoolAfter releasing its application deadlines for the 2012-2013 admissions season, Columbia Business School has released its admissions essays, and we’ll dig into those today.

Note that Columbia is somewhat unique among top U.S. business schools because it has a large January intake every year. This program allows you to complete your MBA in less than a year and a half, and is ideally suited for applicants who don’t plan on switching careers or may want to start their own venture after school (i.e., you’ll need less help from Columbia’s career services office than the typical student). The January intake deadlines are also covered below.
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Harvard Business School Essays and Deadlines for 2012-2013

HBS EssaysTime flies… The last applicants of the 2011-2012 admissions season are still finding out their fates, and Harvard Business School has already released its admissions essays and deadlines for the 2012-2013 application season. Big news here: Consistent with what we predicted earlier this month, this year’s HBS application includes fewer essays… Just two required ones this year! (Back pats all around here at Veritas Prep headquarters!)

Here are the new Harvard essays and deadlines, taken from Harvard’s site. As usual, our comments follow in italics:
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Three Predictions About 2012-2013 MBA Admissions Essays

Every January, we make predictions about the coming year in this space. Our 2012 edition includes predictions for weaker international application volume at U.S. business schools and growth in non-traditional graduate management programs. It’s still far too early to see how those predictions will pan out, but today we want to get a little more down in the weeds and make several predictions about what MBA admissions essays might look like in the coming year.

Every spring Harvard normally leads the charge by releasing its application essays first, firing the symbolic starter pistol for the new application season. In fact, last year HBS released its essays in the second week of May, so we may be just days away from the 2012-2013 admissions season getting underway. With that in mind, here are three predictions for what we’ll see in business school application essays in the coming year:
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Admissions 101: What an Essay Word Limit Really Means

One of the most common questions we get from applicants is, “How strict are schools about word limits in their admissions essays and personal statements?” While the answer itself is rather straightforward, we often encourage applicants to stop focusing on the number, take a step back, and consider what admissions officers are really communicating when they put forward a word limit.

First, we’ll answer the question directly: Schools are not out to reject you for going over a word limit by a small amount. Okay, okay… “What’s a small amount?” you’re asking. One rule of thumb that is frequently tossed around is 10%, although it’s worth noting that admissions consultants tend to promote this rule more than any admissions officer does. However, if you can stay within 10% of the word limit for an essay, you probably are okay.
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Duke (Fuqua) Application Essays and Deadlines for 2011-2012

As we round out our coverage of the admissions essays and deadlines at the world’s top business schools, today we dig into the Fuqua School of Business’ application. There are very few changes this year, so our advice remains mostly the same. Let’s dig in:

Duke (Fuqua) Admissions Deadlines
Early Action: September 29, 2011
Round 1: November 1, 2011
Round 2: January 4, 2012
Round 3: March 8, 2012

These deadlines are virtually the same as last year’s. Note that, while most schools use the term “Early Action” to indicate that the decision is non-binding, Fuqua considers it to be binding. So, we only recommend applying in this round if you’re 100% certain that you want to attend Fuqua. If you’re waiting to hear back from some other schools before applying to Fuqua in Round 2, you’ll need to at least get the ball rolling on your Fuqua application before you know your fate at those other schools, since you won’t have a lot of time between mid-December and Duke’s January 4 deadline. Duke’s Round 3 deadline is the same as it was last year.
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Yale SOM Admissions Essays and Deadlines for 2011-2012

Yale School of ManagementThe Yale School of Management has released its MBA application essays and deadlines for the Class of 2014. Yale has made some tweaks this year, and we’ll dig into each of them below. Here are the school’s deadlines and essays for the coming year, followed by our comments in italics:

Yale SOM Application Deadlines
Round 1: October 6, 2011
Round 2: January 5, 2012
Round 3: April 12, 2012

Yale’s Round 1 and Round 2 deadlines are virtually unchanged, but Yale has pushed back its Round 3 deadline by almost a month this year. Perhaps the school recognizes that very few North American MBA programs have deadlines past late March, and wants to keep its doors open for as long as possible so that strong candidates don’t have to turn to European programs (which tend to have later or different deadline cycles than U.S. programs). We still advise that you aim for Round 1 or Round 2, but this is a subtle signal that Yale truly does consider applications that come in after Round 2.
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NYU Stern Application Essays and Deadlines for 2011-2012

NYU’s Stern School of Business has released its MBA admissions essays and deadlines for the Class of 2014. Here they are, followed by our comments in italics:

NYU Stern Admissions Deadlines
Round 1: November 15, 2011
Round 2: January 15, 2012
Round 3: March 15, 2012

These deadlines are identical to last year’s. Note that, unlike many other top business schools, Stern has kept its Round 1 admissions deadline firmly in the middle of November. The good news for you is that, if you’re applying to Stern along with a few other schools in Round 1, this gives you a chance to get those ones done in October, catch your breath, and then give your Stern application your undivided attention. The downside is that Stern won’t notify Round 1 applicants until as late as February 15, 2011, so you will have to make choices about your Round 2 applications (which mostly have January deadlines) before you receive your final decision from Stern.
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UCLA Anderson Application Essays and Deadlines for 2011-2012

UCLA Anderson Admissions GuideUCLA’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.
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Michigan (Ross) Admissions Essays for 2011-2012

Michigan Ross MBA Admissions GuideThe University of Michigan’s Ross School of Business recently released its application deadlines and essays for the Class of 2014. After making big changes to its essays last year, Ross has only made small tweaks this time around. We’ll dig into the school’s essays and deadlines below, followed by our comments, in italics:

Michigan (Ross) Application Deadlines
Round 1: October 10, 2011
Round 2: January 4, 2012
Round 3: March 1, 2012
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Dartmouth (Tuck) Admissions Essays for 2011-2012

Darmouth’s Tuck School of Business recently published its application deadlines and admissions essay topics for the Class of 2014. You may notice that Tuck’s questions have changed very little since last year, suggesting that the school’s current batch of essay topics works well for the admissions committee. By “works well,” we mean that the essays help admissions officers get to know applicants better, and helps them separate out the great candidates from the merely good ones.

Also, note that Tuck does not have hard word limits for its essays, but the school does provide some rough guidance: “Although there is no formal restriction on the length of your response, most applicants use, on average, 500 words for each essay and you should work hard to try to keep your answers around that length.”
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MIT Sloan Application Essays and Deadlines for 2011-2012

MIT Sloan has released its admissions essays and deadlines for the Class of 2014. (You can view the essays once you create an online account to access Sloan’s application.) There are some small changes to the essays this year, although not many, and Sloan’s famous cover letter returns. This cover letter is still unique among other top MBA programs’ application essays; apparently its still works well enough that Sloan wants to keep it around.

Here are MIT Sloan’s deadlines and essays for the coming year, followed by our comments in italics:
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