UCLA Executive MBA 2013 Essay Questions and Tips

UCLA

UCLA Anderson

One point stands out immediately with these essay questions: there is no conventional goals question.  That fact says something: the adcom does not view an extended discussion of goals – the future (always speculative to a degree) – helpful for their evaluation purposes.  It also puts all the weight on what you’re doing here and now.  These questions probe reality, actuality; the facts of who you are, what you’ve done, and what you’re doing now.  (If the past predicts the future, someone who has shined and does shine will continue to shine…)   If you feel your goals are important to mention, I will discuss one way to so do appropriately within the context of the questions.

Essay 1:
Personal: How has a person, event, or situation in your life influenced who you are today? (Maximum 1 page, double-spaced, 10 point font)

This essay question indicates the adcom’s interest in knowing you as an individual beyond your resume and career interests. Both your selected topic and your explanation of how you are influenced will shed light on what you value and your ability to respond to and grow from experience, among other things.  With about 500 words, take a straightforward approach. Describe a key formative experience, person, or event and show by example and anecdote how it has shaped you subsequently. In choosing a topic, don’t worry that it might not be unique – in fact it probably won’t be, in its broad manifestation, such as a move to a new country, a courageous parent or grandparent, or discovery of a deep interest.  Regardless of the broad topic, your essay will be unique if you personalize it with detail, anecdote, and your own perception and responses. Also, in weighing potential topics, think strategically: which one will showcase something fresh, relevant, and advantageous about your candidacy?

Essay 2:
Greatest Skill/Talent: Use the template found here to showcase your three greatest skills and talents in each category, and describe how you will use these to bring value to an Executive MBA classroom and your study group. For this question, please complete the PDF template and upload it here.

This essay requires you to be both conceptual and concrete – while also being concise.  In the template, the “definition” column is the conceptual part – you must explain succinctly how you perceive or define the specific skill or talent (luckily the template provides an example).  Then in the second column, you’ll state in a sentence or two how this skill or talent will enable you to contribute in practical terms – by giving examples.  Be strategic, selecting items that cover a range and don’t overlap.

The second page of this template asks you to “write your 30-second commercial to the faculty committee as they consider your application.”  This is essentially an elevator-pitch to the stated audience.  From the faculty committee’s view, what about you as a professional would be most intriguing and engaging?  There is no formula; it will vary by person.  Avoid generic blabber and trying to cover everything; rather, select the “tastiest morsels” of your candidacy and present them with specifics.  This is also a place where you can slip in a sentence about your goals if you feel it’s important to your candidacy, though don’t make the whole pitch about your goals.

EMBA Essay 3:
Organizational Chart: To help us understand your professional responsibilities and the nature of your job, please upload an organizational chart showing your position in the organization, including those who report to you.

Ensure that this chart is clear and thorough: include all position titles and departments/function names.   A picture is worth a thousand words, and although it contains words, this chart is essentially a snapshot of your current professional situation: your level of responsibility and accountability, the context for your performance and achievements.  If you work in a matrix organization and you feel your level of accomplishment and responsibility aren’t accurately shown by the chart, explain this point briefly in the optional essay, but don’t belabor it – a sentence or two will suffice.

Reapplicant essay:

Please update your professional, academic, and community activities since your previous application and highlight what you have done to strengthen your application since you last applied (limit 1 page).

Succinctly discuss professional developments such as promotions, awards, and new projects, as well as any significant community involvements and/or educational endeavors.  Describe the activity/experience, and note its positive impact if any.  Try to include an anecdote for at least 1-2 of the activities discussed.  Finally, be selective and present only those activities that are relevant and enhance your application and candidacy in some way.

Remaining deadlines:

March 20, 2013; decision by April 20, 2013

May 1, 2013; decision by June 1, 2013

Cindy TokumitsuBy Cindy Tokumitsu, co-author of The Finance Professional’s Guide to MBA Admissions Success, and author of numerous ebooks, articles, and special reports. Cindy has advised hundreds of successful applicants in her last thirteen years with Accepted.