Oxford Said 2015 MBA Essay Tips & Deadlines

Click here for more MBA application essay tips!This program packs a lot into its one year, including a lot of team and group workTherefore, it needs students who can quickly connect and form working relationships (and hopefully personal relationships).  Also, its short duration means there is not time for creative soul searching and for exploring this and that industry or function – to get the most out of it and to gain desirable employment upon completion, you need to have self-awareness and focused goalsThese essays will elicit those qualities.

Essays:

1. What should Oxford expect from you? (500 words)

Interesting question. Can they expect you to get involved in specific activities? Which ones? How would you like to contribute to the school? Any activities you would like to initiate?

Do you have a business idea you want to develop as part of Oxford’s entrepreneurship project? Are you also thinking of participating in the strategic consulting project? Any places you would like to go on an optional student trek? Oxford is giving you 500 words here.

You have the room to show how you have contributed in the past and how you intend to contribute at Oxford. If you are getting the idea that you need to know something about the program before you respond to the question, you’re getting the right idea.

If you have specific ideas (along with relevant past experience), you can also mention how you will represent the school after you graduate.

2. How do you hope to see your career developing over the next five years? How will the MBA and Oxford assist you in the development of these ambitions? (500 words)

This essay focuses on shorter-term goals – the one MBA year and the four years following.  Describe your target post-MBA position, give an example or two of preferred organizations, and describe what you expect to do in that role.  Also, explain briefly why you are choosing this path, what motivates you.  Then sketch how you will likely advance over the four years – this time frame may include one company move or new position, but probably not more than that.  Finally, identify aspects of the program most important to you – those that will yield skills and knowledge relevant to your goals, and/or are meaningful to you for personal reasons.  

3. Plus your preferred essay from the options below:

Sport is pure competition. What does it teach us about companies, individuals, and markets? (500 words)

OR

The business of business is business. Is this true? (500 words)

Both of these options challenge you to express your thoughts about concepts related to business.  Therefore, they both present the danger of luring you to expound for 500 words in abstract terms about competition, the nature of business, etc.  Please do the opposite.  Whichever question you choose to answer, and whatever point you posit, ground your essay and your argument in specific examples, details, and/or experience.  That will make it both interesting and credible.  As for which to answer, which one elicits your interest and ideas?  Don’t hold back and be bland and mild in your opinions.  The adcom is looking for people who have something to say and can make a case for their ideas. 

Reapplicant Essay What improvements have you made in your candidacy since you last applied to the Oxford MBA programme? (Maximum 250 words)

This is they key question for all MBA reapplicants. What has changed that will make you a more compelling applicant this year than you were last time you applied?

If you would like professional guidance with your Oxford Said MBA application, please consider Accepted’s MBA essay editing and MBA admissions consulting or our MBA Application Packages, which include advising, editing, interview coaching, and a resume edit for the Oxford application.

Deadlines:

Application Deadline Decision Notification
Round 3 January 9, 2015 February 27, 2015
Round 4 March 13, 2015 April 24, 2015
Round 5 April 24, 2015 May 29, 2015
Round 6 May 29, 2015 June 26, 2015

Get clear, practical guidelines for answering the MBA goals essay question. Click here to download our free report.

Cindy Tokumitsu By , author and co-author of numerous ebooks, articles, and special reports, including Why MBA and Best MBA Programs: A Guide to Selecting the Right One. Cindy has advised hundreds of successful applicants in her fifteen years with Accepted.com.

Related Resources:

School-Specific MBA Application Essay Tips
Leadership in Admissions
7 Signs an Experience Belongs in Your Application Essays

MIT Sloan 2015 Executive MBA Essay Tips & Deadlines

Click here to download a free copy of "Ace the EMBA"

This set of essay questions shows that MIT seeks applicants who have a vision for the career they are building, who understand the impacts of their actions, and who have the judgment and practical skills to effectively handle the challenges that will come at them like fastballs in a World Series.  The essays are your main means to show that you possess, as MIT’s website states, “strong leadership performance, global perspective, functional expertise, and innovation.”  While the statement of purpose challenges you to succinctly create your portrait as an applicant, the three essay questions, each in its own way, probe how you create value while responding to various types of challenges.

In an overall plan for the essays, the statement of purpose works as a context, a positioner, an opening pitch, a frame.  You will describe specific experiences in each of the three essays, so strategically try to select experiences that are different, to give a comprehensive view.  Also, usually it’s advisable to discuss recent experiences, to allow the adcom to see you working at a high level and showing what you’ll bring to the table.

Statement of purpose:

Please provide a statement indicating your qualifications, why you are pursuing the MIT Executive MBA Program, and what you will contribute to the program. (500 words or less, limited to one page)

This is your portrait – your candidacy at a glance.  It should convey a vivid, immediate sense of you as a person and as a candidate.  It should go beyond just facts to present a point of view and a message.  Decide your message first, before drafting the essay, and let it guide you in selecting and elaborating the content details.

Beware of a potential pitfall: in discussing qualifications, do not repeat your resume in prose format.  Also, don’t present all your qualifications.  Select carefully, focusing on those that (a) are really distinctive and relevant to the MBA and/or (b) support your goals directly or indirectly and also (c) reflect your message. Make a short, meaningful point about each qualification, such as the insight it lends or its influence on you, supported by a fact or example.

For why you are pursuing the MBA, of course you’ll discuss your professional goals and objectives.  Focus not only on what you want to do, but also on what you want to accomplish for the organization and/or its customers/market.

The contributions you mention should reference your own experience from work or outside work; think of what about you would be most meaningful and interesting to prospective classmates.  This element of your response is an opportunity to show that you understand the program.

Essays:

1. The educational mission of the MIT Sloan School of Management is to “develop principled, innovative leaders who improve the world.” Please discuss how you will contribute toward advancing this mission based on examples of past work and activities. (500 words or less, limited to one page)

In answering this question, clarify what “principled, innovative leader” and “improving the world” mean to you.  These points represent your point of view, your “vision” – they should be short, but without them this essay lacks focus.  The bulk of the essay will focus on action – your examples of past work and activities that make the case for how you have been and will continue to be a principled, innovative leader who improves the world.  They key to making this a gripping, memorable essay is strong experiences and examples combined with your reflection on them pertaining to the essay’s theme.  End by briefly discussing how you will build on these experiences to be such a leader in the future.

2. During your career, what is the hardest challenge that you have had to solve? Consider examples when more than one viable solution was present. (500 words or less, limited to one page)

There are really two points this question asks about: how you define and respond to a major challenge, and your decision-making process in selecting the solution.  Choose your topic accordingly.  With just 500 words, structure the essay simply: narrate the challenge as a brief story, portraying your thought process as you encounter it.  As you approach the solution part of the story, describe the solution options and your determination of which to take.  In writing the essay, clarify why you consider it the “hardest challenge” – is it one that was extraordinarily complex, one that had no desirable solution, one that had huge stakes, etc.? 

3. Tell us about a time within the past three years when you had to give difficult feedback to a peer. (500 words or less, limited to one page)

This question is a straightforward inquiry into your interpersonal skills, judgment, leadership, and (again) decision making.  It’s one thing to give difficult feedback to a subordinate – something you probably do as part of your supervisory role.  It’s another thing altogether to give such feedback to a peer – someone you don’t manage and whose performance you aren’t accountable for.  If possible, make the essay do “double duty” by selecting a story that also portrays you performing at a high level in a significant role.   Think about the topic and how your actions align with and complement the other essays.

Optional Essay.

As part of the MIT Executive MBA curriculum, you will participate in Organizations Lab (O-Lab). This Action Learning course focuses on making a substantive improvement in the performance of your organization, usually by fixing one of its processes.

Identify something, within your organization, upon which to improve. (This does not have to be a large change initiative, small improvements to a process can have a big impact). Please describe the change and why you might choose it? This can be something you have tried to improve in the past and has yet to be realized (whether based on lack of expertise or tools).

Should you do this optional essay? I believe yes. It’s an opportunity to further demonstrate your organizational awareness, possibly highlight important elements of your role, and show your perceptiveness. A key element here will be your perspective on change and its potential impact(s). Select an issue that has an interesting, challenging dimension. Consider the experiences you describe in the other essays and make sure this one isn’t redundant – it should reflect a new facet of your experience. Keep it short – certainly under 500 words. And keep it simple: describe the issue you’d like to improve (and why), and then very briefly reflect on why it’s challenging. You may suggest a possible solution or approaches to solutions, but you don’t have to “solve” it. MIT is interested in your thought process here.

Deadlines:

Application Opens: November 14, 2014

Round 1 Deadline: February 17, 2015 (11:59pm EST)

Round 2 Deadline: June 1, 2015 (11:59pm EDT)

If you would like help with MIT Sloan’s executive MBA essays, please consider Accepted.com’s Executive MBA packages or our hourly consulting/editing services.

Download your free copy of Ace the EMBA!


Cindy Tokumitsu By , co-author of The EMBA Edge, and author of the free special report, Ace the EMBA. Cindy has helped MBA applicants get accepted to top EMBA programs around the world. She is delighted to help you too!

Related Resources:

• School-Specific Executive MBA Essay Tips
• Tips for Executive MBA Reapplicants
• The GMAT and EMBA Programs

Team-Based Discussion Interviews

Check out our Wharton Zone for info, tips, stats and more.

Make your goal the team’s success, not its adoption of your idea.

Wharton and Ross initiated a new MBA interview format, the team-based discussion (TBD). This type of interview brings a group of applicants together in person to work through a problem together as an organizational team does. This team activity is followed by a short one-to-one talk with an adcom representative (either a second-year student or an adcom member). It is now part of Wharton’s regular mode for interviews. At Ross, it’s not required, and they use traditional methods for their evaluative interviews.

Why adcoms use this method:

• Some adcoms have found traditional interview modes increasingly ineffective as they feel that candidates over-prepare and over-strategize for interviews, thus undercutting authenticity.

• The adcoms want to see the candidates in team action, since students’ success in the program (and in their future career) will rest in part on their teamwork and interpersonal skills.

• This approach gives the adcom insight into the applicants that no other application component provides – how they actually respond to people and situations in real time.

• The post-activity discussion shows your ability to self-reflect and analyze your own role and performance – qualities the adcom values.

Process:

Wharton – When you receive an invitation to interview, you’ll go online and select a time and date to attend a 5- or 6-member, approximately 45-minute TBD. Wharton will send you a prompt, which is the topic for the team activity; Wharton advises spending about an hour preparing with this prompt. In the TBD, each person will have a minute to articulate his own idea on the topic, and then the team will work together toward a group decision. After the TBD, you will meet individually with one of the two evaluators for 10-15 minutes to discuss your thoughts on how it went. You and the evaluator may discuss other topics as well.

Ross – Ross sends no prompt. Rather, it’s more like a team-building activity. You’ll receive the invitation to participate when you receive your regular interview invite, and can accept or decline. If you accept, you’ll meet in a group of 4-6. The team is given 2 words, and they first prepare individual presentations connecting these words (10 minutes for this portion). Then the group receives additional random words, and they have 20 minutes to prepare a team presentation that uses the words to address a problem and articulate a solution. The individuals in the team, not the team as a whole, are evaluated either by second-year students or adcom members, who also interview them separately afterward.

Benefits and pitfalls for applicants:

• Benefit: You can showcase your interpersonal, team, and leadership skills more vividly than any essay or individual interview could portray.

• Benefit: You can get a real flavor of the programs’ teamwork dynamic.

• Benefit: You can enjoy meeting peers and potential classmates.

• Drawback: You have less control, as you have to assess and respond to the group dynamics instantly; there is no margin for error.

• Drawback: Logistically it’s complex – always harder to get a group together.

• Drawback: While the adcoms think it gives them a lens on you as a team player, in “real life” you usually have some time to adapt to a new team, and your true teamwork abilities will come out over time as you respond, whereas here there’s no time to grow and adapt with the team, so it’s a somewhat artificial setup.

How to make this type of interview work for you (this is in addition to all the common sense advice for good MBA interviews):

• Review Accepted.com’s tips for this interview format.

• For Wharton, prepare and practice your one-minute presentation.

• For Ross, do the word activity with yourself or a friend, to get used to it.

• Think about your inclinations, behaviors, feelings, and approaches when working in a team or group setting, and also ask a colleague or two for some objective feedback. You shouldn’t change your natural approach, but you can certainly play to your strengths and minimize negative tendencies.

• Read online about other applicants’ experiences with the group interview.

•Make your goal the team’s success and ability to complete the assigned task, not its adoption of your idea.

[NOTE: This post is part of a series about MBA interview formats, click here to check out the rest of the posts]

Have a TBD Coming Up? Practice with the pros before your big day! CLICK HERE TO REGISTER FOR A MOCK WHARTON TBD!

Cindy Tokumitsu By , author and co-author of numerous ebooks, articles, and special reports, including Why MBA and Best MBA Programs: A Guide to Selecting the Right One. Cindy has advised hundreds of successful applicants in her fifteen years with Accepted.com.

Related Resources:

MBA Interview Formats Series
• Seven Tips for MBA Interview Prep
• How to Prep for Your MBA Interviews

2015 University of Michigan Ross Executive MBA Admissions Tips

Click here for more school-specific EMBA application essay tips!Ross Executive MBA students have, on average, about ten years of “progressive work experience” that include about five years as a hands-on manager. Such students are people who know where they’re going and why. So this year the EMBA essays give you the benefit of the doubt in that regard – no goals essays. Rather, the essay questions enable the adcom to get to know you and to assess your fit with the program. In writing the essays, keep on your radar their stated desire for students “whose notion of leadership includes a willingness to be part of something larger than themselves, who are receptive to new ways of thinking, and who bring varied experiences to bear on how they tackle a challenge.”

Essays:

1. What are you most proud of professionally and why? What did you learn from that experience? (400 words)

This essay presents an opportunity to “zoom in” on you tackling challenging issues, having an impact, and succeeding in the workplace. Ideally select a story that is relatively recent, that directly or indirectly reflects at least one of the values quoted above, and that can be told fairly succinctly without a lot of backstory (given the word limit). Also select a story that has an external, concrete impact, to show that you are a doer, who makes things happen. With the short word count, keep the structure simple: tell the story and add a short, thoughtful statement at the end about what you learned.

The essay can also work with a slightly older story, if you have something particularly strong, but in that case add a sentence summarizing how you have actually acted on, and employed what you learned.

2.What are you most proud of personally and why? How does it shape who you are today? (400 words)

In selecting this essay topic, coordinate it with the first essay – ensure that it reflects a fresh point about you. Also select the topic with an eye to where application strategy and your heart converge. The “heart” element gives your essay immediacy and authenticity – things the adcoms are sensitive to. Again, I recommend a simple structure: tell the story, and then reflect on how the experience shaped you, with concrete evidence of the latter.

Deadlines:

Early deadline: February 1, 2015

Regular deadline: April 1, 2015

Final deadline: May 15, 2015

Download your free special report, 'Ace the EMBA.'

Cindy Tokumitsu By , co-author of The EMBA Edge, and author of the free special report, Ace the EMBA. Cindy has helped MBA applicants get accepted to top EMBA programs around the world. She is delighted to help you too!

2015 Kellogg Executive MBA Admissions Tips

Want more EMBA essay tips? The Kellogg Executive MBA questions are among the most comprehensive, thorough, and numerous of any EMBA application. It takes significant effort to put together a strong set of Kellogg EMBA essays, and that fact weeds out potential students who are not seriously interested in this competitive program. Moreover, the questions encompass almost every basic type: goals, behavioral (the experience and your reflection on it), evaluative (greatest skills and talents). It offers more than one optional essay. This set of essays requires the writer to wear different hats and excel at different types of self-analysis. Not least, the messages and contents of the essays should be coordinated to strategically and holistically create a picture of you that is vivid, distinguishing, and multifaceted without being contradictory or jumbled. Note that there are no word limits, therefore use your judgment; don’t write all 1,000 word essays. Depending on the question and what you have to say, 400-750 is a good range to target.

ESSAYS:

JOB DESCRIPTION: Describe the unit for which you are responsible and relate it to the total organization in terms of size, scope, and autonomy of responsibility. What human resources, budget, and capital investment are you responsible for? Please describe your position.

A straightforward question – it contains several components, so be sure to answer all of them. Try to work in an anecdote or two somewhere, for example, if part of your role is to troubleshoot issues with global clients, give a brief example.

1. Why have you elected to apply to the Kellogg School Executive MBA Program?

This essay should discuss your interest in the Kellogg program as a means to acquire the learning you seek in light of your goals. Clarify why you are pursuing the executive program specifically. You can also discuss other benefits that relate to personal preferences such as environment and the program’s schedule, structure, and location. Be specific and add thoughtful discussion, don’t just reiterate points from the website. If possible, cite conversations with students or alumni, including relevant insights you’ve gained from them.

2. What are your goals and objectives and how will a Kellogg Executive MBA help you achieve these? Please feel free to discuss both personal and professional goals.

Discuss your goals in specific terms: industry, likely positions, which company or companies, possibly where, what you expect to do, possibly challenges you anticipate. Also discuss what you want to accomplish short- and long-term. To make the essay truly compelling, also show how your goals are rooted in your experience, what motivates your goals, and your vision for your goals. Finally, discuss the learning needs these goals engender and summarize how the Kellogg MBA meets them, saving the greater detail for essay 1.

3. Discuss a professional situation that did not end successfully. Why did you or your peers consider the situation to have negative results? How did you resolve the situation? Did it change your management style? If so, how?

In selecting the story to discuss, use something relatively recent (even though unsuccessful, it can still show you at work in an engaging context and at a decision making level with high accountability), and something substantive. Be frank about your role as it may have contributed to the lack of success. For structure, keep it simple: first tell the story, and then address the remaining questions. The last part, about how it may have changed your management style, is a good opportunity to show you’ve not only learned from the experience but applied the learning, by briefly citing a specific example of your improved management style.

4. What do you consider to be your greatest skills and talents? How will you use these to contribute to an Executive MBA class as well as to a study group?

First, what not to do: strain to find some unique skill or talent that no one else possesses in an effort to differentiate yourself. It doesn’t exist. Rather, look inward – whether it’s creativity, initiative, leadership, strategic thinking, interpersonal astuteness, analytic capability, mentoring/coaching – it’s the details and stories of how you manifest this quality that will make this essay exciting while strategically supporting and enhancing the other essays. Select 2-3 skills/talents that differ from each other (i.e., don’t do quant skills and analytic skills, or communication skills and interpersonal skills) and tell a quick story or anecdote illustrating each. Finally, for each, comment on how it will help you contribute by giving an example – these comments can be short, as they story itself will really convey how the skill or talent will let you contribute.

5. Describe how your relevant global experiences have influenced you professionally. (Optional)

This is a great essay for most people to answer – if you’ve had any global experience, it can only have influenced you professionally. If you’ve had a lot of global experiences, don’t just do a survey of them and don’t feel you must write about all of them. Select the most meaningful experiences and tell the stories, and then explaining the influence on you.

6. Is there anything else that you would like to add to help us in evaluating your candidacy? (Optional)

This question invites you to present new material that you think will enhance your application, as well as to explain anything that needs explaining (e.g., gap in employment). As far as non-necessary points, keep in mind that if you are making the adcom read more, there should be a clear value to the information. Finally, considering the many essays, keep it short.

7. Describe any major reports, instructional materials, or manuals that you have prepared or any research, inventions, or other creative work. (Optional)

Note, “major.” Do not wrack your brain for every report or training material you’ve contributed to. If you have numerous patents, ditto. Focus on the most important ones of whatever type of material you are describing. A nice format is an annotated bullet list.

8. Please list the business/professional/community organizations in which you are active. (Optional)

Note “are active.” Not “were active.”

Rolling admissionsSuggested deadlines are June 15th for programs beginning in September, andOctober 15th for programs beginning in January.

Download your free special report, 'Ace the EMBA.'

Cindy Tokumitsu By , co-author of The EMBA Edge, and author of the free special report, Ace the EMBA. Cindy has helped MBA applicants get accepted to top EMBA programs around the world. She is delighted to help you too!