The advice that UCLA Anderson provides below is excellent, not just for Anderson’s essays, but for most MBA essays. Read it carefully.
My tips are in blue below.
Your essays are the primary way for you to share your perspectives and plans with the admissions committee. The best essays are introspective, genuine and succinct in directly answering our questions and responding to our topics.
• Essay questions are listed below for both first-time applicants and re-applicants.
• You should try to distinguish yourself by showing what makes you different from others who share similar profiles.
• Personal expression is what we are looking for, not platitudes.
• Making a strong case for your future plans requires you to first do research on career paths and find one that resonates. Even if this target will change during business school, your application essays should lay out a clear trajectory for short-term and long-term goals. Do this by demonstrating how you expect to build on skills from your past, and those you expect to gain from the MBA.
• 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).
• Content and clarity are key elements, as we seek superior communication skills.
• Style is a consideration too, although we understand that those who speak other languages may have different manners of expression in English.
• We do check your essays for plagiarism, so make sure you always submit your own work.
• Length does not equal strength. A well-written short essay can have even more impact than a longer essay. Please try to respect the word limits indicated below.
• All responses to essays must be on double-spaced pages that are uploaded as a document. We do not accept essays in any other media but written form.
UCLA Anderson is distinguished by three defining principles: Share Success, Think Fearlessly, Drive Change. What principles have defined your life and pre-MBA career? How do you believe that UCLA Anderson’s principles, and the environment they create, will help you attain your post-MBA career goals? (750 words maximum)
Anderson has simplified it’s essay requirements but gives you enough room to write a revealing response. Make sure that essay shows that can answer the question articulately and belong at Anderson.
First think about what’s important to you. What guides and drives your behavior? If you can summarize those principles in two words as Anderson does, that’s great. If not, don’t sweat it, but do be succinct. If you come up with more than three principles, choose the three that are most important to you, but I advise against going with more than three. If you want to use fewer than three, that’s OK too. And, for Heaven’s sake don’t be tempted to say that your guiding principles are verbatim identical to Anderson’s.
A great way to approach this essay would be to discuss an experience or anecdote that represents your guiding principles and then connect that story and your values to UCLA’s critical principles and the Anderson culture. Then conclude by addressing the last part of the question: How Anderson’s principles and “environment” will help you realize your post-MBA career goals.
Are there any extenuating circumstances in your profile about which the Admissions Committee should be aware? (250 words maximum)
If there are extenuating circumstances that would add perspective on or “explain” a weakness, you can discuss them here. A few years ago, UCLA added the following: “Please do not submit redundant information in the Optional Essay.” Good advice for all optional questions. For more suggestions, please see The Optional Question: To Be or not To Be.
Required Re-applicant Essay:
Reapplicants who applied for the class entering Fall 2013 or 2014 are required to complete the following essay. Please be introspective and authentic in your response. We value the opportunity to learn about your aspirations and goals.
Please describe your career progress since you last applied and ways in which you have enhanced your candidacy. Include updates on short-term and long-term career goals, as well as your continued interest in UCLA Anderson. (750 words maximum)
This is the key question in every MBA reapplication: How have you enhanced your candidacy? Career progress is an obvious place to start and something you must address, but if academics were a weakness, then what have you done since you last applied to show you can excel at Anderson?
If you would like professional guidance with your UCLA Anderson 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 UCLA application.
By Linda Abraham, president and founder of Accepted.com and co-author of the new, definitive book on MBA admissions, MBA Admission for Smarties: The No-Nonsense Guide to Acceptance at Top Business Schools.