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.
• 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.
One essay is required, in written form only. One optional essay may also be submitted to supply information on extenuating circumstances.
We believe that the best results are achieved when you share success, think fearlessly and drive change. With this in mind, what are your goals at UCLA Anderson and in your short-term and long-term career? (750 words maximum)
Anderson gives you enough room to write a revealing response. Make sure this essay shows that you can answer the question articulately and belong at Anderson.
First think about Anderson’s motto: Share success. Think fearlessly. Drive Change. Think about the ways you can show that those values are your values. How do those values motivate you to pursue the path your are pursuing? To apply to UCLA Anderson’s MBA program?
A great way to approach this essay would be to discuss an experience or anecdote that reveals you acting according to these principles. Then connect that story and your values to UCLA Anderson’s program and culture and your reasons for choosing its MBA program. Conclude by connecting relevant aspects of the Anderson MBA experience and program to achievement of your short- and long-term goals. Conclude by addressing the last part of the question: How Anderson’s principles and “environment” will help you realize your post-MBA career goals.
Your particular story may benefit from a different order, and that’s fine. Just make sure that the reader can follow and that you include all the requested elements.
The following essay is optional. No preference is given in the evaluation process to applicants who submit an optional essay. Please note that we only accept written essays.
Are there any extenuating circumstances in your profile about which the Admissions Committee should be aware? Please use your best judgment. (250 words maximum)
If there are extenuating circumstances that would add perspective on, context for, 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.
Reapplicants – One Required Essay:
Reapplicants who applied for the class entering in fall 2014 or 2015 are required to complete the following essay:
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? Finally, if your career goals have evolved since you last applied, discuss that evolution.
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 and co-author of the definitive book on MBA admissions, MBA Admission for Smarties: The No-Nonsense Guide to Acceptance at Top Business Schools.