UPDATE: The tips for the 2011 MBA UCLA Anderson application are now available online. Please post questions or comments to the new post.
My comments are in red:
GENERAL INSTRUCTIONS: Please be introspective and authentic in your responses. We value the opportunity to learn about your life experiences, aspirations, and goals.
All responses to essays must be on double-spaced pages that are uploaded in document form, except for Essay 4 for first-time applicants, which may be submitted as an audio or video file instead. (Please note the word limits in parentheses.)
First-time applicants — 4 required essays:
1. Describe the ways in which your family and/or community have helped shape your development. (750 words)
This is an abridged version of last year’s first question. For years, similar questions have prompted UCLA’s first and one of its longer essays. That status reveals the importance UCLA places on getting to know you as a human being.
Choose 1-3 important elements from your background to discuss in this essay. You can focus on your community, family life, vacations, mealtime, seminal experiences or events that were formative. The key is to highlight particular topics and not write the sweeping (and superficial) bio. Avoid “I was born in Timbuktu and when I was 4 we moved to Outer Mongolia and then when I was …” or the equivalent.
Note the inclusion of community in the question. Community is an important value at Anderson. If it has been important to you, you may want to focus on its role in your development.
2. Describe the biggest risk you have ever taken, the outcome, and what you learned in the process. (500 words)
New question. When did you make a decision with an uncertain outcome and significant possibility of loss, harm, or embarrassment along with the potential for high rewards? I know it’s happened, so what would you consider the biggest such risk? How did you analyze the pros and cons, the downside and the upside? What were the results? What did you learn? How did you grow from the experience?
This question doesn’t ask for a survey of all your risky decisions. It asks for the “biggest” i.e. one decision entailing risk. The question begs for an anecdotal response like that discussed in Tuesday’s webinar, Roadmap to Bold & Brilliant MBA Essays, which should be online sometime this week.
3. Describe your short-term and long-term career goals. What is your motivation for pursuing an MBA now and how will UCLA Anderson help you to achieve your goals? (750 words)
UCLA’s is a pretty straightforward goals question. What are you goals? Why now? How will UCLA Anderson’s program and strengths help you achieve your goals. As always be specific and make sure you answer all elements of the question.
4. Select and respond to one of the two following questions. We would like you to respond to the question by recording an audio or video response (up to 10Mb maximum) for upload in the online application. (Please note: The supported file types for audio files are: .avi, .wav, .mp3, .wmv, .midi, .wma, .aiff, .au, .mp4; the supported file types for video files are: .mov, .avi, .wmv, .mpeg). If you are unable to submit your response via audio or video, then please prepare a written response instead. (250 words)
a. Entrepreneurship is a mindset that embraces innovation and risk-taking within both established and new organizations. Describe an instance in which you exhibited this mindset.
b. What is something people will find surprising about you?
UCLA only gives two options this year instead of three, as it did last year, and option A is a new question. As with all questions providing a choice, choose the option allowing you to present a different and impressive experience — one not discussed in a previous essay. If you ever ran your own business or worked in a start-up, “A” may be the one for you. And “B” could be perfect for someone with a distinctive hobby, interest, or twist to his or her experience.
5. OPTIONAL: Are there any extenuating circumstances in your profile about which the Admissions Committee should be aware? (250 words)
Two 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.
If you would like help with UCLA’s essays, please consider Accepted.com’s UCLA Anderson Comprehensive Packages or our other MBA admissions consulting and editing services. And if you purchase before July 31, 2009, you can save 15% on all of our MBA editing and comprehensive packages.