UCLA decided to change its essay questions this year. It has divided its one long goals essay question into two more focused questions (500 and 250 word limits) with the same total (750) word limit. The longer question is similar to last year’s single question in that it asks about short-term and long-term goals, but the remainder of the question is different. This year’s question asks about how UCLA will “contribute to your professional development.”
The shorter, new question asks what you will contribute to the UCLA community.
In essence the longer question is about how you intend to benefit professionally from an Anderson MBA and the short question asks how you will benefit the Anderson community: What will you get from and what will you give to Anderson? (and I don’t mean donations as an alum)
The essay advice that UCLA Anderson provides is excellent, not just for Anderson’s essays, but for most MBA essays. We’ve provided it here in the black font. Read it carefully. Our advice is in blue.
• 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 essay responses are to be entered directly in the text box provided in your application.
One essay is required, in written form only. One optional essay may also be submitted to supply information on extenuating circumstances.
Describe your short-term and long-term career goals. How can the UCLA Anderson experience add value to your professional development? (500 words maximum)
Anderson gives you enough room to write a revealing response. Make sure this essay shows that you’re already a member of the Anderson community by version of your values and experience. You’re just haven’t yet paid tuition.
First think about Anderson’s motto: Share success. Think fearlessly. Drive Change. Watch the videos that Anderson provides on each of those values. Think about the ways you can show that those values are your values while answering the question.
To respond to the question itself, what are you looking to gain from the Anderson MBA? How do you hope to grow? Focus on the elements of the Anderson program that are distinctive, if not unique.
A great way to approach this essay would be to discuss an experience or anecdote that reveals you acting according to UCLA’s principles. Then connect that story to UCLA Anderson’s program 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.
Your particular story may benefit from a different order, and that’s fine. Just make sure that the reader can follow it and that you include the requested elements.
Short Answer Question:
Describe how you would contribute to the UCLA Anderson community. (250 words maximum)
To respond to this question you need to know something about the Anderson community. Review the Anderson website with a focus on student life and the Anderson experience. Go thoroughly through that section of the site. If possible talk or correspond with current Anderson students or recent alumni. What parts of the community really attract you? How would you get involved? What impact would you like to have? You may want to point to similar activities in the past to make it clear that you are being real, but the focus should be on your future at UCLA Anderson. Since it’s only 250 words, you don’t have a lot of room. Keep it focused — probably one or two commitments. I can’t see going over three and being substantive.
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 Optional Essays: When and How to Write Them.
Re-applicants — One Required Essay:
Reapplicants who applied for the MBA program starting in 2016 or 2017 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.
***Disclaimer: Information is subject to change. Please check with individual programs to verify the essay questions, instructions and deadlines.***
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.