Along with academic excellence, the USC Marshall MBA program is characterized by a powerful global network with special emphasis on the Pacific Rim, a close-knit and passionate community, and a strong regional presence. Your essays should show how you will both fit in and contribute in this dynamic environment, and the questions provide interesting opportunities to do so. Taken together, the questions indicate that the adcom wants to see a clear, practical career focus, and also wants to get to know the person behind those goals.
Essay #1 (Required): What is your specific, immediate short-term career goal upon completion of your MBA? Please include an intended position, function, and industry in your response. (100 word maximum)
The question specifies the information to include in the essay. Although only 100 words, it is deemed an “essay” by the adcom, and that means you should do more than provide facts. An essay moves – it goes somewhere, it has a starting point and ending point. And you will have room for a little more than the bare facts, so compose your answer in a way that includes some motivation or vision for your short-term career goal; clarify what animates it. It may be just a sentence, even a phrase. But it can make all the difference. It will make this short piece of writing an essay – and will engage the reader.
Essay #2 (Required): Please respond to ONLY ONE of the following essay topics. (500 word maximum)
1. Please describe the contributions you expect to make to your classmates outside of the classroom during your time at USC.
2. You have been asked to design a course to be taught at the Marshall School of Business. Please provide a title and description for the course.
3. What has been the most interesting day or moment in your life and why?
4. You have been hired by the Marshall MBA Admissions Committee to create an essay question for next year’s application. Please state the question and answer it.
Which question should you choose? They all require you to reveal and share something of yourself – your perspective, what you value. Three of the four questions directly engage your understanding of Marshall’s program and/or culture. That fact doesn’t mean that question 3, which lacks direct mention of Marshall, is therefore a less desirable selection, but it does imply that the adcom really cares about your sense of engagement with the program. Therefore, you might find a way to weave that in if you choose question 3.
On one hand, question 3 is the easiest to answer, because you could simply narrate the story behind the interesting day/moment and conclude with a brief reflection about why it was “most interesting.” The question literally asks for a story. If you choose one of the other questions, you’ll have to work a little harder to bring in your experiences – but I strongly suggest using your experience as the basis for any of these essays.
For essay 1, the contributions should be based on actual experiences and the insights or perspective gained from them. For question 2, use some aspect of your experiences to inform the topic and/or design of your proposed course. For question 4, similarly, use your experience as the basis for the question and answer.
Why do I repeatedly recommend using your experience? Presenting concrete anecdotes and examples will allow the adcom to get to know you, and real life lends credibility to whatever you say. After all, anybody can just “talk,” but it takes a mature, confident, focused individual to derive meaning from their experience and express it effectively to the target audience.
Essay #3 (Optional): Please provide any additional information that will enhance our understanding of your candidacy for the program. (250 word maximum)
This question allows you to both discuss points that will enhance your application and explain anything that needs explaining (e.g., gap in employment, choice of recommender, a dip in grades). For the former, if you ask the adcom to read additional material, make sure that it truly illuminates and is germane to your candidacy.
If you would like professional guidance with your USC Marshall application, 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 USC Marshall application.
** USC Marshall will continue to accept applications after April 15, 2018. Applications received after this date will be considered on a first-come, first-served and space-available basis.
***Disclaimer: Information is subject to change. Please check with individual programs to verify the essay questions, instructions and deadlines.***Cindy Tokumitsu has advised hundreds of successful applicants, helping them gain acceptance to top MBA and EMBA programs in her 20 years with Accepted. She would love to help you too. Want Cindy to help you get Accepted? Click here to get in touch!
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