This UT McCombs 2011 MBA Application tip post is one of a series of posts providing 2011 MBA application and essay advice for applicants to top MBA programs around the world. You can access the entire series at https://blog.accepted.com/acceptedcom_blog/tag/2011-mba-application-tips. My tips for answering McCombs’ essay questions are in blue below.
1. Describe how your experiences, both personal and professional, have led you to pursue an MBA at this time. What are your short- and long-term goals and how will a Texas MBA help you achieve them? (900 words)
This question is a classic goals question — with a Longhorn twist. How have your past experiences molded your goals? The response should highlight achievement while illuminating your clear, realistic goals, which happen to require an MBA.
The Longhorn twist is “how will a Texas MBA help you achieve [your goals]?” McCombs’ location in Texas puts it in the midst of one of the fastest growing economies in the US and at a gateway to Latin America. Does its location have anything to do with you wanting to attend UT? Say so! Perhaps location is not the driver for you, and its elements of McCombs program that appeal. Reveal how those elements will help you achieve your goals. Finally McCombs is very proud of its four core principles: Knowledge and Understanding; Responsibility and Integrity; Communication and Collaboration; and a Worldview of Business and Society. How are they a part of your reasons for applying to UT Austin?
2. Discuss a defining experience in your leadership development. What did you learn from this experience about your strengths and weaknesses as a leader? (650 words)
First, this question asks for 1 leadership experience. Not two. Not ten, and not zero. You want an experience that shows you in a leadership position, ideally, having success leading an entity, be it a small team, club, department, or your own business.
Then analyze the experience. What did you do right? How did your character strengths contribute to the successes? What could you have improved upon? How did your weaknesses play a role? It is natural to spend more essay real estate on the strengths than the weaknesses, but discuss a real weakness. If you can, (and this isn’t a requirement) also touch on a subsequent occasion when you mitigated the impact of this weakness.
3. At the McCombs School of Business, you will be part of an active and diverse community. How will you use your personal strengths and unique experiences to enrich the McCombs community during your two years in the program? (500 words)
This is a great place to show a non-professional side of you — perhaps a hobby or a community service commitment. Perhaps something from your background. You can also reinforce here the concept that you have done your home work on McCombs by revealing exactly how you will participate in and contribute to its community.
Some of you may write in terms of ethnic diversity, but don’t think that the schools think of diversity exclusively in ethnic or socio-economic terms. Varied experiences, interests, hobbies, and backgrounds all play a role in “diversity.” Let your individuality and humanity shine through.
Please provide any additional information to the Admissions Committee that you believe is important and/or will address any areas of concern that will ultimately be beneficial to the committee in considering your application. (350 words)
I encourage you to write the optional essay. Just make sure you are submitting an informative optional essay that complements the required essays and adds to the reader’s knowledge of you and your qualifications. If you do not have “an area of concern to address,” this optional would be a great place to explore in depth a non-professional interest or commitment of yours not addressed in your application. As always, if you have nothing to say, don’t say anything.
November 1, 2010: Early deadline for all applicants
January 14, 2011: Final deadline for all international applicants;
Second deadline for all domestic applicants
April 1, 2011: Final deadline for all domestic applicants