This set of essays will elicit a well-rounded view of applicants but requires you to be succinct. Pay attention to the tone as well as the content of the questions – there is an immediacy and directness that can be a model for the tone of your essays. Moreover, the essays challenge you in two formats – traditional expository writing and shorter, focused presentations that reflect the influence of social media and the need to be conversant with varied communication formats.
My family is unique because… (Maximum 1 page, double-spaced, 12 point font)
Good, bad, or indifferent, every family is unique in some ways. Yet not infrequently clients tell me their family really isn’t unique; I’ve heard more than once, for example, “It’s just a typical Chinese immigrant story.” Well, the specific circumstances, experiences, and people and comprising that story are unique, inherently! Also you can interpret “family” as you wish – immediate relatives surely, but also extended family, even forebears. Whatever points or people you discuss, the purpose of this essay is to illuminate you – make sure they are things that are relevant to you and that enhance your candidacy. I suggest two to three points; one would be okay if you have a vibrant discussion about it, but there isn’t room for more than three points to be discussed with substance.
Why UCLA Anderson FEMBA for these next three years? Do you plan to enhance your current career or shift into a new career? If your interests are entrepreneurial, are you already an entrepreneur or do you plan to be an entrepreneur, and if so, when and how? (Maximum 1 page, double-spaced, 12 point font)
If you are looking to enhance your current career, a good way to start this essay is to elaborate on your immediate career situation, including some goals in that role and how the MBA education will help you to achieve them. Then move on to describe your future short- and long-term goals. If you’re shifting into a new career, start with that career vision and how the current role plus MBA will get you there. (The entrepreneurial question will be answered by either of these approaches as warranted.) In describing your goals, indicate why you want to take that path and what you hope to achieve. In discussing how the program will benefit you, describe what skills and knowledge you need, and specifically how the program meets those needs.
Part One: Describe to the Faculty Committee what you will bring to the learning in the classroom in your 30 second “elevator pitch.” (100 words or less) Part Two: List your top three accomplishments (Professional, Educational or Personal) (35 word maximum per accomplishment) (Maximum 1 page, double-spaced, 12 point font for both parts)
Look at these two parts as a whole; you’ll select and convey telling, distinctive, differentiating points in each. For Part One, look at yourself from your prospective professors’ and classmates’ eyes: what about you would be most meaningful and engaging? There is no formula; it will vary by person. But AVOID generic blabber – root your message in specific details, experiences, accomplishments. The points can come from any area of your life, but at least some should refer to your professional role/experience. The advice for Part Two is the same as for Part One, with a focus on specific accomplishments.
Essay 4 (OPTIONAL)
Are there any additional circumstances in your profile about which the Admissions Committee should be aware? (Maximum 1 page, double-spaced, 12 point font)
If any of these scenarios apply to you, please address specifically:
- If commuting by plane, please detail your commute plans.
- If you are not currently employed full time, please explain your employment situation right now and your career search plan to be employed by the beginning of the program.
- If you are currently enrolled in another MBA program, please clarify your status in that program (standing, % complete, etc.), and explain your reason for wanting to begin UCLA Anderson.
- If you were on academic probation or had failing grades, please address.
If you have a criminal history, please address.
This question’s wording indicates that you should use the optional essay to clarify points in the application that warrant explanation – it may be a “neutral” point like recommender selection, or it may be to explain a problem such as a bad grade. Of course, the bullets points should be discussed if they apply. Your content may be positive too! For example, you would want to inform the adcom if you just enrolled in a microeconomics course (note the school and exact course name).
Essay 5 (Reapplicants Only)
If you are re-applying, 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. (Maximum 1 page, double-spaced, 12 point font)
“Progress” and “enhanced candidacy” naturally cover promotions, awards, and big new projects. Don’t have those? No problem! Other developments are also highly relevant and interesting (maybe more interesting): perhaps you’re encountering a new type of market, client, or geographic region. If so, what are you learning and how will it benefit your goals? Maybe you’re facing a new, tough challenge – a dysfunctional team, a conflict between your manager and the manager whose project you’re currently involved in. Narrate the challenge and summarize the resulting “stretch” learning. In describing refined career goals, discuss how they have evolved since the prior application (if they have). Last, bring fresh insight about Anderson vis-à-vis your goals; don’t just rehash your previous points.
March 31, 2013; decision by May 31, 2013
April 30, 2013; decision by June 28, 2013
By Cindy Tokumitsu, co-author of The Finance Professional’s Guide to MBA Admissions Success, and author of numerous ebooks, articles, and special reports. Cindy has advised hundreds of successful applicants in her last thirteen years with Accepted.
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This article originally appeared on the Accepted Admissions Consulting Blog, the official blog of Accepted.com.