Tuesday Tips – UCLA Anderson Essay Tips

The UCLA Anderson admissions committee instructs candidates to “be introspective, genuine, and succinct,” which is great advice in approaching any set of MBA application essays. In a novel approach, UCLA suggests that Essay 4 can be submitted as an audio file of up to 1 minute.

With a close knit community of just under 400 students, UCLA Anderson is a supportive environment. The class is diverse and international, though Anderson is often most attractive to applicants who live in Los Angeles already, or plan to work in the city after business school. Anderson has a focus on innovation and entrepreneurship, and it will be important to be familiar with the research center programs and electives when preparing your essays.

Four required essays:
1. How has your family and/or community helped shape your development? Please include information about where you grew up, and perhaps a highlight or special memory of your youth. (750 words)

Starting this set of essays with a personal question about your background establishes Anderson’s interest in seeing the genuine person you are. When approaching this question, keep your overall application strategy in mind, and make sure you are presenting a holistic view of yourself. Brainstorming a theme that can take you from the personal tone of Essay 1 to the career goals in Essay 3 may be helpful.

This essay may be an opportunity for you to demonstrate diversity in your background or family circumstances, especially when your diversity is not entirely clear from other aspects of your application. Demonstrating maturity and self awareness is another possible way to think about this essay.

Specific examples are always a smart way to demonstrate your personal qualities without sounding generic. In this essay you are invited to tell a personal story. If you choose effectively, your personal memory will support the overall theme of your essay and support what you say about your family, community and personal development.

2. What experience has had the greatest impact on who you are today and why? (500 words)

Describing a pivotal point in your personal development, career path or self discovery process will be effective here. The focus on one experience invites you to be brief, and you may want to focus on an experience that is relatively recent and allows you to provide some insight into your chosen career or community service activities.

Answering the “why” part of the question will be much more straightforward if you have chosen an experience that leads into an aspect of your overall application strategy. If the experience links to your professional, extracurricular or personal passions you can discuss these pursuits in the second half of the essay.

3. Discuss your short-term and long-term career goals. What is your motivation for pursuing an MBA now at UCLA Anderson? (750 words)

A fairly typical career goals essay similar to that of Columbia, UCLA is asking for a clear set of career goals that will demonstrate the need for an MBA from UCLA Anderson. Drawing a thread between your past experiences, your MBA from Anderson, and the short- and long-term goals you plan to pursue will be most effective.

Because you have effectively set the stage with questions one and two, you will likely have answered the questions about the passion for your chosen career path and what motivates you. That will allow you to spend more words demonstrating your fit with UCLA and why it is the right program to pursue your MBA.

4. Audio or text: Select and respond to ONE of the following questions. We would like you to respond to the question by recording an audio response (up to 1 minute). If you are unable to submit your response via audio, then please upload a written response (250 words) instead. The supported file types for audio files are: .avi, .wav, .mp3, .wmv, .midi, .wma, .aiff, .au, .mp4

In a continued effort to learn more about you as a person, UCLA would like to hear you speak on one of the three options. If you do pursue the audio option, it will be most effective to write out what you plan to say ahead of time and have someone help you by providing feedback and recording your file for you. Speaking with poise will be especially important for this audio essay. You may submit a written response if you think that will present your thoughts and personality more clearly to the admissions committee.

a. What does entrepreneurial spirit mean to you?

If you have entrepreneurial goals, a history of working on innovative projects, or simply take a creative approach to your work, this may be the right question to answer. As in a written essay, provide a clear example for your musings on the subject.

b. What global issue matters most to you and why?

If you are an international student, have international experience, or significant community service in your background this is a great question to highlight your awareness of global issues. With only a minute to communicate, a specific story that highlights why the issue matters to you will be effective. If you can also discuss some of the steps you have taken to be engaged with the global issue, that will be even stronger.

c. What is something people will find surprising about you?

If the other two questions do not seem appropriate, and you want to differentiate yourself from others in the applicant pool, this may be the right question to answer. This question is entirely open ended, which could be a gift. Try to remain focused and think of a specific example of the thing you will be discussing, and explain why others would find it surprising.

5. OPTIONAL: Are there any extenuating circumstances in your profile about which the Admissions Committee should be aware? (250 words)

Focusing on explanations in this essay, rather than excuses, is very important. Potential extenuating circumstances may be a very low GPA, academic probation or using a recommender other than your current supervisor. Clearly explain the situation, and if it is a situation from the past, explain why you have changed. Providing evidence that you will not repeat the actions in question will be very important.

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