The UCLA Anderson School of Management has been asking applicants about their short- and long-term goals for as long as we at mbaMission have been publishing essay analyses, but not until 2014 did the school incorporate its three defining principles into its essay question. Last year, Anderson tweaked the query to address candidates’ goals for their time in the MBA program as well. The school does so again this season, having made no changes whatsoever to its lone essay question, leading us to assume that last year’s prompt elicited the kind of application essays the admissions committee wants to see. Given that Anderson requires only the one essay—which is limited to 750 words, despite having to cover three distinct periods of an aspiring MBA’s life—you must be sure to make the most of your interview, short-answer responses, recommendations, and resume to ensure that the school gets a full and well-rounded picture of you as a candidate. As for that essay, read on for our advice on how to best address the school’s query.
Essay 1: We believe that the best results are achieved when you share success, think fearlessly and drive change. With this in mind, what are your goals at UCLA Anderson and in your short-term and long-term career? (750 words maximum)
Although you should view the first sentence of Anderson’s essay prompt—which presents the school’s defining principles of “share success, think fearlessly, drive change”—as informative, you actually do not need to write specifically about sharing success, thinking fearlessly, and/or driving change. These themes can be implied within and by the stories you share, and you can choose to allude to just one or two of the three qualities; you do not necessarily have to address all three.
As you write this essay, start by offering some personal or professional context—possibly some background information that connects in some way with the principles Anderson holds dear. Then, relate the values you have highlighted to your well-thought-out short- and long-term goals. Ideally, these goals will be ambitious but still realistic. Anderson does not need you to propose a new job that no one has ever imagined possible before; the admissions committee simply needs to understand that you have clearly envisioned your exciting path and that you own it.
With your career goals firmly stated and supported by the context you have offered, you can then delve into your goals for your time as an Anderson MBA student. For this part of the essay, you will certainly need to do some research into what the school has to offer, particularly with respect to what you feel you need to learn and experience to be successful both during business school and in your subsequent career. To craft a truly effective and convincing argument, you must have a nuanced understanding of the school’s resources. Further, you will need to do more than merely list the relevant offerings and instead explain how they are integral to your growth and eventual success. You want to show not just what you will gain from your Anderson MBA experience but also how you will be an active participant at the school, all within the context (implicitly or explicitly) of the values it espouses.
To learn more about UCLA Anderson’s academic program, defining characteristics, crucial statistics, social life, faculty, and other key features, check out the mbaMission Insider’s Guide to the Anderson School of Management.
Optional essay: 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)
Here is your opportunity—if needed—to address any lingering questions that an admissions officer might have about your candidacy, such as a poor grade or overall GPA, a low GMAT score, or a gap in your work experience. Do not simply try to fill this space because you fear that not doing so would somehow count against you. And however tempted you might be, this is not the place to reuse a strong essay you wrote for another school or to offer an anecdote or two that you were unable to include in your required essay. However, if you truly feel that you must emphasize or explain something that would render your application incomplete if omitted, write a very brief piece on this key aspect of your profile. In our mbaMission Optional Essays Guide, available through our online store, we offer detailed advice on when and how to take advantage of the optional essay (and provide multiple sample essays) to help you mitigate any problem areas in your profile.
Reapplicant 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)
Whether you have improved your academic record, received a promotion, begun a new and exciting project, increased your community involvement, or taken on some sort of personal challenge, the key to success with this essay is conveying a very deliberate path of achievement and forward momentum. Anderson wants to know that you have been actively striving to improve yourself and your profile, remain focused on your goals, and have seized available opportunities during the previous year, because an Anderson MBA is vital to you. The responses to this essay question will vary greatly from one candidate to the next, of course, because each person’s needs and experiences differ. We are more than happy to provide one-on-one assistance with this highly personal essay to ensure that your efforts over the past year are presented in the best light possible.