*Please note: You are viewing an essay analysis from the 2017-2018 admissions cycle. Click here to view our collection of essay analyses for the current admissions season.
This season, the UCLA Anderson School of Management has abridged its primary essay question and shortened the word limit from 750 to just 500. However, it has also added a “short-answer” question (read: mini essay) that in many ways recollects the “lost” element of the main essay and reinstates those other 250 words. As the program has been doing for as long as we at mbaMission have been offering essay analyses, it asks applicants about their short- and long-term goals, this time along with the oft-seen “Why our school?” element. And the newly added short answer prompt focuses on what candidates will bring to the school’s community. Given this rather modest essay portion of the UCLA application, you will need to make the most of your recommendations, resume, and interview to ensure that the school gets the full story of who you are as a candidate. In this post, we offer our advice on approaching the school’s 2017–2018 queries.
Essay 1: Describe your short-term and long-term career goals. How can the UCLA Anderson experience add value to your professional development? (500 words maximum)
UCLA Anderson has done away with the preamble to this question that last year outlined the school’s defining principles and plunged straight into a forthright request for your career goals. And considering you have just 500 words available for this entire essay, we recommend that you exercise this same kind of expediency with your response. Avoid going into excessive detail about your past, but be sure to offer enough information to provide context and support for your stated goals so that the progression from one stage of your professional career to the next is clear and reasonable.
Once your goals have been firmly stated and given context, explain how being a UCLA Anderson MBA student is a key step in achieving them. You need to demonstrate that you have dedicated just as much thought—or maybe even more—to why you want to study at UCLA Anderson as you have to where you want to go in your career. Think carefully about what you need to learn or experience (with respect to skills, network, and knowledge base) to be able to reach your stated aspirations and then detail which specific resources and opportunities at UCLA Anderson you believe will allow you to do so. Your goal is to convince the admissions committee that the school is the missing link between who and where you are now and who and where you envision yourself in the future.
The basic components of this essay prompt are elements of a traditional personal statement, so we encourage you to download your free copy of the mbaMission Personal Statement Guide. In this complimentary publication, we offer a detailed discussion of how to approach such queries and craft an effective essay response, along with multiple illustrative examples.
And to learn more about UCLA Anderson’s academic program, defining characteristics, crucial statistics, social life, standout faculty members, and other key features, download a copy of the mbaMission Insider’s Guide to the Anderson School of Management, which is also available at no cost.
Short Answer Question: Describe how you would contribute to the UCLA Anderson community. (250 words maximum)
Before you begin writing or even brainstorming for this one, you must familiarize yourself with the characteristics and tone of the UCLA Anderson community. As you do, pay special attention to the aspects and areas that speak to you personally in some way, and do not limit yourself to course work and academic offerings, but also consider social events/clubs and professional development opportunities. Business school is meant to be a comprehensive environment and experience that enriches students in ways not just related directly to business in the conventional sense, and perhaps your greatest potential for contribution lies in one of these areas. If you are a quant wizard, you can of course help your fellow students with class work and projects. If you have a depth of knowledge or years of professional experience in a particular business area or industry, you could serve as a kind of subject matter expert for those around you in the program or as a valuable component in someone’s recruiting network. If you are particularly funny, creative, or athletic, you may be the ideal fit to lead an extracurricular group or play a significant role in a nonacademic project or event. Work to cultivate a thorough understanding of all aspects of the UCLA Anderson program and identify the areas that catch your attention most. Like all other application questions, this one has no “right” answer, so do not try to guess what you think the school wants to hear. Authenticity and enthusiasm are the keys to your success with this mini essay.
Optional essay: The following essay is optional and can be submitted by either first time applicants or reapplicants. No preference is given in the evaluation process to applicants who submit a response to the optional question.
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 or GRE 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. We suggest downloading your free copy of the mbaMission Optional Essays Guide, in which we offer detailed advice on deciding whether to take advantage of the optional essay and how best to do so (with multiple sample essays), if needed.
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. UCLA 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 MBA from its program in particular 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.
The Next Step—Mastering Your UCLA Anderson Interview: Many MBA candidates find admissions interviews stressful and intimidating, but mastering this important element of the application process is definitely possible—the key is informed preparation. And, on your way to this high level of preparation, we offer our free Interview Primers to spur you along! Download your free copy of the UCLA Anderson Interview Primer today.