SMU Cox School of Business Essay Tips and Examples

How to Get into Cox School of Business: SMU Cox Essay Tips and ExamplesApplicants to the Cox School of Business at Southern Methodist University in Dallas, Texas (SMU Cox), must submit two required essays, with one being largely a traditional personal statement and the other asking candidates to share five things about themselves that they would like their future classmates to know. Applicants who feel they need a little more space to convey some key or clarifying information can take advantage of the school’s optional essay, though at just 250 words, they will need to be succinct in doing so. Read on for our full analysis of SMU Cox’s 2023–2024 application essay prompts.

SMU Cox 2023–2024 Essay Tips

Essay 1: SMU Cox is a close-knit community that values teamwork. Our students are put in study groups within their cohort to build leadership and collaboration skills. What are five things you would like your study group to know about you? (500 words or less)

Whether this question is meant to be specifically about leadership and teamwork or strictly about the qualities and experiences that make you unique is not immediately clear. To bridge this (potential) gap, at least some of the aspects of yourself that you outline in this essay should reveal or imply that you are a good team player and work well with others.

Before you start writing, do some foundational research into how study groups work at SMU Cox. The prompt notes that at least one purpose of the school’s study groups is to help students “build leadership and collaboration skills,” so if you feel that an aspect of your personality or a certain skill you possess would support this goal, be sure to include it in your essay.

Although the prompt’s implication is that you will be communicating with your future classmates, the truth is, of course, that you are speaking to the admissions committee (and maybe even to whoever will ultimately be assembling the school’s study groups). For your essay to be most successful and compelling, you must demonstrate that you are interesting, additive, and unique—and that you have something valuable to offer your future teammates. 

Essay 2: What are your short-term post-MBA career goals (including the target industry, sector, and/or organization) and your long-term ambitions? (100 words or less)

With this straightforward query about your motivation to earn an MBA and expectations as to where you will go with it after graduation, Cox simply wants you to spell out what you have in mind as you approach this next phase of your life and career. The school does not ask about your past professional experiences, but briefly providing some context for your goals could be good, especially if doing so strengthens or supports your stated aspirations in a clear way and helps the admissions committee better understand your trajectory and potential.

Cox wants to know that you have given this aspect of your MBA experience serious thought, have researched your options, and are approaching business school with a strong sense of purpose—that you have a fitting and attainable goals in mind and can articulate them clearly and thoroughly. By providing the level of detail the essay question demands (“industry, sector, and/or organization”), you will be able to convince the school that you have done the necessary background work and are fully cognizant of where you want to go after graduating. 

Think about what you truly want to do with your career and lay out your aspirations clearly. Keep in mind that the rest of your application needs to provide evidence that your stated goal aligns with your existing skills and profound interests, especially once they have been augmented by an MBA education. This will show that your professed goals are achievable and lend credibility to your claims. Similarly, you want to be sure that the connection between your short-term objective and your long-term vision is clear, credible, and possible.  

One’s short-term and long-term goals are part of a traditional personal statement, so we encourage you to download your free copy of the mbaMission Personal Statement Guide, which helps applicants write this style of essay for any school. This complimentary guide offers detailed advice on approaching and framing these topics, along with multiple illustrative examples.

Optional Essay: Candidates can use this space to provide information not addressed in the rest of your application that may be helpful to the admissions committee as they assess your candidacy. Some examples include information about nontraditional undergraduate experience or gaps in employment history. Other uses could include professional awards, achievements or highlights of notable community service not listed elsewhere. (250 words or less)

With this prompt, Cox is acknowledging that some candidates have aspects of their profiles that might need a little clarification or that warrant some spotlighting. This essay is therefore your opportunity—if needed—to address any lingering questions that an admissions officer might have about your candidacy, such as a low GRE or GMAT score, a legal or disciplinary incident, or, of course, one of the extenuating circumstances the school suggests. On the other hand, if you have an accomplishment or story that could highlight a strength you feel the Cox admissions committee would value—and that the school’s application has not otherwise allowed you to convey—this would be the place to share it. 

However, keep in mind that by submitting an optional essay, you are requiring the already overtaxed admissions readers to do additional work on your application, so do not rush to fill this space just because you fear that not doing so will somehow count against you (it will not), and also avoid being overly verbose or sharing more information than is truly necessary just because you technically can. You must ensure that the admissions committee’s extra time and effort are truly warranted. If you feel you might have a valid reason for submitting this additional essay or are not sure if the issue you are considering would warrant doing so, we encourage you to download a free copy of our mbaMission Optional Essays Guide, in which we offer detailed advice on when and how to take advantage of the optional essay, along with multiple sample essays.

Reapplicant Essay: Discuss what have you done since your last application to strengthen your candidacy? (250 words or less)

This essay is pretty straightforward. 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. The admissions committee wants to know that you have been actively striving to improve yourself and your profile, and that you have seized opportunities during the time since you last applied to do so, because an SMU Cox MBA is vital to you. The responses to this essay question will vary greatly from one candidate to the next, 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 are presented in the best light possible.

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