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Following up on the 2017-2018 essay topics for the Vanderbilt University Owen Graduate School of Management, we wanted to offer our Essay Topic Analysis for the Class of 2020 hopefuls.
Let’s take a closer look at each prompt.
What is your short-term career goal after the MBA and why? Discuss your current skill set and what you will need to add to these skills during the MBA. (300 words)
This is a fairly standard career goals/why MBA essay, asking applicants to specify their post-MBA plans and to discuss the skills and attributes—based on both past experience and acquired through the MBA—that will lead to success. Given the amount of ground that needs to be covered in this response, it will be important to address each element directly and concisely. Accordingly, the easiest way to structure your response may be to address each point in the order in which it is asked.
With that in mind, start by defining your short-term goal—position, industry, and one or two target firms—followed by your reasoning behind this choice. Your reasons may relate to the path to your long-term goal, and the experience you need to acquire to achieve it. We then recommend moving through one’s past work experience and past preparation fairly quickly (in another 100 or so words) in order to demonstrate the skills you already possess. Then, applicants should aim to devote at least 100 words of their essay to the ways an Owen MBA would uniquely prepare them for future success. Rather than writing in generalities about the program, diving right into specific courses and clubs of interest will enable applicants to get as much mileage as possible out of their comments. Going beyond the school’s website and taking the time to learn about the program via campus visits or information sessions, or conversations with students and alumni, will therefore pay dividends here.
You are encouraged to provide an additional statement to clarify and explain any of the following: gaps of more than three months in full-time employment, lack of recommendation from your current or most recent supervisor, limited full-time work experience (ignore if you are a recent undergraduate), poor academic performance, weak test scores, academic misconduct, violations of the law, or anything else you think is important for the Admissions Committee to know about you that is not already addressed elsewhere in your application. Applicants reactivating a previous application submitted within the last two years should provide their additional statement here. (500 words)
If you need to address potential liabilities, per the list in the prompt, such discussions should be direct and to the point. Provide an explanation and point to mitigating factors without being defensive or making excuses. While there are 500 words allotted for this response, applicants using this essay to address an issue in their application will likely use only a fraction of this space. The final option to discuss anything else you think is important for the adcom is know is certainly more inviting; however, you’ll want to consider some questions before launching into a response. Applicants should take a conservative approach to this response, only bringing up information that you believe warrants the extra review time from the reader.
For re-applicants using this space, it would help to review your last application to reflect on any potential weaknesses—did you have enough leadership experience? Were your goals clearly defined? Did you improve your GMAT score or take quantitative courses to balance your weak undergraduate record? This response should be fairly action-oriented, with a focus on describing the steps that one has taken to become a stronger applicant to Owen since being denied, as well as the results of these efforts in terms of new knowledge and strengthened skills. It’s also important not to repeat material verbatim from your prior application; the adcom wants to see that you have approached the application process freshly and with new information.
You may provide in the space below any additional information you would like for us to consider that would strengthen your application. (350 words)
In reflecting on what to potentially share, consider what you were able to cover in Required Essay 1 and the Video Essay. Optional Essay 1 is designated for re-applicants or those with application issues, making this prompt seem geared more towards positive material not covered elsewhere. For example, perhaps you want to convey your interest in Vanderbilt or dig into an impressive accomplishment. Perhaps you have a lifelong passion that is pertinent to your career goals and did not have enough room to showcase your related actions in Essay 1. While applicants might use this essay to share other important information about their backgrounds, they should be very thoughtful about whether this “bonus material” will make a substantive difference in their applications before responding to this essay.
The video essay is a required component of the online application. Our goal in asking you for a short video essay is to hopefully be able to glimpse an authentic and unscripted view of things like your personality, creativity, maturity, and/or communication style. Please don’t stress over this portion of the application. We have tried to make the video essay questions easy to answer and similar to questions you might be asked in an interview. Just be yourself! Please read through the video essay instructions overview below before starting the process. Once you have read the overview you will simply follow the instructional prompts provided to you on the screen for this video essay recording process.
Video Essay Instructions Overview
Before pressing the “record” button, it would be worth reviewing our advice on video essays to understand the broader goals of a video prompt. As this is a visual presentation that will be recorded live, ensure you are dressed in appropriate professional attire. In terms of a background, clean and steady may work best—you do not want to make the adcom dizzy by taking them on an unsteady walking tour with your laptop. While many applicants will be tempted to introduce props into their video, such as signs, souvenirs, or any prized possessions, we would like to urge caution in this domain. A focused, 90-second response to the question (while looking your audience in the eye) may be far more effective than a distracting string of props, signs, charts—each requiring valuable time to make transitions—not to mention careful attention to readability/visibility on screen. As the question can change and because the adcom is looking for an “unscripted” view of you, you will not want to be hampered by trying to work in materials that may or may not be relevant to the prompt. Take the 30-second preview period to gather your thoughts and then speak genuinely and clearly. The adcom has noted that there is no pressure to fill the 90-second window, so once you feel you have fully addressed a question, you may wrap up the recording. Finally, as the prompt notes, remember to be yourself!
Clear Admit Resources
Thanks for reading our analysis of this year’s Vanderbilt / Owen MBA essay topics. As you work on your Owen MBA essays and application, we encourage you to consider all of Clear Admit’s Vanderbilt / Owen offerings:
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