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Cambridge / Judge MBA Essay Topic Analysis

The following essay topic analysis examines Cambridge / Judge’s MBA admissions essays for the 2020-2021 admissions season. You can also review essay topic analyses for all of the other leading MBA programs as well as general Essay Tips to further aid you in developing your admissions essays.

Cambridge / Judge Essay Topic Analysis 2020-2021

Let’s take a look at each of this year’s prompts:

Essay 1

Please provide a personal statement. It should not exceed 500 words and must address the following questions:

  • What are your short and long term career objectives and what skills/characteristics do you already have that will help you achieve them?
  • What actions will you take before and during the MBA to contribute to your career outcome?
  • If you are unsure of your post-MBA career path, how will the MBA equip you for the future? (up to 500 words)

Cambridge once again includes a fairly standard career goals essay of the sort featured in many MBA programs’ applications.  Applicants are asked to outline their immediate post-MBA professional objectives, as well as their longer-term plans. Meanwhile, the explicit request that applicants inventory the existing skills and characteristics that will help them along their chosen paths is a somewhat unusual one, so candidates will need to reflect on their qualifications and take care in addressing this element of the prompt. This can stem naturally from a brief career summary, as one would be able to point to one’s past actions as proof of their current skills/characteristics.

In regards to the second part of the prompt, discussing concrete efforts, such as additional projects at work, engaging Judge’s MBA Careers team or participating in an MBA career trek, would best support Judge’s request for actions. While the adcom does allow for some ambiguity in one’s career plans, keep in mind that leaders are expected to be decisive and have vision, so we strongly recommend having a clear career plan from the outset. Especially given Judge’s one-year program, it will also be best to hit the ground running in terms of pursuing a career. That said, the essay is not binding for one’s career upon admission and the school does anticipate that candidates are looking for a change, as 94% of the recent class changed country, function or industry sector. Should candidates still be at a loss for a specific career path, responses to the final question should be kept brief, with broad reflections on how the skills acquired during the MBA could apply to an industry in general.

As is the case with most schools, demonstrating an understanding of the unique merits of Judge’s program is crucial to an effective response to this question.  Taking the time to learn about the school’s curriculum, special programs, and extracurricular activities—whether through an online admissions event, or conversations with alumni—will pay dividends here.

Essay 2

Describe a difficult decision that you had to make. What did you learn from this and how have you changed as a result? (up to 200 words)
Effective responses will provide the essential who, what, when, and where of the situation in just 1-2 sentences, establishing all of the relevant players and what was at stake for you (and other important stakeholders). You’ll then want to comment on your decision and the outcome with comparable brevity. Applicants should aim to spend at least one-third of the essay commenting on what the experience taught them and/or how they have grown as a result. And, space permitting, it would be a nice touch to end with a remark about how this experience has positioned them to make an impact on the Judge community and/or their chosen post-MBA industry or sector.

Essay 3

Describe a time where you worked with a team on a project. What did you learn from the experience and how might you approach it differently today? (up to 200 words)
It’s a good rule of thumb to avoid highlighting a failure unless specifically asked to do so; hence, candidates should be sure to choose a situation with successful results here. With such a tight word limit, context will have to be established concisely by defining one’s goal followed by the context of one’s team. Working with others can take on many forms—coordinating with teams overseas, collaborating directly with a colleague for a challenging consulting project. What’s important is the objective you faced and the challenges you overcame—together—to achieve it. Given the focus on teamwork, it would make sense for lessons to stem from communication, motivational or leadership skills.

Essay 4

If you could give one piece of advice to your 18-year-old self, what would it be? (up to 200 words)
Think about who you were at the time. You were likely just about to start college or perhaps even arrived on campus already. While many of us may have told ourselves to steer clear of a certain relationship or raucous outing, remember to keep this in the context of business school admissions. Whatever advice you may give yourself, it would be ideal if you ultimately followed it later in life or at least have a plan to follow it in the near future. It seems as though the adcom may be trying to coax out a weakness you had at the time, in which case you could follow up with how you have since addressed it to show that you can learn and grow. For instance, perhaps you would have told yourself to travel more, and have since engaged in international projects and purposefully planned trips. Maybe you got off on the wrong foot with your major and would have pursued another interest—and since then, you’ve pursued that interest outside of work. If you struggled during your undergraduate years, this could be a good place to discuss your increased discipline or better known style of learning since then.

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