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Minnesota / Carlson MBA Essay Topic Analysis

Minnesota / Carlson MBA Essay Topic Analysis

The following essay topic analysis examines the University of Minnesota’s Curtis L. Carlson School of Management (Minnesota / Carlson) MBA admissions essays for the 2019-2020 admissions season. You can also review essay topic analyses for other leading MBA programs as well as general Essay Tips to further aid you in developing your admissions essays.

Minnesota / Carlson MBA Essay Topic Analysis 2019-2020

Let’s take a closer look at each prompt.

Personal Statement

We want to admit a diverse, intellectually curious, and interesting group of students who will contribute to and benefit from the Carlson MBA Program. This section of the application helps the admissions committee get to know you better as an individual, and allows the committee to evaluate the extent to which your skills, interests, values, and career goals are well suited for the program. Your personal statement should be no more than 1200 words (3 pages), that address the following questions:

  • Briefly describe your short-term and long-term career goals. Why are you choosing to pursue an MBA at this time in your career, and what are you hoping to accomplish by doing so?
  • Why are you interested in pursuing an MBA at the Carlson School of Management? What do you feel makes you a strong candidate for the program?
  • Do you have an enterprise program that you are currently interested in and why? What skills would you bring to this enterprise?

This is a fairly straightforward career goals essay, asking applicants to explain their post-MBA career objectives and how an MBA would support these plans. The difference this year, compared to last, is that Carlson has given applicants an extra page to discuss an enterprise program.  So, before beginning, it would behoove you to review Carlson’s specific offerings. Then, applicants should explain the specifics of their post-MBA plans to start.  Establishing your long-term vision first would lend meaning to your short-term plans, as it can help the reader to know your destination before the path.  So, explain your broader 5-10 year plan, even going beyond the “what” and the “where” to the “why”—in other words, the impact you hope to make on an organization, sector, consumer base, or region. Then, applicants should outline their short-term plans very specifically, including both the position the candidate hopes to hold immediately after an MBA, along with 1-2 companies one plans to target. This short-term goal should lead naturally to the long term.

In regards to your timing and reasons for an MBA, it would make sense to comment on your work experience to date to establish the skills you already possess; this sets up the gap in your skill set that a Carlson MBA would fill.  This phase of your discussion should establish the skills and knowledge you hope to gain from a Carlson MBA while integrating details about the program. Forging specific connections between the skills you hope to gain (whether in class or outside of it) and your future plans will show the adcom that you have a sound understanding of how a Carlson MBA will prepare you for success.

When you turn to explaining what makes you a strong candidate for the program, you need to address it directly, with the balance of remaining humble and self-aware.  You’ll want to avoid repetition of your career experience established earlier in the essay.  You can certainly connect your professional experience to how you would contribute to the program, but try to introduce new content about your candidacy in connection to what you could contribute to the program.  For instance, your industry experience may be particularly relevant in an elective you are targeting; you could have an interesting hobby or community leadership experience that would translate to involvement at Minnesota.

As you then explore an enterprise program, be sure to use grounded, vivid details and establish the connection between this choice and your career goals.  You will also need to cover how you could enhance an enterprise program for your fellow students; so, consider how your past experience or your current vision for the future may be relevant, or another strength you could bring to the scene. For instance, perhaps your leadership skills could help in the small team environment, or perhaps you have experience presenting that could come in handy for interactions with executives. The more descriptive you can be, the easier it will be for the adcom to envision you as a student.

Optional Essay

Use this essay to share information that is not presented elsewhere in the application, for example:

  • Explanation of employment gaps or academic weaknesses
  • Quantitative abilities
  • Choice of recommenders
  • For re-applicants, improvements to your candidacy

Your statement should be limited to no more than 500 words (1 page).
First-time applicants should only use this optional essay to address liabilities in their candidacies. While the adcom allows responses of up to one page, applicants should keep their responses as brief and direct as possible.

Re-applicants, on the other hand, should make the most of this opportunity.  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 prompt is focused on improvements in one’s candidacy since the time one last applied. This response should therefore be fairly action-oriented, with a focus on describing the steps that one has taken to become a stronger applicant to Carlson since being denied, as well as the results of these efforts in terms of new knowledge and strengthened skills. You may account for professional growth if you’ve gained an increase in your responsibilities at work—perhaps more direct management experience—or a concluding project that has met with success since your last application. On the personal side, this could entail extended community involvement. 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.

Clear Admit Resources
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