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Rice / Jones Essay Topic Analysis

Rice / Jones Essay Topic Analysis

The following essay topic analysis examines Rice University’s Jones Graduate School of Business (Jones) MBA admissions essays for the 2019-2020 admissions season. You can also review essay topic analyses for all other the leading MBA programs as well as general Essay Tips to further aid you in developing your admissions essays.

Rice / Jones Essay Topic Analysis 2019-2020

Let’s take a closer look at each prompt.

Required Essay 1

“The Rice Business experience is designed to inspire our students to become future business leaders. How did your path, from both a professional and a personal perspective, guide you to where you are today, and how will Rice Business fit into where you would like to go next?”

Please choose only one method of communication that you would like to use for your response:

  • Write an essay (500 word limit)
  • Share a video (one to three minute time limit)

While the prompt has elements of a standard career goals essay, it invites personal material in addition to professional, as well as the potential for a more visual storytelling than the typical written essay.  In terms of content, this essay (or video) allows the adcom to assess how prospective students would present themselves, requiring applicants to reflect carefully on the aspects of their backgrounds that they consider most relevant to their present and future. Establishing your long-term goal at the outset will let the adcom know your destination and lend meaning to your short-term goal, as well as your interest in an MBA. You may then define your short-term goal, followed by a summary of both the personal and professional choices that led you to apply for an MBA.  Once you outline your reasons for pursuing an MBA, it would be wise to account for how Rice Jones is uniquely suited to meet your educational needs.

As for medium, the video option provides an opportunity to make a vivid impression through visual communication. It also shows the admissions committee that one is willing to invest the time and effort to create something just for the Rice / Jones application, underscoring one’s investment in gaining admission to Jones. Applicants whose leisure activities or workplace roles lend themselves well to film might do well to consider the video option. In terms of managing the verbal content, keep in mind that people average 130 words per minute in a speech. Therefore, applicants would be looking at a (comfortable) maximum of 390 words.  That said, the use of visual aids can lend more to the spoken word and move the story along more efficiently.

All of that said, while taking risks in the admissions process is often worthwhile, you don’t want to step so far out of your comfort zone that you ultimately don’t make a good impression (this seems especially possible for camera-shy applicants attempting the video option).  Candidates choosing to submit an essay will want to use their 500 words wisely to give the reader a sense of who they are and how they would enhance the Jones community (while avoiding overlap with Essay 2, which can deal with that theme as well).

Required Essay 2

Please choose to answer one of the following prompts (300 word limit):

  • Prompt #1: “Rice Business offers intentional and practical programming to help our graduates develop their leadership skills. Do you think you were born to lead or developed into a leader, and how have your experiences shaped your leadership style?”
  • Prompt #2: “Diverse and global perspective are pillars of the Jones School experience. Tell us about a time that your own views, attitudes or perspectives were challenged from this area, and what was the outcome of this experience?”
  • Prompt #3: “Rice Business students have passions in and outside of the classroom. What are you passionate about and how have you expressed/or plan to express your passion?”

In deciding which option to address, applicants should consider the content covered in the first essay, as you’ll want to present new information here.

Given the number of themes in each option, one way to determine which to answer is to first list one’s greatest accomplishments. Then, you can see what strengths, skills or themes are most prevalent.  With a short limit of 300 words, it is likely you will only have the opportunity to fully develop one anecdote, but it could be possible to note two brief examples. The important part is to ensure that you account for your actions and impact, and at least touch on the themes put forth in your selected prompt.

Looking more closely at the individual prompts, the first one focuses on leadership.  If you find the numerous possibilities for this theme overwhelming, you may try the following exercise to help you focus:

  1. Write down the 10 to 15 most important events, accomplishments, interests, or experiences in your life. Include the good, the bad, the astounding, the ugly, etc.
  2. Look at the list you have generated and try to determine the themes that unify the important events, interests, and ideas in your life. How have you dedicated your time? What values have you fought for?
  3. Select one or two items from the list that best support given strengths or values and use them to define your approach and kick off the drafting process for the essay.

The second option is focused on your growth, based on diverse or global experiences.  There are three main elements to a response: defining your initial perspective (to set the stage for change), establishing the different view, attitude or perspective (so the adcom understands the catalyst for change), and explaining how the selected engagement changed you.  For example, perhaps you worked on an international project recently and your engagement with different cultures altered your perspective on leadership, communication or another aspect.  In such a case, it will be important to connect to how this has influenced you—ideally shown through some related actions—as the adcom will want to get to know you and how you think and evolve.  This may also be an event in which you had a hand, whether a personal or professional one.  The door is wide open for examples, but the key is to ensure you touch on each element of the prompt to show how you would fit with the culture at Rice.  This can be a lot of ground to cover in 300 words, but if you have room, concluding with a brief example of how you applied what you learned would show your growth.

In regards to the third option, it’s important to approach this essay from a strategic standpoint and write about something that is relevant to your business school candidacy. While your hobbies and interests are certainly of interest to the adcom, it’s important to avoid getting too personal. For instance, writing about one’s family can make an applicant sound immature (as though he or she hasn’t fully left the nest), and it’s difficult to predict how a reader will react to comments on potentially sensitive topics like politics or religion.  The best topics for this essay are activities and interests that you can connect to some contribution you would make to the school community, ideally those in which you are currently active and to which you have a long-standing commitment. Although it is good to keep in mind that more unusual activities are advantageous, you don’t need to have something that is really rare for this essay to succeed. It is more important to discuss what you do in a compelling and personal manner that conveys the depth of your enthusiasm for your topic by exploring your individual experiences. Finally, remember that specific anecdotes will make a greater impression on your reader than a broad discussion.

No matter which prompt you settle on, it would be wise to connect how your experience would translate to involvement at Jones, or how you could become a part of their community.

Optional Essay

If you have any additional information for the admissions committee or if you wish to clarify any aspect of your application (including breaks in employment, your choice of recommendation providers, your past academic performance, etc.), you may submit an additional, optional essay. (750 word limit)
This response will be an appropriate place to address any elements of one’s application that need further explanation (e.g. recommender choice, expected promotions, etc.). The wording of this essay is fairly open and inviting, and so it may be an appropriate place to share an additional anecdote or highlight an impressive accomplishment. Applicants should aim to demonstrate good judgment in deciding whether to respond to this prompt, and should take care not to introduce information that appears elsewhere in their materials or that could have been covered in response to one of the above essays.

Clear Admit Resources
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