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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 2020-2021 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.

Rice / Jones Essay Topic Analysis 2020-2021

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).  Also keep in mind that you can only submit one video with the application, and a video is also an option for Essay 3.  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.

Required Essay 2

Few in history have experienced a global event that has reached all corners of the world. During the impact of recent global activities, we have all been affected in different ways and have had to operate with ambiguity. What was the biggest lesson you learned during this moment in history and how will you carry this lesson forward as a future leader when having to make decisions with incomplete information? (500 word limit)
The adcom is most likely referring to the COVID-19 pandemic, even though they do not directly name it. In that light, there are three main elements to a response: establishing how the global event affected you/how you had to operate with ambiguity, identifying what you learned, and explaining how you will apply the lesson in a future situation.  For example, perhaps you worked on a project recently with incomplete or unpredictable outcomes due to the pandemic.  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.  You then need to incorporate a vision of your future—for instance, imagine how you will make decisions in your future career or engage with colleagues during times of ambiguity.  The key is to ensure you touch on each element of the prompt to show how you would fit with the culture at Rice.

Required Essay 3

Please choose to answer one of the following prompts:

  • Prompt #1: “What movie, song, or book has most influenced your life and the way you view the world? Why?”
  • Prompt #2: “A picture is worth a thousand words. Choose a picture from your life that you value and tell us the story of that picture – but only in 500 words or less. Feel free to share the photo!”
  • Prompt #3: “Houston is one of the most diverse cities in the United States, and food is a large part of these cultures. If you had to design a 3-course menu to prepare for your future MBA core team, what would be on the menu that showcases more about who you are?”

Please choose only one method of communication that you would like to use for your response (you can only submit one video – either for Essay #1 or Essay #3):

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

In deciding which option to address, applicants should consider the content covered in the other essays, as you’ll want to present new information here. It’s also 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, choosing a picture of and 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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