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SMU / Cox MBA Essay Topic Analysis

SMU / Cox MBA Essay Topic Analysis

The following essay topic analysis examines the  Southern Methodist University Cox School of Business (Cox) MBA admissions essays for the 2021-2022 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.

SMU / Cox MBA Essay Topic Analysis 2021-2022

Let’s take a closer look at each essay.

Essay 1 

Please describe your immediate post-MBA career goals, including the target industry, sector, and/or organization. Why are you interested in pursuing a career in this particular area? (250 word limit).
This is a fairly standard, albeit brief, career goals essay, requesting one’s plans immediately after Cox.  Due to the short length, the response should be concise in covering the particular role and responsibilities you are interested in.  Should you have target companies in mind already, any direct knowledge or experience you can relay would underscore your commitment to your plans. For instance, perhaps you’ve already spoken with people you know at your target firm, or the HR departments.  Once you define the specific role and industry or companies, you should have room to comment on why you wish to pursue the short-term role.  While you should prioritize fully developing your goals upon graduation, you may comment on your intended impact and even explain how it’s a stepping stone to your long-term vision if you have room.

Essay 2

Each candidate is unique.  Please outline your top expectations for your MBA program and why SMU Cox would be a great partner in assisting you to achieve your professional development and career goals (250 word limit).
This boils down to “why MBA” and “why SMU Cox” and asks applicants to prioritize what they need from their b-school experience.  It is important to balance a sense of gain with giving here. It will require that applicants be very thoughtful and as concise as possible. For instance, if you are interested in consumer goods, do not limit your exploration of the topic to the idea that you would acquire knowledge individually, e.g. in taking a particular course; instead, consider how you may get involved in organizing a conference or bringing a speaker to campus so that you may share this knowledge with fellow students. The key is to define what you need to learn, and integrating a sense of individual growth balanced with knowledge sharing, so that you may be seen as part of a community. Also consider what clubs and activities could help you grow on a professional level—e.g. how would you learn to motivate others by organizing a specific event?

Of course, to craft a truly compelling essay, applicants must also display a strong and specific understanding of how SMU’s program would enable them to accomplish their goals.  Taking the time to learn about the school’s curriculum, special programs and extracurricular activities—whether by seeking out alumni or current students to engage, or connecting with resources through the SMU Cox website—will pay dividends here.

Essay 3

One of the three pillars of the SMU Cox MBA program is Data Analytics.  We are committed to helping all students develop skills in data analysis and to further develop an analytical mindset.  Please answer one of the following prompts (500 word limit).

  • Option A: Please describe how you have used data to solve a complex problem, including how you communicated your solution to others.

If you have limited experience with analytics or quantitative work, please use the following question:

  • Option B: Explain how you are prepared to succeed in a quantitatively rigorous program.

When tackling option A, you may consider using the STAR technique to structure your story:

  • Situation – Set the stage or identify the situation and complex problem.
  • Task – Identify the task or project that you set out to perform.
  • Action – Describe the actions you took to complete the project, including how you communicated your solution.
  • Result – Summarize the (hopefully positive) outcome.

While you will need to highlight how you used data to solve the problem, try not to get too bogged down in the details of the data that may not be accessible to your reader. Instead, focus on the conclusions you were able to draw / analysis you were able to conduct based on the information you had.

For those who need to address option B, due to lack of analytics or quantitative work, whether in an academic and/or professional setting, you’ll want to be as positive as possible. This means highlighting any meaningful exposure to analytics and quant that you’ve had, and discussing skills that show you would be able to handle the program. For example, if you have truly minimal exposure to analytics, you can point to other qualities that translate to success in a rigorous program, like diligence or an ability to learn quickly. Show the adcom that you can handle tough or unfamiliar situations. This would also be the ideal place to assert any plans you have to sharpen your skills before the MBA program, such as taking extension courses or seeking out quant-heavy projects at work.

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