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Carnegie Mellon / Tepper Essay Topic Analysis

The following essay topic analysis examines Carnegie Mellon University’s Tepper School of Business (Tepper) MBA admissions essays for the 2019-2020 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.

Carnegie Mellon University Tepper Essay Topic Analysis 2019-2020

Let’s take a closer look at each prompt.

Required Essay

At Carnegie Mellon University’s Tepper School, we love to tell our story. Below is your chance to tell yours. Please select only ONE of the options below to complete the essay requirement (maximum 300–350 words).

  • Option #1: Carnegie Mellon University is an institution that never stops looking and moving ahead, pioneering the next way forward with technology, business and research to answer questions big and small. Personally or professionally, in what way have you been a pioneer?
  • Option #2: Amidst the ambiguous and unchartered nature of change, Carnegie Mellon University students and alumni rise above to envision and create. Discuss how you have anticipated change in your professional life. In what ways did you effectively collaborate to create your desired outcome?
  • Option #3: At Carnegie Mellon University, our difference is what we imagine for the world and how we answer its challenges. What impact have you had on the world around you?

Given the number of options, 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 word limit of 300-350 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 problem solving and innovation.  Applicants will want to set forth their vision, the question they answered, how they went about answering it, and how this answer had impact. The adcom may also be looking for evidence of initiative here, given the emphasis on looking and moving ahead.

Unlike the first prompt, the second prompt is focused solely on one’s professional experience.  Addressing this question will require evidence of vision and team work.  Candidates will need to demonstrate that they recognized approaching change, rallied others around their vision of a solution and drove the team to a positive outcome.

The third option offers a broader path to success, as it mainly emphasizes demonstrating impact.  This will entail recognizing an opportunity for improvement, walking the adcom through your process, and finally accounting for your positive results.

No matter which prompt you settle on, it would be wise to connect how your experience would translate to involvement at Tepper, or how you could become a part of their “story” as an alum.

Optional Essay

  • Use this essay to convey important information that you may not have been otherwise able to convey. This may include unexplained resume gaps, context for recommender selection, etc.
  • If you are a re-applicant, explain how your candidacy has strengthened since your last application.

While there is no set word limit for this essay, it would be wise to keep this under 350 words, given the length of the required essay. Optional materials also create more work for the reader, so it’s important to keep that in consideration while being concise in one’s explanations.

For first-time applicants, this optional essay should be reserved for addressing potential liabilities in one’s application. Such discussions should be direct and to the point, providing an explanation and pointing to mitigating factors without being defensive or making excuses. This essay is optional, so should not be used if there are no issues to explain.

Meanwhile, reapplicants should detail the steps they have taken to become a stronger applicant and learn more about the Tepper MBA program since their last application. Candidates in this situation should comment on how they have spent the past year, taking particular care to highlight improved quantitative records, new professional skills and responsibilities, progress toward their ultimate career goals, and/or increased community involvement.

Clear Admit Resources
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