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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 2020-2021 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 2020-2021

Let’s take a closer look at each prompt.

Goals Short Answers

What is your professional goal immediately following graduation from Tepper? (150 words)
This question follows the selection of a post-MBA industry and a post-MBA function from two drop down menus. Given the tight word limit, applicants should jump right into identifying their plans upon graduation, including the role they hope to take on, expected responsibilities and impact they hope to have. You can even name a few target firms and why they appeal to you. Space permitting, you may briefly establish your long-term goal so as to lend meaning to your short-term plans.

What other role would you consider? In other words, what is your Plan B? (150 words)
It would be ideal to maintain a common thread between your two potential short-term goals, as this will show the adcom a sense of commitment and clear vision. For instance, if Plan A is to become a management consultant and Plan B is to join the real estate industry, the divergence of these paths could cast doubt on your sense of direction. In light of finding a common connection, you could select a “Plan B” that would ultimately lead to the same long-term goal, based on the skills or experience you need to gain. This response also needs to be concise, so be prepared to jump directly into describing another industry or function that appeals to you and fits in your overall career trajectory.

Required Essay

The Tepper community is dynamic and unique. Each community member’s individual journey has shaped them into classmates who are collaborative and supportive. Describe how you have overcome adversity during your journey. What did you learn about yourself and how has that shaped who you are? (Maximum 350-500 words.)
This is a chance to tell the adcom who you are, where you come from, and what you care about. It is also a good place to highlight instances of resourcefulness and persistence, and to provide insight into one’s personal and professional maturity and collaborative nature over the course of a narrative. An effective approach might be to describe the initial adversity and its broad implications in a few sentences, followed by a discussion of how you dealt with it – along with a brief illustrative example – before concluding with a reflection on the lessons you’ve learned and how those lessons have shaped who you are today.

The adcom also wants to know that you’ll be supportive and collaborative while on campus at Tepper and be a good addition to the student community. Applicants should aim to connect their history with potential future contributions to Tepper.  Whether you choose to draw on your professional, personal or academic life, it’s important to create context before connecting to how you would contribute to Tepper. As you approach the contributions, specifically, think about how you can translate your experience and related lessons into involvement on the CMU campus. Creating a link between your past and your potential future at the program will enable you to present a consistent and clear picture of your candidacy, as well as your professional and personal interests. The more information you can provide about how exactly you would contribute (playing a certain role in organizing a particular annual event, for example), the more reason you’ll give the adcom to admit you.

Optional Essay

  • Is there anything else that you would like to share with the Admissions Committee as we evaluate your application? If you believe your credentials and essays represent you fairly, you should not feel obligated to answer this question. This essay is intended to provide a place for you to add information that you think is important but is not covered elsewhere in the application. This could include clarification of your employment or academic record, choice of recommenders or helpful context for the admissions committee in reviewing your application.
  • 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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