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Toronto / Rotman Essay Topic Analysis

Toronto / Rotman Essay Topic Analysis

The following essay topic analysis examines the University of Toronto’s Rotman School of Management MBA admissions essays for the 2018-2019 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.

Toronto / Rotman Essay Topic Analysis 2018-2019

Let’s take a closer look at each prompt.

Essay 1

The Full-Time MBA Program at the University of Toronto, Rotman School of Management attracts top talent from an incredibly diverse range of professional and academic backgrounds around the world so we don’t really have a typical candidate. In admissions, we look for intellectual horsepower, experience, and impact, communication, and presence.

Beyond that, our admitted students stand out by doing interesting things with their personal and professional lives — something we describe as the ‘spike factor’; what are the things that you have done in your life that demonstrate Passion/ Grit/ Resilience/ Innovation/ Drive/ Ambition and more? This can cross all or any aspects of life outside of work – hobbies, volunteerism, awards, entrepreneurial ventures, sports and the arts. We believe that exposure to a rich diversity of viewpoints makes for a superior learning experience, and pride ourselves on building a diverse class of exceptional individuals who will go on to make the School proud as professionals and alumni.

Please upload 1-3 of your ‘spikiest’ pictures to the supplemental items section of your application here and use the space below to tell us why you have chosen these particular images to illustrate your ‘spike factor’. (up to 1000 words)
With 1,000 words, it’s likely that you will be able to talk about two to three images/experiences rather easily.  While it would be ideal to touch on each of the six qualities Rotman capitalizes, it’s entirely understandable that some would be more prevalent than others. There are a few ways to begin tackling this lengthy essay. One would be list your greatest accomplishments, and then connect back to one or two (or more) of the highlighted values. Alternatively, you may reflect on each value and find an accomplishment that way.  No matter your starting point, there are some key factors you will want to include.

First, while the adcom knows most candidates are not professional photographers, make sure the pictures you upload are clear and informative.  While you may look fantastic in your head shot, this essay presents an opportunity to show more about you.  Consider the background, consider what action is taking place, consider what a viewer may deduce simply by looking at the image.   How does or can your given image(s) tie back to Passion/ Grit/ Resilience/ Innovation/ Drive/ Ambition?  Of course, you will be supplementing the visuals with written content, so let’s take a closer look at potential options for each value.

Passion is the broadest brush with which to address this prompt.  Consider what you are dedicated to, the actions you have taken and what drives you.  While this should be evident in your personal or professional life, keep in mind that this could also carry over to your career goals.  Keep the emphasis on particular anecdotes that showcase your “spikiness,” and if they happen to carry over to your career plans, they could be worth a brief mention.

Next, let’s look at grit and resilience. The framing of this question makes it clear that the admissions committee isn’t just interested in the process of overcoming adversity, but also with the resulting growth and character-building that occurred. Given that applicants may draw from the personal or professional realms in responding to this question, there are numerous topics that could be appropriate here. For example, an applicant could discuss how growing up in difficult socioeconomic circumstances influenced his or her strong work ethic, or how a relationship with an adversarial supervisor made him or her a more flexible, adaptable person. Regardless of the subject, after providing a detailed description of the situation or experience and the reasons it is “spiky”—i.e. what skills, values, areas of knowledge, or assumptions were tested— applicants should be sure to clearly explain how they rose to the challenge and how that process shaped them in a positive way that has prepared them for success. To really prove to the adcom that they learned from the experience, applicants could provide a brief example of a later time when they navigated a difficult situation by implementing the strengths they’ve gained. In demonstrating their overall growth, applicants will show the adcom that they possess the ability to exercise resilience and overcome challenging circumstances to achieve a favorable outcome.

Innovation requires tangible improvement. So, when tackling this, you may consider using the STAR technique to structure their story:

  • Situation – Set the stage or identify the situation and opportunity for improvement.
  • Task – Identify the task or project that you set out to perform.
  • Action – Describe the actions you took to complete the project.
  • Result – Summarize the (hopefully positive) outcome.

Drive and ambition can stand on their own or be interwoven with the above values.  Pursuing your goals through hurdles and challenges would showcase these strengths.

The concluding content of the preamble, which refers to making Rotman proud post-MBA as a professional and alumni, invites reflection on how the experiences you share and values you have will translate to your success in the future.  In wrapping up this essay, it would therefore make sense to include remarks on how you would stay connected to Rotman in the future and continue to be “spiky.”

Reflection Question

List 3-5 attributes or characteristics that best describe you. (3 to 5 words)

While at first glance, it may feel like a relief to only have to write 5 words instead of 1,000, each word in this answer will carry more weight simply because of the shorter length.  In approaching this short answer, you can certainly start by making a list about yourself, but it would also be wise to ask your closest friends and colleagues how they would describe you in 3-5 words.  Asking others how they perceive you could open your eyes to other aspects of your character and improve the diversity of the list.  Also, if several people mention the same attribute or characteristic, the overlap could help you narrow down your list.  As this short answer is for admissions, it will be important that each attribute or characteristic is somehow relevant to business or being a member of a b-school community.  Some choice words may be passionate, generous, collaborative; other words, such as leader or impactful, on the other hand, may be too broad or popular to really create an impression on the reader.  “Unique” would also be wise to avoid, as it literally means “one of a kind.”  Overall, converse with those closest to you and develop a distinctive list.

Clear Admit Resources
Before you start writing your responses to the Toronto / Rotman essay topics, check out some of our Rotman resources:

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