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UCLA MBA Essays & Analysis

ucla mba essays

The following essay topic analysis examines the University of California, Los Angeles, Anderson School of Management (UCLA / Anderson) MBA admissions essays. The UCLA MBA essays are for the 2020-2021 admissions season. You can also review essay topic analyses for additional leading MBA programs as well as general Essay Tips to further aid you in developing your admissions essays.

UCLA MBA Essays & Analysis 2020-2021

Anderson introduces their questions with a preamble:

We look forward to learning about your perspectives and plans via your essay responses. Essays complement the answers you provide throughout the application to show us your whole profile. The best applications are introspective, genuine and succinct in directly answering our questions and showing clear plans for the future.

Reapplicants are those who applied to the MBA program within the last two application years, so those who applied three or more years ago are considered new applicants. Reapplicants may answer the essay questions below as options, and provide additional updates elsewhere in the application for any new test scores, career developments, or other changes since their last application.

Any applicant may use the Optional essay to share additional pertinent information if needed.

Let’s take a closer look at the essays.

Essay A

For the 2020-2021 application year, we have one essay question that is required for first-time applicants and optional for re-applicants: How have events of the past year influenced the impact you would like to make in your community, career, or both? (250 words maximum) 

We welcome reflection on any events that influenced you in your personal or professional lives, or in society in general, and look forward to learning about specific ways you want to leave your mark.

Within the application, there are fields to define your career goals and address your interest in Anderson. Re-applicants will also have additional space to address improvements or changes in test scores, employment, activities, academics and other areas. This leaves this essay to really expound on the impact you hope to have in the future and how you have been inspired recently. A clear contender for topics would be the role the pandemic has played in your life, or perhaps you have become more involved in issues of social justice. You can certainly also reflect on something less prevalent, but keep in mind you will ultimately want to be able to tie your story back to your community and/or career.

In terms of structural approach to this short answer, you may try opening by fully defining the relevant events. Then, explain how these events have influenced you by describing actions you have taken or a related shift in your perspective. You can follow with describing how you plan to enact these given values or perspectives in the future. Remember that past behavior is often seen as a predictor of future success, so try to reflect on action-based changes in your life and how you could carry on to make direct impact in your future.

Optional Essay

No preference is given in the evaluation process to those who choose to respond to this optional essay, so please use your best judgment:  Are there any extenuating circumstances in your profile about which the Admissions committee should be aware? (250 words maximum)

The narrow framing of this prompt — along with the additional suggestion that applicants exercise judgment in responding — suggests that this response will be best reserved to address glaring weaknesses or liabilities in one’s application (as opposed to offering “bonus information” about one’s candidacy). Applicants should keep their responses brief and to-the-point, offering explanations without making excuses and humbly bringing mitigating factors to the reader’s attention.

Re-applicants will have a chance to account for updates to their test scores, work experience, academics, activities and anything else they deem fit within the application. If you have refined your goals, for example, you can select “other” in the application field and address those related improvements there. With all of this in mind, this prompt should be reserved for extenuating circumstances that happen to fall outside of these categories.

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