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UCLA Anderson School of Management MBA Essay Topic Analysis

The following essay topic analysis examines the University of California, Los Angeles, Anderson School of Management (UCLA / Anderson) MBA admissions essays for the 2019-2020 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 / Anderson MBA Essay Topic Analysis 2019-2020

Required Essays (New Applicants)

Essay A

Tell us about your MBA goals AND why you are applying to UCLA Anderson now:

  • Describe your short term and long term goals. (150 words max)
  • Why is UCLA Anderson a good school for you? (150 words max)

This is a fairly straightforward career goals essay. Applicants are asked to provide information about their immediate post-graduation and longer-range career plans, and to comment on how Anderson will help them get there. Of course, candidates would do well to highlight the ways these objectives are aligned with the values of sharing success, thinking fearlessly and driving change reflected in Anderson’s principles. Taking the time to explicitly draw these connections will help to tailor your response to UCLA’s prompt and underscore your serious interest in the Anderson MBA.

With respect to structure, it will probably make the most narrative sense to open this response by introducing one’s career goals, as well as a few sentences about the professional experiences that have informed (and helped prepare one for) these objectives. Candidates can cover this content in either order: chronologically outlining their short- and long-term plans, or opening with the long-term and then explaining how their target short-term position is a logical first step along that trajectory. Either way, applicants should identify the specific position they hope to obtain after graduating from the MBA program, and may even want to identify 1-2 target organizations for which they would particularly like to work. In describing their long-term goals, meanwhile, candidates should aim to comment on what draws them to this role as well as the larger impact they hope to make on an organization, category, sector, or region. This long-term impact element of the response seems a particularly logical place to address fit with Anderson’s guiding principles.

This opening section about one’s career goals will then provide some context for a discussion of the applicant’s goals at UCLA Anderson. This should include comments about how specific courses and student clubs will help the applicant to bridge the gap between their current skill set and the demands of their post-MBA roles, as well as ways the applicant would enhance the experience of other students and contribute to the MBA community. While some of these comments should be career-focused (after all, this is presumably one’s primary reason for pursuing a business education), applicants would also do well to introduce additional interests and planned involvements related to established hobbies, athletic pursuits, and broader community involvement. This will help to round out one’s candidacy in the eyes of the adcom and provide a fuller picture of your interests and potential contributions.

To make the most of these 150 words, applicants will need to demonstrate knowledge of the Anderson MBA program, as well as thoughtfulness about how their potential leadership roles and community contributions align with UCLA’s values. Speaking with students and alumni, visiting the campus or attending information sessions, will all prove helpful on this front.

Essay B

At Anderson, we believe our students are engaged, courageous, humble, and open. Describe a time when you demonstrated one of these traits in your personal life. (250 words max)

This response has the potential to be profound and reveal a side of an applicant that the admissions committee cannot find anywhere else in the application. That may feel like a tall order with only 250 words, but there is a simple exercise that can help you pare down your options and focus on a core example of being engaged, courageous, humble, or open. So, try the following:

  1. Write down the 10 to 15 most important events, accomplishments, interests, or experiences in your life. Include the good, the bad, the astounding, the ugly, etc.
  2. Look at the list you have generated and try to determine the themes that unify the important events, interests, and ideas in your life. How have you dedicated your time? What values have you fought for? Considering your actions will help you connect with a value itself.
  3. Select one or two items from the list that best support a given value and use them to define your approach and kick off the drafting process for the essay.

One way to distinguish yourself will be in the details.  Account for your actions and results, and try to consider how you can connect to Anderson’s main principles.  Connecting your select value to sharing success, thinking fearlessly or driving change will show the adcom that this essay has been tailored to their program.

Optional Essay

Are there any extenuating circumstances in your profile about which the Admissions Committee should be aware? Please use your best judgment. (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-Applicant Essay

Please describe your career progress since you last applied and ways in which you have enhanced your candidacy. Include updates on short-term and long-term career goals, as well as your continued interest in UCLA Anderson. Reapplicants are those who submitted a completed MBA application within the previous two application years. If you applied three years or more prior, then please answer the “New Applicant” questions. (500 words maximum)
A fairly straightforward and improvement-oriented essay, this prompt asks applicants to focus on their professional progress as they discuss improvements in their candidacy since the time they last applied to Anderson. It will still make sense to touch on accomplishments and new involvements outside of the office, though this discussion should likely be secondary to comments about work-related developments. The school also asks candidates to comment on ways they’ve adjusted or refined their career goals, and to highlight the additional research they’ve done into the UCLA MBA program over the past months or year. Given the fairly roomy word limit for this prompt, re-applicants should aim to provide a fairly exhaustive account of their professional growth, as well as a detailed discussion of the steps they’ve taken to learn more about the Anderson MBA program and their fit with its student culture.

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