The following essay topic analysis examines USC / Marshall School of Business (Marshall) MBA admissions essays for the 2020-2021 admissions season. You can also review essay topic analyses for other leading MBA programs as well as general Essay Tips to further aid you in developing your admissions essays.
2020-2021 USC Marshall MBA Essay Analysis
Let’s take a closer look at each prompt.
What is your specific, immediate short-term career goal upon completion of your MBA? Please include an intended position, function, and industry in your response. (word limit: 100)
This is a straightforward request for career plans following graduation from the Marshall MBA program. Candidates should lead with their short-term goal, given the explicit language of the prompt. In other words, where do you expect to be the day after graduation, professionally? One hundred words does not allow for much elaboration outside of one’s short-term plans, so it’s likely you will only have room to address each of the details requested. However, if you are able to address each detail effectively and happen to find yourself with extra room, you may try to dedicate a sentence or two to why an MBA is necessary and what your long-term goal is. Concisely defining your long-term goal would lend meaning to the short term, and identifying the skills you hope to gain from an MBA would show how you anticipate being prepared for the short term.
Please draft a letter that begins with “Dear Admissions Committee” (word limit: 600)
This letter is meant to be your personal statement that provides the Admissions Committee with an understanding of your candidacy for Marshall beyond what is evident in other parts of your application. This essay is purposely open-ended. You are free to express yourself in whatever way you see fit. Our goal is to have an appreciation for and an understanding of each candidate in ways that are not captured by test scores, grades, and resumes.
As you approach this prompt, keep in mind the many standard personal statement themes—your attributes and skills, why you are interested in joining the school, and what you feel you could contribute. These certainly intersect with the ideas covered by other schools’ “career goals” essays, so much so that it may be tempting to simply tack a greeting onto the beginning of a career goals essay you’ve prepared for another program. USC’s insistence that this is an open-ended format, however, actually makes it very easy to spot recycled material, so it’s important that you tailor your response to USC and ensure it is expressive.
You may consider reviewing the “Marshall difference” and the values that the school holds, in order to determine an anchor around which you can craft your letter. Sharing an anecdote about how you represent one of these values, e.g. transformational courage, collaborative ambition, impactful service or unwavering integrity, could show how you fit with the program. Alternatively, maybe you have a powerful community anecdote or exceptional professional achievement that you would like to share.
Another potential outline for this essay might open with a couple detailed sentences about who you are and what you would bring to the school; then a short statement of your career goals with a summary of the ways in which your experience to date has prepared you to accomplish them; and finally a brief “why Marshall” section explaining why it is the best place for you in terms of what you need from an MBA and your fit with the school. To effectively convince the adcom that your background is uniquely suited to USC Marshall, it will be important to conduct a fair amount of research on the program. Taking the time to learn about Marshall’s curriculum, special programs and extracurricular activities—whether through a visit to campus or conversation with alumni—will pay dividends here.
Please provide any additional information you would like the admissions committee to consider. (word limit: 250)
This essay is an ideal opportunity to address gaps in employment, areas of poor academic performance, lack of a letter from one’s current direct supervisor, and other areas that might benefit from explanation. While applicants might also use this essay to share other important information about their backgrounds, they should be very thoughtful about whether this “bonus material” will make a substantive difference in their applications before responding to this essay. Moreover, when considering “bonus material,” make sure it belongs here and not in the previous essay.
Clear Admit Resources
Thanks for reading our analysis of this year’s USC / Marshall School of Business essay topics. As you work on your Marshall MBA essays and application, we encourage you to consider all of Clear Admit’s Marshall offerings: