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UT Austin / McCombs Essay Topic Analysis

UT Austin / McCombs MBA interview

The following essay topic analysis examines UT Austin / McCombs (McCombs) 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.

UT Austin / McCombs Essay Topic Analysis 2018-2019

Let’s take a closer look at each of the McCombs MBA essay prompts:

Essay 1

We will learn a lot about your professional background through your résumé and letter of recommendation. We want to get to know you further. Please introduce yourself. Select only one communication method you would like to use for your response.

  • Write an essay (250 words), OR
  • Share a video introduction (one minute)

This is the sixth year running that McCombs has asked applicants to introduce themselves in some context, as part of the essay section of the application, and the fifth year that they’ve offered the option of doing so via video profile. This would suggest that the adcom has been pleased with the information this prompt has yielded.

We’ll comment a bit more on format in a bit. In terms of content, this essay allows the adcom to assess how prospective students would present themselves, requiring applicants to reflect carefully on the aspects of their backgrounds that they consider most interesting and valuable. We also strongly encourage applicants to use this opportunity to showcase elements of their personalities and candidacies that they will not have the chance to address in their responses to the other application essay. Perhaps you have a particularly interesting accomplishment or hobby to share, or an aspect of your heritage or hometown of which you’re especially proud. Finally, it will be important to pay attention to the balance of content in your introduction. The most effective responses to this question will portray the applicant as sincere, well-rounded, likable, and excited about McCombs.

As for medium, the video option provides an opportunity to make a vivid impression through visual communication. It also shows the admissions committee that one is willing to invest the time and effort to create something just for the UT Austin application, underscoring one’s investment in gaining admission to McCombs. Applicants whose leisure activities or workplace roles lend themselves well to film might do well to consider the video option.

All of that said, while taking risks in the admissions process is often worthwhile, you don’t want to step so far out of your comfort zone that you ultimately don’t make a good impression (this seems especially possible for camera-shy applicants attempting the video option). Given that about 70% of past applicants chose to submit essays, the written word is absolutely a viable option. Candidates choosing to submit an essay will want to use their 250 words wisely to give the reader a sense of who they are and how they would enhance the McCombs community (while avoiding overlap with Essay 2, which can deal with that theme as well).

Essay 2

Picture yourself at graduation. Describe how you spent your time as a Texas McCombs MBA, and how that experience helped prepare you for the post-MBA world. (500 words)

Despite the creative twist of picturing oneself at graduation, this is a fairly straightforward career goals essay. Applicants should establish their post-MBA plans and motivation, and elaborate on how they were active during the Texas MBA to enable those goals.  To tailor this to McCombs, it would be best to frame this briefly in the setting of being at graduation—perhaps you are sitting next to a cohort member, or listening to an address from a professor whose class you found particularly meaningful.  Then, establishing one’s goals and motivation first will set the stage for the deeper dive into the value of the Texas MBA.  In the course of discussing why the Texas MBA is your ideal program, briefly explain what you got out of the program; however, more of an emphasis should be on how you would have engaged the community and fellow students in the course of the MBA program. For example, rather than listing off courses whose content would help you advance your career, it would be more strategic to focus on your ability to contribute to class discussions in areas in which you already have some foundation. It would also make sense to comment on how you would participate — or assume leadership — in student organizations of interest, both those related to professional interests as well as more personal interests.

Prospective students should also note Director Malta’s comment in our interview that UT Austin students “bleed burnt orange,” i.e. that the adcom is looking for applicants who feel very strongly about attending McCombs and are likely to have pride in the school. To write convincingly on this point, it will be necessary to conduct very thorough research on the school and student culture, and to identify programmatic elements that are unique to the UT Austin MBA. Taking the time to learn the ins and outs of the school’s special programs and extracurricular activities–whether through a visit to campus, conversation with students and alumni, or reading the Clear Admit School Guide to McCombs School of Business–will pay dividends here.

Optional Essay

Please provide any additional information you believe is important and/or address any areas of concern that will be beneficial to the Admissions Committee in considering your application (e.g. unexplained gaps in work experience, choice of recommenders, academic performance, or extenuating personal circumstances). (250 words)
Both the tone of this prompt and the examples of potential topics the candidate might address suggest that this essay will be best used to address liabilities or extenuating circumstances related to one’s application rather than to provide “bonus” information to the adcom. Candidates with questionable quantitative records, gaps in employment, or unusual recommenders should take advantage of this opportunity to offer explanations or outline plans to address potential issues. As is always the case with this sort of response, the comments in this essay should be straightforward and fact-focused, offering explanation without making excuses and humbly suggesting other areas of your candidacy that might compensate for identified weaknesses.

Before you start crafting your UT Austin McCombs essay responses, check out some of our resources to help you along the way:

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