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Be sure to read my Key Posts on the admissions process. Topics include essay analysis, resumes, recommendations, rankings, and more.

August 21, 2011

UCLA Anderson MBA Essays for Fall 2012

In what follows, I will analyze the UCLA Anderson School of Management's MBA Essays for Fall 2012 Admission. If you want to enter the Class of 2014, you will encounter a really easy set of essays to answer. 
THIS A VERY EASY ESSAY SET, IF YOU ARE AT ALL INTERESTED IN UCLA, APPLY! Assuming you are working on other schools, this one should not take particularly long. Especially if you are applying to Booth, CBS, or Stanford, this one should be particularly easy to do. In the previous two years, UCLA had a video/audio presentation as part of the application, but they have now dropped it. So much for innovative approaches to the MBA admissions process!

You can find testimonials from my some of clients admitted UCLA to here.  

I have taken the questions and instructions from UCLA's website:

We are interested in getting to know applicants on both a professional and personal level. We encourage you to be introspective, genuine, and succinct. Remember that we are more concerned with the content of your essays than their form or style.
All responses to essays must be on double-spaced pages that are uploaded in document form. Please note the word limits indicated in parentheses below.
Please be introspective and authentic in your responses. Content is more important than style of delivery. We value the opportunity to learn about your life experiences, aspirations, and goals.
1. What events or people have had the greatest influence in shaping your character and why?   (750 words)
2. Describe your short-term and long-term career goals. What is your motivation for pursuing an MBA now and how will UCLA Anderson help you to achieve your goals? (750 words)
The following essays are strictly optional. These essays are for individuals who would like to provide additional information. No preference is given in the evaluation process to applicants who submit optional essays.
1. Are there any extenuating circumstances in your profile about which the Admissions Committee should be aware? (250 words)

The first thing you should notice about this set of questions is that it begins with a question that emphasizes personality.  It would indeed be possible to write UCLA's entire set of questions without including a standard "leadership" or "greatest work accomplishment" essay. It is worth considering what UCLA says about its admission criteria:The Admissions Committee evaluates applicants' prospects as leaders in management and their projected ability succeed in, benefit from and contribute to the UCLA Anderson MBA Program. Committee members carefully consider personal and academic background information, GMAT scores, TOEFL scores (for most international applicants), achievements, awards and honors, employment history, letters of recommendation, and college and community involvement, especially where candidates have served in leadership capacities. The Admissions Committee seeks to create a community of students who bring unique contributions from their diverse backgrounds and experiences and who will collectively enrich the educational experience.

UCLA is very focused on understanding your ability to make a contribution to their community. This very much at the center of the education they offer and how how they differentiate their program:
Student life at Anderson is exceptional, highlighted by:
I mention all of the above because I think it is quite helpful in understanding what UCLA is looking for: Highly collaborative, community-oriented individuals, who are great at networking.

1. What events or people have had the greatest influence in shaping your character and why?   (750 words)
This question is altered from a similar question that was asked last year, but certainly is consistent with UCLA's emphasis on personality.  I strongly recommend that you think very carefully about what you write here and don't just try to jam an existing essay you have for another school to try and answer this very special question.

The following topics will probably not work well if treated as the event or people that have had the greatest influence on shaping your character:
1. A recent accomplishment.
2. A recent leadership experience.
3. A recent world event.
4. A recent interaction with someone.
The  problem with all of the above is that they are RECENT! Unless your character has just been recently formed such answers will prove to be very unconvincing. The question would seem to require the discussion of multiple events or people. Hence this essay will likely consist of 2-4 separate stories each which establish the connection between your character and some person or event in the past.
Keep in mind that you are engaged in an after the fact rationalization of linkages between some event or people in the past and the person you are now.  Writer's block will develop if you begin worrying too much about all of the events and people that have made you who you are. If I were counseling a client on this topic,  I would start by asking, "What do you really want UCLA to know about you?"  After that has been established, the key issue is finding a way to connect that to this question.   Knowing where you end up, that is to say reverse engineering the topic, is likely to yield an effective answer in a fairly efficient manner.

The structure for each story in the essay might look as follows:
1.  Discussion of the event or person.
2.  An explanation of the event or life experience's impact on your character.
3.  Results, that is to say more recent manifestations of the impact.  It is here where you could discuss a recent accomplishment, leadership experience, or some other important tangible demonstration of the manner in which the event or life experience continues to impact you.  It is also quite possible that this event or life experience relates to your goals.
4. You should make sure that each story you tell emphasizes a particular part of your character.
It is entirely possible that if you are applying to University of Chicago, your answer to this question, will be similar to Booth Essay 2.

2. Describe your short-term and long-term career goals. What is your motivation for pursuing an MBA now and how will UCLA Anderson help you to achieve your goals? (750 words)
Rather than repeat much of what I have previously written about other versions of this question, I would suggest that you look at my analysis of Columbia 1 as it can be applied here.

A great Essay 2 will clearly answer the "Why now" aspect of the question without focusing too much on past experience. One core focus of this essay should be on how being a part of Anderson's Class of 2014, will contribute to your intended professional future. Make sure that your motivations for pursuing that future are clearly stated in this essay and perhaps explained further elsewhere in your essay set.

UCLA puts great emphasis on applicants demonstrating that they have become informed about The Anderson School, so I strongly suggest that you visit if you can, but at least attend one of their admissions events. Getting in contact with UCLA alums would also be helpful. At a minimum, learn as much as you can from their web page. You really need to convince adcom that you know what you need from UCLA for your future goals. If you have the word count do so, you may also want to address what you can contribute. The Anderson School is also very focused on entrepreneurship. If you are at all interested in entrepreneurship, pay special attention to  the Harold and Pauline Price Center for Entrepreneurial Studies web page.

Japanese applicants should most certainly take a look at The Japan America Business Association (JABA) page. In addition, please see LA State of Mind ~UCLA MBA留学記 2009-2011~.

1. Are there any extenuating circumstances in your profile about which the Admissions Committee should be aware? (250 words)
This is a nice open-ended version of the standard "anything negative" optional essay. If everything is good, you don't need to write this one. If it is not, I suggest doing so. As with other school's optional questions, do not put an obvious essay for another school here, but you can certainly write on something positive here if you think its omission will be negative for you, but before you do, ask yourself these questions:
1. If they did not ask it, do they really need to know it?
2. Will the topic I want to discuss significantly improve my overall essay set?
3. Is the topic one that would not be covered from looking at other parts of my application?
4. Is the essay likely to be read as being a specific answer for UCLA and not an obvious essay for another school?
If you can answer "Yes!" to all four questions, it might be a good topic to write about.

-Adam Markus
アダム マーカス
I am a graduate admissions consultant who works with clients worldwide. If you would like to arrange an initial consultation, please complete my intake form, which is publicly available on google docs here, and then send your completed form to adammarkus@gmail.com.  You can also send me your resume if it is convenient for you.  Please don't email me any essays, other admissions consultant's intake forms, your life story, or any long email asking for a written profile assessment. The only profiles I assess are those with people who I offer initial consultations to. See here for why. Please note that initial consultations are not offered when I have reached full capacity or when I determine that I am not a good fit with an applicant.

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