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

December 02, 2012

UCLA Anderson MBA Essays for Fall 2013 Admission

In what follows, I will analyze the UCLA Anderson School of Management’s MBA Essays for Fall 2013 Admission. If you want to enter the Class of 2015, you will encounter a really easy set of essays to answer.

Assuming you are working on other schools, this one should not take particularly long. Especially if you are applying to HBS, Booth, Kellogg, Columbia, 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 to UCLA Anderson here.

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

What is your proudest achievement outside the workplace, and how has it impacted you? (700 words maximum)
Please see my analysis of INSEAD 2, HBS 1, Booth Essay 3, Kellogg Essays 1 and 2, Columbia Essay 2, Stanford 3, and possibly Stanford 1 (You can find the links in my Key Posts).  Depending on the topic you write about it, it is indeed possible that you will already be using it with the aforementioned schools.  I make this point because I have already seen in the first round how it is possible to repurpose content between UCLA and these other school’s essays. Even if you UCLA is the first set of essays you are working on, if you are applying more widely it does help to consider how you will repurpose your UCLA content subsequently.  I don’t believe in reinventing the wheel. If you have a great topic that can be made to work effectively for multiple schools, use it.  Don’t shoehorn a round peg into a square hole, but honestly with this year’s essay sets, there are lots of round pegs and round hole s.
Some key things to keep in mind when answering this question:
-Achievements reveal your potential to succeed at UCLA and afterwords.
-Achievements reveal your potential for contributing to your classmates.
-Everyone has had achievements, so make your achievement really stand out.
-What you consider to be an achievement is a real test of your self-awareness and judgment.
Think about which achievement to use
The first thing you need to do is brainstorm possible achievements to use here. These will eventually take the form of stories, so that is what I call them. A few things to keep in mind:
  • Your achievement should not professional. It may implications for you professionally, but the core study should be professional.
  • Your achievement may involve academics, volunteer activities, hobbies, community engagement, personal matters.  The possibilities are quite endless, just as long as the achievement is not work related.
Next, think about the following issues in determining which achievement to use and how to present it. 
Think about what skill(s), value(s), or unique experience is/are being showcased
Your achievement needs to reveal valuable thing(s) about you. Some will call these selling points, but more specifically they consist of skills, values, or unique experiences. One might use a specific achievement to emphasize one’s leadership skills,  one’s ethical values, and to explain a significant barrier that was overcome. If you breakdown the meaning of an achievement it might easily reveal multiple  important things about you.
Think about what potential for success in the MBA program or afterwords is being demonstrated by your achievement
You may or may not be directly stating this in the essay, but you should think about what each achievement  reveals in terms of your potential. UCLA Adcom will most certainly be considering how your achievement demonstrates your potential to succeed at Anderson and afterwords, so you should as well. One key way of thinking about the MBA application process is to see it as a test of potential. Potential itself can mean different things at different schools and so you must keep in mind differences between schools and in particular must pay close attention to what a schools say really matters when they assess applicants.  Please keep in mind that a core part of your own application strategy should be determining which parts of you to emphasize both overall and for a particular school. The first thing you should notice about this set of questions is that it begins with a question that emphasizes personality.  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.
Think about how your achievement could become a contribution to others in the MBA program
Just as with potential, think about whether your achievement demonstrates your ability to add value to other students at Anderson. 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 high EQ individuals, who are great at networking, and are willing to push themselves to seek new challenges. Your achievement may or may not necessarily relate to those characteristics, but if your essay topic neither shows your potential or your ability to contribute, it is not likely to make for an effective topic.
Think about why does UCLA Adcom needs to know about this achievement
If your achievement has made it this far, chances are it is substantial. That said, I have two simple tests for determining whether achievement really belongs in this essay.
1. Does UCLA really need to know about this achievement? After all, you might consider getting the love of your life to marry you to be one of your greatest non-professional achievement, but will Adcom care? If an achievement does not reveal (whether stated or implied) potential and/or contribution, chances are likely that it is not significant enough.
2. Is the story totally obvious from reviewing your resume or application form?
If the story is simply a very cause-effect based one such as “I studied hard to get a 4.0 in university ” that could ber very dull and rather obvious.  On the other hand if you overcome great challenges to get such an academic result, you could have a great story.  Obvious stories are dull.  Reveal something important about yourself that goes beyond the surface level.
Finally, as I mentioned above what you include here is a real test of your judgment, so don’t just write about an obvious achievement. Think deeply and come up with a unique achievement that will compel Anderson to want to interview you.

What are your short-term and long-term career goals, and how will an MBA from UCLA Anderson specifically help you achieve these goals? (700 words maximum)
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 alumni 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~. You can find my Q&As with UCLA students on my Key Posts page.

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.

Reapplicants who applied for the class entering in fall 2011 or 2012 are required to complete the following 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. (700 words maximum)
If you are a reapplicant to UCLA,  I hope that you have taken the time to learn more about it and can really explain why you fit there.  In my analysis of Essays 1 and 2 above, please review the Anderson-specific comments I made.  The whole point of reapplication is to give Anderson another chance to love you. Reapplicants should see my reapplication guide. Use this space to specifically explain what has improved about you since you last applied. You can certainly mention improved test scores, but I would not use very much of your word count for that. Typical topics include: development of a new skill, promotions that demonstrate your potential for future success, involvement in an extracurricular activity, learning significantly more about Haas, and why your goals now are better than the ones you presented last time. They want to see career growth or at least pers onal growth. Help them want to give you a chance.

-Adam Markus
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. 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. 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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