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UT Austin / McCombs Essay Topic Analysis 2011-2012

We wanted to take some time today to comment on the UT Austin – McCombs essay topics for the 2011-2012 admissions season, which differ slightly from last year’s three required questions.  The most conspicuous change this year is the removal of the leadership development essay.  Reflecting an emphasis on applicants who have contributed to their workplace and the community (and who will continue this level of personal engagement in an MBA program), UT Austin’s two questions focus on how candidates would enrich their environments through leadership commitment.

1. Describe how your professional and personal experiences have led you to pursue an MBA at this time. Please share with us your short and long term goals and why the Texas MBA at McCombs is the program best positioned to help you achieve them. (Limit: 900 words)
While most admissions committees are interested in the professional reasons behind applicants’ decisions to apply to business school and the motivations regarding timing, the fact that McCombs specifically asks about personal experiences shows that candidates will need to expand their essay to include non-professional experiences that have influenced their future goals.

One approach to this topic would be for candidates to summarize what they’ve done thus far in their career and personal life that have led them to define their career goals.  Then they can explain their future plans and demonstrate why an MBA is necessary to move forward. While that approach does place this question into the career goals essay category, it’s important to keep in mind that the McCombs adcom is most interested in the candidate’s assessment of their personal and professional experiences and the reasons that a turning point has been reached.  Therefore as you write about your professional and personal experiences, you should tie this discussion back to your greater professional goals.

Discussing how the Texas MBA fits into the picture will be key, and you can touch on how the McCombs program will provide you with the skill set necessary to begin reaching your objectives.  Taking the time to learn about the school’s special programs and extracurricular activities – whether through a visit to campus, conversation with alumni or reading the Clear Admit School Guide to McCombs School of Business – will pay dividends here.

2. At the McCombs School of Business, we are proud to have an active and diverse student community. What do you consider to be your personal strengths and how have you leveraged them in the past to enrich your work and non-work communities? (Limit: 500 words)

Maintaining its position as an application essay for three years in a row, this prompt, which was altered slightly this year, signals the value that McCombs places on student contribution and involvement on campus.  This year, applicants are asked specifically to comment on how they have leveraged their personal strengths in the past to enrich the communities of which they are members.  A strong essay would be one that touches on several qualities and involvements, illustrating a range of skills and their applicability to the MBA program.  That said, though this prompt invites a rather broad discussion, anecdotal evidence of your positive traits in action is essential.  For that reason, it will makes sense to hone in on 3 or 4 examples, linking each to some similar activity or contribution you could make to the classroom or an on-campus club.  Indicating what clubs, organizations, or programs you hope to participate in and how you will take on a leading role will go far in demonstrating your enthusiasm for and commitment to the program.

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Posted in: Essay Topic Analysis

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