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UCLA / Anderson Essay Topic Analysis 2012-2013

Collins Center at UCLA Anderson Schoo...

Anderson has posted two essay topics for the 2012-2013 admissions season that mirror the school’s essay sets in previous years.  While the school has retained the same number of prompts and its interest in similar areas of an applicant’s background, UCLA Anderson has contributed to the trend seen at many leading programs by shortening its word limits.  Each of the two essays is down to 700 from 750 words maximum from the 2011-2012 season, affording MBA applicants just 1,400 words to display their candidacy with an additional 250 words to tackle any extenuating circumstances in their profiles.

Let’s take a closer look at both of the school’s required responses:

Essay 1: What is your proudest achievement outside the workplace, and how has it impacted you? (700 words maximum)

While this prompt shares much in common with UCLA’s leading question from 2011-2012, applicants should be aware of a key change.  Last year, candidates were required to name those events or people who had most influenced their characters, but this prompt requires a personal story rather than an external motivator.  Applicants should be careful to follow Anderson’s directions and avoid professional anecdotes – an achievement earned as part of an extracurricular involvement, however, would likely yield a great topic for this essay.

The most effective way to share an achievement is to generally guide the reader through the events step by step, being sure to explain the context of your story and then what actions you took to realize this success.  Describing the personal impact of this achievement, however, will require some introspective and personal consideration.  Applicants who are brainstorming an approach to this essay would likely do well to consider the specific ways they have experienced personal growth as a result of their accomplishments.  Though somewhat shorter than in the past, UCLA’s limit of 700 words still creates a significant space for applicants to fill.  If you are feeling stuck in determining which element of your candidacy is most appropriate for this essay, feel free to contact us for a personal consultation.

Essay 2: 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)

A direct repeat from last season, this essay is a fairly standard career goals essay. While it’s always important to provide a candid account of your professional objectives and interest in the Anderson MBA, keep in mind that a compelling profile will include essays that complement each other, and thus the way in which you describe your achievement and its impact in the first essay should correspond to the goals you have set for yourself. For example, an applicant could link his or her accomplishments from volunteering abroad in the first essay to a desire to join an international NGO after business school, “proving” how his or her achievement made a profound impact on the applicant’s life.

The second part of the question, meanwhile, puts the focus on the ways that UCLA’s MBA program will satisfy one’s academic needs and advance the applicant toward his or her stated professional goals.  In order to tailor your response to Anderson’s unique merits and resources, you will need to be able to identify certain programs and courses that are relevant to your goals and stated interests.  Taking the time to learn about the school’s curriculum, special programs and extracurricular activities – whether through a visit to campus, conversation with alumni or reading the Clear Admit School Guide to the Anderson School of Management – will pay dividends here.

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