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UT Austin / McCombs Essay Topic Analysis 2013-2014

We wanted to take some time today to comment on the UT Austin-McCombs essay topics for the 2013-2014 admissions season, which differ somewhat from last year’s two required questions.  McCombs has restructured its set for another year in a row, now requiring candidates to draft three, 250-word essays rather than two longer essays, bringing the maximum potential word count of the essay set down to 750 from 1,400.  Without further ado, let’s take a look at this year’s essay questions in detail:

1. Imagine that you are at the Texas MBA Orientation for the Class of 2016. Please introduce yourself to your new classmates, and include any personal and/or professional aspects that you believe to be significant. Select only one communication method that you would like to use for your response.

                  Write an essay (250 words)

                  Share a video introduction (one minute)

                  Share your about.me profile

This essay demonstrates a new creative opportunity in the McCombs application, affording applicants two new media options to go beyond the traditional written essay.  No matter which of these three is the best fit with your background, there are a few themes to keep in mind as you plot out your approach.  This essay looks to see how applicants present themselves to their peers, requiring applicants to reflect carefully on the aspects of their backgrounds that would be most valuable to their future classmates.  Given that McCombs has reduced the opportunities for candidates to discuss their goals, making a brief mention of your professional background and career goals may be appropriate.  We also 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 essays.  Perhaps you have a particularly interesting work or extracurricular experience to share, or a personal accomplishment or aspect of your heritage of which you’re especially proud.  If any of these lend themselves to a video presentation, you could consider how to visually convey more personal information in addition to any script you may draft.  The 250-word limit does give applicants some flexibility for describing a range of qualities and characteristics in order to demonstrate the well-rounded nature of their candidacies.

2. In the Texas MBA program we value our tight-knit and highly collaborative culture. Outside of your professional goals, please discuss why you are a good fit with the Texas MBA program and how you intend to impact the Texas MBA community? (250 words)

Though borrowing phrasing from last year’s second essay, this new prompt once again signals the value that McCombs places on student contribution and involvement.  Applicants are given another chance to showcase their knowledge of the McCombs MBA program.  The key is to comment on aspects of the program that one will not cover in his or her “why McCombs” discussion in Essay 3.  Because there is not much room to work with, staying focused on your contribution to a single club or organization may be more effective than glossing over potential contributions to three or four different groups or courses.  Either way, this prompt provides the ideal venue for writing about an interest that would otherwise have been left out of your application essays or for demonstrating the personal strengths and characteristics you’d bring to the community.

3. What do you hope to gain from your Texas MBA experience? How do you expect to develop, both personally and professionally, during the Texas MBA program? (250 words)

While most admissions committees are interested in the professional reasons behind applicants’ decisions to apply to business school and the motivations regarding timing, McCombs specifically opens the field to both personal and professional experiences such that candidates can choose to include non-professional ambitions for their MBA experience.

One approach to this topic would be for candidates to summarize their short- and long-term career goals, taking approximately 150 words to do so given that this is the only part of the essay set exclusively dedicated to that topic.  Then they can demonstrate why an MBA  – and in particular an MBA from McCombs – offers the necessary development to move forward.  This approach does place this question into the general career goals essay category, although it’s important not to neglect that the McCombs adcom is clearly interested in the candidate’s assessment of how he or she will pursue these goals while completing the MBA program.

Discussing how the Texas MBA fits into the picture therefore will be key, and you can touch on how the McCombs program will provide you with the skill set or experience necessary to begin reaching your objectives, again trying to avoid overlap with your other essays.  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.

 

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