The 2014-2015 USC / Marshall essay topics have been announced. They are listed below:
Essay: What are your short-term and long term personal and/or professional goals following graduation from
USC Marshall? How will USC Marshall enable you to develop or improve your skills in order to reach your
goals? (500-700 words)
Optional Essay: Please provide any additional information that you believe is important and/or will address any
areas of concern that will be beneficial to the Admissions Committee in considering your application. (250
Re-application Essay: Please describe any significant professional, personal, or academic growth since your
last application to the USC Marshall School of Business. Discuss your specific professional goals and how the
USC Marshall MBA Program will help you achieve these goals. (500 – 700 words)
For more information, visit the school’s admissions website.
The London Business School admissions team has revealed the essay topics for the upcoming admissions season. Here they are:
1. What are your post-MBA plans and how will your past experience and the London Business School programme contribute? (500 words)
2. How will you add value to the London Business School community? (300 words)
3. Is there any other information you believe the Admissions Committee should know about you and your application to London Business School? (400 words)
For more information, check out LBS’s admissions website.
IESE have released their online application for the upcoming admissions season. They can be found within the online application form, and are as follows:
1. “Tweet” your post MBA goals (280 characters)
2. Describe a recent professional situation (1-2 years ago maximum) that demonstrates your fit with IESE’s mission and values (300 words).
3. I wish that the application had asked me… (200 word limit)
More information can be found at IESE’s admissions website.
Emory University’s Goizueta Business School has posted their MBA admissions essay questions for the 2014/15 admissions season. They are as follows:
- What is your short-term career goal and why is an MBA from Goizueta an important next step toward that goal? (200 word limit)
- If your initial career plans are not realized, what else are you considering? (200 word limit)
- The Business School is named for Roberto C. Goizueta, former Chairman and CEO of The Coca-Cola Company, who led the organization for 16 years, extending its global reach, quadrupling consumption, building brand responsibility, and creating unprecedented shareholder wealth. It is his legacy and the strength of his character that gives rise to our vision: Principled Leaders for Global Enterprise. Goizueta once said, “The cynics will tell you that the good you do today will be forgotten tomorrow. I’m telling you, do it anyway.”
Provide an example of the good you have contributed to an organization and the impact of your actions. (300 word limit)
- Complete one of the following statements. (250 word limit)
- I am unique because…
- My most memorable cross-cultural experience…
- I am passionate about…
- The best piece of advice I’ve ever received is…
- Please share with the committee and your future classmates an interesting or fun fact about you. (25 word limit)
Optional Essay: If you have additional information or feel there are extenuating circumstances which you would like to share with the MBA Admissions Committee (i.e. unexplained gaps in work experience, choice of recommenders, academic performance issues or areas of weakness in application). Please limit your response to 250 words.
UCLA Anderson has announced its essay for the 2014-2015 season. The required and optional essays follow:
FIRST-TIME APPLICANTS – ONE REQUIRED ESSAY:
- UCLA Anderson is distinguished by three defining principles: Share Success, Think Fearlessly, Drive Change. What principles have defined your life and pre-MBA career? How do you believe that UCLA Anderson’s principles, and the environment they create, will help you attain your post-MBA career goals? (750 words maximum)
The following essay is optional. No preference is given in the evaluation process to applicants who submit an optional essay. Please note that we only accept written essays.
- Are there any extenuating circumstances in your profile about which the Admissions Committee should be aware? (250 words maximum)
RE-APPLICANTS - ONE REQUIRED ESSAY:
Reapplicants who applied for the class entering in fall 2013 or 2014 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. (750 words maximum)
Essay 1 (Maximum 300 words):
Describe a defining moment in your life, and explain how it shaped you as a person.
Essay 2 (Maximum 300 words):
Based on your research and interactions with the Tepper community, please share why you are a good fit with the Tepper MBA program.
There are two questions to which your recommender will be asked to respond based on his/her experience working with you:
- If you were to coach this candidate with respect to how s/he works within a team, what would you advise that s/he does well? What would you advise the candidate to do differently? Provide specific examples that support your advice.
- If you were to coach this candidate on his/her professional development, in what areas would you suggest s/he focus? What are the areas of strength on which s/he can build? Provide specific examples that support your advice.
For more information, visit the Tepper admissions website.
Continuing our series of essay topic analyses, we’re now turning our attention to Oxford’s Saïd Business School’s 2014-2015 MBA essays. Bucking the larger trend of different and fewer required essays that we’ve observed this summer, Saïd’s essays remained unchanged between this year and last, with the program again requiring that applicants provide three essays of 500 words each. Oxford’s questions reflect an ongoing interest in learning about applicants’ expected contributions to the school, their career goals, and their reasons for applying to Oxford. The third essay, meanwhile, provides applicants with the opportunity to showcase their ability to make a compelling argument about the business world in general.
Essay 1: What should Oxford expect from you? (500 words)
Appearing on Oxford’s application for the third year in a row, this question gives applicants the chance to show the SBS adcom that they have done their research and know the ways in which they can make a positive contribution to the Oxford MBA program. Before approaching this essay, we suggest that applicants take some time to think about their strengths and the unique aspects of their backgrounds and personalities that would inform their contributions to SBS. In addition, having a strong grasp of Oxford’s academic offerings, clubs, special programs and extracurricular offerings will allow a candidate to draw conclusions about the circumstances under which he or she would display certain strengths and characteristics. 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 Oxford – will pay dividends here.
Essay 2: How do you hope to see your career developing over the next 5 years? How will the MBA and Oxford assist you in the development of these ambitions? (500 words)
This prompt requests a fairly standard career goals essay, and thus the general advice we’ve offered in the past on how to tackle this sort of question applies here. The Oxford adcom looks for applicants who offer fully defined long- and short-term career goals, sound reasons for pursuing an MBA at this time, a well-informed rationale for their interest in SBS and specific plans to contribute to the campus community if they are admitted. Note that Oxford specifically asks applicants to discuss their five-year career plans; while it is certainly fine to explore longer-term objectives as well, it is at minimum essential to explore one’s next five years in depth.
The key to successfully tackling each of these components is specificity. In presenting their goals and explaining their motivation for seeking an MBA, it is crucial for applicants to present well-defined and feasible short-term and long-term career objectives, specifying the job title they hope to hold in their target industry and commenting on what they hope to accomplish in their target positions. Though not called for directly in the essay prompt, in most situations a career goals essay is more compelling when it includes a brief but coherent career history that summarizes the applicant’s work to date, revealing the continuity between one’s previous professional experiences and goals for the future.
Essay 3: Please choose and answer one of the two essays below:
- Sport is pure competition. What does it teach us about companies, individuals, and markets? (500 words maximum)
- The business of business is business. Is this true? (500 words)
Appearing on Oxford’s application for a second consecutive year, Essay 3 is one of the more unusual business school essays out there. While the open-ended nature of both options may initially appear intimidating, applicants should keep in mind that they are being assessed not on the actual answers they give, but rather on their ability to make a cohesive argument.
In the first option, applicants are asked to explain what business lessons can be extracted from the competitive nature of athletics. A variety of answers could apply here, such as the importance of adjusting to one’s competitors, drawing lessons learned in a team environment, staying aware of new trends in equipment and strategy, or learning from failure. Regardless of the direction applicants choose here, the key to crafting an effective response will be to not just state one’s answer, but to also provide compelling examples – either from one’s own experiences or from the realm of professional sports – that support one’s argument.
The second option, while perhaps enigmatically phrased, asks applicants to discuss whether businesses have inherent responsibilities (be they ethical, environmental, social, etc.) beyond commercial success. Again, it is important to remember that the adcom is less concerned with the answer a candidate gives than they are with his or her ability to choose a stance and convincingly argue a point. As with the first option, the most effective responses will illustrate one’s stance using concrete examples.
Reapplicant Essay: What improvements have you made in your candidacy since you last applied to the Oxford MBA? (250 words)
This straightforward prompt is asking about material improvements in the applicant’s candidacy since their last application. Given the narrow word limit, applicants should focus on detailing the steps they’ve taken to enhance their work experience, improve their level of involvement outside of work, and remedy areas of academic concern.
Today we’ll take a look at the Indian School of Business’s MBA essays for 2014-2015 and offer some thoughts about how applicants might approach this set of responses.
With the exception of the fourth and optional essay, each of these prompts is new for this admissions season. Whereas last year’s essays focused on applicants’ appreciation of the ISB program and potential to contribute to the community, this season’s prompts reflect a broader focus on what candidates have learned from their past experience, as well as their broader skills in critical thinking, persuasive writing, and self-awareness.
Let’s look at each of ISB’s prompts in more detail:
Essay 1: Innovation or doing things differently it is said is a key to future success. Could you substantiate or negate this idea based on your experience. Please provide examples from your own experience – either examples of your own innovation or examples of others whom you have worked with. (300 words)
This prompt calls on applicants to take a pro- or anti-innovation stance, and to explain their position using examples from their own personal or professional experience. While it’s a bit difficult for us to imagine a candidate arguing against innovation or change, the very fact that ISB is asking the question suggests that they’re open to either position, so long as the response is clearly written and well reasoned. Applicants will therefore want to reflect on salient examples from their own experience, and ideally select one in which they had an active role. For example, if taking the con position, it will likely be more effective to describe a situation in which one lobbied against a risky change—or even took a risk that didn’t pay off—rather than describing someone else’s failure of innovation that one observed from the sidelines. While the form of the response is important, this is also an opportunity to illustrate one’s skills and insight in the chosen example.
Essay 2: Applying to and enrolling in a Business School is an important career decision. Critically look at your career to date, the choices you have made, the key influences behind those choices, your goals for the future and how you expect to benefit from the ISB experience in achieving your goals. (300 words)
A career goals essay with a reflective twist, this prompts asks applicants to comment on the factors that have informed their major career choices to date, to detail their professional goals, and to comment on the ways that an MBA from ISB will support them in these future endeavors. With only 300 words to work with, applicants will need to be fairly efficient in covering each of these topics, with a focus on ISB-specific courses, programming, and student organizations in the latter section (consider consulting with students and alumni, visiting the school’s campus, or perusing the Clear Admit School Guide to the Indian School of Business for ideas here).
Essay 3: One of the following (200 words)
A) This experience completely changed my way of thinking. OR
B) An instance when you went out of the ordinary to achieve something significant, but in hind sight feel you could have done better. OR
C) Tell us about your role in a team that made a significant contribution to the organization OR
D) Contribution to peer learning and engagement with the ISB student body are important aspects of the ISB experience. What contribution do you expect to make in this direction during the one year at ISB.
ISB offers applicants four rather different options for the 200-word response, and it’s particularly unusual to see a response about one’s potential contribution to a program (often a topic of keen interest to admissions committees) lumped in with several other more situational options. Applicants will therefore need to consider which of these prompts will give them the opportunity to showcase the quality that they consider most valuable to their candidacy, whether this is their openness to changing their thinking, their ability to learn from non-optimal past performance, their capacity to work with others to accomplish an impactful goal, or their plans to make a difference on their colleagues as a student at ISB. Again, given that ISB is offering options for this response, there’s no “correct” choice of prompt. Given the narrow word count, effective responses will be focused and direct, and will demonstrate self-awareness, critical thinking, interpersonal skills and/or potential to draw on their experiences for the benefit of others.
Optional Essay: Please provide additional information, if any, that will significantly affect the consideration of your application to the ISB. (200 words)
Applicants should think carefully before utilizing a school’s optional essay prompt. Candidates with extenuating circumstances, such as a gap in work experience or lower than average GPA or GMAT scores, would do well to address those here. However, applicants with atypical aspects to their candidacy might take this chance to explore important elements of their profile not mentioned in their data forms, résumé, or other responses. The fact that this prompt is such a broad one allows candidates a high degree of freedom in wrapping up their essays with information that cannot be conveyed elsewhere in their applications.
Re-applicant Essay: How has your profile changed from the time you last applied to the ISB? (300 words)
This response provides an opportunity for candidates to outline developments in their work experience and improvements in other areas of their applications since previously applying.
Today we’ll be turning our attention to Georgetown / McDonough’s MBA application essay for 2014-2015. Like so many of its peer schools, Georgetown has reduced its number of required essays between this year and last, dropping from three essay responses last season to just one for Class of 2017 admissions. Moreover, McDonough has dramatically shortened the essay prompt itself, asking a mere two-word question of MBA applicants. This represents a fairly significant reduction in the opportunity that candidates are afforded to share information about their candidacies, and will require that applicants be fairly judicious about what the write about and at what length.
Let’s take a closer look at this year’s McDonough prompt:
Essay 1: Why You? (Hint: we are looking for an answer that cannot be found from research on our website; 750 words)
This terse prompt can most likely be taken to imply the expanded question “Why [should we admit] you [to our program over other interesting and well qualified applicants]?” Once unpacked, the reads like a fairly straightforward question about the applicant’s interest in, knowledge about, and potential to contribute to the MBA community. In addressing this prompt, candidates will likely want to introduce their reasons for applying, touching on their post-MBA plans and reasons for applying to Georgetown in their pursuit. The bulk of the essay, however, should likely be spent explaining what the applicant has learned about the program and its culture, how he or she believes this fits with his or her background and personality, and what impact he or she expects to make as a student.
The hint that accompanies this essay indicates that McDonough is particularly interested in applicants who have gone beyond the website and made an effort to learn about the program by visiting the campus or through direct contact with students, alumni, and even faculty. Demonstrating this level of knowledge will therefore be important to an effective response. Of course, another way to interpret the hint would be read it as an expression of the adcom’s interest in learning about the applicant’s experiences and personal qualities rather than having a list of courses and clubs recited to them. Given this ambiguity, the optimal strategy may lie in a combination of these two interpretations, balancing information about oneself with content about the reasons one feels a fit with the McDonough program.
Optional Essay 1: If you are not currently employed full-time, use this space to provide information about your current activities. (250 words)
This is a straightforward request for information from a sub-set of applicants, and should only be answered by applicants who aren’t working full-time.
Optional Essay 2: Please provide any information you would like to add to your application that you have not otherwise included. (500 words)
This will be an appropriate place for applicants to address potential concerns with or liabilities in their candidacies, to explain unusual recommenders or gaps in employment, or to comment on extenuating circumstances that affected past performance. Given the length and wording of this prompt, this response may also be an appropriate place to share more general information that wasn’t covered in Essay 1, though candidates should exercise good judgment in determining whether this additional response will add materially to their candidacy and justify the additional time required for the admissions officer to read it.
Following up on the release of Judge’s MBA essays for 2014-2015, we wanted to provide some guidance for applicants targeting Cambridge this admissions season.
In keeping with the trend of fewer and shorter essays we’ve been seeing this year, Cambridge has dropped its number of required responses from three to just two for Class of 2017 applicants, striking last year’s prompt about how the applicant would change about his or her current organization if given the chance, while its other two responses remain unchanged.
Let’s take a look at each of this year’s prompts:
Essay 1: What did you learn from your most spectacular failure? (200 words)
While the topic of failure is a common one when it comes to MBA applications, the very tight word limit of this response makes this a relatively unusual task. With only 200 words to work with, applicants will need to summarize the failure itself in a very high-level manner, devoting the majority of the response to a treatment of the lessons they learned from the experience and perhaps a mention of the sorts of situations to which this learning has subsequently proven applicable.
The “spectacular” scope of the question adds a further layer of complexity, as applicants should aim to discuss lessons that will be relevant to future experiences on the Judge campus and in their future careers. Failures from the personal realm are technically fair game here, but candidates will likely want to give first consideration to professional or academic examples, or to those from structured extracurricular activities.
Essay 2: What are your short and long term career objectives? What skills/characteristics do you already have that will help you to achieve them? What do you hope to gain from the degree and how do you feel it will help you achieve the career objectives you have? (500 words)
For another year running, Cambridge includes a fairly standard career goals essay of the sort featured in many MBA programs’ applications. Applicants are asked to outline their immediate post-MBA professional objectives, as well as their longer-term plans. As is also typical, Judge asks applicants to explain what they hope to gain from its MBA program, and to link the skills and knowledge they’ll acquire during this year of study to their ability to achieve these goals. Meanwhile, the explicit request that applicants inventory the existing skills and characteristics that will help them along their chosen paths is a somewhat unusual one, so candidates will need to reflect on their qualifications and take care in addressing this element of the prompt.
As is the case with most schools, demonstrating an understanding of the unique merits of Judge’s program is crucial to an effective response to this question. Taking the time to learn about the school’s curriculum, special programs, and extracurricular activities—whether through a visit to campus, conversations with alumni, or reading the Clear Admit School Guide to Judge—will pay dividends here.
Today we’ll be offering some comments on Cornell/Johnson’s MBA application essays for 2014-2015.
Johnson has moved from word counts to character limits this season; each of the school’s essay items are limited to 2,000 characters including spaces, which works out to between 250 and 300 words. This marks a reduction in the length of the school’s essays for this season, down from a total of 750 words across two essays last season a maximum of 600 this year. The program has retained its Table of Contents prompt for another year, and has narrowed the scope of its second response to a fairly focused inquiry about the applicant’s immediate post-MBA plans.
Let’s take a closer look at each essay-section prompt:
Creative Submission: You are the author for the book of Your Life Story. In 2000 characters or less, please write the table of contents for the book in the space provided or upload it as an attachment. Note: approach this essay with your unique style. We value creativity and authenticity.
This unusual prompt calls for a high-level and non-narrative overview of an applicant’s life to date. Internalizing the “Note” for this essay, applicants should understand that while the structure for this essay is set, there’s still a good deal of room for strategy and creativity: candidates are free to decide which eras or events to highlight, how to title each chapter, and so on. Though relying on a list format might be a viable approach, candidates will likely get more mileage out of this essay by structuring information in sentences or a series of sub-sections under broad chapter headings, offering a description of that “chapter” in your life and drawing out the important themes of the story. Regardless of the format you choose, make sure that it allows you to provide an authentic representation of yourself. Moreover, with the 2000 character limit for this essay, applicants should ensure their writing is succinct so that they can convey all of their points in this limited space.
As for the content itself, the admissions committee is likely looking for a sense of each candidate’s background, as well as his or her trajectory and growth over time. Touch on those events and accomplishments that are most meaningful and important to you, highlighting the ones that have shaped your personal development. Remember, though, that this is a b-school application, so you will also want to share information that is relevant to your current work and your future objectives without too much repetition of points raised in your other essays. While applicants have a bit of room to discuss their work history in the second of the school’s prompts, candidates may also want to touch on their professional trajectories here. That said, dedicating the entirety of the table of contents to professional pursuits may not be advantageous or allow candidates to provide well-rounded pictures of who they are. Overall, you want to make sure to highlight the unique aspects of your personality and candidacy, as doing so will allow you to stand out from others in the applicant pool.
Targeted Job Type: What is the job that you would like to have immediately upon graduating with your MBA? (2000 characters)
While this prompt centers on the applicant’s immediate post-MBA plans—candidates will of course want to provide a function or job title, as well as their target industry and perhaps one or two target organizations—with 250-300 words to work with, there’s also room to briefly touch on the bigger picture. Applicants might comment on their long term goals, as well as the ways their work experience to date has influenced, and prepared them for, these objectives. Space permitting, applicants may also want to comment on a few specific elements of Johnson’s MBA program that would help to position them for success in their first job after graduation (conversations with current students and alumni, visits to campus, and Clear Admit’s School Guide to the Johnson Graduate School of Management are all viable sources of information on this point). With a number of potential topics to cover in so few words, applicants will want to be judicious about what they include here, making sure that they completely address the primary question before expanding into other subjects.
Post-Collegiate Activities: List community activities (clubs, church, civic, etc.) and professional associations you contributed to since graduation from college. Please include the organization name, your role, hours dedicated, elected offices held, and dates of participation (2000 characters).
While applicants will have the same text field for this response as for the above essays, a simple list format that clearly includes all of the requested information will likely work best here. There aren’t instructions about the order in which to include entries in this sections, so applicants may opt for chronological or priority-based orderings.
Collegiate Activities and Employment: List your extracurricular activities while in college in order of importance to you. You may include details about your positions and the time commitment, honors or awards received, and dates of participation. The list may also include part-time and summer employment held while in college. Please list your employer, job title, responsibilities, hours per week, and the dates for each position (2000 character limit).
Similarly to the above prompt, a list format clearly providing the requested information will be the most efficient way to convey this information.
Hobbies and Activities: Please describe any hobbies or activities that hold special significance for you (2000 characters).
Applicants might choose to compose an essay in this space, or to adopt a list-style format with a short entry about each activity and the reason one considers it significant. Important milestones or accomplishments related to these hobbies or activities might also be included here.
Optional Essay: Complete this essay if you would like to add additional details regarding your candidacy. For instance, if you believe one or more aspects of your application (e.g., undergraduate record or test scores) do not accurately reflect your potential for success at the Johnson School. (2000 characters)
This space will likely be best used to address liabilities or potential issues in one’s application rather than providing additional information about one’s background.