UCLA Anderson Deadlines, Essays & Analysis (Class of 2012, Starting Fall 2010)

DEADLINES [table id=23 /]


Overview: Anderson admissions usually distributes their questions much later, so they're getting it together early this year. Their questions are similar to last year's, but with a new video option for their now well-known audio question (now 2 choices instead of 3). They've also introduced a new question about risk, replacing one of what I considered two personal development topics. Interestingly, they have two questions this year involving risk, revealing a possible lever for risk-loving applicants..

General Instructions: Please be introspective and authentic in your responses. We value the opportunity to learn about your life experiences, aspirations, and goals.

All responses to essays must be on double-spaced pages that are uploaded in document form, except for Essay 4 for first-time applicants, which may be submitted as an audio or video file instead. (Please note the word limits in parentheses.)

First-time applicants -- 4 required essays:

Describe the ways in which your family and/or community have helped shape your development. (750 words)

Analysis: For many years, Anderson has wanted to know about applicants' family lives and upbringings as a window into their personalities and values, as well as the activities and accomplishments that grew out of them. This year, they've removed their long-held focus on your early days (see last year's question), allowing you to describe how your earliest and strongest influences have played out throughout your life in what amounts to a traditional personal essay. I always encourage my clients to try and draw connections between their personal and professional essays to provide a more comprehensive picture of who they are, and this essay provides a perfect vehicle for that.

For example, my father was an independent real estate agent and tile contractor. That's how he fed my two brothers, my mom, and me, and put us through college. (Grad school was another story.) So it was very natural for all of us to crave and pursue professional independence - my brothers through launching their own software company, and me through working as a journalist before starting Elite Essays. (As an added bonus, starting my own business has a strong element of risk, a UCLA priority) See how that works? Self-awareness is a crucial element in all essays, but especially in this type of personal essay.

Describe the biggest risk you have ever taken, the outcome, and what you learned in the process. (500 words)

Analysis: I liken this to a traditional MBA leadership accomplishment essay (which used to be an Anderson standard that they did away with last year for some reason), but with an emphasis on the riskiness of your undertaking. That means you need a clear explanation of the context and the potential outcomes - positive if you succeed, negative if you don't - as well as a detailed description of how you overcame the challenges along the way and the lessons learned. One person asked me if this should be a professional or personal story, and as with most things in the application process, the answer is: "it depends". My feeling though is that, given the extensive treatment of your personal life above, most people should probably take the professional route here to balance the essay set. Again, it really depends on your individual situation. If you have questions, please feel free to arrange a trial consultation.

Describe your short-term and long-term career goals. What is your motivation for pursuing an MBA now and how will UCLA Anderson help you to achieve your goals? (750 words)

Analysis: Straight up: The MBA Goals Essay

Select and respond to one of the two following questions. We would like you to respond to the question by recording an audio or video response (up to 10Mb maximum) for upload in the online application. (Please note: The supported file types for audio files are: .avi, .wav, .mp3, .wmv, .midi, .wma, .aiff, .au, .mp4; the supported file types for video files are: .mov, .avi, .wmv, .mpeg). If you are unable to submit your response via audio or video, then please prepare a written response instead. (250 words)

a. Entrepreneurship is a mindset that embraces innovation and risk-taking within both established and new organizations. Describe an instance in which you exhibited this mindset.

b. What is something people will find surprising about you?

Analysis: It's natural that Anderson included a video option on top of the audio option that they introduced last year. Personally, I love these questions because applicants can really show sides of themselves that might not come across in writing or test scores. For that reason, I strongly suggest all applicants to take this opportunity, especially international applicants with low TOEFL scores. I also love these questions because writing for audio or video fits my radio journalism experience perfectly and I'm able to coach my clients thoroughly on proper intonation, pace, enunciation, etc. One hint: keep your sentences short and punchy so you don't have to take big gasps of breath while reading. Also, think creatively. Record yourself in a place that means something to you or shows an interesting side of your personality.

The questions themselves are straightforward. Avoid repeating things covered in your other essays. Keep it fresh. Have fun.

OPTIONAL: Are there any extenuating circumstances in your profile about which the Admissions Committee should be aware? (250 words)

Analysis: By the wording of this essay, this is a good place to address any glaring weaknesses in your application (low test scores, gaps in employment, poor grades, etc.) If you don't have any, don't feel obligated to answer this. All things considered, the adcom would rather read less than more, if the rest of your essays and overall profile are complete.