Essay Question: Describe your short-term and long-term career goals. How can the UCLA Anderson experience add value to your professional development? (500 words maximum)
Folks, this UCLA MBA essay prompt is as “bog-standard” as it gets. But (and we hope this is the case?) assuming you’re applying to several business schools, you may find slight variations on this question. So let’s zero in on the THREE elements you need to pay attention to here, along with the 500-word frame the MBA Admissions committee at Anderson has given us.
1. Short Term Goals
The name of the game here is “how good is your plan.” Put differently, “how good are you at conceiving of an objective, and then mapping out an action plan to getting it done?” There’s ONE additional layer, which is, “does this plan make sense given who you are, your background, strengths, weaknesses, etc. or… is it a stretch?”
Those are the only things that matter, folks. Notice how we didn’t say “is your actual goal interesting, or good?” Why? Because it’s actually irrelevant. No one’s going to follow-up on you to make sure you’re continuing along “the path you set out in your business school application.” This is a test. “Do you have a business school mind? Can you plan smartly? Are you logical? Is your brain efficient? are you connecting the right dots?” You get the picture. As long as you pass that test, the actual goal is immaterial. Those of you who can wrap your head around that will relinquish that vice-like grip around needing to SELL the idea itself. Again, no one cares about your idea. They ONLY care about that other stuff.
2. Long Term Goals
The long term vision – by contrast – can be a little more eye-popping. If you have a cool idea, or if there’s a contagiousness to your aspirations, it can rub off on everything else you touch. Now, that doesn’t make this a contest for “come up with the coolest-sounding idea you can, therefore.” Because VIABILITY continues to matter.
Better to have a B+ long term vision that you seem 100% likely to achieve than an A+ idea that you’re 10% likely to achieve. (Can you feel the difference? And understand why?) In a nutshell, any couch potato can come up with an amazing idea. But the person who can execute on it ALSO… that person is a diamond in the rough. Show us that you’re THAT person, and the best way to do that is to ooze that sense of “this is not a pipe dream, this is all doable” at every turn.
3. How can UCLA add value to your professional development?
Standard stuff. But don’t just point out things that appeal to you about Anderson. Don’t just name drop classes and organizations and professors and suggest that you’re going to engage with them. It’s the equivalent of reminding us that you’ll also be remembering to breathe in and out during yours days at UCLA, and that you’ll also be eating meals and showering on occasion. “We assume all that, and this tells us nothing new.” The trick is to reveal the precise way that some aspect of UCLA will propel you forward/up toward your goals. Think about attempting your goals in three different ways:
- Without an MBA from UCLA Anderson.
- With an MBA from ANY OTHER BUSINESS SCHOOL.
- Specifically WITH an MBA from UCLA Anderson.
Like, actually do it. Go through that exercise. The answers should all look DIFFERENT. Isolate the specific ways in which the UCLA version is different from numbers 1 and 2. Then convey them here, the way you would explain in almost-scientific terms, the impact a chemical has on another chemical, causing it to react or respond in this way and that way, etc.
Think of certain aspects of UCLA as being chemicals that will cause YOUR PROGRESS TOWARD YOUR GOALS to “react” (positively) in a certain way. Walk us through it. Be specific. Is Los Angeles a character here? Are there certain professors at UCLA who will impact you in a specific way? Are there UCLA offerings that no other school has that will make a meaningful dent in your progress?
With each example, it must be evident how the UCLA component has nudged you further along on your career goals trajectory. If it isn’t, you haven’t done your job here. Here’s a cool test. Leave us with the sense that, even if you were to be admitted to UCLA alongside a few higher-ranked MBA programs, you may still elect UCLA MBA because of the case you JUST made for how UCLA specifically, impacts you in a particularly tasty way.
The 500 words in your UCLA MBA Essay should go something like:
- Establish the Problem/Opportunity/Lay Out the LT Vision (50-75 words)
- Relevant Background Highlights, Significant Milestones that show us a trajectory (125 words)
- Leading up to Short-Term goals – Create an ACTION PLAN, be specific, convince us you’ve thought this through from every angle (100–150 words)
- Muse Briefly on the Long-Term aspects of the overall plan, explain the significance, reveal your passion (75 words)
- Connect the dots between UCLA and Pushing You Forward (two or three solid examples) (100 words)
As an additional resource, check out this blog post we wrote about addressing the “How will our school help you?” question (in general). You can also read another blog post (from the same four-part series) that covers the “of all the B-schools on earth, why are you interested in ours?” question. You can also learn more about UCLA Anderson’s essays and additional MBA application requirements here.
The essay advice that UCLA Anderson provides is excellent, not just for Anderson’s essays, but for most MBA essays. We've provided it here. Read it carefully.
• Your essays are the primary way for you to share your perspectives and plans with the admissions committee. The best essays are introspective, genuine and succinct in directly answering our questions and responding to our topics.
• You should try to distinguish yourself by showing what makes you different from others who share similar profiles.
• Personal expression is what we are looking for, not platitudes.
• Making a strong case for your future plans requires you to first do research on career paths and find one that resonates. Even if this target will change during business school, your application essays should lay out a clear trajectory for short-term and long-term goals. Do this by demonstrating how you expect to build on skills from your past, and those you expect to gain from the MBA.
• Essays are more compelling if they include specific courses, programs, groups, opportunities, activities, etc. from which you would benefit, if admitted to UCLA Anderson. These references are best found through website research, personal discussions and a campus visit (if possible).
• Content and clarity are key elements, as we seek superior communication skills.
• Style is a consideration too, although we understand that those who speak other languages may have different manners of expression in English.We do check your essays for plagiarism, so make sure you always submit your own work.
• Length does not equal strength. A well-written short essay can have even more impact than a longer essay. Please try to respect the word limits indicated below.
• All essay responses are to be entered directly in the text box provided in your application.
My tips are in blue below.
One essay is required, in written form only. One optional essay may also be submitted to supply information on extenuating circumstances.
Anderson gives you enough room to write a revealing response. Make sure this essay shows that you can answer the question articulately and that you belong at Anderson.
First think about Anderson’s motto: Share success. Think fearlessly. Drive Change.Watch the videos that Anderson provides on each of those values. Think about the ways you can show that those values are your values. How do those values motivate you to pursue the path your are pursuing? To apply to UCLA Anderson’s MBA program?
A great way to approach this essay would be to discuss an experience or anecdote that reveals you acting according to these principles. Then connect that story and your values to UCLA Anderson’s program and culture and your reasons for choosing its MBA program. Conclude by connecting relevant aspects of the Anderson MBA experience and program to achievement of your short- and long-term goals.
Your particular story may benefit from a different order, and that’s fine. Just make sure that the reader can follow it and that you include the requested elements.
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? Please use your best judgment.(250 words maximum)
If there are extenuating circumstances that would add perspective on, context for, or “explain” a weakness, you can discuss them here. A few years ago, UCLA added the following: “Please do not submit redundant information in the Optional Essay.” Good advice for all optional questions. For more suggestions, please see Optional Essays: When and How to Write Them.
Re-applicants — One Required Essay:
Reapplicants who applied for the MBA program starting in 2016 or 2017 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)
This is the key question in every MBA reapplication: How have you enhanced your candidacy? Career progress is an obvious place to start and something you must address, but if academics were a weakness, then what have you done since you last applied to show you can excel at Anderson? Finally, if your career goals have evolved since you last applied, discuss that evolution.
If you would like professional guidance with your UCLA Anderson application, please consider Accepted’s MBA essay editing and MBA admissions consulting or our MBA Application Packages, which include advising, editing, interview coaching, and a resume edit for the UCLA application.
***Disclaimer: Information is subject to change. Please check with individual programs to verify the essay questions, instructions and deadlines.***
By Linda Abraham, president and founder of Accepted and co-author of the definitive book on MBA admissions, MBA Admission for Smarties: The No-Nonsense Guide to Acceptance at Top Business Schools.
• 5 Fatal Flaws to Avoid in your MBA Application Essay
• UCLA’s MS in Business Analytics: Prep for the Sexiest Job of the 21st Century
• How an MBA from Anderson Helped this Career Switcher
This articleoriginally appeared on blog.accepted.com.
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We believe that the best results are achieved when you share success, think fearlessly and drive change. With this in mind, what are your goals at UCLA Anderson and in your short-term and long-term career?(750 words maximum)
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