Understanding the 2015 Essay Questions

Each year, like most business schools, we update our application essay prompts in an effort to better glean important information from our candidates.  The essay is a great opportunity to do a few things: one, it shows your writing skills; two, it gives us a glimpse into your personality; but maybe most importantly, it helps answer a few very important questions that we need answered to best determine if you are right for McCombs.  Instead of giving you a vague open-ended prompt, there are actually a few burning topics we need you to be sure to cover, namely having to do with why you want to attend McCombs, who you are both professionally and personally, and what goals you want to achieve while in our program and beyond.  You have some work to do to convince us that we are the right program for you, and I’m here to offer some advice to help you get started on this process.  

Below, you will find our new essay prompts with just a bit of guidance to help you get started. The first essay is virtually the same as last year.  I will still offer some best practice guidance to help you put your best pen forward.  The second essay consolidates what used to be multiple essays into one taut question.  Take a moment to review my suggestions, and in the end, if you still have more questions, please email us at TexasMBA@mccombs.utexas.edu

ESSAY 1

Imagine that you are at the Texas MBA Orientation for the Class of 2017.  Please introduce yourself to your new classmates, and include information you feel relevant to both your personal and professional life.  Select only one communication method that you would like to use for your response. 

  1. Write an essay (250 words)
  2. Share a video introduction (one minute)
  3. Share your about.me profile

AO Advice:

Be creative!  And please read the prompt.  The operative word in the first sentence is “imagine”!  We have had so many candidates simply write a paragraph about themselves, no imagination employed in the process.  If you do that, we can only assume that you either did not read the prompt, or are simply recycling an intro essay you used for another school.  We ask that you imagine you are introducing yourself to your new, fellow students, at your New Student Orientation.  You would not introduce yourself by starting out, “Plato once said…,” and therefore any essays that start as such have missed the mark. 

Also, what makes you interesting and unique are both your personal and professional interests and attributes.  Therefore, an intro that only discusses work experience, or only discusses previous life experience, is incomplete.  Give us a rounded mix, so that we better understand who you are in a more complete sense, and not only in one facet of your life. 

Finally, the choice is yours: written essay, about.me page, or video.  We have seen significant success in each platform.  Therefore, choose your strongest suit, just make sure you use the medium well.  If your skill is in writing, focus simply on the essay.  If you have a knack for creative flare, color, design and photos, then have fun with the about.me.  And if you want to create a video, and rely on your voice and/or any video editing skills you might have, then we’re excited to meet you that way as well.  Either way have fun, and do not take this essay for granted—it can go a long way to setting the stage for your application.     

ESSAY 2

In the Texas MBA program, we promote a diverse and collaborative community by providing opportunities for growth in an academically rigorous environment.  Please discuss why McCombs is the right program for you, what you hope to gain from your time in the Texas MBA Program both personally and professionally, and how you will contribute to your classmates’ experiences. (500 words)

AO Advice:

Here we are getting to the nitty-gritty.  This is your chance to really convey to us your passion, excitement, personality, and experience, while also conveying how that experience relates to your MBA and career goals.  By the time we read your essays, we have already seen your resume and scores.  Here we need you to expand upon the bare facts, and convey to us why you are the perfect student for our program. 

I have gone in depth in a previous blog post on how to convey your personality in an essay, so I will not go deep on that topic in this post.  Instead, I am going to focus more on approach and framework, and less on content. 

First, this essay is complex, and yet we expect it to be concise and to-the-point; how do you do this in one 500 word essay?  Once again, I recommend you start first by reading the prompt carefully.  We are not asking you to be flowery and to tiptoe around the cores subjects.  We are looking for a few things, and it is in your best interest to let us know specifically what we are looking for.  I’ll map it out for you by taking apart our prompt:

  • …why McCombs is the right program for you…: Focus here on the words McCombs and you.  A word to the wise: never, ever submit this essay if you have not given us specifics!  Make sure at some point in the essay you discuss why McCombs, specifically, is the right program for you.  Classes, concentrations, organizations, professors, unique opportunities, there is so much going on at McCombs.  If you can’t outline in easy terms why you are interested in our program in particular, then you will not be competitive.  So before you write your essay, I recommend you map out in specifics why McCombs is right for you.  Then, when you write out your essay, make sure these specifics are mentioned at some point, so that we see your passion and dedication to our program, and do not assume you just reused the same generic essay you used for another MBA program. 
  • …what you hope to gain…personally and professionally…: Once again specifics!  The primary difference between this portion of the prompt and the previous is here we are asking you to connect, in clear terms, how McCombs will help you achieve your career objective.  Therefore, my recommendation is that you create a 5 and 10 year career plan, and then see what classes, organizations, and opportunities that we offer that specifically speak to this career plan.   Then connect the dots.  Once you write your essay, you should be able to easily speak to these connections.  We should not be left wondering why you, with your specific career goals, would want to come to McCombs.  This is your opportunity to convey in no complex language why we are right for your career growth.
  • …how you will contribute to your classmates’ experiences…: Lastly, as you are mapping out your reasons for attending our program based on specific course and organization offerings, also remember that we pride ourselves first and foremost on our collaborative and diverse community.  We work very hard to find individuals excited about being a part of this community in particular, so in what ways will you contribute?  What student organizations will you support and why?  Will you start a new student organization?  Will you contribute in a special way to your study groups?  Are you excited to be an active alumnus?  Convince us that you are indispensable to our community, and you will have done yourself a great service in developing a strong application. 

Those are my suggestions for mapping out your answers before you begin to weave it all together in a cohesive 500 word essay.  Now you have the challenge of putting it all together, and here is where you get to be creative.  I do not have any specific advice for you here, as I am looking forward to reading your unique responses and to see your own voice come forth in the essays.  However, if you employ standard, strong writing techniques, you should be fine.  One way or another, avoid convoluted sentences, going off topic, name dropping, vague or confusing goals, citing inaccurate classes, professors, or student organizations, or calling us by any other name besides McCombs or the Texas MBA (a common mistake for people who reuse essays).  Also, DON’T REUSE ESSAYS!  We can tell.

That’s it for my advice to you!  As always, please email us at TexasMBA@mccombs.utexas.edu if you have any other questions.  Get started early and edit, edit, edit!  Your essays can really send a strong application into orbit, so good luck, and happy applying! 

Associate Director of Admissions, Fulltime MBA, University of Texas

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2 comments on “Understanding the 2015 Essay Questions
  1. Shalini Singh says:

    Hey !

    This really helps. I am a prospective student from India & aiming for fall 2015.

    thanks a lot for this info :)

    Regards
    Shalini

  2. Gaurang Agarwal says:

    Thank you very much!! This is really helpful.

    Regards,
    Gaurang

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