From Stacey Kammerdiener, Senior Full-Time MBA Admissions Officer
As you think about how to approach the essays in your Texas Full-Time MBA application, your best shot at successfully answering the essay prompts is to approach them thoughtfully. The purpose of these essay questions is to understand why you want to attend McCombs, to find out what drives you, and to learn more about who you are both professionally and personally. While it may be tempting, do us (and yourself) a favor and avoid the snooze-fest/shock-factor extremes. Instead, approach your essays genuinely and with reflection. Armed with a few insider tips from the Admissions Committee, you will be well on your way to submitting a strong application.
The University of Texas at Austin values unique perspectives and cultivates a collaborative environment of distinct individual contributions. It is the first day of orientation. You are meeting your study group, comprised of five of your classmates from various backgrounds. Please introduce yourself to your new team, highlighting what drives you in your personal and professional life.
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)
Admissions Officer Advice:
Imagine you are standing in front of your new Texas MBA Class of 2019 study group introducing yourself. Your study group is comprised of 5 or so of your classmates who will differ from you professionally, geographically, and culturally; these individuals will be your designated group work partners throughout the first semester. What would you say to your group if you only have 250 words or one-minute? What is your personal “elevator speech?” First impressions are important in-person and are equally important in an admissions application.
Key items to make sure you include are a greeting or introduction and some personal anecdotes. We want the full picture of who you are, but presented in “nutshell” form.
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. When someone asks you what motivates you, what is your response? We are looking to learn more about what drives you – in other words, we want to find out not only what you are passionate about in your personal and professional life, but why.
Finally, the choice is yours: written essay or video. We have seen significant success in each platform and do not prefer one over the other. Therefore, play to your strengths! If your skill is in writing, focus on the essay. If you want to create a video and rely on your voice and video editing skills, then we are excited to see it. (Keep in mind that submitting a photo slideshow with background music does not grant the admissions committee the chance to actually see or hear you, which is what makes video submissions so great!)
In any submission, have fun with it and do not take this essay for granted—it can go a long way in introducing yourself and setting the stage for your application.
Based on your post-MBA goals and what drives you in your personal and professional life, why is the Texas MBA the ideal program for you and how do you plan to engage in our community? (500 words)
Admissions Officer Advice:
This prompt allows you to leverage your short term career goal (remember the one you included on the admissions application?) and your response to essay one! It’s also an opportunity for you to show McCombs some real love. By the time we read your essays, we have already seen your resume, scores and basic elements of your application. In this answer, we need you to expand upon the bare facts and convey to us why you are the perfect student for McCombs and how you will become an active contributor in our community. Texas MBA students are dynamic and engaged, and we are looking for applicants who are equally as driven.
This is a dense question with lots of content. The key will be to make sure you address both segments of the question individually and within the tight limit of 500 words. Below is a dissection of each part of the question to help you craft a complete answer:
“… why the Texas MBA is the ideal program for you…”
- Focus here on the words Texas MBA and you. A vague essay is a poor essay, so give us specifics. If you’ve read our website or spoken to an admissions team member, frankly there is a LOT to love: classes, concentrations, organizations, students/alumni, professors, unique academic and career-oriented opportunities, and the list goes on. Before you write your essay, I recommend you write a list of your top reasons why you think McCombs is total MBA perfection. Then, make sure these specifics are mentioned to illustrate your dedication to our program. What’s the consequence of saying vague things like McCombs is “amazing” and “a great program?” First, we may question your familiarity with our school, or worse, we may assume you just reused the same generic essay you used for another MBA program – yikes.
- Don’t forget that the admissions committee is also looking for you to clearly connect how McCombs will help you achieve your career objectives and personal goals you’ve listed on your application. We will have already reviewed your short and long term goals, and now we want to know how you think McCombs will help get you there! What classes, organizations, and experiential opportunities that we offer specifically relate to your career plan? Connect the dots for us.
“… how do you plan to engage in our community…”
- Lastly, as you are mapping out your reasons for attending our program, also remember that we pride ourselves first and foremost on our collaborative, diverse and extremely tight-knit 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? How will you give back while you are here? What will be your lasting legacy at McCombs? How can you leverage our program offerings and combine it with your skill set to propel the entire program forward? Convince us that you are indispensable to our community, and that we simply cannot live without you.
Last bit of advice. Return to classic writing techniques, a strong essay structure, grammar, punctuation, spelling and cadence. A few common essay writing pitfalls to avoid include 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 FROM OTHER SCHOOLS! We can totally tell.
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!