Tag: essays (page 1 of 2)

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! 

The Joy of Failure: Learn to Own Your Mistakes

By Amira Wizig Pollock, MFA

Failure is tough.  We are trained to avoid it at all costs and, if we do fail, to pretend nothing went wrong.  We lose out on numerous valuable lessons in doing so.  It is also what leads people to avoid an activity, project, or potential work promotion we are unsure we can succeed at.  We think we will fail at something so we put it off and procrastinate rather than taking a risk and giving it our best shot.  The result is something new and possibly great that was never attempted or worse, not doing a good job because the endeavor was begun too late to have a chance at success.

mistakes-imageWe must embrace failure.  Now, let me be clear.  This does not mean failure is something to strive for.  But we are human and we make mistakes.  And there is so much learning that can happen within those mistakes.  I think about my daughter, who is going to learn to walk soon.  She is going to fail many times in the process.  She will fall down, and it will hurt.  But she will get back up and try again.  Children have a healthy sense of resilience and determination.  If they were too caught up in the fact that they’d fail many times and chose to play it safe, they would go through life crawling!  As we get older, we take fewer risks and are quicker to judge and adopt avoidance behaviors.  I urge you all to consider the concept of celebrating failure.

In art, such as in the performing art of improvisation, artists regard mistakes as gifts or happy accidents.  We know that failures can sometimes lead us to the greatest rewards and discoveries.  This can only happen if we acknowledge a mistake and move on or better yet, use the mistake as inspiration.  Being willing to wade through awkward failures without ignoring what didn’t work can lead to creative problem-solving and brilliant results.  Consider these famous mistakes: Post-It notes were the result of failure; the chemists were trying to make a traditional adhesive!  Alexander Graham Bell was trying to invent a hearing aid when he ended up inventing the telephone.  Thomas Edison failed many times before inventing the light bulb.  Do you think he stopped taking risks after the first failure, or pretended it didn’t happen?  No.  He examined it, learned from it, moved on and tried again.

It is only by coming to terms with failure and accepting it that we will be able to stick our necks out and allow ourselves the opportunity to succeed and generate innovative new ideas.  Graduate school is a great environment for converting theory into practice and trying new things.  Enroll in an upper-level course with interesting content that looks a bit daunting and that at first glance you would shy away from.  The next time you make a mistake, don’t run from it.  Take some time to look back and analyze what went wrong before moving forward.  Finally, if you aren’t making any mistakes then you’re not taking enough risks and may be limiting yourself.  Leave your comfort zone, even if just for a little while.

Rewarding discoveries and big successes are out there waiting to be claimed by you, though they may be hidden behind a difficult last turn.  Push yourself to find them.  Fail until you have a breakthrough.  That is where the joy of failure lies.

Announcing the 2015 Texas MBA Application Essays

essay-imageEach 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, therefore please take a moment to review our essay topics and begin to think about how you might approach answering the essay questions.

Our essays are now posted on our website, so please feel free to visit the site to learn more about the essays and the application process.  I have also listed the essays below. 

Stay tuned to our blog as we will be posting helpful advice on how to approach answering the essay questions in the weeks to come.

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

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)

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 words)

  1. For example, if your standardized test scores are not exactly what you would like them to be or if you have not had coursework in core business subjects (i.e. calculus, microeconomics, statistics, financial accounting, or finance), please tell us how you plan to prepare yourself for the quantitative rigor of the MBA curriculum.  If relevant to your circumstances, please also discuss any other factors that you think may impact your candidacy (i.e. unexplained gaps in work experience, choice of recommenders, academic performance, or any significant weaknesses in your application or extenuating personal circumstances).

New Full-Time MBA Application Essay Topics are Here

2013-14 Texas MBA Full-Time Application Essay Topics

During any MBA application season, one of the many highlights of an MBA admissions officer’s day is diving into an applicant’s essays. Application essays are your one chance to speak to us directly in your own voice and tell your story in your own words. Your essays are a reflection of your aspirations, ambitions and motivations for getting a Texas MBA. On the admissions team, we want to get to know you as an individual and we appreciate the opportunity to see the real person “behind” your test scores, transcripts and recommendations.

For the 2013-2014 admissions season, we have dramatically changed our application essays from previous years. We have done this to accomplish the following:

  • Learn more about what makes you a unique addition to the Texas MBA Full-Time Class of 2016
  • Find out how much you know about the Texas MBA culture and how you plan to be an active, contributing member of our community
  • Hear how you plan to develop professionally and personally while you are in the Texas MBA Class of 2016

Additionally, we are incorporating some unique submission formats this year. In our first essay, we are giving you the opportunity to express yourself in your preferred mode of communication. You can choose to introduce yourself using a more traditional essay, doing a short video or providing us with your about.me profile.

Stay tuned here on the MBA Insider, as we’ll be posting more helpful information throughout the year to help you during the admissions process. We encourage you to meet us at events around the world and to attend our online webinars, as well as visit us in Austin by attending an information session or class visit.

We will be launching our new application by the end of August 2013 so be sure to keep an eye out for another blog post announcing when it is available.

We look forward to reading your 2013-14 application essays and learning more about you!

Fall 2013 Full-Time Application Essays Now Available!

The new essays for the Fall 2013 Full-Time MBA application are now available!

The Admissions Committee is looking forward to reviewing your applications and we just wanted to give you a few (hopefully helpful) pointers.

  1. Essays: We are looking to get a sense of who you are as a person. The essays are expected to be a reflection of your story, your goals and how the Texas MBA could help you along your journey. We are not trying to trick you and there is no one “right” answer. You are the one who is best equipped to talk about you and you are the person who we want to learn more about.
  2. GMAT/GRE: There is a lot of anxiety around the new Integrated Reasoning section of the GMAT. As a reminder, we accept both the GMAT and the GRE and we have no specific preference for either test. The application review at the Texas MBA program is truly a holistic one and this means that no one factor is more important than any other factor. This approach also applies to the newly introduced Integrated Reasoning section of the GMAT. In order to better understand how we at Texas will use this new information, it is important to first consider the impetus behind the change. As described by GMAC, this new section is meant to evaluate candidates’ ability to synthesize, evaluate, organize and manipulate complex data as they are expected to do during the MBA program. More information can be found at http://www.mba.com/the-gmat. Our admissions officers will review the scores from the new Integrated Reasoning section, along with the rest of the components of the GMAT scores. As with our earlier processes, applicants will be given credit for the highest total score and the related sub-section scores. For the coming 2012-13 admissions season, we will review each applicant’s file as a complete package and be as flexible as necessary to assess each individual applicant’s academic preparation in the most positive light possible. As we develop more experience with this new section over the coming admissions seasons, we will have more specific guidance on average scores for our applicants and admitted students.
  3. Visit Us: We believe that the best way to get to know us is for you to come to visit us. We are also on the road right now and coming to a city near you – check our events calendar!
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