From Julia Campbell, Associate Director of MBA Admissions, Full-Time Texas MBA Program:
As you think about how to approach the essays in your MBA application, consider appropriate mental theme music. Unfortunately for most, a fitting score might be the one from “Jaws”; ominous, foreboding and downright intimidating. But maybe for you it’s less scary, a bit more uplifting, full of hope, something like “Chariots of Fire” perhaps? Let’s hope. In any case, your best shot at writing strong essays is to approach them armed with insider tips from the Admissions Committee.
We read hundreds of essays. Thousands. The purpose of these essay questions is to understand 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. We only have two short essay questions and while it may be tempting, avoid the snooze-fest/shock-factor extremes, do us (and yourself) a favor and think hard about these answers. Heed our advice below and tackle it while “Don’t Stop Believing” plays in the background:
- At The University of Texas at Austin, what starts here changes the world. You are at the Texas MBA Orientation for the Class of 2018, meeting your cohort for the first time. Please introduce yourself to your new classmates, including relevant information about 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)
- Share your about.me profile
You are going to need to role play a little bit. Close your eyes. Imagine you are standing in front of your new Texas MBA Class of 2018 classmates introducing yourself. You will be placed into one of four cohorts, a group of 65-70 classmates that will be your family during the core curriculum. What would you say if you only have 250 words or one-minute? First impressions are important in person and are equally important in an admissions application.
A few key things to make sure you include are a greeting or introduction, your current profession or professional identity, goals for the future, how McCombs fits in and some personal anecdotes. We want the full picture, but in a nutshell.
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, play to your strengths. If your skill is in writing, focus on the essay. If you have a knack for creative flare, color, design and photos, then have fun with an about.me profile. If you want to create a video and rely on your voice and video editing skills, then we are excited to see it. In any submission, have fun with it and do not take this essay for granted—it can go a long way to setting the stage for your application as your introduction.
The McCombs School of Business is where leadership is earned. We have an inclusive environment where our dynamic and driven students take an active role in the Texas MBA community. Please discuss why the Texas MBA is the ideal program for you, what you hope to achieve, and how you will contribute to your classmates’ experience. (500 words)
Love McCombs? Prove it. This is your chance to convey your passion, excitement, personality, and experience, while also addressing how that experience relates to your MBA and career goals. 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.
This is a dense question, lots of content. The key will be to make sure you address each section 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. Meditate on “how do I love McCombs, let me count the ways”, because 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, the list goes on. So before you write your essay, I recommend you write a list of your top reasons why 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.
- “… what you hope to achieve…”: The primary difference between this portion of the prompt and the previous section is that we are asking you to clearly connect how McCombs will help you achieve your career objectives and personal goals. Create a 5 and 10 year plan for yourself, then see what classes, organizations, and experiential opportunities that we offer specifically relate to this career plan. Then connect the dots for us. Essentially, we want to know what you want and how McCombs will help you get it.
- “… how you will contribute to your classmates’ experience …”: 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? 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!