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Posted on May 24, 2012

UCLA Essay Questions Analysis: 2011-2012

UCLA's preamble to their essays: Please be introspective and authentic in your responses. Content is more important than the style of delivery. We value the opportunity to learn about your life experiences, aspirations, and goals.”

Q1.What event or life experience has had the greatest influence in shaping your character and why? (750 words)

The goal of this essay is a sense of who you are, rather than what you have achieved professionally. This essay prompt focuses on an event or life -experience that has played a major role in shaping your personality/character. Remember, they are not only asking you to reflect on a life experience but also you offering you an opportunity to look for external factors ( any other event that has occurred outside of your personal life (e.g. a political event,  riots, or a natural disaster earthquake, etc.) This provides you a wider scope for brainstorming ideas for your story. Mostly, applicants choose personal stories that happened only to them, but sometimes deeply personal stuff can also occur during external upheavals. So, UCLA provides you the opportunity to explore that option as well.

Whether you decide to focus on a personal life experience or an external event, you must ensure that you tell your complete story, so the reader has a complete sense of what you were before the incident and what you became after the incident. That is, your story should demonstrate how the experience has influenced/impacted you in terms of changing your view of life and/or your behavior toward others. Since it is about a life experience or an event, your best bet is to hook the Ad Com with an engaging beginning in the form of a dialogue or a description to create their interest. Never begin your story with an announcement like, "The most influential experience in my life occurred when...." You don't want to kill the reader's interest by telling the whole story in the first sentence. Rather you want to grab and then hold their interest. Consider the following example:

Example: ‘Priya, I am back!’ I heard my father exclaim. I was surprised to see him standing at the door. Even though I was glad at the thought of spending the rest of the week with him, Wednesday was definitely not the day when I was expecting my father at home.

A beginning like this grabs the readers' attention and makes them continue reading to know "What would have happened?" “Why did he not want Dad to return home on a weekday?" The writer gradually unfolds the rest of the story of his father's lay off (the only earning member of the family), resulting in the tribulations he went through during his entire college years, and the important life skills he learned during that period which serve him until today.

Your story should have the following four component

1.the situation (the event or life experience)

2. the action (the struggles you went through or the action you took to deal with the situation)

3. the result/ outcome (what happened at the end of the story?

4. the significance (what lessons you learned?)

Essay 2: What are your short-term and long-term career goals, and how will an MBA from UCLA Anderson specifically help you achieve these goals? (750 words)

This is a typical ‘goals’ question in two parts. The first part expects you to clearly define your short term and long-term goals/objectives while the second part requires you to articulate why you need UCLA to fulfill your goals? Since you are allowed to use 750 words, I would recommend devoting roughly 400 words to the “goals/Why MBA?” part and about 350 words to the “Why UCLA” part.

A Goals essay requires you to make a realistic connection between your past (experience and skills), present (your need of an MBA), and future (your future plans leading to your goals). In other words, you need to demonstrate how your professional accomplishments have enabled you to set your goals and how an MBA is the logical next step towards the realization of those goals/ objectives. Please do not go into details of your professional accomplishments; just provide a general reference to them to show why you need an MBA to attain your goals. Remember, earning an MBA is just one piece of your career puzzle, and you want to prove it to the admissions committee that you understand where it fits in the grand scheme of things. Be specific about why you feel now is the right time for you to learn the required skills with an MBA to move ahead on your career path. Also, make sure there is a convincing connection between your short term and long-term goals.

The second part of the question focuses on the ways UCLA’s MBA program will help you achieve your objectives. In order to tailor your response to Anderson’s offerings, you will need to identify certain programs and courses that match your goals and interests. For this, you should take time to do some research so you can identify ties between the school’s curriculum, special programs, and extracurricular activities and your goals and study style. If possible, make a visit to the campus, talk to students, professors, and alumni, and attend a class.

Example: “Beyond Anderson’s broad academic offerings, Management Consulting Association, Strategic, and Management Operations Association and High-Tech Business Association will help me strengthen my network and align me with the professionals with similar career interests. Thus, with its academic resources, emphasis on team-work, and practical approach to learning, UCLA Anderson will provide me the critical tools and network that I need to realize my career aspirations.”

Lastly, even though they have not asked, it is always advisable to throw in one last sentence about your contribution to UCLA.

Example: “I am confident that with my academic potential, team-working abilities, innovative spirit, and leadership skills, I will add significant value to the UCLA community.”

Note: The two essays reflect two aspects of your personality- personal and professional. Therefore, you need to ensure that they should complement each other in such a way that your personality that comes through in your life –experience essay should correspond to your ' goals’ essay.

Do you have questions about your application? E-mail Poonam at poonam@myessayreview.com or sign up here for a free consultation.