Posted on July 29, 2016

UT Austin McCombs MBA Essay Questions Analysis – 2016-17

MBA Application Essay Topics: There is no major change in the essay prompts of this year. Like last year, McCombs business school asks its applicants to write two required essays and one optional essay. However, both the essays have been tweaked a little bit.  Also, one of the communication methods ( option) for the first question has been dropped.

MBA application deadlines

Round 1:

Application deadline: October 11, 2016 at 11:59 pm CT,   Decision date: December 20, 2016

Round 2:

Application deadline: January 10, 2017 at 11:59 pm CT,  Decision date: March 29, 2017

Round 3:

Final application deadline: April 4, 2017 at 11:59 pm CT, Decision date: May 11, 2017

Applications Essay Topics:

Let us take a closer look at the essays:

Essay 1: 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)

This is the fourth year running that McCombs requires the applicants to write an essay on introduction to their classmates. McCombs allows them to delve on their personal as well as professional attributes in 250 words.  This essay, in terms of the topic and the medium of communication, provide applicants with flexibility and freedom to showcase their creative side. It is asking you to introduce yourself to your peers, so you should convey your best side and talk about the traits that you feel are the best in you. Considering this is your first encounter with them, you should highlight your personal and professional accomplishments, your hobbies, your history (background), and issues that pique your interest. The motive is to tell your future classmates who you really are.

To showcase your creativity, McCombs offers you a choice of two modes of communication. You should pick the format that works best for you.  If you are an introvert, or if you love to write, you may select the ‘essay mode’ for sure. If you are an extrovert, you may find the video mode more exciting. A video essay allows applicants not only to be more creative but also imaginative. So you may use your own imagination, focusing more on the things that you like and would want to share. For example, if you plan to share your culinary skills with your classmates, you may consider shooting the one minute video in your kitchen.

I am sure it will be fun doing a video essay; however, it is my understanding that it would demand more time than a regular essay (This doesn’t imply that crafting an ‘introduction’ essay is easy). So you may experiment with it if you can invest a significant amount of time to make sure that you grab the attention of your audience not only through your words but also through your body language and facial expressions.  And remember your challenge is to say it all in a one minute video.  Also, if you are camera shy and don’t feel comfortable before the camera, then the video options may not be a good option. Whichever medium you choose, dedicate the work necessary to ensure that your introduction is engaging and presents you as a likable, friendly, and well-rounded individual to your cohorts.

Essay 2:  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)

For the second essay response, McCombs has omitted the description of the Texas community and focused only on goals, motivation, and potential contributions.  The applicants are encouraged to focus their responses on what they hope to achieve while at McCombs, why McCombs is right for them, and what they will contribute to the McCombs community.  To address the first part of the question, explain why you wish to pursue an MBA.  Then, discuss why you are choosing McCombs and how various resources at Texas will help you fulfill your personal and professional needs and objectives and would aid in shaping up your future.  To compose a solid response to this question, you need to do thorough research on the resources and offerings of McCombs.  You may also get in touch with the currents students and alumni to get an insider’s perspective on their experience.  If possible, visit the campus, attend a class, talk to faculty or other people to get a feel of the school’s culture.  This will help you determine your ‘fit’ with the school.

Please refer to the following example:


“My past experiences, the knowledge gained in the classroom, McComb’s extensive NGO network, and the Net Impact club will equip me with skills to operate an NGO, helping me realize my dream of opening my own NGO.”

To address the second part of the question, you should highlight your attributes and your strengths which you would be bringing to the Texas community.  Focus on mentioning about your contribution to class discussions in your strong areas, and contribute to your classmates’ experience.  Also, you should comment on your involvement in 2-3 clubs/ organizations of your interest (both professional and personal) and elaborate on that.  For example, if you are passionate about soccer and have been a good soccer player you can talk about your passion for soccer and how you would enrich the Soccer Club. You may want to show your contribution by creating something new on campus e.g. a new club or a community event, or by leading it.

Optional Statement:

Please provide any additional information you believe is important and/ or address any areas of concern that will be beneficial to the Admissions Committee in considering your application (e.g. unexplained gaps in work experience, choice of recommenders, academic performance, significant weaknesses in your application, or extenuating personal circumstances). (250 words)

An optional essay is an opportunity for you to give the Ad Com relevant information that you could not provide in other essays or other parts of your application essays, recommendation letters, and résumé.  This question is also meant to shine a spotlight on the experience or side of your personality that has not been revealed in the other parts of your application.

To provide context for a weakness in your profile, like a low GPA or GMAT or a gap in your job history, make sure your reason is genuine to convince them that your low grades occurred due to unforeseen circumstances beyond your control.

Also, keep in mind that your story should not only explain that particular weakness in your profile but also bring out your other strong personality traits. That means your response should be positive, straightforward, and fact-focused and should not sound like you are making excuses for a weakness in your profile.

Below is an example from an optional essay written by a female candidate to explain her employment gap after she was laid off from her company:


“The past eight months have provided me adequate time for reflection for my next professional move. I conducted research on potential employers, job profiles, and reached out to my mentors to evaluate how to use my capabilities and skills. I have evaluated my career goals and have decided to enhance my skill set by pursuing an MBA. On the personal front, this period gave me an opportunity to devote more time to the care of my child and pursue my hobbies such as swimming and traveling."

Note: For more application tips and tricks, click here.

Since 2011, MER (myEssayReview) has helped many applicants get accepted into the top 20 MBA programs. (Poonam is one of the top 5 most reviewed consultants on the GMAT Club.)

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

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