UT Austin / McCombs 2015-2016 Essay Topic Analysis
Following up on our post with McComb’s 2015-2016 MBA Essay Topics and our interview with Director of MBA Admissions Rodrigo Malta, we wanted to offer our analysis of this season’s UT Austin MBA essays.
The broad format of these essays is identical to last year’s, with applicants introducing themselves to their cohort via a 250-word essay, video, or about.me profile, and commenting on their interest in McCombs and potential contribution to the community in a second required response of 500 words. In a subtle change, the school has streamlined this second response for this admissions season, dropping an element that asked about what candidates hoped to gain professionally and personally from the McCombs MBA. In our interview with Director Malta, he acknowledged that the question asked a lot of applicants in just 500 words. This year’s prompt reflects a stronger emphasis on students’ plans for their two years on the McCombs campus, as opposed to their long-range career plans.
Let’s take a closer look at each of the McCombs MBA essay prompts:
Essay 1: 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
This is the third year running that McCombs has asked applicants to introduce themselves to their MBA cohort as part of the essay section of the application, and the second year that they’ve offered the option of doing so via video or an about.me profile. This would suggest that the adcom has been pleased with the information this prompt has yielded, and indeed, Malta commented that his team was pleased that nearly one third of applicants chose one of the latter two options.
We’ll comment a bit more on format in a bit. In terms of content, this essay allows the adcom to assess how prospective students would present themselves to their peers, requiring applicants to reflect carefully on the aspects of their backgrounds that would be most interesting and valuable to their future classmates. The prompt specifically asks candidates to comment on both their personal and work life, so a brief mention of your professional background and even your career goals is appropriate. Of course, we also strongly encourage applicants to use this opportunity to showcase elements of their personalities and candidacies that they will not have the chance to address in their responses to the other application essay. Perhaps you have a particularly interesting accomplishment or hobby to share, or an aspect of your heritage or hometown of which you’re especially proud. Finally, it will be important to pay attention to the balance of content in your introduction. The most effective responses to this question will portray the applicant as sincere, well-rounded, likable, and excited about meeting his or her McCombs cohort.
As for medium, the video and about.me options provide an opportunity to make a vivid impression through visual communication. It also shows the admissions committee that one is willing to invest the time and effort to create something just for the UT Austin application, underscoring one’s investment in gaining admission to McCombs. Applicants whose leisure activities or workplace roles lend themselves well to film might do well to consider the video option, while those with extensive digital photo albums or robust (and admissions-appropriate) social media presences might opt to synthesize text and visuals in an about.me profile.
All of that said, while taking risks in the admissions process is often worthwhile, you don’t want to step so far out of your comfort zone that you ultimately don’t make a good impression (this seems especially possible for camera-shy applicants attempting the video option). Director Malta shared in our interview that the least successful responses last season were those in which the applicant appeared uncomfortable or inauthentic. And, given that about 70% of last year’s applicants chose to submit essays, the written word is absolutely a viable option. Candidates choosing to submit an essay will want to use their 250 words wisely to give the reader a sense of who they are and how they would enhance the diversity of the McCombs community (while avoiding overlap with Essay 2, which deals with that theme as well).
Essay 2: 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)
This prompt is all about the campus community and UT Austin’s dynamic student body. The adcom is interested in hearing about how applicants see themselves engaging the MBA program on the curricular and programmatic levels during their two years as MBA students, and the ways that McCombs will be a better place as a result of their being admitted.
In the course of discussing why the Texas MBA is their ideal program, it would be appropriate for applicants to briefly comment briefly on their chosen career paths. This is, after all, the reason that candidates are applying to business school in the first place, and there’s value in letting the adcom know why business school makes sense for you. Rather than focusing on what one would get out of the program, though, we recommend an emphasis on how one would engage the community and their fellow students in the course of the MBA program. For example, rather than listing off courses whose content would help you advance your career, it would be more strategic to focus on your ability to contribute to class discussions in areas in which you already have some foundation. It would also make sense to comment on how you would participate — or assume leadership — in student organizations of interest, both those related to professional interests as well as more personal interests.
Note that the prompt also asks what applicants hope to achieve during their time in Austin. To this end, you will want to say something about the positive impact you would make on the community, perhaps through starting a new student club or organizing a new event through an existing organization, or even collaborating with colleagues and the administration to start a new initiative. Of course, it will be important to be mindful of the tone of these comments and make sure that one is humbly suggesting a range of possible contributions (and not providing a cocky list of all the course discussions and clubs one would enhance).
Prospective students should also note Director Malta’s comment in our interview that UT Austin students “bleed burnt orange,” i.e. that the adcom is looking for applicants who feel very strongly about attending McCombs and are likely to have pride in the school. To write convincingly on this point, it will be necessary to conduct very thorough research on the school and student culture, and to identify programmatic elements that are unique to the the UT Austin MBA. Taking the time to learn the ins and outs of the school’s special programs and extracurricular activities –- whether through a visit to campus, conversation with students and alumni, or reading the Clear Admit School Guide to McCombs School of Business –- will pay dividends here.
Optional Essay: 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)
Both the tone of this prompt and the examples of potential topics the candidate might address suggest that this essay will be best used to address liabilities or extenuating circumstances related to one’s application rather than to provide “bonus” information to the adcom. Candidates with questionable quantitative records, gaps in employment, or unusual recommenders should take advantage of this opportunity to offer explanations or outline plans to address potential issues. As is always the case with this sort of response, the comments in this essay should be straightforward and fact-focused, offering explanation without making excuses and humbly suggesting other areas of your candidacy that might compensate for identified weaknesses.
Clear Admit Resources
Thanks for reading our analysis of this year’s McCombs MBA essay topics. As you work on your McCombs MBA essays and application, we encourage you to consider all of Clear Admit’s UT Austin offerings:
Posted in: Essay Topic Analysis
Schools: UT Austin / McCombs
The McCombs School of Business at the University of Texas is a globally recognized MBA program, located in the center of technology- Austin.
MBA Application Deadlines:
Round 1: Application deadline: October 10, 2017 at 11:59pm CT, Priority deadline for scholarships & fellowships Decision date: December 19, 2017
Round 2: Application deadline: January 9, 2018 at 11:59pm CT, Decision date: March 19, 2018
Round 3: Final application deadline: April 3, 2017 at 11:59pm CT, Decision date: May 11, 2018
Like last year, McCombs business school asks its applicants to write two required essays and one optional essay. The first essay remains unchanged from last year, but the second essay has been changed.
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 fifth year running that McCombs requires the applicants to write an essay on introduction to their class mates. 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, provides applicants with a flexibility and freedom to showcase their creative side. You may take time to brainstorm ideas about what you would like your team mates at McCombs to know about you. Considering this is your first encounter with them, you can discuss your cultural background, motivation, personal and professional goals/accomplishments, hobbies/interests, and issues that pique your interest. The motive is to tell you future class mates who you really are.
To showcase your creativity, McCombs offers you a choice of two modes of communication. You may 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 to be more creative as well as imaginative. For example, if you plan to share your culinary skills with your class mates, you may consider shooting part of the one minute video in your kitchen.
Though it’s fun doing a video essay, it is my understanding that it would demand more time than a regular essay (This by no means implies that crafting an ‘introduction’ essay in 250 words is not challenging). You may experiment with the video option if you can invest 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 video option 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 likeable, friendly, and well-rounded individual to your cohorts.
Essay 2: Picture yourself at graduation. Describe how you spent your two years as a Texas MBA student, and how that experience helped to prepare you for the post-MBA world. (500 words)
This second required question has been changed this year. Last year’s applicants were asked to write about what drove them in their personal and professional life, how Texas MBA is the ideal program for them and how they planned to engage in McCombs community. The key was to demonstrate their ‘fit ‘with the school. This year’s applicants will also be highlighting their ‘fit’ with the school, but in a different way. They will visualize themselves at their graduation day and explain how two years at the Texas MBA helped prepare them for their post MBA personal and professional goals.
To prepare yourself, you must do your homework of researching the program well. Explain how various resources/ offerings and activities at McCombs (courses, study groups, clubs etc.) brought you closer to your post MBA goals. In addition to explaining how Texas MBA helped you fulfill your professional goals, you should also discuss how participation in various activities of student organizations and clubs at McCombs contributed to your personal growth. Additionally, you may also comment on your experiences of being a part of the city of Austin. Wrap up your essay with your final thoughts on your overall experience at McCombs.
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 parts of your application other essays and résumé. For example, if you have a lower than average GMAT score, any grades below a C on your transcript, academic probation or a significant employment gap, you can explain in this essay. To provide context for a weakness in your profile, make sure your reason is genuine to convince the Admission committee that your low grades or employment gap occurred due to unforeseen circumstances beyond your control. Your response should be positive, straightforward, and fact-focused and should not sound like you are making excuses for a weakness in your profile.
Also, if you cannot get your recommendation letter from your current supervisor, please explain that in the optional statement. For more information on the choice of recommenders for your McCombs application, please visit admission blog.
myEssayReview has helped many applicants get accepted into McCombs School of Business. You may email Poonam at email@example.com with questions about your application for McCombs School of Business.
You may be interested in previous years’ essay questions analysis:
UT Austin McCombs Essay Questions Analysis 2016-17
UT Austin McCombs Essay Questions Analysis 2015-16
UT Austin McCombs Essay Questions Analysis 2014-15
This post was first published in myEssayReview blog.
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