Category Archives: UCLA Anderson

UCLA Anderson 2009-10 Essay Question Analyses and Deadlines

Deadlines are 21:00 Pacific time:

  Deadline Decision Notification
Round 1 October 14, 2009 January 13, 2010
Round 2 January 6, 2010 March 31, 2010
Round 3 March 17, 2010 May 19, 2010

from the school website

GENERAL INSTRUCTIONS:  Please be introspective and authentic in your responses. We value the opportunity to learn about your life experiences, aspirations, and goals.

All responses to essays must be on double-spaced pages that are uploaded in document form, except for Essay 4 for first-time applicants, which may be submitted as an audio or video file instead. (Please note the word limits in parentheses.)

First-time applicants — 4 required essays:

  1. Describe the ways in which your family and/or community have helped shape your development. (750 words)

This essay requires you to do a bit of self-reflection and self-analysis. You’ll need to think back and consider how your family and/or community impacted the person you are today – your personality, your values. Consider first the kind of person you are today. Are you someone who’s faced a lot of challenges but who’s always stayed strong before them? Do you have an unusually high ability to adapt? Do you have exceptional people skills and ability to understand others? Next, look back on your life and try to remember who and what had influenced the development of those characteristics and values. Many will write about their parents and/or other family members (grandparents, siblings). Others might want to write about a teacher, or a school or sports community. Perhaps you were influenced by a combination of people/groups. The important thing is to talk about how you were impacted by these early influences and then show examples of the person you’ve become.

2. Describe the biggest risk you have ever taken, the outcome, and what you learned in the process. (500 words)

The topic you choose for this essay could be personal or professional, but it should show your capacity for taking risks. Anderson focuses on entrepreneurship, and it will look for applicants who have the traits of an entrepreneur/innovator. Usually these people show higher levels of risk-taking than the general population.

When you write your story, remember that the focus is on what you did and what you learned. Don’t worry if the risk didn’t end up being a success (for example, you attempted to become an actor but you failed to get any parts); what UCLA is looking for is the mindset and courage that allowed you to try something new and to go outside your comfort zone.

3. Describe your short-term and long-term career goals.  What is your motivation for pursuing an MBA now and how will UCLA Anderson help you to achieve your goals? (750 words)

Another straightforward goals question. UCLA, too, has a distinctive MBA program so be sure you properly research the school before writing this essay. You want to make sure you can explain why Anderson’s collaborative and diverse community and innovation-based curriculum is a good match for you.

4. Select and respond to one of the two following questions. We would like you to respond to the question by recording an audio or video response, 1-2 minutes long (up to 5 MB maximum), for upload in the online application.  (Please note: The supported file types for audio files are:  .avi, .wav, .mp3, .wmv, .midi, .wma, .aiff, .au, .mp4; the supported file types for video files are:  .mov, .avi, .wmv, .mpeg). If you are unable to submit your response via audio or video, then please prepare a written response instead. (250 words)

While Anderson doesn’t require a spoken response, it is clear that they prefer it. Unless there is absolutely no way you can record your voice, you really should make the effort to send in a sound or video file. I suggest drafting a 250-word essay and then practicing reading it out loud before recording yourself. Have someone else listen to the recording to confirm that your pronunciation is clear and that your pace is appropriate.

a. Entrepreneurship is a mindset that embraces innovation and risk-taking within both established and new organizations.  Describe an instance in which you exhibited this mindset.

It is clear what UCLA cares about! Have you ever shown innovation or a risk-taking attitude? Talk about that time. You don’t need to have started your own business or organization to write this essay; any time that you created something new (even within an established organization), tried a new solution, etc. would qualify you as having an entrepreneurial mindset. They are mainly interested in how you think outside the box, beyond established norms.

b.  What is something people will find surprising about you?

This is an open-ended question and they’re giving you the chance to tell them something that they may not have thought to ask you about. When considering this topic, take a look at the rest of your essays, and see if there is something compelling or interesting about you that you have not been able to convey in your other stories. 

OPTIONAL: Are there any extenuating circumstances in your profile about which the Admissions Committee should be aware? (250 words)

Again, they’re giving you a chance to explain to them something that you feel they must know. As their essay set is pretty comprehensive, I would recommend using this essay only to discuss any areas of concern – e.g., lack of recommendation letter from a current supervisor, job gaps, low test scores and GPA, etc.


Reapplicants who applied for the entering Fall 2008 or 2009 class have a different set of requirements than first-time applicants. Instead of submitting two letters of recommendation and the four regular essays, reapplicants are required to submit precisely one new letter of recommendation and the two essays below. The Admissions committee will refer to your previous application when considering your admission, but a complete new application must be submitted on-line. Begin your complete new application by creating a new PIN.

Reapplicants — 2 required essays:

  1. Please describe your career progress since you last applied and ways in which you have enhanced your candidacy. Include updates on short-term and long-term career goals, as well as your continued interest in UCLA Anderson. (750 words)

This is the reapplicants’ version of the goals essay. The only thing that is different is that you’d need to focus on the year that has passed since you applied. What have you been up to this past year? What did you accomplish at work? As instructed, you should also address your goals, to either confirm the same ones from last year or to discuss how they have evolved since last year. You should also talk again about why UCLA is the best fit for you and it would be nice if you could update them with further research you have conducted on the school. In other words, you don’t want to just copy and paste the same text from your past application but talk about how you took steps to continue learning about UCLA.

2. Describe the biggest risk you have ever taken, the outcome, and what you learned in the process. (500 words)

See above.

3. OPTIONAL: Are there any extenuating circumstances in your profile about which the Admissions Committee should be aware? (250 words)

See above.

Reapplicants should also note that all standardized test scores (GMAT, TOEFL, IELTS, et cetera) remain on file for several years, so they should not be resent; we do indeed have them. Transcripts should only be resent if additional coursework has been completed since the first application has been submitted.