2023-2024 UCLA Anderson MBA Essay Analysis



When one is looking to apply for the MBA program, UCLA is one of the top choices many candidates have in mind. UCLA’s Anderson School of Management has a strong reputation and is consistently ranked among the top business schools in the world. Moreover, the school’s faculty, programs, and alumni network are well-regarded within the business community. The college even fosters a diverse and inclusive environment, bringing together students from various backgrounds, industries, and countries.

While it’s not difficult to see why a candidate would look to join the school, getting an admission is not as simple as applying. Since it’s one of the top MBA schools in the world, UCLA receives thousands of applicants every year. And in the sea of applications, one way to make yourself stand out and grab the admissions committee’s attention is through the essays.

ucla anderson mba essay analysis

UCLA Anderson 2024 MBA Essays

Just like many other business schools, UCLA’s MBA admissions process is quite straightforward when it comes to essays. They have just one compulsory essay and one optional essay for anyone applying for the MBA. Both essays have a maximum word count of 250 words, which makes conciseness the key.

Let us look at their essay questions for the 2024 application cycle, as per their website:

A) Essay: For the 2023-2024 application year, we have one essay question that is required for first-time applicants and optional for re-applicants:

UCLA Anderson seeks to develop transformative leaders who think fearlessly, drive change, and share success. We believe the ability to persevere is an essential component of effective leadership. Please share an example from your personal or professional life where you demonstrated perseverance to accomplish a significant goal or milestone. (250 words maximum)

Strong essays describe the impact of your achievement and clarify its connection to your future MBA plans in the short- and long-term. We look forward to learning about the specific ways your achievement helped set you up for future success.

B) Optional Essay: No preference is given in the evaluation process to those who choose to respond to this optional essay, so please use your best judgment:

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

UCLA Anderson MBA Essay 1 Framework

Let’s dive into how one can go about answering UCLA’s compulsory MBA question. A main framework to keep in mind while writing the essay is as below:

  1. Select a specific experience from your life that aligns well with the qualities UCLA Anderson is seeking in its candidates.
  2. Provide ample context in your essay and properly introduce the goal you were looking to achieve as well as the obstacles you faced along the way.
  3. Describe how you were able to overcome the obstacles and highlight how you displayed resilience, adaptability, and tenacity in the face of adversity.
  4. Explain how you demonstrated leadership during this experience.
  5. Be specific about the positive impact the experience had on you, your team, or the organization.
  6. Connect your example of perseverance to your aspirations as an MBA candidate.

UCLA Anderson MBA Essay Analysis

When answering the MBA question posed by UCLA Anderson about demonstrating perseverance, it’s essential to craft a compelling and thoughtful response that showcases your ability to overcome challenges and achieve significant goals or milestones.

It is important to remember that the key to answering this question effectively is to demonstrate your ability to persevere and show how it aligns with the qualities UCLA Anderson values in its MBA candidates. Use the essay to showcase your unique experiences and leadership potential while being true to yourself and your journey. Moreover, since the essay has a maximum word limit of 250 words, make sure you don’t stretch your point on for too long.

Below are some tips to help you draft a good essay:

  • Choose a Relevant Example: Select a specific experience from either your personal or professional life that aligns well with the qualities UCLA Anderson is seeking in its candidates. Look for an instance where you faced obstacles, demonstrated resilience, and ultimately achieved a noteworthy outcome. The example you choose should align with UCLA Anderson’s core values and the qualities they seek in their transformative leaders. Research the school’s mission, vision, and leadership principles to understand the traits they value, such as fearlessness, adaptability, and a drive for positive change. Your chosen example should showcase how you embody these qualities through your perseverance.
  • Provide Context: Start your response by setting the stage for the situation you encountered. Briefly introduce the goal or milestone you were aiming to achieve and the challenges you faced along the way. Clearly explain the significance of the goal to demonstrate its relevance and importance.
  • Highlight the Obstacles: Emphasize the difficulties and hurdles you encountered during your pursuit of the goal. This is a crucial part of showcasing your perseverance and determination. Be honest and transparent about the challenges without dwelling on negativity or making excuses.
  • Highlights Resourcefulness: Explain the resources you utilized, whether they were mentors, additional training, or professional networks. Demonstrating resourcefulness shows that you sought support and took advantage of available opportunities.
  • Demonstrate persistence: Describe the specific actions you took to overcome the obstacles. Show how you displayed resilience, adaptability, and tenacity in the face of adversity. Discuss the mindset and attitude you maintained throughout the journey.
  • Explain the Process: Outline the steps you took to navigate the challenges. This could include strategic planning, seeking advice or feedback from others, refining your approach, or learning new skills. Showcase your problem-solving abilities and resourcefulness.
  • Showcase Leadership: UCLA actively seeks out leaders for its MBA program. So, if applicable, explain how you demonstrated leadership during this experience. Leadership doesn’t necessarily mean being in a formal position; it can involve guiding and inspiring others to work towards a common goal. Highlight how you motivated or collaborated with others during this endeavor.
  • Discuss Results and Learnings: Share the outcome of your perseverance and the ultimate achievement of the goal or milestone. Be specific about the positive impact it had on you, your team, or the organization. Also, reflect on the lessons you learned throughout the process and how these experiences have shaped your approach to challenges and leadership.
  • Relate to MBA Experience: Connect your example of perseverance to your aspirations as an MBA candidate. Explain how the skills and mindset you demonstrated during that experience will contribute to your success in the MBA program and beyond. Consider the ways you can leverage these experiences to drive change, think fearlessly, and share success at UCLA Anderson.
  • Be Genuine and reflective: Admissions committees appreciate authenticity and self-awareness. Be genuine in your response, and don’t exaggerate or fabricate your experiences. Reflect on your journey and showcase personal growth and development. 
  • Practice and Edit: Draft your response and revise it multiple times. Make sure your answer is clear, concise, and impactful. Practice delivering your response with confidence and coherence to ensure it flows well during an interview.

Now that we’ve looked at how you can better answer the compulsory MBA essay, let’s see how and if you should answer the optional one.

UCLA Anderson MBA Essay 2 Framework

UCLA Anderson’s second essay is not compulsory and should only be answered if a candidate feels there are some “extenuating circumstances” in their profile that the college needs to be aware of. If there are none, it is better not to opt to answer the essay. However, if you do choose to answer it, you can keep the below framework in mind to help you address the essay better.

  1. Make sure you’re citing relevant circumstances that have genuinely impacted your profile and are relevant to your MBA application.
  2. Be honest and transparent in your approach.
  3. Once again, it is important to remember that brevity and conciseness are key since you have a limited word count.
  4. Provide ample context for the situation.
  5. Focus on how the circumstances in question helped you grow and the positive outcomes that resulted from them.
  6. Make sure that your experience can be tied back to your aspirations as an MBA candidate.
  7. Do not victimize yourself, and instead focus on how you’ve grown from the experience.

UCLA Anderson MBA Essay 2 Analysis

If you do choose to address the “extenuating circumstances” question in your MBA essay for UCLA, keep in mind that the opportunity is for you to provide context for any challenges, setbacks, or exceptional circumstances that have affected your profile.

Remember that by providing a thoughtful and transparent explanation of any extenuating circumstances, you can demonstrate your ability to overcome challenges, your readiness for an MBA program, and your commitment to success. This can further help the admissions committee better understand your profile and evaluate your candidacy holistically.

Here are some tips you can use while drafting your essays to help you stay on track and get your point across effectively:

  • Choose relevant circumstances: Focus on significant circumstances that have genuinely impacted your profile and are relevant to your MBA application. These could include personal, academic, or professional challenges, health issues, family responsibilities, financial hardships, or any other unique situations that affected your performance or choices.
  • Be honest and direct: Approach the topic with honesty and transparency. Avoid exaggerating or making excuses. Instead, provide a clear and factual explanation of the circumstances.
  • Keep it concise: You have a limited word count, so make sure your response is concise and to the point. Stick to the most crucial aspects of the circumstances you’re addressing.
  • Provide context: Offer sufficient context to help the admissions committee understand the situation better. Explain the timing, duration, and impact of the extenuating circumstances on your profile.
  • Focus on resilience and growth: While discussing the challenges you faced, emphasize how you responded to the situation and any positive outcomes or personal growth that resulted from overcoming these circumstances. Showcase your resilience, determination, and ability to learn from difficult experiences.
  • Relate to your MBA goals: Tie the extenuating circumstances to your aspirations as an MBA candidate. Discuss how the challenges you faced have shaped your motivation to pursue an MBA and your ability to contribute to the program and the business community.
  • Avoid self-pity: While it’s important to explain the challenges you encountered, avoid adopting a victim mentality. Instead, emphasize how you have taken proactive steps to address and overcome these challenges.
  • Connect with your readiness for an MBA: Highlight how facing and overcoming these circumstances have prepared you for the rigors of an MBA program. Discuss how you have developed the skills and qualities necessary to thrive in a challenging academic and professional environment.
  • Seek feedback if applicable: If you have received feedback or evaluations related to the extenuating circumstances, briefly mention them. This demonstrates your receptiveness to feedback and will also show the admissions committee your willingness to grow and learn.

Once you draft your essay with the above points in mind, remember to proofread it and make sure that it flows well. Do not exceed the word limit of the essay, as it may not be considered by the admissions committee. Make sure that someone who doesn’t know you can still get a glimpse into the situation you faced by just reading it, and remember to bring out the positives through it.

Final Thoughts

Essays are a crucial part of any MBA application process, especially for a competitive school like UCLA. The above tips and frameworks will undoubtedly help you draft your answers to their questions better and bring out the points you have both effectively and efficiently, while at the same time keeping them brief and clear. The process is, however, not as simple as answering essays, and if you believe you could use assistance with it, our team at Admit Expert will be able to help you with that. With many experienced consultants, which include UCLA and many other top B-school graduates, we can guide you through your MBA application journey. So, what are you waiting for? Get in touch with us now.

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