The Anderson School At Ucla is interested in

admitting people, not credentials, and the essays are where you meet the people. We look for the degree of personal insight and energy that is demonstrated by applicants through the essays. From the essays we are able to discern who the applicants are, what they have accomplished, and the impact they have had on others, and we get an overall sense of how they will add value to and fit within our environment.

The essays require serious reflection. They play a critical role in placing other parts of the application into context. Among qualified applicants the essays serve the purpose of revealing who is most deserving, most appealing, and the best match for us. It is important to know that there is not a "right" answer. Attempts at second-guessing what the appropriate response should be or at sounding like everyone else won't get you admitted. Given the sizable applicant pool, those individuals who can bring forth their special qualities and unique experiences are admitted. The key is to write essays that reveal your thought process and distinct personality.

Aside from being a reflective process, the essays can also be extremely instructive. Sufficient time to think about the questions as well as to write and edit responses will alleviate much of the anxiety applicants have about this experience. Superficiality or redundancy detracts from the impact of the essays and fails to give us adequate opportunity to know the applicant. It is always important to respond to the questions being asked. Be honest and frank in your assessment of your strengths and weaknesses. The essays are the appropriate vehicle for clarifying a weakness or deficiency in your background. However, avoid making excuses.

Preparing the essays or at least spending some time thinking about the questions can be excellent preparation for an interview. At the very least, it will probably boost your confidence, and possibly you will be more at ease during the interview session.

Essays are read by at least two or three members of the admission committee. In addition to the admission officers, faculty, top-level administrators, alumni, and graduating students participate in the admission process.

Sally O. Jaeger

Director of Admissions The Amos Tuck School {Dartmouth College]

WHAT WE'RE TRYING TO DO is get a sense of who this person is. What are his or her interests, professional and personal?

That's one of the reasons we ask as many questions as we do and the kinds of questions we ask. Of equal importance is [the question) why is this person applying to business school, what are his or her reasons for applying for this very specific professional degree, what does he or she hope to gain from the two-year experience, where does he see this two-year experience taking him, what are the short- and long-term goals, why [is the applicant choosing to go] through this intense, very expensive process? Basically we want to know [the reasons] why. We want to know who this person is because we want to make sure that this is the right place for him or her. Tuck is a very small school and it's not the right place for everybody. 1 think someone who wants an anonymous business school experience—somebody who wants to come in, get the degree and get out—would be very unhappy here. This is a school, a community, an environment where people come in and have to get really involved to get the most out of their experience, so within our questions is a search for that sense of commitment, that sense of social responsibility, that sense of community that we offer. We're looking for those same feelings, those same beliefs, those same ideals in the individuals who apply to Tuck.

Our first essay is "Why do you want an MBA?" and it's probably one of the most important. One of applicants' biggest mistakes is that they don't see the big picture; they only see the small picture so they get involved in minutiae. They get too focused on what they've been doing, detail by detail. They just regurgitate or reiterate what they've been doing without much thought as to where they see themselves going. Clearly we're not expecting people to know what they want to be when they grow up, so to speak; we're not asking them to say [for example] they want to be working for corporate finance at Goldman Sachs in five years. We [do] want them to have a sense of where it is they want to be. What 1 tell people when I'm talking about our first essay is that we want them to be able to take their past and current professional experience, and show us how that has led them to this process of pursuing the MBA. How is their experience, combined with the two years at MBA school, going to take them where they want to go? Again, that doesn't have to be a specific job with a specific company, but it's an idea of where they're headed. They might have several possibilities, but these have to make sense; they can't [for example] tell us they want to go into consulting and investment banking and work for a not-for-profit. They have to be able to justify what they say. Clearly there has to be some experience in their background that leads them to this idea, this thought, this possibility.

Other mistakes include not answering our question or trying to be funny when the applicant [actually] is not. When an applicant writes an essay based on what he or she thinks we want to hear from him or her, not what he himself feels, that's a mistake. Applicants [have the opportunity within these essays to be] telling us a story that nobody else can tell; it's a big mistake if the applicant is not doing that. The whole point of the essay is to get to know who this applicant is as an individual. Other mistakes involve spelling errors and not proofreading the essays. People who don't know how to write well, who have

The best essays that I've read are from people who've said they've learned a lot about themselves through this application process.

sentence fragments, who put apostrophes in the wrong place [are at a disadvantage].

Good essays require a lot of self-reflection. The best essays that I've read are from people who've said they've learned a lot about themselves through this application process. They've sat down and thought about why they're going through this process, what they want out of this program, and where they see themselves headed, so when it comes time to write the essays, everything flows. It's important to be yourself; don't try to be someone you're not Don't spend a lot of time thinking about what thé admissions officers want to read; think about what kinds of things you want the school to know about you, what's most important to you, because, ultimately, that's what's going to be most important to us when we make our decision.

Our process is a two-person evaluation; each application-regardless of GMAT, GPA—is evaluated thoroughly by two different people and then it's evaluated again a third time by me. So every application gets at least three looks and the number could be four or five. We have to get through 1,000 applications in a 4-to-6-week process. 1 love the essays because you learn so much about people. 1 feel I've read good essays if I've learned something new, something I didn't know before.

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