The below is from Stacey Kammerdiener, Senior Texas Full-Time MBA Admissions Officer
As you think about how to approach the essays in your Texas Full-Time MBA application, your best shot at successfully answering the essay prompts is to approach them thoughtfully. The purpose of these essays is to understand why you want to attend McCombs and to learn more about you professionally and personally. While it may be tempting, do us (and yourself) a favor and avoid the snooze-fest/shock-factor extremes. Instead, approach your essays genuinely and with reflection. Armed with a few insider tips from the Admissions Committee below, you will be well on your way to submitting a strong application.
Introduce yourself. (An essay of 250 words, OR a video introduction of one minute)
Simple, right? Wait…it’s not?
At first glance, you may have many questions about how to approach this two-word prompt. Who is my audience? Is this a formal or a casual introduction? How in the world do I introduce myself in only 250 words or through a one minute clip?
Essay one is purposely open-ended. It’s truly up to you how you want to approach your introduction to the admissions committee. When you first meet someone, what’s your elevator pitch?
Before tackling this essay, you may want to think about your personal and professional interests and attributes – it is the combination of these two items that make you who you are, and that make you unique (and interesting!). Therefore, an intro that only discusses work experience, or only discusses previous life experience, is incomplete. Give us a well-rounded mix, so that we better understand who you are in a more complete sense, and not only in one facet of your life. Think about what makes you tick.
Finally, the choice is yours: written essay or video. We have seen significant success on both platforms and do not prefer one over the other. Therefore, play to your strengths! If your skill is in writing, focus on the essay. If you want to create a video and rely on your voice and video editing skills, then we are excited to see it. However, if you do submit a video, keep in mind that sending us a photo slideshow with background music isn’t advisable. These clips do not grant the admissions committee the chance to actually see or hear you, which is what makes video submissions so great!
In any submission, have fun with it and do not take this essay for granted—it can go a long way in introducing yourself and setting the stage for your application.
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)
Essay two, in essence, allows you to explain to the admissions committee why you’re applying to the Texas MBA Program. By describing to us how you plan to spend your two years as an MBA student, we will be able to glean your plan of attack career-wise, learn what causes you may be passionate about, and find out how you plan to develop yourself both inside and outside of the classroom.
Keep in mind that by the time we read your essays, we have already seen your resume, scores and other basic elements of your application. We have also already reviewed your short and long term goals. Essay two is meant to explain to us how you believe McCombs will help get you there! What classes, organizations, and experiential opportunities specifically relate to your career plan? Connect the dots for us. Personally, how do you envision yourself becoming an active contributor in our community? Texas MBA students are dynamic and engaged, and we are looking for applicants who are equally as driven.
Truly pause to think about how you would want to reflect on your two years while walking across that Gregory Gym stage. A vague essay is a poor essay, so give us specifics. If you’ve read our website or spoken to an admissions team member, frankly there is a LOT to love: classes, concentrations, organizations, students/alumni, professors, unique academic and career-oriented opportunities, location, and the list goes on. Illustrate what attributes of the program you plan to take full advantage of, and how that fits into your post-MBA self. In addition, how do you plan to give back while you are a student? What will be your lasting legacy? Convince us that you are indispensable to our community, and that we simply cannot live without you.
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, or extenuating personal circumstances). (250 words)
This one is pretty self-explanatory. Honestly, the most important piece of advice we can give you regarding this final prompt is to remember that the optional statement is just that – optional. Only applicants who feel that some piece of their profile deserves more explanation should be submitting the optional statement. This section of the application is not to be used to tell us all about your extracurricular activities, or to expand upon your personal introduction. While we love that you’re so involved in your community, there are other ways to let the admissions committee know about these additional projects or passions of yours (at the bottom of your resume, perhaps, or during the interview).
Our Final, Closing Advice:
- Take time to reflect. It will likely take more than one draft to nail it.
- Be honest. These essays are our way to learn more about you! Our students value authenticity; your essays should reflect your authentic self.
- Have a friend read over your essays. They can provide valuable feedback, and may even remind you about what makes you so special!
- Send the same essay (or parts of essays) to multiple schools. (We can totally tell when you re-use an essay or parts of essays.)
- Ignore the essay prompt! Too often, applicants bypass the actual question in an effort to tell us something they think we need to know. Make sure you’re answering the question being asked.
- Send an essay that exceeds the word count and/or time perimeter given. Follow the instructions!
As always, please email us at TexasMBA@mccombs.utexas.edu if you have any other questions. Get started early and edit, edit, edit! Your essays can really send a strong application into orbit, so good luck, and happy applying!
Introduce yourself. Select only one communication method that you would like to use for your response.
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)
Introductions can take place in a variety of ways. Standing in a circle of a few at a cocktail party. In a one-on-one interview. First day on the job.
The version we’re after here is much different. McCombs just handed you a mic, dimmed the house lights, and threw a spotlight onto you. This is your time not just to introduce yourself, but to perform. A performance is artful. And requires a special type of messaging. Your challenge isn’t to hold the attention of the guy sitting across the desk who is usually forced to tune in. Your challenge is to capture and sustain the attention of a room full of people, whose magnitude (by itself) tends to make it an uphill battle from minute one.
Dullness is deadly.
Don’t be dull. Don’t be quiet. Don’t be average. Don’t be monotone. Don’t be… safe.
Now’s your chance to tap your inner Louis CK. Your inner MLK. Your inner Seth Macfarlane. Charm. Wit. Risk. Energy. A deviating from that safe, straight, center pathway.
Whether it’s an essay or a video, the very first thing you need to do is grab your audience’s attention. There’s no real room for a slow burn here. If this were a two hour movie, and you had a proven track record, maybe an audience would spot you an unceremonious beginning, trusting in a future payoff. You have no such luxury here, my friend. Your cohort doesn’t know you. You need to be spectacular and attention-worthy from second 1.
What makes for a good opener? Well, practically speaking, “it” can be absolutely anything, which is to say it can take the FORM of just about anything. But what most great opening moments have in common is this: they knock the reader/audience off balance. For most of you, that may sound great, but it still may not mean much. “How the hell am I supposed to throw the reader off balance?” Well, one way to think about it is to leave some stuff OUT. The more buttoned up your opening is, the more likely your audience will feel secure. And secure—for now—is lethal. Bad.
“My name is Craig Blodgitsnick. I am 27 years old. And I’m a banker.” Great. Super clear. And therefore… too clear? It’s all buttoned up. The audience needs a reason to hear more. With an opening like that, however, we’re left with no such desire. Here’s an alternative.
“I make people cry for a living.”
Um, say what? What the hell does that mean. Did he just say that? I have no idea who this guy is, I have no idea how I feel about him, I have no sense of whether that’s a good or bad thing. What I do know… is that I’m dying to hear more. Success. This speaker has the audience in the palms of his hands.
“Pond. Cigarette. Abandoned BMW. These three things almost got me arrested, led me to my future wife, and ultimately set me on a path of world domination.”
Huh? I mean, I couldn’t be more in. Who the hell says that? How on Earth are those three things connected? After everyone gives their boring standard speech, I can bet you money I’m gonna remember the person who said THAT.
Throw your reader off balance. Give them a reason to want to read more. Now, not to scare you, but this isn’t easy. It is a touch risky, and it requires some finesse. But it is absolutely worth working toward. But just for a moment, let’s talk about the downside…
If you can’t quite pull it off, and it seems forced and inauthentic, then you run the risk of seeming like you’re trying too hard. And that’s a liability. So, get a gut check from a second set of eyes (doesn’t have to be a pro, could be anyone—see if they buy it). If it’s just not passing muster, there is recourse. Which is to tell a very honest, earnest story. Your story, a personal story. But, it’s gotta be a cool story. If it’s a straightforward, you are toast. There’s gotta be some GRIT in there, some adversity, some uniqueness. That can be equally compelling.
“Hi, my name is Glenda Crevitz and I became an adult when I was five years old when I was separated from my parents and grandparents. My first job was…”
Yah, I’d listen to that person. (But did you notice how even here, the author has thrown the audience off balance? This is not happenstance.)
Whichever medium suits you best, take advantage of it. Don’t choose the video if all you do is read an essay. If you use video, it has to be because there’s something about your look and body language and visible energy that communicates something a written essay can’t quite capture. If you choose an essay over video, it’s gotta be because there are certain things you’re able to do with the written word that would be MORE effective than a video version.
Keep your audience on the edge of their seat, though, by throwing them off balance.
Now that we’ve handled that, onto Essay 2?
Read more and explore each step of the Texas Mccombs full-time MBA application process here.