The McCombs School of Business at the University of Texas in Austin recently released its deadlines for the Class of 2025, with a round one deadline of Oct. 11, 2022.
There are some notable changes to the McCombs application, including the debut of required video questions and the option to participate in a “McCombs Admission Connection” with a current student. Perhaps because of its substantive new video component, in which candidates field seven questions (five randomly generated behavioral questions plus two prompts that all candidates must answer), McCombs is distilling its written essay to a singular question. (Gone is the ‘introduce yourself’ prompt, which is presumably addressed in the new video medium.)
Read on for insights on what McCombs is looking for in its written essay, and how you can best maximize your chances of admissions success.
Required Essay: Picture yourself at graduation. Describe how you spent your time as a Texas McCombs MBA to achieve your personal and professional goals. (500 words)
What I like about this essay prompt is the self-reflection lead up in the wording, “Picture yourself at the completion of your MBA journey.” The Admissions Committee is asking for some introspection on your part: What prompted you to apply to b-school, what were your goals, and how did McCombs set you up for success to achieve those goals?
There is somewhat of a formulaic approach to tackling this essay and to show self-reflection. With my clients, I encourage them to share what their career trajectory had been prior to business school and where they had found success and satisfaction. However, as they considered their future, they knew having X and Y skills would take them to the next level and/or allow them to pivot into a new industry or job function (this is where you should discuss short-term and long-term goals). Typically, I recommend the X should equal one hard skill and the Y should equal one soft skill AND how they recognized McCombs would help hone those skills; X could point to a class/academic opportunity, Y could be mapped to a club/conference. Finally, it’s useful to mention advantages of being on the UT campus and/or within the city of Austin.
In my coaching, I remind my clients of “The Three Cs:”
1. Curriculum – Given that you will be going back to school, it is critical to mention what you wish to gain from the educational experience. Oftentimes, I would read essays that jumped right into citing the strength of clubs or becoming part of an illustrious network, which made me wonder if the applicant wanted to attend school or join a country club!
2. Co-Curriculars – After sharing what attracts you to the academics at McCombs, then it’s fine to share what clubs/ activities/ conferences are of interest and aligned with short-term and long-term goals.
3. Community – vibe of the place (the culture of the student body), where is it located (e.g. tech talent in Austin).
For the ending, I suggest sharing what they will be doing immediately upon graduation and how their dream job leverages what they gained at McCombs AND how they will give back as an alumnus (remember, this essay taps into imaginative writing, so feel free to aim high!). Given the “Hook ’em” pride at UT Austin, it’s important to demonstrate not only what you will take from the MBA program, but also what you will give back.
Optional Statement: If applicable, applicants can provide an optional statement in the essay section of the application. Applicants should only provide an optional statement if there is something they wish to address about their candidacy that is not addressed elsewhere. (250 words)
Definitely utilize the optional statement if you need to address any pieces in your application that need further explanation, such as addressing a gap in your MBA resume. What’s most important in providing an optional statement is showing sound judgment and ability to succeed in b-school. For example, if you wish to address a lower GPA while in university, while your grades might have been impacted due to holding down a part-time job, or being overly involved in student life, what you need to share is how you are now better at managing your time and priorities.
Updated July, 2022
Fortuna’s Sharon Joyce is an MBA Admissions Coach and former Berkeley Haas Associate Director of Admissions. For a candid assessment of your chances of admission success at a top MBA program, sign up for a free consultation.