How to get in to UCLA Anderson


ralph

In today's Businessweek, there's a great interview with the interim director of admissions for UCLA Anderson, where he gives good insight and tips for getting into the school.

One thing he was asked about was mistakes that students make in their application. Mainly, he says, that students "do not tell their stories effectively," and do not say exactly why Anderson is the school for them in their personal statement. I think this is a fundamental problem - and when admissions committees see this they automatically assume that the student has one generic letter that they then adapt to each application. This is a lazy mistake, and can be rectified by researching each school that you are applying to and writing a letter specifically for each one. It's not rocket science, but is substantially harder than writing a general "why I want an MBA" letter.

He also says that he encounters gramatical mistakes and typos. This is reprehensible - but the solution is easy: spell check your letter and have it proofread by a native English speaker. Even if you are a native speaker yourself, you can overlook things.

An interesting fact that the interim director menions is that their student body is diverse in terms of their pre-MBA backgrounds. Only about a fifth of the student body has a background in finance - and the rest come from all over the undergrad spectrum. But, if you don't have a quantitate background, you'll need to somehow demonstrate your quantitate skills - maybe you've taken a college level stats class, or the like. Mainly though, if you don't come from a finance background, they'll certainly look hard at your GMAT score.

Finally, he says that Anderson students are "confident, but not arrogant or cocky." There is a fine line here that is easily crossed when applying to b-schools. You need to be confident in that you know your background and know why the school you chose is right for you - but still be open to learning new things.

In today's Businessweek, there's a great interview with the interim director of admissions for UCLA Anderson, where he gives good insight and tips for getting into the school.

One thing he was asked about was mistakes that students make in their application. Mainly, he says, that students "do not tell their stories effectively," and do not say exactly why Anderson is the school for them in their personal statement. I think this is a fundamental problem - and when admissions committees see this they automatically assume that the student has one generic letter that they then adapt to each application. This is a lazy mistake, and can be rectified by researching each school that you are applying to and writing a letter specifically for each one. It's not rocket science, but is substantially harder than writing a general "why I want an MBA" letter.

He also says that he encounters gramatical mistakes and typos. This is reprehensible - but the solution is easy: spell check your letter and have it proofread by a native English speaker. Even if you are a native speaker yourself, you can overlook things.

An interesting fact that the interim director menions is that their student body is diverse in terms of their pre-MBA backgrounds. Only about a fifth of the student body has a background in finance - and the rest come from all over the undergrad spectrum. But, if you don't have a quantitate background, you'll need to somehow demonstrate your quantitate skills - maybe you've taken a college level stats class, or the like. Mainly though, if you don't come from a finance background, they'll certainly look hard at your GMAT score.

Finally, he says that Anderson students are "confident, but not arrogant or cocky." There is a fine line here that is easily crossed when applying to b-schools. You need to be confident in that you know your background and know why the school you chose is right for you - but still be open to learning new things.

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juliat333

Thanks for sharing, Ralph!

I've read a few articles like these, but do we truly know what it comes down to?

Obviously, spelling errors and cockiness, aside, do you think there can be a single aspect of one's application that urges the admissions counselor (who may be on the fence) to extend the admission offer? For example, there are so many talented students, with high GMAT scores, and lots of career experience, but the student with the unique story may be a breath of fresh air for the admissions counselor. How do people who've had a 'pretty standard' B-school background differentiate themselves, especially in such a tough job market where one tends to accept whatever job he can get?

Thank you!
Julia

Thanks for sharing, Ralph!

I've read a few articles like these, but do we truly know what it comes down to?

Obviously, spelling errors and cockiness, aside, do you think there can be a single aspect of one's application that urges the admissions counselor (who may be on the fence) to extend the admission offer? For example, there are so many talented students, with high GMAT scores, and lots of career experience, but the student with the unique story may be a breath of fresh air for the admissions counselor. How do people who've had a 'pretty standard' B-school background differentiate themselves, especially in such a tough job market where one tends to accept whatever job he can get?

Thank you!
Julia
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ralph

Hi Julia,

It's really hard to say. Schools like UCLA are moving away from the "pretty standard" model of student - as we can see by the fact that they're recruiting from diverse academic and work backgrounds.

I'd think that the key is to have a well-balanced application (GMAT score, GPA, work background) and frame it in a compelling story. More than anything, the ad comms want to see a drive that shows why you are good for business school, and why it's important for you.

Hi Julia,

It's really hard to say. Schools like UCLA are moving away from the "pretty standard" model of student - as we can see by the fact that they're recruiting from diverse academic and work backgrounds.

I'd think that the key is to have a well-balanced application (GMAT score, GPA, work background) and frame it in a compelling story. More than anything, the ad comms want to see a drive that shows why you are good for business school, and why it's important for you.
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