We’ve invited mbaMission to share their Business School Essays Analyses as they’re released for the 2013-2014 application season. Here is their analysis for Carnegie Mellon University (Tepper).
To us at mbaMission, one of the most notable things about the essay questions Carnegie Mellon’s Tepper School of Business is posing this application season is that the program has changed its approach to length guidelines by shifting from “double-spaced page” requirements to specific word counts. Candidates who have surveyed the school’s past questions may notice that Tepper has reframed several of its queries. The short- and long-term goals prompts are separated both from one another and from the “why Tepper” query, and the previous question about an obstacle or ethical dilemma has been replaced by one with a more internal focus, asking candidates to share an instance that fundamentally influenced who they are today. And rather than requesting that applicants pinpoint something surprising about themselves or that makes them proud, the school wants a more general exploration of what the candidate might contribute to the Tepper community in the long and short term alike. We feel these broader prompts may allow you to provide a more rounded and personal picture of yourself to the admissions committee, so let us examine each one a little more closely…
Short Answer 1 (Maximum 250 words): What is your professional goal immediately following graduation from the Tepper School?
Short Answer 2 (Maximum 250 words): What are your long term career goals?
These two short answer questions cover the basic short- and long-term goals elements of a traditional personal statement. To help applicants write this style of essay for any school, we have produced the mbaMission Personal Statement Guide, which we offer to candidates free of charge, via our online store. Please feel free to download your copy today.
Essay 1 (Maximum 500 words): What transferrable skills have you developed that are related to your professional goals outlined in Short Answer 1? Additionally, identify the skills that you will need to develop or enhance. Specifically, how will the Tepper MBA help you develop these skills?
With this question, the school takes a slightly unique approach to the usual “why an MBA” and “why our school” questions that most programs pose in one format or another. In addition to asking candidates to outline which skills they believe they will need to succeed after graduation, Tepper wants applicants to specify which ones they already possess. Essentially, to get from Point A to Point B, you will need to obtain/master certain abilities, and the school is interested in learning how far along this trajectory you have already progressed. This will allow the admissions committee to better evaluate how qualified you are (and may eventually be) for your chosen path and how effective the school may be in helping you move forward. By explaining how and why you see Tepper as the right program to provide the training you need, you will demonstrate how well you understand your current level of preparedness and how familiar you are with what Tepper has to offer. As always, framing this information using a narrative approach will make your essay more interesting to read, and likely more memorable as well.
Note that the school is focused specifically on skills. In similar questions from other programs (i.e. “why our school?”), candidates are typically asked to discuss which of the schools’ resources are expected to be valuable, in which case you could note that a particular club could provide you with a lifelong network or a speaker series could give you access to experts in your chosen field. These are not options for this Tepper essay, however. Clubs and speaker series are still valid resources to discuss, but you will need to pinpoint how these offerings will improve or impart skillsrather than provide external assets like a peer network or access to experts. Identify which capabilities you feel you will absolutely need, as well as ones that may just be beneficial and ease your path, and then research the school thoroughly to uncover which resources align directly with what you seek. For example, a certain class could teach you to prepare intricate financial models that will help you better predict certain outcomes, while the school’s Public Speaking Club would allow to you practice and improve your oral presentation skills, and participating in one of Tepper’s exchange programs could help you improve your foreign language capabilities. If you have targeted Tepper because you feel it is the right program for you, you likely already have an idea of what it offers that appeals to you and fits your goals—this essay is where you get specific about what these aspects of the program are.