SMU / Cox MBA Essay Topic Analysis 2017-2018
With the release of the 2017-2018 SMU Cox essay topics, we wanted to offer some guidance to applicants. This year, SMU / Cox again asks MBA applicants for a typical career goals essay as well as other professional and personal questions.
SMU / Cox MBA Essay Topic Analysis 2017-2018
Let’s take a closer look at each essay.
(All applicants) What are your post-MBA goals upon graduation? Please be as specific as possible, which might include desired roles, target companies, and/or industry. (250 word limit)
This is a fairly standard, albeit brief, career goals essay, requesting one’s plans immediately after Cox. Due to the short length, the response should be concise in covering the particular role and responsibilities you are interested in. Should you have target companies in mind already, any direct knowledge or experience you can relay would underscore your commitment to your plans. For instance, perhaps you’ve already spoken with people you know at your target firm, or the HR departments. Once you define the specific role and industry or companies, you should have room to comment on why you wish to pursue the short-term role. While you should prioritize fully developing your goals upon graduation, you may comment on your intended impact and even explain how it’s a stepping stone to your long-term vision if you have room.
(All applicants) In three words, how would a coworker or professional mentor describe you? In three words, how would your closest personal friend describe you? (six word limit)
Strategically, it could make sense to ask a few colleagues and friends to each describe you in five words, then you may pick the adjectives that present a balanced picture of you. For instance, your closest personal friend could consider you a “night owl,” but your sleeping habits will not enhance the adcom’s understanding of you. Instead, consider which adjectives represent you best as a business leader and friend.
(Full-Time, Fast Track, JD/MBA students only) Think of an event that has changed your perspective in the last three years. Describe how this event has impacted your personal or professional outlook. (250 word limit)
With the time limit of three years, the adcom is sending a signal that they want to see that applicants are willing to learn and grow continuously. There are three main elements to a response: defining your initial perspective (to set the stage for change), establishing the event (so the adcom understands the catalyst for change), and explaining how the event changed your outlook. With the phrasing of the prompt, the “event” could be something from the news or something you were a part of directly. For example, perhaps you have an interest in healthcare and changes to the system in the past few years have altered your opinion about the industry or another aspect. In such a case, it will be important to connect to how this has influenced you—ideally shown through some related actions—as the adcom will want to get to know you, how you think and evolve. This may also be an event in which you had a hand, whether a personal or professional one. The door is wide open for examples, but the key is to ensure you touch on each element of the prompt to show your growth. This can be a lot of ground to cover in 250 words, but if you have room, concluding with a brief example of how you applied what you learned would show that your perspective changed.
(Full-Time, Fast Track, JD/MBA students only) Business is an ever changing and evolving entity. Individual’s plans and interests can change as a result of industry downturns and/or emergence of new opportunities. Keeping an open mind while navigating your career in an essential component of success. Should the short-term goals you provided above not materialize, what alternative direction would you explore? (250 word limit)
In this essay, the adcom is essentially asking for a “Plan B.” One thing that may help you figure out this alternative is working backwards from your long-term goal. Consider what skills or experience you will need for the long term and how you may otherwise attain them. This may be as simple as considering a different position within your selected industry, or expanding on more potential target firms. You may also be interested in an industry that is constantly evolving, and speak to potential trends that could influence your path within that industry. Ideally, there would be a consistent thread with your initial goals, particularly when it comes to the skills or impact you hope to have. For instance, if you talk about strategy consulting in the first response, it would be really odd to talk about investment banking here; whereas, if your consulting goals were going to be focused on serving the healthcare domain, then you could reasonably consider a short-term backup plan of getting directly into that industry with a major player.
Clear Admit Resources
Thanks for reading our analysis of this year’s SMU Cox essay topics. As you work on your SMU / Cox MBA essays and application, we encourage you to consider all of Clear Admit’s SMU / Cox offerings:
Posted in: Essay Topic Analysis, Essays
Schools: SMU Cox
Like many other institutions, the university utilizes the “Why X School?” prompt. Similarly, the real reason why schools like SMU use this prompt is because they want to separate applicants that are truly passionate about attending their school. In general, there aren’t many ways to mess up these types of essays, barring major grammatical errors and saying offensive things; however, one thing that distinguishes a mediocre essay from an exceptional essay is specificity. The more specific your response, the more compelling it will be.
Generic statements like “I heard the business program is strong” and “the location is nice” are too broad and could apply to hundreds of universities all over the U.S.
Be specific. Instead of listing a generic statement such as “The business school is strong,” write something specific to SMU that led you to apply there.
For example, you could write:
To be considered for the Hunt Leadership Scholarship would allow me to surround myself with fellow goal-oriented individuals that would prepare me to become an executive of my own business.
In these types of essays, it is important to weave in details about yourself that highlight your unique qualities and ultimate viability as a candidate. In the example above, mentioning the Hunt Leadership scholarship shows that you have researched and taken interest in a particular aspect of the university, as well as indicating that you have leadership experience.
However, it is better to further elaborate on the essay by including specific personal information about yourself that places you in the best light possible. Show, rather than tell, the admissions officers specific things about yourself that highlight traits that would make you a good fit for the college. Be careful when you write that you actually deepen your points. A deceptively weak example of this could be: “The kids I have babysat convinced me that SMU is the best school in the U.S. — I’ve spent many late nights talking about SMU and UT football and hearing about their parents’ experience with the school as well.”
Although this example does show some interest in the school and college admissions process, it could be applied to any school. In this particular example, you should focus on what the kids could have said to convince you that the school was the best school in the U.S., or whatever reason else attracts you to SMU. It’s important here to use strong, descriptive language.
Here is a stronger example that uses a similar concept:
Listening to the children I babysat rave about their parents’ experiencing Boulevarding on game day 30 years later with their freshman roommate, and hearing the parents themselves talk about their jealousy that students would have the chance to debate on economic theory with Professor Santanu Roy, made me excited to attend a school where pride, spirit, and intellectual curiosity run deep.
This example describes specifically what experiences SMU would provide — Boulevarding with your roommates on game day — as well as demonstrate that you are excited to attend the university specifically by mentioning the economics professor, Santanu Roy. Regardless of the school you apply to, you need to add information specific to that school, and in this example, talking about a certain football tradition or economics professor indicates that you are thoroughly interested in the university.
An example like this demonstrates genuine interest and shows why you would be a good fit for the school, while also showing your enthusiasm to attend.
The prompt explicitly says to describe “specific” factors that led you to apply to SMU, so follow directions! Is it family ties? The opportunity to move from your busy city life on the East Coast to a smaller setting in Texas? The more specific you are, the better.