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CMU Tepper Essay Topic Analysis 2017-2018
Following up on the announcement of this year’s Tepper essay topics for the 2017-2018 admissions season, we wanted to offer some guidance on how to approach these prompts for candidates targeting the Carnegie Mellon University MBA Class of 2020.
The Tepper adcom this year has once again opened up the essay to a general introduction. Meanwhile, the optional essay allows candidates to cover any extenuating circumstances, and re-applicants to reflect on their growth.
2017-2018 CMU Tepper Essay Topic Analysis
Let’s take a look at each of this year’s Tepper essay prompts:
Imagine that you meet up with a member of the admission committee at an airport while on a layover. You have an opportunity to make a memorable impression. Use this essay to introduce yourself. Include any information that you believe is important for the committee member to know about you both professionally and personally. (Maximum 300-350 words, 12-point font, double-spaced)
While seemingly a blank canvas—albeit a small one at 300-350 words—this prompt can feel a bit daunting at first. The key is to impose a structure by determining which elements of your candidacy are most worthy of space. One approach could be to decide what theme or themes you wish to highlight and how those are evident in your professional and personal life. For instance, perhaps you are in brand management and not only turned around one of your client’s campaigns, but also supported a local organization in their fundraising efforts.
Another approach could cover the standard content of an admissions essay, including one’s career goals, professional history, interest in an MBA and personal interests or leadership. Because the adcom asks about you both professionally and personally, it would make sense to balance the content accordingly. Given the short length, you may only have the chance to summarize your career with an additional 1-2 sentences about a particularly meaningful or impressive professional achievement. Business leaders are also expected to have vision, so conveying your career plans and how an MBA from Tepper fits into that plan would also be wise to touch on. Then, an example of leadership in your community or your other personal interests could allow you to wrap this essay up with a connection to how you hope to continue pursuing those interests as a b-school student at Tepper.
The framing of the question—waiting in an airport—can invite a somewhat creative gateway to revealing more information about oneself. For instance, if you’ve been leading a project that’s involved international travel, the destination of your “flight” could allow you to introduce your cross-cultural business experiences. That said, given the short length of the essay, such creative flair should be kept to a minimum, as the adcom will be most interested in getting to know you on a personal and professional level.
- Use this essay to convey important information that you may not have been otherwise able to convey. This may include unexplained resume gaps, context for recommender selection, etc.
- If you are a re-applicant, explain how your candidacy has strengthened since your last application.
While there is no set word limit for this essay, it would be wise to keep this under 350 words, given the length of the required essay. Optional materials also create more work for the reader, so it’s important to keep that in consideration while being concise in one’s explanations.
For first-time applicants, this optional essay should be reserved for addressing potential liabilities in one’s application. Such discussions should be direct and to the point, providing an explanation and pointing to mitigating factors without being defensive or making excuses. This essay is optional, so should not be used if there are no issues to explain.
Meanwhile, reapplicants should detail the steps they have taken to become a stronger applicant and learn more about the Tepper MBA program since their last application. Candidates in this situation should comment on how they have spent the past year, taking particular care to highlight improved quantitative records, new professional skills and responsibilities, progress toward their ultimate career goals, and/or increased community involvement.
Clear Admit Resources
Thanks for reading our analysis of this year’s Tepper essay topics! As you work on your Carnegie Mellon MBA essays and application, we encourage you to consider all of Clear Admit’s CMU / Tepper offerings:
Posted in: Admissions Tips, Essay Topic Analysis, Essays
Schools: CMU / Tepper
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