As an MBA alumnus himself, Alex Lawrence knows exactly what to do if you want to be accepted into the UCLA Anderson family.
It’s a family, he says, with strong values. You really need to know the school when you apply—from its influential student government to its supportive alumni community.
UCLA Anderson’s enrolled 360 students for the MBA class of 2021 from around 2,800 applications. It has a 12.7% acceptance rate and an average class GMAT score of 719.
How can you stand out in the application process? We caught up with Alex, assistant dean and MBA admissions director, to find out.
What does UCLA Anderson look for?
Alex says good candidates will demonstrate how they have gone “above and beyond” in pretty much everything they have done, including at an undergraduate level.
Candidates who are, or have been, active participants within their community, classroom, and workplace stand out the most during the admissions process.
However, it isn’t enough to just be a member of a club or volunteer initiative. Alex wants candidates in leadership positions, who have sought more responsibility, dealt with challenging situations, or attempted to make a change that aligns with their own personal values.
He recounts an occasion where a group of students initiated a vote to introduce non-disclosure agreements, to hide their grades from prospective employers.
Anderson then agreed to implement this change—b-school is about more than getting good grades.
“We’re looking for those students who are fearless, who want to come in and make their own impact on the campus,” Alex explains. “We work with them to make sure the environment is much better off than when they came on the campus as a first-year student.”
Anderson’s three pillars
UCLA Anderson has three pillars that define it as an institution; drive, change, and shared success.
Shared success is the most important aspect for the Anderson family. During the MBA, students are put into learning environments where they have to rely on one another and collaborate in order to succeed.
Alumni are heavily involved within the campus too and Alex states that the faculty will be looking at how a potential MBA candidate will contribute to Anderson once they have graduated.
“As an alumnus or an alumna, how are you going to spread the Anderson brand worldwide?” he says. “That’s especially important for those candidates who may not stay in Los Angeles, and go back to their native country.”
The interview stage at UCLA Anderson isn’t as daunting as you might think. Alex explains that if you do get an interview with UCLA Anderson, you can expect a current student talking to you about your application, rather than an admissions director.
The interview should be a conversation, rather than an interrogation. This conversation will naturally flow as long as you know your application inside and out.
“If you know what you want to do with your MBA, showcase some knowledge, some level of effort and wisdom about the MBA, that’s going to go a long way to you getting a positive vote for admission,” says Alex.
While the admissions team want to get to know you, Alex stresses how much people at Anderson want you to get to know them too.
Forming connections during both your interview and campus visits—with faculty members, current students and alumni—will put you on the right path towards acceptance.
Doing this will also help you to find the appropriate research centers and identify the faculty members who will be critical for your success.
“We’re very open and transparent,” says Alex. “We travel all over the world, we host events in many of the major cities and all continents, except Antarctica.
“Take advantage of everything that we have to offer and get past your initial thoughts of what you think the Anderson MBA is, because I promise you, you will not be disappointed!”
UCLA Anderson Essay Questions:
First-time applicants must respond to one essay question and one short answer question.
Essay Question: Describe your short-term and long-term career goals. How can the UCLA Anderson experience add value to your professional development? (500 words maximum)
Short Answer Question: What are you passionate about and why? (300 words maximum)
Reapplicants, those who applied for the MBA program in the previous two years, must answer the following questions:
Please describe your career progress since you last applied and how you have enhanced your candidacy. Include information on short-term and long-term career goals, as well as your continued interest in UCLA Anderson. (750 words maximum)
Optional Question: Are there any extenuating circumstances in your profile about which the Admissions Committee should be aware? Please use your best judgment. (250 words maximum)