Carnegie Mellon University’s Tepper School of Business ranks amongst the top business schools in the US. The school’s numerous MBA programs provide students with great flexibility to create their own unique MBA journeys.

For applicants that are in their final year of undergraduate school in the US, Tepper also has a deferred MBA program. The school encourages these future MBAs to fill in the application now and attend school once they have had professional experience in their favoured line of work. These students have a different application process and MBA essays.

Short answer question (150 words): What are your post-undergraduate career plans? What company are you joining? What will be your role?

Essay question (350-500 words): Why is our Tepper Future Business Leaders format a good fit for your MBA program?

However, we won’t be discussing the deferred MBA program at Tepper today. Our focus is on the Tepper MBA Application essays for the full-time MBA program at Tepper.

Let’s jump into the essay questions and tips on how you should be approaching them.

Tepper School of Business MBA Application Essays

The Tepper community is dynamic and unique. Each community member’s individual journey has shaped them into classmates who are collaborative, supportive, and inclusive. Describe how you have overcome adversity during your journey. What did you learn about yourself and how has that shaped who you are? (Maximum 350-500 words.)

Your MBA essay answers might seem standalone answers to various prompts, but they are not. Every answer adds up to become the story of your journey to an MBA. this Tepper question is asking you to share another part of your story.

This part of your story needs to talk about the challenges you have faced and the growth they have been the catalyst to.

The truth is, a challenge is one of the most important things in life. It makes you rethink and re-evaluate your purpose, priorities, and actions. When faced with a challenge, the only option one has to come out of it successfully is growth. Those who don’t choose growth end up succumbing to the challenge itself.

This is why the admissions committee at Tepper is interested in knowing about how you have overcome adversity in your life and how it has shaped you. Your thought process and decision making during a difficult situation reveal a lot about your mentality.

In addition, MBAs are known as the problem solvers of the workforce. While their job roles might differ across industries and functions, their main purpose is to troubleshoot and make operations smoother at an organization.

Write down the challenges you faced that affected you the most. Did your family have a weak financial background? Did you have a learning disability? Also remember, adversity doesn’t necessarily have to be external. If you have struggled with something internally, but it was one of the most life-altering things, sharing the same would also elicit a great response from the school since the narration will be authentic.

We also ask you a question about your post-MBA career goal as well as an alternative goal as a plan B. Tepper MBAs believe in being prepared!

We know that you have a lot to tell us but to keep it fair, your answers are limited to 150 words.

  1. What is your professional goal immediately following graduation from Tepper?
  2. What other role would you consider? In other words, what is your Plan B?

With thousands of MBA applicants applying to Tepper every year, it is no more about the perfect scores or essays. The school has had to forgo amazing applicants in the previous year as the MBA class got full. Rejection is a reality.

Tepper’s admissions committee doesn’t want a saga about how school is the only path to your dreams. They want to have students that are ambitious but also prepared for things to go south.

The previous essay prompt is also a good indicator of this fact.

As this prompt comes in two parts, let’s address both of them separately.

1. This is your standards career goals essay. Here you need to talk about what your post-MBA plan is. And you can’t be vague about it. Don’t talk about wanting to “hold a leadership position at a Venture Capital firm”. Instead, be specific in your approach to your post-MBA goals. Having a clear plan shows commitment and research done by an applicant. Along with the job role, and industry, mention the firm you would like to be working at.

Choose a firm that recruits at Tepper. Here is a list of recruiting partners at Tepper School of Business. If the firm you want to work at post-MBA doesn’t recruit at Tepper, it might discourage the admissions committee from moving you onto the interview stage. If the business school can’t place you after you graduate from their MBA class, they are more likely to not take a risk on you.

2. This is a trickier question to navigate. Not many business schools ask MBA students for their Plan B. Those that pose this question generally ask students what they would do if they got rejected. However, Tepper doesn’t add this condition. They simply ask the applicant what role they would choose if their initial plan doesn’t work out.

To answer this question don’t have a drastically different Plan B. For example, if your Plan A was to join a Venture Capital firm, don’t select an HR role for your Plan B. Go for something similar to Venture Capital. In this particular scenario, you could choose a career in Private Equity or even Management Consulting as they provide a growth option into Venture Capital.

Do deep research into your post-MBA goals to answer this prompt. Talking to an MBA graduate that is currently in your Plan A job could also help you understand the job roles and industries that feed into your Plan A.

There also is an optional essay for additional information about your candidacy that you may wish to share with the admissions committee. Use this essay to convey important information that you may not have otherwise been able to convey. This may include unexplained resume gaps, context for recommender selection, etc. However, do not feel obligated to complete the optional essay.

Are you a re-applicant? Use the optional essay to explain how your candidacy has strengthened since your last application.

As the Tepper admissions committee says, do not feel obligated to answer this optional essay.

The Tepper admissions committee is interested in getting to know prospective students. Sometimes, they meet applicants who have amazing stories and are a great fit for Tepper’s community but lack in certain areas in their MBA profile. This is the space for such applicants.

If your MBA profile has any clear liabilities, like a low GMAT/GRE, below-average GPA as per Tepper, low work experience, use this space to address them. While addressing the shortcomings in your MBA profile, keep in mind that the Tepper admissions committee does not expect you to be a perfect candidate. They will be willing to look over a below-average GMAT score if you have other coursework that makes up for it.

As you address the liability in your MBA profile, keep it simple. Layout the facts of the situation, share the reason behind the liability without playing the victim or transferring blame and end on a high note by pointing out other factors from your profile that dampen the significance of the liability.
As you might have deduced from the essay prompt, re-applicants need to use this optional essay space differently.

Since Tepper rejected you in the previous application cycle, what were the steps you took to improve your profile? On being rejected or waitlisted and then rejected, students can reach out to the school admissions committee and ask for pointers to strengthen their profiles. If you did not take this step not all hope is lost.

You can still detail all the initiatives you undertook this year to become a better fit for Tepper. Whether it’s professional or personal growth, this essay is the perfect place to mention it.

If you took steps towards your post-MBA goals it would show further commitment to them and highlight the need for an MBA.

Just remember to keep your essay concise. Following a general word-limit of 300-400 words could be good as this essay prompt doesn’t provide any word-limits.

Further Reading:

The Best Executive MBA Programs in the World and How to Crack Them?

Getting a Top MBA in Switzerland | Everything You Need To Know

How to get into Kelley School of Business | Indiana University?

How MBA Applicant cracked 6 Top MBA Programs with a GMAT 660?

MBA in 2021: MBA World in the Post Covid-19 Reality

How to Get Top MBA Scholarships Despite a Low GMAT Score

What do Top Business Schools look for in MBA Applicants?

What do Top Business Schools look for in MBA Applicants?