July 10, 2018

UCLA Anderson School of Management MBA Short Answer Question

UCLA Anderson

Anderson Short Answer Question

What are you passionate about and why? (300 words maximum)

Sound familiar? It’s kinda similar to Stanford’s “What matters most to you and why” no? Or any number of other “goals essays”? Well, we dig distinctions, however small, so let’s have at it.

Something you’re passionate about generally implies that you’re leaning forward… in spite of yourself. Or, put differently, stuff you’re passionate about tends to be stuff you remain committed to, in the face of obstacles or other inconveniences. Consider this hypothetical:

You really really like New York City and you’re so-so about San Francisco. You get a job offer in NYC for $150,000 per year doing … whatever. And for the exact same job, exact same role, suppose another company offers you 1.5M per year… in San Francisco.

Probably, you’d move to San Fran and earn 10x what you would have earned in NYC, right?


You were so PASSIONATE about NYC, and so dispassionate about SF that the significant bump in salary did NOT deter you. It’s a neat test to expose where you’re REALLY passionate. What stuff would you NOT LET GO OF, even if someone offered you a LOT OF MONEY to do so? Chances are the thing that transcends dollar bills is something you’re genuinely passionate about. The “no matter what happens, as long as I’m experiencing ABC, or having XYZ impact, my soul is in a good place” thing in your life. Give that a think, what remains?

Another (fairly related) way to think about it is… what would you still do, even if you earned VERY LITTLE MONEY (or even NO MONEY) doing it? That is usually a fantastic indicator. Many things masquerade as “passions” but when the money (or some equivalent material reward) goes so too does the supposed passion. It’s the stuff that has an infinite shelf-life, regardless of material reward, that tends to define what you’re most passionate about.

In 300 words, you’re gonna aim for two, maybe three paragraphs. Here are two versions:

Whether it’s two or three paragraphs, make sure to hit both of these:

Number 1: Sell us on the passion. Explain how it came to be. Prove it to us through examples. We’re looking for tangible things we can see and taste and feel, stuff that demonstrates your passion through actions, decisions, attitudes, behaviors, reactions, etc.

Number 2: Give us a reason to care. Tell us not just why you care about this so much, but also your plans in the space and why being passionate about this … matters. Why should the adcom care? What will the impact be for everyone else?

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