Tips For Your MBA Interview With An Alum

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Tips for Carnegie Mellon Tepper Essays

Last year, Carnegie Mellon University’s Tepper School of Business secured number 17 in our “Top Business Schools” ranking.

Gaining acceptance into Tepper is no easy task as the b-school is well-known for its prestigious programs and tight-knit community.

In her recent blog post, Stacy Blackman, of Stacy Blackman Consulting, broke down Tepper’s MBA essay prompts for 2020-21 offering tips on how applicants should address each question.


This year, Tepper asked applicants to answer the following required essay prompt: 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.)

Blackman says this prompt is an opportunity to discuss your fit at Tepper.

“CMU Tepper has a small and close-knit community,” Blackman writes. “Because this factor is so important, the only required question in this set of Tepper MBA essays is about your character as a person.”

It’s important, according to Blackman, to highlight experiences that have shaped who you are as a person.

“For instance, you could have faced personal challenges like poverty or family loss,” Blackman writes. “Or, you might have struggled in school or work. Most importantly, how did you overcome this adversity? This essay allows you to describe your past experiences.”


For its optional essay, Tepper asks applicants to answer the following: Is there anything else that you would like to share with the Admissions Committee as we evaluate your application? If you believe your credentials and essays represent you fairly, you should not feel obligated to answer this question. This essay is intended to provide a place for you to add information that you think is important but is not covered elsewhere in the application. This could include clarification of your employment or academic record, choice of recommenders or helpful context for the admissions committee in reviewing your application.

Blackman says the optional essay is to give you the space to explain any possible gaps in your application – whether academic or work experience related.

“Explain each issue clearly, and then describe how you have improved,” Blackman writes. “For example, perhaps you were unfocused during undergrad but have since made great strides professionally. Or, you faced layoffs or a struggling industry that created resume gaps, but you now have career focus. In each case, highlight the positive. Stay future-oriented and explain why the issue won’t be ongoing.”

Sources: Stacy Blackman Consulting, Poets & Quants

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