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How to Get In: University of California—Los Angeles Anderson School of Management

What can you do to set yourself apart in your application? Admissions officials have the answers.

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All parts of the UCLA Anderson community share a passion for collaboration and dynamism. This is a fast-moving city leading the culture, and our students set the pace by encouraging each other to learn ideas and take productive action. They also don't forget to have fun here on the west side, which is the best side of Los Angeles.

6. What do you look for in recommendation letters? How important is it that the letter's writer has worked regularly with the candidate in an office or school setting? Do you put much weight on letters from prominent public figures who may not know the applicant well?

Current direct supervisors are best placed to offer concrete examples of the candidate's leadership, inter-personal skills, and contributions to the organization. Ideally, the recommender "goes to bat" for the applicant, conveying value with passion and detail. We are more interested in the content of a recommendation than in the writer's own title or English. Cursory letters from distant contacts do not help make the applicant's case. Nor can professors usually answer in-depth questions on a student's leadership skills or managerial style.

Accordingly, we advise candidates to start with the recommendation information on our website and figure out who can answer the questions most effectively. The goal is to get a third-party confirmation of personal qualities shown over time, insights on achievements, and a vote of confidence for the future.

7. Can you give a brief description of the life cycle of an application? What's the timeline applicants should expect?

Our three rounds of applications provide submission deadlines in October, January, and April. Round 2 is always the most popular one, though we admit distinctive candidates from every round. Admissions decision releases follow about 10 weeks after each round's submission deadline. Interview invitations peak in the middle of each round as we pre-screen candidates for viability, then interviews diminish near decision release day.

Multiple admissions officers read each file, and passing them around is easier than ever now that our process is completely paperless. Reading applications on the iPad with Matchbox software means we can zoom in on candidates with greater speed and depth than ever before. This innovation came along just in time to help us with our big increase in M.B.A. applications, which are up more than 20 percent so far this year.

8. Which firms recruit heavily from your school? Which firms hire the highest percentage of your graduates?

The career boost that students get at UCLA Anderson often propels them to a whole new field, if not to a much higher level in their pre-M.B.A. industry. The school's strengths in diverse areas attract a broad range of employers, from consulting to finance to high tech to marketing firms (see below). Those who hire Anderson graduates consistently find them to be team leaders, master communicators, and agents of change. Many will become entrepreneurs with their own venture in the long term.

This year, our curriculum shifted to be even more market-facing, to deepen functional expertise faster, and recruiters keep responding enthusiastically to our students' abilities to hit the ground running.

Top hiring firms in 2010-2011: Amazon, Amgen, Applied Materials, Bank of America Merrill Lynch, Barclays Capital, Boston Consulting Group, Cisco Systems, Citi, Clorox, Credit Suisse, Deloitte Consulting, Deutsche Bank, eBay, Ernst & Young, FOX Entertainment, General Mills, Goldman Sachs, Google, Houlihan Lokey, IBM, Intel, Johnson & Johnson, LiveNation Ticketmaster, Mattel, McKesson, McKinsey & Co., Microsoft, Morgan Stanley, NBCUniversal, Nestlé USA, PIMCO, Paramount Pictures, PricewaterhouseCoopers, Roll International, Royal Bank of Canada, Salesforce, Samsung, Sony, Southern California Edison, Symantec, Toyota, Trust Company of the West, Walt Disney, Warner Bros., Yahoo!, and ZS Associates.

9. What are some of the most common mistakes that applicants make that hurt their chances of being accepted?