Top Business School Rejects Applicants for Essay Plagiarism: A Top Consultant’s View

Posted By SWatts on Feb 7, 2012 |

If you have not heard about this recent story regarding UCLA Anderson School of Management’s decision to reject applicants recently due to admissions essay plagiarism, you should read up! The Anderson School now checks essay content using anti-plagiarism software from Turnitin, which can check essay content with text in an extensive archive of written work. Stanford is also doing the same now, reportedly. You can expect that many other business schools will follow suit.

We all know that MBA admissions is highly competitive and that outstanding essays are a key part of an effort to gain admission to the top business schools, many of which admit only 15% of all applicants. But, don’t be tempted to plagiarize! Also, if you are using an admissions consultant, make sure that YOU write your essays, not the consultant. You don’t want to question where the content came from.

I agree with Anderson: plagiarism is wholly unacceptable. Indeed, when I was a professor at Harvard, I had a student kicked out of graduate school for turning in a plagiarized paper to me. I have zero tolerance for such matters, and I affirm any graduate school that also has a zero tolerance policy.

Happily, it is believed that only 1-2% of applicants to business school might be plagiarizing content for their essays. But if you are found by a business school to be in that number, you will not likely have another viable shot for admission to the particular business school in question. Business schools take your ethics seriously, and one particular weakness most candidates cannot work around when applying to a top business school is a disciplinary mark on their record for cheating or plagiarizing. A business school does not want to think that in a few years they will open the Wall St. Journal to read that one of their graduates was caught for some egregious business scandal. That is damaging to their brand. They will seek instead to weed out any candidate they think has questionable ethics. So, take care as you compose your MBA admissions essays: don’t plagiarize! If you use someone else’s words, like a quote, use quotation marks and attribute the words to the relevant person.

Here is the link below to the article about this:,0,2954802.story

Good luck in your admissions process!

Best wishes,
Dr. Shellely Watts (“Dr. Shelle”)