Tuesday Tips – Chicago Booth Essay Tips

The updated Chicago Booth essay questions have been posted with commentary from Admissions. Chicago Booth Business School evaluates candidates on three core elements: Curriculum, Community and Career. Curriculum refers to your demonstrated academic ability, and will largely be communicated through your GPA/GMAT, transcripts and other fixed data points, though intellectual curiosity can be demonstrated in essays and the interview. Community focuses on your demonstrated leadership, team building skills and community involvement, as well as your fit with Chicago Booth and the perspective you will share with your classmates. All MBA candidates are ultimately looking for a degree that will enhance their career. Chicago Booth wants to know about your track record of success, expectations for the MBA, and plans for the future.

Chicago Booth’s famous power point question is back this year, and confounds many candidates. Take a step back from the unique format and think about the question as if it was an essay. The power point format simply gives you the freedom to express that answer in words, images, graphics or some combination. The best presentations will be simple, evocative and expressive. Remember, content is far more important than creativity of presentation.

Chicago Booth 2010-2011 essay questions
1. The Admissions Committee is interested in learning more about you on both a personal and professional level. Please answer the following (maximum of 300 words for each section):
a. Why are you pursuing a full-time MBA at this point in your life?
b. Define your short and long term career goals post MBA.
c. What is it about Chicago Booth that is going to help you reach your goals?
d. RE-APPLICANTS ONLY: Upon reflection, how has your thinking regarding your future, Chicago Booth, and/or getting an MBA changed since the time of your last application?

These three short essays make up your entire career goals essay. As you explain what your goals are and incorporate your background into that discussion, make sure you describe both why you made the choices you did, and think about why you didn’t make other choices. Self-awareness about your career and goals will go far to distinguish you in this essay.
Why Chicago Booth and Why Now are explicitly asked this year. Think about the specific classes and programs at Chicago Booth that appeal to you. Are you looking for flexible program? International experiences? How will these aspects of the program fit with your future career goals?
If you are reapplying, make sure you have done the work to evaluate your candidacy and have made changes this time around. Reflecting upon why you want to go to Chicago Booth and the MBA process will certainly be part of that work. This is your opportunity to show the adcomm why Chicago is a great fit for your and your refined career goals.

2. Chicago Booth is a place that challenges its students to stretch and take risks that they might not take elsewhere. Tell us about a time when you took a risk and what you learned from that experience (maximum of 750 words).

This situational essay question is seeking to understand how you think about risk, and what you do in a situation that challenges you. Though the admissions committee says there is endless latitude about the type of risk you describe, it will be useful to you’re your story based on the entire application strategy you have mapped out. What are the personal qualities you want to highlight in this set of essays? Do you have a story from work that can also demonstrate teamwork or leadership, or is this essay an opportunity to showcase your activities outside of work.
While your risk does not have to be something that ultimately paid off, it should be a situation that was defining for you, taught you a valuable lesson or otherwise can reveal a bit about how you think, act and approach life.
Spend a significant amount of time in this essay describing how you felt, what you said, and what you did. Be truthful and introspective here.

Slide Presentation
3. At Chicago Booth, we teach you HOW to think rather than what to think. With this in mind, we have provided you with “blank pages” in our application. Knowing that there is not a right or even a preferred answer allows you to demonstrate to the committee your ability to navigate ambiguity and provide information that you believe will support your candidacy for Chicago Booth.

The power point is back, though the question has changed. This time Chicago Booth offers you “blank pages” that will allow you to express yourself with any content you choose. When approaching the question focus first on content, and then on delivery.
This is the ideal opportunity to bring in any aspect of your overall story that does not fit in any other essay. Think about the aspects of leadership, team work and intellectual curiosity you have already presented in the previous essays, and where the gaps are. If you wrote about a professional situation in essay 2, consider a personal or community story in essay 3.
To present the content effectively in a power point or pdf slide, refine your story to its key elements. Four slides is limited space to communicate a lot of detail, and you are discouraged from simply pasting an essay into the slides. Can you use photos? Drawings? If you use words, keep them clear and focused. Take every point up a level, so you are communicating a vision rather than a thesis.

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To see our Chicago Booth School of Business Essay Guide for MBA Applications, click here.

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