Tuesday Tips – Northwestern Kellogg MBA Essay Tips

Fit is a crucial aspect to demonstrate in your Kellogg MBA application. The close knit community values leadership and teamwork. At the same time, diversity in experience, background and thought is valued among the developing leaders of Kellogg. Doing your research on the programs, activities, clubs, classes and professors at Kellogg will be important as you approach your essays. While you are reading and conversing with students and alumni, keep in mind how you envision your own background adding to the community. What will you bring to Kellogg and how will Kellogg take your career to the next level?

The advice we give in every application is also relevant to Kellogg: make sure to choose a range of experiences in your professional and community life for your essay topics. When approaching any MBA application essay, be as specific as possible in every example to authentically communicate your unique leadership and teamwork style.

Make sure to review the Kellogg MBA deadlines before starting your applications to make sure you have plenty of time to write and review your essays.

Essay #1
MBA Program applicants ”“ Briefly assess your career progress to date. Elaborate on your future career plans and your motivation for pursuing an MBA. (600 word limit)

Kellogg’s career goal essay remains the same as in previous years, and is a straightforward question. Since you have a fairly limited amount of space to explain your entire career path, focus on the high points. Rather than running down your entire resume of achievements, think about highlighting turning points or decisions. Consider your proudest accomplishments, and determine whether those stories are useful background for your career goals, or if they belong in Essay 2 or Essay 4.

As you describe your career background, describe the experiences that are most relevant to your future career plans. If you are a management consultant now and want to become an entrepreneur, what transferrable skills can you define and describe?

Having done your research on Kellogg MBA’s academics and resources will help you answer the question about your motivation to pursue a graduate degree at Kellogg. Choose specific classes, professors and programs that fit into your career goals. Think about clubs and conferences that are unique to the Kellogg MBA and will advance your career. Your motivation to pursue an MBA at Kellogg should also show that you are interested in being an active part of the community if possible.

MMM Program applicants ”“ Briefly assess your career progress to date. How do the unique characteristics of the MMM Program meet your educational needs and career goals? (600 word limit)
The Kellogg MMMprogram grants students both an MBA and MEM. The purpose is to teach applicants how to think holistically about product and business. The idea is to fuse technology and business and prepare candidates for careers in a new global economy. If you are applying to the MMM program, you’ll have to show how the MEM degree will prepare you more effectively for your career goals than the MBA alone. Be able to articulate what is unique about the Kellogg MMM program as compared to the MBA and other joint degrees. Know the classes you want to take, the professors you hope to work for, and how the MMM experience will be an asset in your future career.

Essay #2
Describe your key leadership experiences and evaluate what leadership areas you hope to develop through your MBA experiences (600 word limit)

The Kellogg MBA seeks to make “strong leaders stronger.” Therefore, you will want to demonstrate that you are a strong leader, and that a Kellogg MBA can make you stronger. Answering this question effectively requires a candid self evaluation. Think about your key strengths and development areas in the realm of leadership. When you look back at your key leadership experiences, what did they all have in common? Can you identify a particular behavior or approach you take in your leadership style? Are you directive, collaborative, or a teaching leader? When people choose to follow you, why do they do so? How do your friends and colleagues describe your leadership style? Sometimes referring to performance reviews at work can show how others view your strengths and weaknesses.

Once you know your own strengths as a leader, it’s easier to identify some areas for development. If you are great at motivating people, but not as strong in driving follow through and results, you might want to develop your directive qualities. If you are good at pushing results, yet alienate your team members, developing a consensus based leadership style may be worth your focus. Once you have identified your areas of growth, describe the specific Kellogg MBA resources to help you reach your own leadership potential.

Essay #3
Assume you are evaluating your application from the perspective of a student member of the Kellogg Admissions Committee. Why would you and your peers select you for admission, and what impact would you make as a member of the Kellogg MBA community? (600 word limit)

It’s important to note the subtle change in this question since three years ago, when the Kellogg MBA asked what “in your background, values, academics, activities and/or leadership skills [would] enhance the experience of other Kellogg MBA students” This list of potential areas that you might want to pull from can help guide any brainstorming. Also note that the Kellogg MBA is seeking candidates who will make an impact. What experiences in your past might demonstrate your ability to create impact in a community?

Doing your research is essential here. What will you contribute to the Kellogg MBA community? Investigating the activities, people and projects available at the Kellogg MBA will help you determine what you would like to be involved in. Once you determine what you are interested in participating in, you will want to clearly explain what you have to offer.

Your peers might be interested in: your ability to bring unique company or industry knowledge, attract interesting speakers to your club of interest, or manage teams in the classroom or in a club. Think about the attributes you can bring to the table and how you will drive value for the Kellogg MBA community.

Essay #4
Complete one of the following three questions or statements. (400 word limit)
Re-applicants have the option to answer a question from this grouping, but this is not required.

a) Describe a time you had to inspire a reluctant individual or group.
This behavioral question requires a very specific example to work effectively. The intention for this question is to see an example of a past experience that indicates how you will behave in the future, potentially when you must inspire a lackluster team or colleague at Kellogg and in your future career. You will want to choose an example of a time when you were ultimately successful in achieving your goals and/or learned a valuable skill in motivating others. Make sure you include details about exactly what you did and said to address the situation.

b) People may be surprised to learn that I”¦.
An open ended question that is ideal for any differentiating factor. If you are a typical Indian IT applicant who actually grew up in France on a vineyard, this is the place to discuss it! Think about what aspects of your background that might be interesting, unique, and surprising in the context of the information you have already shared in this set of essays. Do not forget your overall application strategy, whatever topic you choose should be relevant to your story.

c) The riskiest personal or professional decision I ever made was”¦..

Risks sometimes lead to great rewards”¦ and sometimes they don’t. For this essay you can choose either a risk that worked out, or one that didn’t. The key part to highlight in your response is why you made the decision and what inspired you to take the risk. It will be illuminating to know what you consider risks to be (in your personal or professional life) and your process for determining whether to take a risk. While the outcome is less important than the process, describing what happened as a result of your risk is usually a good closure for this essay.

Required essay for re-applicants only ”“ Since your previous application, what steps have you taken to strengthen your candidacy? (400 word limit)
When determining how to strengthen your reapplication, you likely improved aspects like GMAT score, formulated an alternative transcript or become more involved in extracurricular activities. Whatever advances you have made since the last time you applied, make sure you can clearly explain what you did and how it makes you a stronger candidate. Think beyond the benefits in the MBA application to how your progress rounds out your experience. For example, an improved GMAT score could have helped you brush up on your quant or verbal skills to be more prepared for demanding MBA classes.

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