Category Archives: Chicago Booth Advice
August 2, 2013
Chicago Booth is consistently rated in the top echelon of MBA programs in the United States and is known for a strong intellectual community. This application is designed to evaluate candidates on their ability to …
Chicago Booth is consistently rated in the top echelon of MBA programs in the United States and is known for a strong intellectual community. This application is designed to evaluate candidates on their ability to handle the Chicago curriculum, contribute to the community, and grow in their careers. This year Chicago has discarded a longer essay on your career goals in favor of two short essays and the creative powerpoint presentation question.
Academic ability 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 open-ended creative presentation or essay confounds many candidates. Whether you choose to write an essay or prepare a four slide presentation, take a step back from the unique format and think about the question strategically. 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. Stacy Blackman Consulting has significant experience coaching applicants through the Chicago creative essay. Contact us to learn more about our strategic approach.
Short Answer Essays
Please respond to the following two essay prompts:
a. My favorite part of my work is… (250 words maximum)
This short answer essay is the only explicit inquiry about your career in this set of essays. It is notable that the essay question focuses on passions, not goals. For a question like that it’s important to distill your career aspirations and feelings about your work into a clear statement. Think about why you go to work everyday and the moments that inspire you at your job and in your career. Ideally your career passions hint at what drives you on a deeper level and fit with your personal and extracurricular pursuits as well.
b. I started to think differently when… (250 words maximum)
Chicago is a school with a tradition of intellectual rigor, and the second short answer essay focuses on how your thinking has evolved over time. This question gives you an opportunity to discuss something that has changed your thinking fundamentally. This could be an experience at work, home, or in an extracurricular activity. It could even be a travel experience or something that you saw someone else go through. For example, perhaps a trip to another country changed fundamentally your ideas about society and economics. Or watching a family member struggle with an illness convinced you that preserving health was a fundamental goal of your own life. Whatever the experience was, make sure you are able to succinctly describe it and the way it changed your thinking.
The Chicago experience will take you deeper into issues, force you to challenge assumptions, and broaden your perspective. In a four-slide presentation or an essay of no more than 600 words, broaden our perspective about who you are. Understanding what we currently know about you from the rest of the application, what else would you like us to know?
This creative essay offers you a blank slate 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 any aspects of leadership, teamwork and intellectual curiosity you have already presented in the previous essays, and where the gaps are. If you wrote about your professional experiences in prior essays, the presentation could focus on personal stories. If there wasn’t enough opportunity to outline your core career passions in your resume or other essays this could be a place to illuminate that detail.
If you decide to write an essay response, you have enough space to tell a story that describes something new about yourself. If you decide to prepare a power point in response to this essay question, refine your story to its key elements. Four slides is a limited amount of space to communicate a lot of detail. 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.
Reapplicant Question: Upon reflection, how has your perspective regarding your future, Chicago Booth, and/or getting an MBA changed since the time of your last application? (300 words maximum)
This reapplication essay question gives you the opportunity to focus on your thinking and development rather than any tangible changes you have made since you last applied. Of course, if you do have new accomplishments like a promotion or higher GMAT score that will be of significant value to your re-application. If you do not have any new hard changes to your profile this essay is an opportunity to show that you have done the work to evaluate your candidacy and have made changes this time around. The word reflection is explicit in the question, and the admissions committee will be looking for your thoughtful consideration of Chicago, your future and your MBA plans.
April 17, 2013
The waiting game at the end of round 3 is a nail-biter for MBA applicants, whether you’re hoping for an interview invitation or enduring a stretch on a waitlist. Joanna Zisis from the admissions team …
The waiting game at the end of round 3 is a nail-biter for MBA applicants, whether you’re hoping for an interview invitation or enduring a stretch on a waitlist. Joanna Zisis from the admissions team at Chicago Booth School of Business recently shared her tips to help nervous b-school candidates find some serenity during this time of great uncertainty.
1. What’s done is done.
“Don’t dwell on what you could have done better, how you should have included that alternate essay, second guess other offers you may have rejected, or agonize over getting into ”˜the one’,” says Zisis. Keep your eyes on what matters most – choosing a school where you will have a great experience (even if it wasn’t your first choice) and jump-start your future career, she adds. The goal is to focus on what you want your career and life to look like, not just for the next two years, but for the next ten years and beyond, she says.
2. Take care of business.
“Start thinking about how you will break the news to your employer and what strategies you will employ to do that gracefully,” Zisis counsels. She also recommends applicants begin researching the cities where their top business schools are located, and suggests applicants start putting away funds for those expenses. “Most importantly, analyze what you need to take care of at home before your transition begins,” she advises.
3. Cultivate your network.
“You’ve probably met a lot of people while on this MBA journey and that’s a good thing,” Zisis says. “No matter where you and your new acquaintances end up, this is the start of a network filled with like-minded people. Having access to people you met in the MBA search process will yield great friends, partners to exchange ideas with, or potential business colleagues for your entire career.”
4. Dream on.
“No matter what happens, life will go on ”“ and so should you. Keep doing the things you love to do, whether it’s running on the track or developing mobile apps. Start planning your summer as you would normally and make sure to allow time for travel, friends and family,” Zisis urges. “After all, preparing for business school is almost like a second job ”“ you deserve a break!”
Time will soon tell whether the future for R3 applicants will include b-school in the fall, or another year in the workforce. The key now is to try to find satisfaction in having managed the application process and all it entails, and focus on the many opportunities to get to know yourself better that this journey has provided.
March 8, 2013
With just about four weeks to go until the April 4th round three deadline, Kurt Ahlm, associate dean of student recruitment and admissions at Chicago Booth School of Business, took to the Booth Insider Blog …
With just about four weeks to go until the April 4th round three deadline, Kurt Ahlm, associate dean of student recruitment and admissions at Chicago Booth School of Business, took to the Booth Insider Blog Thursday to address some common questions—and concerns—that late-round applicants have.
While Round Three is more competitive due to fewer slots available, Ahlm notes they are still continuing to shape their class and are looking for applicants who would be vibrant additions to the Booth community. If you’re wondering whether it’s better to apply now or wait until next year, remember the advice of all programs: it’s better to apply when you can submit the best possible application.
The key is to submit an application that best represents who you are, and clearly communicates your goals for pursuing an MBA. The Admissions Committee can tell when an application has been rushed, says Ahlm, so take your time and make sure you have an application strategy in place that leverages each aspect of your application to tell your story.
“Don’t use the opportunity to reapply a few months later as a back-up plan,” Ahlm cautions.
Chicago Booth also calms concerns of international students in this post, explaining that there will be ample time to process visas for Round Three applicants. Applying earlier makes life easier, but since round three decisions are released in mid-May and orientation doesn’t begin until the first week of September, international students will have enough time to process their visas throughout the summer.
If Chicago Booth is one of your top choices, and you’ve put together a strong, thoughtful, and engaging application, then go for it, says Ahlm. “We are continually seeking those who exhibit a strong fit with Booth and who we believe will be active members within our community ”“ and those applicants apply in every round.”
If you’re looking for clear examples of how to address the essay questions, check out our Chicago Booth MBA essay tips post for guidance on how to successfully convey your professional and personal stories. And for insight into the interview process, read this recent post with advice from Chicago Booth interviewers.
February 13, 2013
Many blog posts offer interview tips from the admissions committee’s point of view, but today’s post from the Booth Insider blog at the Chicago Booth School of Business shares feedback straight from the Admissions Fellows …
Many blog posts offer interview tips from the admissions committee’s point of view, but today’s post from the Booth Insider blog at the Chicago Booth School of Business shares feedback straight from the Admissions Fellows who have or will soon conduct interviews with those lucky Round Two applicants.
Keep in mind that Admissions Fellows are second-year MBA students who have been chosen after a rigorous selection process to assist the Booth admissions committee in evaluating applications and interviewing for fit. They are people who, just two years ago, were in your shoes and know exactly where you’re coming from in this lengthy, often stressful process.
Through a series of quotes from ten Admissions Fellows, a few common threads emerge: be prepared; come with stories; strike a balance between professional and personable. It’s interesting to note that the advice given by each individual probably reflects the personality of the interviewer. For example, Juan says, “Relax! It is a conversation, not a job interview!”. I surmise that his interview style is pretty laid back and off the cuff.
Dane, on the other hand, reminds candidates to really prep for the interview with a friend to ensure you’ve eliminated excessive industry jargon that could cast doubts about your ability to communicate. This is solid advice that everyone should pay attention to, but one can likely imagine a more traditional interview experience with Dane.
My general preference is to interview with an alum or second-year, since it’s often a more relaxed exchange. But only you can know which option is the best fit for your personality style. In any scenario, it’s always good advice to try and develop a rapport with your interviewer. People tend to hire, or recommend, those with whom they’ve made a personal connection.
January 4, 2013
It seems some myths never die, particularly where MBA admissions are concerned. With that in mind, we bring you a new myth-busting post featuring Joanne Legler, associate director of admissions at the Chicago Booth School …
It seems some myths never die, particularly where MBA admissions are concerned. With that in mind, we bring you a new myth-busting post featuring Joanne Legler, associate director of admissions at the Chicago Booth School of Business, who frequently encounters misconceptions among prospective applicants while on the road. Here, Legler sets the record straight on everything from interviews, minimum test scores, letters of recommendation, and your chances in Round 3.
Applicants believe they must have five years of work experience and a minimum GPA and GMAT/GRE score to be considered for admission, but Legler says that’s simply not true. Like most schools, Chicago Booth takes a holistic approach to the evaluation process and has no minimum requirement for work experience. Chicago Booth urges applicants to apply when they feel ready, which might be after just a few years in the work force, or much later in their careers.
When it comes to the interview, MBA candidates think an interview with a staff member is different than one with a second-year student or alum. It’s true that no two interview experiences will be alike. However, Legler points out that anyone who interviews Booth applicants has been carefully trained, and every interview is blind, meaning your interviewer won’t have seen your application beforehand. The feedback, says Legler, is used equally in each and every case, regardless of who your interviewer may be.
Due to Chicago Booth’s reputation as a powerhouse in the fields of finance and consulting, some applicants fear they are at a disadvantage if they weren’t a business major or have work experience in other industries. “It’s not what you do that matters – it’s how you do it and the experience you’ll bring to the classroom and study groups,” Legler says, pointing out that 46 percent of students have a liberal arts or science background.
Another notion that’s really hard for applicants to shake is the urge to seek out “prestige recommenders”. In reality, it’s almost always a bad idea to seek out a recommendation from someone with an impressive title but little insight to offer regarding your individual merits as a candidate. Instead, look to a current or former supervisor, or a colleague, who can truly speak to your accomplishments and talent. In other words, choose your recommenders carefully, Legler cautions.
Lastly, the associate admissions director addresses the myth of whether being accepted in Round 3 is impossible. Obviously, the schools do accept candidates in the final round or there wouldn’t be one. But your competition is fierce as spaces are awarded in the class as the rounds progress. The best advice, says Legler, is to apply when you can turn in your absolutely strongest application. Even if that means waiting until the final round.
The round 2 deadline at Chicago Booth is coming up on Tuesday January 8th, so if you need last-minute application tips and information, read our section devoted to Chicago Booth advice.
December 19, 2012
For most people, the weeks before and after the new year are a time of merriment and a full calendar of socializing with family and friends. However, for Round 2 MBA applicants, this is likely “crunch time” as deadlines in early January loom.
Bruce DelMonico, assistant dean and director of admissions at the Yale School of Management, offers these tips for candidates hoping to put their best foot forward. His general advice addresses the importance of presenting yourself in a genuine way, rather than trying to package yourself as whatever mold you might imagine the admissions department is looking for. “Many applicants get tripped up trying to get inside our heads,” he says. “Don’t out-think yourself. Tell us about what you care about, not what you think we want to hear.”
Earlier this month on the Chicago Booth School of Business‘s MBA blog, associate dean Kurt Ahlm echoed a similar sentiment when he criticized some applicants’ tendency to focus on being remembered rather than authentic. By crafting an application that accurately reflects your past, aspirations and personality, you’ll naturally stand out. At the same time though, Ahlm reminds aspirants to not hold back when it comes to sharing details that will help the school understand your path and how you’ll contribute to the Booth community.
Meanwhile, Yale’s DelMonico urges applicants to be up front about their weaknesses. “Everyone has weaknesses,” he stresses. “We’ll see them, so you’re better off acknowledging them and incorporating them into your application than hoping we’ll miss them.” Make sure though that you don’t make the rookie mistake of trying to pass off being a perfectionist, or a workaholic, as your principal fault!
For Booth applicants still struggling with their essays, Ahlm advises spending a few weeks in self-reflection and doing some deeper thinking before sitting down to hammer out those answers. While acknowledging the fact that great essays can come in many forms, he says all have at least three elements in common:
Spark ”“ what gets you up in the morning? What do you love? How do you want to change? What motivates you in your career?
Clear goals ”“ try not to speak in generic statements and maybes. Make sure your goals make sense and are achievable. Do you understand the industry you are striving to work in? Have done your research?
Fit ”“ you have to know where Booth can fill in the gaps for you and what you can’t get anywhere else.
Yale SOM applicants who have already completed a first or second draft of their essays should take these next few weeks to proofread and polish to ensure that they are hitting all crucial points, advises DelMonico, who suggests asking a trusted friend or family member for feedback from a fresh pair of eyes.
Finally, both DelMonico and Ahlm recommend MBA hopefuls attend one of the informal social events over the holidays to further forge a connection with the b-school community you’re targeting. The various Yale Winter Break Socials and Chicago Booth Student-Hosted Winter Events around the globe are a great way to hear first-hand about the MBA experience and can only help you cement your decision of why your school of choice is the right fit for you.