Category Archives: Chicago Booth Advice

MBA Myth-Busting at Chicago Booth

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.

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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.

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Round 2 MBA Advice From Chicago Booth and Yale SOM

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 …

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.

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Three Application Tips from Chicago Booth

If you are contemplating applying to the Chicago Booth School of Business, here are just a few items to focus on when crafting your application package. According to a recent Business Because interview with Danielle …

If you are contemplating applying to the Chicago Booth School of Business, here are just a few items to focus on when crafting your application package.

According to a recent Business Because interview with Danielle Foster, associate director of admissions at Chicago Booth as of October 2011, applicants would do well to study her top three tips for impressing the MBA admissions team.

Tip #1:  Be Authentic

Don’t try to sell the admissions committee on an idealize image of the perfect b-school candidate. Considering the thousands of applications that come across their desks each year, it’s safe to assume their baloney detectors are finely honed! “We are very transparent at Booth and we appreciate applicants who are able to do the same on their application,” Foster says. Just be true to yourself and tell your own unique story.

Tip #2:  Do Your Research!

In addition to doing a lot of soul-searching to determine why you want to pursue an MBA, and why now is the time to do so, you must convey to the admissions committee why X program is the best fit for your career goals, learning style, etc. Culture and fit are two very important aspects of an MBA program, and truly do vary from school to school.

Foster says the admissions team values applicants who can demonstrate a clear understanding of Chicago Booth culture, and can describe how it is a mutual fit.

Tip #3: Pay Attention to Those Essay Questions

The temptation to cut-and-paste essays from one school to another is a strong one, and in some cases you may be able to judiciously recycle certain examples that support specific attributes or situations. However, Foster notes that often applicants miss the mark on answering the question actually asked in the essay set.

“We may receive a great essay, but if it is not answering the question, you have missed an opportunity to showcase your skills and talents,” says Foster.

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If you’re looking for clear examples of how to address the essay questions, check out our recent Chicago Booth MBA essay tips post for guidance on how to successfully convey your professional and personal stories.

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Tuesday Tips: Chicago Booth MBA Application Example

Today, we’re going to provide insight into the admissions process by discussing an MBA application example. The updated Chicago Booth Essay Questions are posted for this admissions season, along with the deadlines. The overall goal …

Today, we’re going to provide insight into the admissions process by discussing an MBA application example. The updated Chicago Booth Essay Questions are posted for this admissions season, along with the deadlines. The overall goal of this application is to evaluate candidates on their ability to handle the Chicago curriculum, contribute to the community, and grow in their careers. We hope the following MBA application example will be of help.

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 power point example question is back this year, and confounds many candidates. This year you have the opportunity to write an essay rather than preparing a power point presentation. Either way, 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.

1 – MBA Application Example Essay
What are your short- and long-term goals, and how will an MBA from Chicago Booth help you reach them? (500 words)

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? (300 words)

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 goals will go far to distinguish you in this essay.

When you address how a Chicago Booth MBA will help you reach your short and long-term goals, 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. The word reflection is explicit in the question, and the admissions committee will be looking for your revised thinking as well as any new accomplishments you can describe. This is your opportunity to show the admissions committee why Chicago is a great fit for you and your refined career goals.

2 – MBA Application Example Short Answer Essays
a. What has been your biggest challenge, and what have you learned from it? (200 words maximum)
b. Tell us about something that has fundamentally transformed the way you think. (200 words maximum)

New this year to the Chicago Booth application are two brief questions that require focus. We’re going to discuss this Booth MBA application example short essay. With only 200 words to address question one, you will need to present your example of the challenge very quickly and then use some of the space to talk about what you learned. This question provides an opportunity to demonstrate your maturity, flexibility and leadership qualities. As you consider what to write about, think about challenges that taught you something about yourself and provided insight into your decisions about career and life.

Chicago is a school with a tradition of intellectual rigor, and the second short answer 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.

3 – MBA Application Example Presentation/Essay
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 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 the 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 the prior essays, essay three could focus on personal stories.

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.

We hope this MBA application example was of help. Struggling with your Chicago Booth MBA essays? Stacy Blackman Consulting can help – contact us to learn more.

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Chicago Booth Waitlist Update

Waitlisted candidates at the Chicago Booth School of Business may be feeling some uncertainty regarding the next steps in the process right about now.  Associate Director of Admissions Carrie Lydon urges such applicants to take …

Waitlisted candidates at the Chicago Booth School of Business may be feeling some uncertainty regarding the next steps in the process right about now.  Associate Director of Admissions Carrie Lydon urges such applicants to take heart—the waitlist is a good place to be, she says—and attempts to clarify matters while highlighting some changes Booth has made to the process this year.

In the latest update to the MBA admissions blog, Lydon reveals that the school has introduced a waitlist enrollment form which allows candidates to immediately opt in or out of the waitlist. “This allows you to decide what is best for you,” Lydon says, “and helps us better understand who is genuinely interested in remaining on the waitlist.” The enrollment form isn’t binding and you can withdraw from it at any time by emailing admissions@chicagobooth.edu.

Those candidates who accept a place on the waitlist will have their application considered for admission again in Round 2 and will receive an updated decision on March 21, 2012, the final decision date for that round. Most applicants will hear a definitive answer by that point, though it’s possible to remain on the waitlist through Round 3, Lydon notes.

Chicago Booth invites candidates to submit relevant updates regarding their candidacy should these additional materials provide insight into their qualifications and strength of fit with the school. Another new, optional feature this year is the ability to upload a 90-second video for the admissions committee.

“In the age of digital media, we recognize that video is a common tool of communication, and want to provide any interested candidate with the opportunity to use it,” Lydon explains. This medium is ideal for candidates who would like to create a personal connection in lieu of visiting campus, and is completely open in terms of content.

While the waitlist may be a frustrating place to be, applicants should view it as a positive sign of the strength of their application. With patience, such candidates may be fortunate enough to receive final admission from their chosen program.

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Tuesday Tips: Chicago Booth MBA Essay Tips

The updated Chicago Booth Essay Questions are posted for this admissions season, along with the deadlines . The admissions committee has provided some tips to make sure you approach the questions as they would prefer. …

The updated Chicago Booth Essay Questions are posted for this admissions season, along with the deadlines . The admissions committee has provided some tips to make sure you approach the questions as they would prefer. The overall goal of this application is to evaluate you on clear criteria around your ability to handle curriculum, contribute to the community, and your career potential. 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 2011-2012 essay questions
Essay One: What are your short and long-term goals, and how will a Chicago Booth MBA help you reach them? (600 words)

Re-applicant Essay:
Upon reflection, how has your thinking regarding your future, Chicago Booth, and/or getting an MBA changed since the time of your last application? (300 words)

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.

When you address how a Chicago Booth MBA will help you reach your short and long-term goals, 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. The word reflection is explicit in the question, and the admissions committee will be looking for your revised thinking as well as any new accomplishments you can describe. This is your opportunity to show the adcomm why Chicago is a great fit for you and your refined career goals.

Essay Two:
At Chicago Booth, we believe each individual has his or her own leadership style. How has your family, culture, and/or environment influenced you as a leader? (750 words)

This question is the ideal place to describe what sets you apart from every other applicant, and to address the “community” part of the Chicago Booth Criteria. Leadership is often a result of your own personality and background. Think about your early experiences that may have shaped the way you approach leading others. If you have worked or lived across cultures that is always a strong leadership attribute that could be described. If your experiences have been more typical, think about what your family and cultural background has contributed to your approach in key interpersonal situations.

Leadership is very much about self-awareness and your relationship to others. If you can provide one or two examples that clearly show your own leadership style and how it was forged, this essay will be successful.

Slide Presentation
Essay Three:
Considering what you’ve already included in the application, what else should we know about you? In a maximum of four slides, tell us about yourself.

The power point question 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 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 your professional leadership 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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