Category Archives: Northwestern Kellogg Advice

Tuesday Tips – Kellogg MBA Essay Tips

Tuesday Tips addresses the new Kellogg MBA questions for the 2009-2010 application season.

Fit is a crucial aspect to demonstrate in your Kellogg MBA application. The close knit community values leadership and teamwork. To understand what Kellogg offers to prospective students, note the areas of excellence demonstrated in the academic program, from Marketing to Finance. As Kellogg MBA’s Dean Dipak C. Jain explains, the Four Pillars are “instrumental in advancing the Kellogg MBA’s dual mission of creating knowledge and producing socially responsible global leaders, The Four Pillars ”” intellectual depth, experiential learning, global mindset and values/people skills ”” [provide] our students with the balanced tools to succeed at the top levels of any organization.”

As you determine your application strategy for this set of Kellogg MBA essays, think about how the Kellogg MBA community reflects your own background and goals. In addition, make sure to choose a range of experiences in your professional and community life. When approaching any MBA application essay, be as specific as possible in every example to authentically communicate your unique leadership and teamwork style.

Essay #1
MBA Program applicants ”“ Briefly assess your career progress to date. Elaborate on your future career plans and your motivation for pursuing a graduate degree at the Kellogg MBA program. (600 word limit)

The Kellogg MBA career goals essay takes a standard approach, asking for your past experiences, your future goals, and how the Kellogg MBA program fits into your plans. Since you have a fairly limited amount of space to explain your entire career path, focus on the high points. When did you face a turning point or make a big decision about your career? What were some of your proudest accomplishments?

As you describe your career background, keep in mind any aspects that will relate to your future career plans. If you are a management consultant now and want to become an entrepreneur, what have you learned and experienced that will help you with those plans?
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 the Kellogg MBA program. Choose specific classes, professors and programs that fit into your career goals. Think about clubs and conferences that are unique to the Kellogg MBA program and will advance your career.

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

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?

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. Whatever your own unique approach, determine what you could use a little bit of help with and 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 MBA Admissions Committee. Why would your peers select you to become a member of the Kellogg MBA community? (600 word limit)

It’s important to note the subtle change in this question since last year, when the Kellogg MBA program asked what “in your background, values, academics, activities and/or leadership skills [would]l enhance the experience of other Kellogg MBA students” While you have more latitude this year in answering the question, it may help to refer to this list for brainstorming ideas.

Doing your research is essential here. What will you contribute to the Kellogg MBA community? Investigating the activities, people and projects available at Kellogg 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 when you had to make an unpopular decision.
This question requires a very specific example to work effectively. The decision could be one that had ethical or moral implications, or perhaps demonstrated your courage and tenacity. It could be a decision you made at work or in an extracurricular setting. Whatever the story, make sure it demonstrates core attributes you want to communicate to the admissions committee. Though you are only asked to describe the decision, a satisfying result to your decision would be welcome to conclude the essay.

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) I wish the admissions committee had asked me”¦”¦

This is a great question to help you fill in any gaps in your application strategy. What did you want to communicate to the admissions committee and weren’t able to in any other essay? Here’s your chance. You may want to use this space to highlight special leadership or teamwork examples or to differentiate yourself from your peers. Whatever topic you choose, make sure you can compose a concise and specific example and outline your own thinking and motivation.

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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Tuesday Tips: Kellogg MBA Essay Tips

Kellogg MBA’s set of three required questions and the choice of two short answers are slightly different from last year, and are clearly focused on understanding how you work with and lead others. The tight …

Kellogg MBA’s set of three required questions and the choice of two short answers are slightly different from last year, and are clearly focused on understanding how you work with and lead others.

The tight knit Kellogg MBA community has resulted in a culture that values leadership and teamwork.  In evaluating candidates for the MBA program, fit is crucial.  You will want to research the program thoroughly and network with students and applicants to understand how you uniquely fit with the Kellogg MBA model.

In choosing topics for this set of Kellogg MBA essays, choose a range of experiences in your professional and community life.  If you work in a career that is more individualistic, choose examples that demonstrate your behavior in a group environment.  When approaching any MBA application essay, be as specific as possible in every example to authentically communicate your unique leadership and teamwork style.

For questions 1-3, please limit responses to 2 pages.

Essay One (required): Briefly assess your career progress to date.  Elaborate on your future career plans and your motivation for pursuing a graduate degree at the Kellogg MBA program.

This is a standard career goal essay for the Kellogg MBA program. Note that the question implies a fairly brief discussion of your past, and to focus most of your response on your goals and why the Kellogg MBA program is the right place to pursue your MBA. Clarifying your goals and why an MBA is necessary for them will be crucial to beginning your communication with adcom about your candidacy. Another important aspect to notice about this question is the word “assess” which suggests a desire to see your self awareness about your own career progress to date.

Approach this essay in the same way you would approach other career goals essays (Columbia Business School and Wharton Business School’s essays are very similar, for instance). Clearly articulate where you have been and explain any confusing twists and turns in your background. Discuss your goals and why your goals are meaningful to you. Demonstrate self awareness about where you have been, where you are going, and what you have learned along the way.

Essay Two (required):  Describe how your background, values, academics, activities and/or leadership skills will enhance the experience of other Kellogg MBA students.

This question is a gift for all of those applicants who need to differentiate themselves from the rest of the application pool. To accomplish your goal of standing out, highlight your unique qualities with a few well chosen and specific examples. At the same time, the Kellogg MBA values community and teamwork, and you will need to answer the second part of the question about enhancing the experience of other Kellogg MBA students. Think about what your unique skills, background and values can contribute to the Kellogg MBA community, and communicate these benefits through specific knowledge of the Kellogg program and culture.

In researching this question and the career goals essay, student and applicant blogs are a great informal resource.

Essay Three (required): Describe your key leadership experiences and evaluate what leadership areas you hope to develop through your MBA experience.

This classic “leadership essay” asks you to look back on a few key experiences in your leadership development, and to further discuss what areas you plan to work on while at the Kellogg MBA program. Though the question is open ended, it will be most effective to limit your key leadership experiences to two or three, and show a range of personal qualities and settings for the experiences. Two professional and one community service example would be a great way to highlight your leadership outside of work. Leadership can demonstrate itself in many ways, and this is also an opportunity for you to reflect on your own individual leadership style and communicate it to the adcom.

Question Four: Applicants must answer 2 of the below essays.  (Re-applicants must answer question 4D and 1 other essay).  Please keep responses to two paragraphs.

The focus of these questions indicates that the Kellogg MBA program is interested in knowing more about your interpersonal skills. Both 4A and 4C focus on how you interact with others, and 4B is completely open ended, leaving you the opportunity to cover any aspects of your background, experiences and personal qualities you still need to demonstrate.

4A – Describe a time when you had to motivate a reluctant individual or group.

This is a great essay to communicate your maturity and self awareness, as well as how you interact with others and solve problems. If you do not directly manage an individual or team, you have likely encountered a team based example that would be great for this question. The essay length is very short, which will require a concise example that leaves plenty of space to be extremely specific about what you did to motivate the individual or group, and the outcome of your efforts.

4B – I wish the Admissions Committee had asked me”¦..

You can have fun with this question, use it to address any areas of concern in your application (low undergraduate GPA, etc.) or simply express another aspect of your candidacy. Be careful if you are applying to multiple MBA programs and are tempted to “recycle” an essay from another school’s application ”“ such attempts are usually incredibly transparent!

4C – What do others admire about you?

The trick with this essay is to talk about what others admire in you without demonstrating arrogance. One way to be convincing is to be as specific as possible with examples to back up your assertions.

4D – For re-applicants only:
Since your previous application, what are the steps you’ve taken to strengthen your candidacy?

If you are a re-applicant to the Kellogg MBA program this year, you will be required to answer this question. Focus on very concrete steps you have taken to address any weaknesses in your application profile (GPA, GMAT or work experience) as well as any self improvement activities that can demonstrate your teamwork and leadership skills. Think about any aspects of your improved candidacy that will make you a contributing member of the Kellogg MBA community.

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More Advice From The Kellogg MBA And Chicago Booth

The Kellogg MBA and Chicago Booth admissions representatives were extremely forthcoming with their advice last week during the Manhattan GMAT panel, so we wanted to share some more of their tips. First, both representatives emphasized being yourself …

The Kellogg MBA and Chicago Booth admissions representatives were extremely forthcoming with their advice last week during the Manhattan GMAT panel, so we wanted to share some more of their tips.

First, both representatives emphasized being yourself in your essays. Don’t try to write essays that show who you think the Kellogg MBA and Chicago Booth want to see. Instead show them who you are – your personality, values, sense of humor, etc. Dig deep for experiences outside of work and feel free to discuss very personal moments from your life.

The Chicago Booth representative also underscored how diverse their class is in terms of professional backgrounds. Business school is not only for investment bankers and consultants as their recent classes have boasted a former professional cheerleader and a cop.

The Kellogg MBA representative highlighted the school’s culture of initiative. Each year the school changes a bit because of what new students bring to it. Thus as an applicant try to show your innovative ideas for their campus – what will you start and lead?

Finally, one obvious takeaway from the panel was the value of information sessions, something we have mentioned on this blog often. Whether on campus or off campus, try to go to info sessions for your schools of interest. Hearing from admissions representatives (in addition to students and alums) gives you a good sense of each school’s culture and values. These insights will help you not only find the right schools for you but also help you demonstrate your fit with those schools in the essays.

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Kellogg MBA Essay Tips

A. Master of Business Administration applicants only. Briefly assess your career progress to date. Elaborate on your future career plans and your motivation for pursuing a graduate degree at the Kellogg MBA program. (one to two pages …

A. Master of Business Administration applicants only. Briefly assess your career progress to date. Elaborate on your future career plans and your motivation for pursuing a graduate degree at the Kellogg MBA program. (one to two pages double-spaced)
This is very similar to the Wharton and Chicago why MBA question. As with these schools, be sure to answer each of the questions embedded in this question.

Briefly assess your career progress to date? As always, avoid simply putting your resume into sentence form. Instead, give descriptions of your experiences, tell them why you have made certain career moves, and explain what you learned. Focus on the positive aspects of your career and demonstrate that you applied lessons learned with each step in your path. If you have a few random twists and turns, explain your reasoning for making changes. Finally, note that they want you to be brief here.

Elaborate on your future career plans?
Though they haven’t asked specifically for short and long term goals, you can lay out your plans within that structure. Articulate concrete goals and explain why these goals are meaningful to you. Your career goals should in some way reflect what is important to you (this does not mean they are one and the same, but that there is some correlation).

Your motivation for pursuing a graduate degree at the Kellogg MBA program?
Similar to the Stanford, Chicago, and Wharton’s career essays, you must be specific about how the Kellogg MBA program will help you achieve your goals – offer up classes, clubs, etc that will help you. Show that you are ready to make a difference in the Kellogg MBA community.

2. Each of our applicants is unique. Describe how your background, values, academics, activities and/or leadership skills will enhance the experiences of other Kellogg MBA students.
(one to two pages double-spaced)

This is very similar to Tuck‘s essay 4, and it’s a great opportunity to show your personality and round out your application. Give colorful and specific examples that don’t out in your other essay responses. Think broadly about who you are, where you’ve come from, and what has shaped your life. Also they have asked you to explain how you will bring these aspects of yourself to the Kellogg MBA program, specifically how will you engage your classmates? They want to see that you will inspire your peers and develop meaningful relationships.

3. How have your past and current leadership experiences prepared you for a Kellogg MBA? What leadership areas are you hoping to develop through your MBA experience? (one to two pages double-spaced)
Similar to the Wharton leadership question, you don’t need to write about work to answer this. In addition to work, consider volunteer experiences or even personal experiences that have required resilience, vision, creativity, and achievement. Think about when you have demonstrated your ability to motivate a group and make things happen. Also be sure to present areas of development that could be addressed through the MBA experience – classes, clubs, etc.

4. Complete 2 of the 3 essays. (two to three double spaced paragraphs for each question).
A. Outside of work I”¦
B. I wish the Admissions Committee had asked me”¦

This two are really open questions, so you can take the opportunity to round out your examples, present a surprising aspect of your background or mitigate a red flag. Show the Kellogg MBA program your self-awareness, resiliency, and passion for living a well-rounded life.

C. Describe the most challenging professional relationship you have faced and how you handled it.
Though this question is asking for a difficult situation, remain positive. Briefly state the conflict, then focus on your actions and the lessons learned.

D. (Required essay for re-applicants only)–Since your previous application, what are the steps you’ve taken to strengthen your candidacy?
Be sure to address personal and professional changes in your life and how this will make you a dynamic student at the Kellogg MBA program.

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