Tuesday Tips – Chicago Booth Essay Tips

Chicago Booth’s essays are a bit of a departure from Harvard Business School, Wharton Business School, the Kellogg MBA, and the Stanford MBA essays we have covered in the last several weeks. Similar to the NYU Stern creative essay, Chicago Booth asks applicants to create a slide show to demonstrate who you are. The presentation will be printed out, and should consist of a combination of words and images (color is allowed) that will show the admissions committee the personal side of you.

When approaching any set of MBA essays, it is important to think about the aspects of your professional, extracurricular and personal life you want to communicate and select topics appropriately.

1. Why are you pursuing an MBA at this point in your career?  (750 word maximum).

This Chicago Booth essay could be approached as a fairly typical career goals essay, though it is notable that Chicago Booth is not asking direct questions about your background and short- and long-term goals. The structure of this essay is therefore a bit open ended, and you can choose to focus on your background, your future or why an MBA is the right choice at this moment.

Chicago Booth does specifically ask why you are interested in an MBA “at this point in your career,” which indicates an interest in knowing why now is the time for you to embark on your MBA journey. Similar to the Wharton “why now” it will be important to have a solid and convincing reason that now is the ideal time to enter Chicago Booth for your MBA.

While the question of “why Chicago Booth” is somewhat answered in the next essay, you will still want to explain briefly why you think Chicago Booth is the best place for you to achieve the goals you have set for yourself.

2. Please select one of the following two questions to answer. (1000 word maximum)

1a) Please provide an example of a time when you had to make a choice between two equally important obligations. How did you decide which obligation deserved your attention? b) Did you try and predict other people’s reactions to your decision? If so, how accurate were you? Why do you think you were or were not accurate in your prediction? c) Reflecting on this experience, how do you think an MBA from Chicago Booth might have aided in your decision making process?


2a) Have you ever made a decision that caused you to go against popular opinion? Please describe that situation and your rationale for you decision. b) Did you feel at any point that people misperceived your motives? Explain? c) In retrospect, how do you think an MBA from Chicago Booth would have affected your decision?

Both of these Chicago Booth questions (you will need to choose one to answer) delve fairly deeply into your ability to reflect introspectively on past decisions and explain what you learned and what you could have improved. In these particular questions, you are also being asked to speculate on the usefulness of an MBA from Chicago Booth in the situation you describe.

A work example is preferable, though a particularly strong leadership position in a community service activity may be acceptable. In either case it will be important to be able to describe how an MBA would have assisted you, and ideally the situation will be one you envision encountering in your future career.

In both questions, part b requires the emotional intelligence to speculate about others’ feelings or reactions to your actions. This demonstrates an interest in seeing how you relate to others on an interpersonal level, and is also an opportunity to demonstrate leadership and teamwork skills. Thoughtfulness and maturity will be especially important when answering either question.

Researching Chicago Booth’s unique program is also crucial when answering either question, and reading blogs from current students is a great way to understand the culture and program from the inside.

Slide Presentation

We have asked for a great deal of information throughout this application and now invite you tell us about yourself. Using four slides or less, please provide readers with content that captures who you are.

This question invites a creative approach. Therefore, a bit of soul searching to discover themes or pivotal events in your life may help generate ideas. Because the project is incredibly personal, it will be completely up to you what the topic will be. Some suggestions about structure may be four distinct aspects of your life and personal qualities, a narrative with four stages, or four themes that have emerged as you have progressed as a person and MBA applicant. While the presentation should be personal, it is still important to think about what you would like the Chicago Booth admissions committee to know about you and to choose a subject appropriately.

Optional Essay

If there is any important information that is relevant for your candidacy that you were unable to address elsewhere in the application, please share that information here.

This Chicago Booth essay is optional and should be used for any issues in your application ”“ low GPA, gaps in work experience, or a lack of recommendation from your current employer. Remember to be concise and focus on explanations rather than excuses. For a topic such as a low GPA or academic probation, make sure to also focus on how you have changed since the event and the evidence in your current life that you will be a strong Chicago Booth student.


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


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