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 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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