Tuesday Tips: Northwestern Kellogg MBA Essay Tips
Kellogg’s close-knit community values leadership and teamwork. At the same time, diversity in experience, background and thought is important to the Kellogg admissions committee. Do your research on the programs, activities, clubs, classes and professors at Kellogg as you approach your essays. While you are reading and conversing with students and alumni, keep in mind how you envision your own background adding to the community.
Kellogg added a mandatory video essay to the application process last year and is continuing the practice this year. While it won’t replace the in-person interview for Kellogg, it is an opportunity for the admissions committee to see the person behind the accomplishments you will describe.
Video interviews can be daunting, and Stacy Blackman Consulting has developed customized preparation to help you practice for this important component of the application and provide our expert feedback. Contact us to learn more about how we can prepare you for the entire Kellogg application.
Resilience. Perseverance. Grit. Call it what you will…. Challenges can build character. Describe a challenging experience you’ve had. How were you tested? What did you learn? (450 words)
This essay question is designed to evaluate your character and how you handle a challenge. The obstacle is not as important as the lesson, so consider moments in your life when you changed perspective or learned how to solve problems as a result of a difficult situation. A challenge does not need to be a dramatic difficulty.
No one has a completely smooth road to success, and it is often the obstacles that clarify your true passions and lead to growth. Leaders are not always perfect when difficulties arise, so even if you made mistakes along the way it is likely you learned from them. The bulk of this short essay should focus on how you overcame the obstacle and what you learned that has prepared you to solve problems or handle challenges. To get to the heart of what you learned consider how you would approach a similar difficulty now and what you might advise a friend going through the same thing.
Leadership requires an ability to collaborate with and motivate others. Describe a professional experience that required you to influence people. What did this experience teach you about working with others, and how will it make you a better leader? (450 words)
This behavioral question requires a very specific example to work effectively. The intention for this question is to see an example of a past experience that indicates how you will behave in the future, potentially when you must lead at Kellogg and in your future career. Make sure you include details about exactly what you did and said in your leadership story.
Collaborative leadership is an important value to the Kellogg MBA program and the situation you describe should demonstrate what people skills you bring to a team. When Kellogg asks about influencing others the question gets at whether you have the empathetic skills to understand other people, or if you believe you can persuade others through debate or force. Leaders have many differing styles and this question is meant to unearth yours. Showing the ability to persuade and influence in an honest and collaborative way will be a winning approach to this essay.
For applicants to the MMM or JD-MBA dual degree programs, please explain why that program is right for you. (250 words)
Doing your research on Kellogg MBA’s academics and resources will help you answer the question about why you need a dual degree to achieve your goals. If you are applying to the MMM program, you’ll have to show how the MEM degree will prepare you more effectively for your career goals than the MBA alone. Be able to articulate what is different about the Kellogg MMM program as compared to the MBA and other joint degrees. Know the classes you want to take, the professors you hope to work for, and how the MMM experience will be an asset in your future career.
Similarly, the JD-MBA at Kellogg is a highly competitive admissions process and will require a very clear explanation of what you will do with both degrees after school. Consider the unique attributes of the Kellogg JD-MBA program as compared to others, and also why you specifically need both a JD and an MBA.
Since your previous application, what steps have you taken to strengthen your candidacy? (250 word limit)
In answering this question make sure you provide tangible evidence that you have improved the overall package you are submitting this year. Improvements like GMAT score or new quantitative classes are especially tangible, but a promotion, increase in responsibility at work, a job change or even a change of goals and mission can apply.
Additional Information (Optional)
If needed, use this section to briefly describe any extenuating circumstances (e.g. unexplained gaps in work experience, choice of recommenders, inconsistent or questionable academic performance, etc.) (no word count)
If there are any areas of concern, this is the correct place to address them. Strike an upbeat tone here and avoid excuses. Explain your issue clearly and focus most of the essay on the correction for the issue. For example, if you had a disciplinary issue in college, spend most of the essay demonstrating that you learned from the experience and have been an ideal citizen ever since.
Low GPA issues should be explained here, and if there is a grade of C or below on your transcript the admissions committee will want to know why and feel comfortable it is an outlier in your overall academic record. For academic questions make sure you emphasize your improved performance either later in your college career or in subsequent work or classes since college.