These questions are a straightforward mix of professional and personal. The adcom wants assurance that you have a clear professional focus and a solid plan for using the Kelley MBA resources. Beyond that, they’re looking for engaging applicants who are willing to share their life experiences and understand what they have to contribute. Strive for balance and coherence among the essays overall: use them to show different facets of your character, while avoiding contradictory qualities (i.e., you can be a vigorous risk-taker in one and a tender-hearted soul in another, but not a vigorous risk-taker in one and tentative or overly cautious person in another).
Your essays will give us an idea of your personality, perspectives, and opinions and will let us know how closely your professional objectives match the objectives of the MBA program. We encourage you to be honest, informative, creative, and concise.
1. Please discuss your immediate post-MBA professional goals. How will your professional experience, when combined with a Kelley MBA degree, allow you to achieve these goals? Should the short-term goals you have identified not materialize, what alternate career paths might you consider? (500 words)
This question encourages you to present your goals in the context of your experience and to integrate your MBA plans with both. With only 500 words, be selective and thoughtful about what points from your career to use to contextualize your goals. Also, the question specifies short-term goals. While it would be fine to add a sentence or a phrase about longer- term goals or overall career vision, keep your goals discussion focused on the same time frame the question focuses on: immediately post-MBA. This question is asking for linkages among your experience, your short-term goals, and your anticipated MBA experience, so think about how you will form an integrated message out of these elements.
In answering the last point, continue the linkage approach: the alternatives you identify should build on your experience in some way and be consistent with your expressed career interests. Show that you are adaptable and strategic, informed about the options, and resourceful in your thinking.
2. Please respond to one of the following short essay prompts. (300 words)
a) My greatest memory is…
b) I’m most afraid of…
c) My greatest challenge has been…
d) I’m most proud of…
Consider which question will give you the best avenue to both (a) round out your profile and (b) showcase an interesting and relevant aspect of your life and/or experience.
Once you decide on a topic and question, write this short essay in mini-story format. Sometimes the story itself will convey the message and/or insight, sometimes you may want to add a concluding sentence with this information. And be sensitive to the tone and presentation of the question – it really is asking for something engaging, meaningful, and lively.
3. Please share with the admissions committee an interesting or surprising fact about you. (25 words)
Your topic selection here should balance the topic in essay 2 and reflect another aspect of you. Also, if you choose an older story above, make this one more recent. (It’s fine to have them both be recent, but not so great to have them both be far in the past.)
4. Optional: Is there anything else that you think we should know as we evaluate your application? If you believe your credentials and essays represent you fairly, you shouldn’t feel obligated to answer this question. (300 words)
This question first and foremost invites you to explain anything that needs explaining (e.g., gap in employment, choice of recommender if not using a direct supervisor, etc.). As far as non-necessary points, that last phrase is polite warning that anything extra must be pretty darn important.
By Cindy Tokumitsu, author and co-author of numerous ebooks, articles, and special reports, including Why MBA and Best MBA Programs: A Guide to Selecting the Right One. Cindy has advised hundreds of successful applicants in her fifteen years with Accepted.com.