In September 2014, Kellogg “rebranded” itself and adopted a more concrete (and in my opinion better) mission statement: “Inspiring growth.” The video below explores and clarifies this mission as well as the values Kellogg holds dear. I highly recommend that you watch it to grasp Kellogg’s fundamental principles.
A couple of key takeaways from the video: Kellogg seeks individuals who:
• Have a growth mindset (for details, please see Caroline Dweck’s Mindset: The New Psychology of Success, one of my favorite books).
Kellogg also changed both its questions this year and #2 certainly reflects the new emphasis on growth.
My tips are in blue below.
1. Leadership and teamwork are integral parts of the Kellogg experience. Describe a recent and meaningful time you were a leader. What challenges did you face, and what did you learn? (450 words)
First things first: Kellogg is asking for ONE experience. Not more. It also reflects Kellogg’s belief that teamwork and leadership go hand-in-hand. Unlike last year’s similar essay question, Kellogg is not limiting your professional settings. You do have the option to use a non-professional leadership experience.
You can use a STAR framework for this response (Situation, Task, Action, Results). Start with the situation and simply describe what was situation/problem/opportunity you were asked to respond to. Then relate your group’s task and your responsibility. How did you motivate the others to move in one direction? How did you influence and persuade? Finally what were the results for the group? And what did you learn about leadership, collaboration, and influence?
While it isn’t a requirement, and I can imagine instances where this may not be true, examples where you led by virtue of your stature and others’ respect for you will be more compelling than those where you led by virtue of station and title.
2. Pursuing an MBA is a catalyst for personal and professional growth. How have you grown in the past? How do you intend to grow at Kellogg? (450 words)
This is a difficult question, and the response should provide Kellogg with real insight into the individuals applying to its MBA program. Before responding do your homework on the Kellogg program and what you want to do after you leave Kellogg. The latter will tell you how you want to grow and the former will tell you how you will do so at Kellogg.
First think about the times you have grown either professionally or personally. Which of those instances would you like Kellogg to know about? Ideally the event you choose to focus on will relate in some way to the growth you want to have at Kellogg.
Then reflect on how you intend to grow while at Kellogg. I think the strong answer to this question will really go beyond mere skill acquisition, although that can be part of your response. How are you going to take advantage of what Kellogg offers to become more like the people in the video: able to see opportunity when faced with challenge, to envision a beautiful finished structure when staring at a bare shell, and to harness your emotional intelligence and acquired skills to lead collaboratively and with clarity of purpose?
Certain applicants will respond to additional questions:
Dual-degree applicants: For applicants to the MMM or JD-MBA dual degree programs, please explain why that program is right for you. (250 words)
A straight-forward response is required here. What do you want to do that requires both degrees? Why is this joint program the right one to fill in the gaps in your education and take you to a point where you can go down your desired professional path.
Re-applicants: Since your previous application, what steps have you taken to strengthen your candidacy? (250 word limit)
No trick questions here. How are you a better candidate today than when Kellogg rejected you? Have you addressed weaknesses in your previous application? Check out MBA Reapplicant 101 — a lot of (free) resources.
All applicants have the opportunity to provide explanations or clarification in Additional Information:
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)
This is a true optional question If necessary, use it to provide context for possible negatives. Take responsibility for mistakes if necessary and discuss what you have changed so that you don’t err in the same way again.
Keep this section short and to-the-point. Don’t be fooled by “No word count.”
The Video Essays provide applicants with an additional opportunity to demonstrate what they will bring to our vibrant Kellogg community – in an interactive way. Each applicant will complete two short video essay questions. The questions are designed to bring to life the person we have learned about on paper.
After submitting a completed application, each applicant will be asked to complete two Video Essay Questions. One will be about the candidate’s interest in Kellogg and the other will be a “getting to know you” type of question.
There are 10 practice questions which candidates can complete as many times as they like to get comfortable with the format and technology. The practice questions and experience will simulate the actual video essay experience, so this is meant to be a useful tool and help applicants feel prepared.
There is not an opportunity to re-do the answer to the official video essay questions. We encourage applicants to practice so they are comfortable with the format once it is time to complete the official questions.
Candidates will have 20 seconds to think about their question and up to 1 minute to give their response.
We estimate the Video Essays will take 15-20 minutes to complete – which includes time for set-up and answering all the practice questions.
To prepare for your webcam session, you need to practice for the experience of talking to a video camera with no responses from another human being. For tips on how to prepare and behave during the webcam session, please see Kellogg’s “Video Essay” on its Application Components page as well as my Tips for Video MBA Essay Questions.
If you would like professional guidance with your Kellogg MBA application, please consider Accepted’s MBA essay editing and MBA admissions consulting or our MBA Application Packages, which include advising, editing, interview coaching, and a resume edit for the Kellogg application.
*Your application must be received by Kellogg no later than 5p.m. CT on the deadline for the round in which you are applying.
By Linda Abraham, president and founder of Accepted.com and co-author of the new, definitive book on MBA admissions, MBA Admission for Smarties: The No-Nonsense Guide to Acceptance at Top Business Schools.