This Chicago Booth 2011 MBA Application tip post is one of a series of posts providing MBA application and essay advice for applicants to top MBA programs around the world. You can access the entire series at https://blog.accepted.com/acceptedcom_blog/tag/2011-mba-application-tips. My tips for answering Chicago’s essay questions are in blue below.
It’s an entirely new Chicago Booth MBA application this year.
1. The Admissions Committee is interested in learning more about you on both a personal and professional level. Please answer the following (maximum of 300 words for each section):
a. Why are you pursuing a full-time MBA at this point in your life?
Ah, the old “why now?” question. What recent experiences have convinced you that now is the time for you to pursue an MBA? Hopefully those experiences will also reveal leadership, intellectual curiosity, fit with Chicago, and support for the goals you are going to discuss in B.
- “I hate my current job” doesn’t work. However, a thoughtful analysis of things you like and dislike in current and past positions could provide a portion of your response to this question.
- Don’t repeat your resume. Choose one or two particularly significant experiences that can serve as a trigger for answering the questions.
b. Define your short and long term career goals post MBA.
A allows you to draw on professional and non-professional experience, but most of you will choose to discuss your work. B is all about career.
Despite Rose Martinelli’s acknowledgment that some of you may not be 100% committed to a particular career path, Booth wants to know what is your most likely or attractive career path at this time. Those aspirations should flow naturally from the experiences discussed in A and your resume.
Short-term goals refer to your immediate post-MBA goals. Long-term are usually 10+ years post-MBA.
c. What is it about Chicago Booth that is going to help you reach your goals?
This is a more directed and clear way of saying “Why Booth?” What about Chicago’s flexibility is important to you? What about its “challenge everything” ethos and quantitative rigor will help you achieve your goals. While I would say that almost any “Why School X” should be answered by connecting the school’s programs and strengths to your goals, Booth is removing ambiguity with the clarity of its question. Link the two.
d. RE-APPLICANTS ONLY: Upon reflection, how has your thinking regarding your future, Chicago Booth, and/or getting an MBA changed since the time of your last application?
This is a straightforward question. Remember, Chicago (and any school you are reapplying to) wants to see growth. Same ol’, same ‘ol got you a ding last time and probably will again this time. Let this brief essay show a maturation and evolution of your goals and reasons for wanting to attend Chicago Booth
2. Chicago Booth is a place that challenges its students to stretch and take risks that they might not take elsewhere. Tell us about a time when you took a risk and what you learned from that experience (maximum of 750 words).
When did you make a decision with an uncertain outcome and significant possibility of loss, harm, or embarrassment along with the potential for high rewards? How did you analyze the pros and cons, the downside and the upside? What did you learn? How did you grow from the experience? How has it influenced you going forward?
Assuming that #1 is all professional, this essay may (not must) be an essay where you want to introduce a non-professional commitment.
3. At Chicago Booth, we teach you HOW to think rather than what to think. With this in mind, we have provided you with “blank pages” in our application. Knowing that there is not a right or even a preferred answer allows you to demonstrate to the committee your ability to navigate ambiguity and provide information that you believe will support your candidacy for Chicago Booth
Essay Question 3 Guidelines
We have set forth the following guidelines:
- The content is completely up to you. Acceptable file formats are PowerPoint or PDF.
- There is a strict maximum of four pages, though you can provide fewer if you choose.
- The document will be printed in color and added to your file for review; therefore, flash, hyperlinks, embedded videos, music, etc. will not be viewed by the committee. You are limited to text and static images to convey your points.
- The file will be evaluated on the quality of content and ability to convey your ideas, not on technical expertise or presentation.
- Files need to be less than 9 megabytes in order to upload. If your file is too large you may save your file as a PDF and upload your essay.
If you like choice, you will love this question. You can’t get much more open-ended.
I frequently say that an application is like a jigsaw puzzle in which different pieces come together to present a portrait of you, the applicant. Given your grades, GMAT, job history, and the first two essays, what element of your background would you like Booth to know about that hasn’t been revealed? That should be the focus of your response to #3. A personal interest
There are an infinite number of good approaches to this question. Here is one: If you have a hobby, use the slides to celebrate it. Take pride in it. Share it. Show that you could be a fun contributing member of the Chicago Booth community.
For the last couple of years, Chicago Booth required four PowerPoint slides. This year you have options and choice. You can respond using images as in a PPT, words, or a combination of the two. For the Micheners among you, don’t even think of writing a four-page grand finale/summary that you print to PDF. No one wants to read it.
If you would like help with your Chicago Booth MBA application, please consider Accepted’s MBA essay editing and admissions consulting or a Chicago Booth MBA Package, which includes essay editing, interview coaching, consultation, and a resume edit for the Chicago Booth MBA application.
Round Due Date Notification
Round 1 October 13, 2010 December 15, 2010
Round 2 January 5, 2011 March 16, 2011
Round 3 April 13, 2011 May 18, 2011
* Your application must be submitted by 5 p.m. (CST/Chicago time) on the day of the deadline in order to be considered for an application round. This includes receipt of all online and mailed-in materials. Applications submitted after a deadline will automatically be considered in the next round, as long as all materials are included with the application.