Chicago Booth EMBA has streamlined its questions this year, giving you one essay with ample space to make your case holistically. This change indicates that they are looking for people who can organize their thoughts, build a credible and compelling case for their candidacy, and maintain an extended yet focused discussion. The Booth EMBA adcom clearly puts value on verbal expression and expects senior level managers to have mastered this skill. Give yourself time to develop and refine your essay accordingly.
1. Why are you seeking an MBA from Chicago Booth and what unique knowledge and experiences do you hope to contribute to the program? (maximum 2 pages, 12 pt. Times New Roman)
The question zeroes in on the elements directly relevant to the adcom, but allows you to elaborate within those parameters. Considering the pivotal role the one required essay plays in your application, the key challenge is making good decisions about the following four elements:
• Within the overall space allowance, how much space should you allocate to each part of the question? It will vary person to person. For example, a person who has her own company will require some “backstory” for context setting before discussing future plans, so she would allocate more space to goals than someone who is rising up the ladder at McKinsey. Someone with atypical goals (such as my client who successfully applied to a different top EMBA program) will need to spend more time clarifying why he wants the Booth MBA than a more conventional applicant. Analyze your own case and block out the essay accordingly.
• You have to discuss your professional goals in order to explain why you are “seeking an MBA from Chicago Booth,” but how to present them? Since EMBA programs are part-time, an ideal place to start is your current work: what do you want to achieve and how do you want to grow during the years in the program? (This has the added benefit of giving the adcom a view of what you’ll bring to the table based on this work.) From there, move on to your goals for the 5-year period following graduation – give the most detail here; make it really concrete. Then sketch your longer-term career vision/plans, necessarily less detailed. Finally, explain how each of these career/goals phases require skills, knowledge, and perhaps relationships derived through the Booth EMBA.
• How should you structure this relatively long, complex essay? Simply and straightforwardly is usually best. Start with your current/immediate goals. (If you need to provide some backstory for context, as noted above, do so as succinctly as possible.) Then progress through your goals. Next, discuss why you need the Booth EMBA now, connecting your reasons to the previously stated goals. Finally, present your contributions.
• What “unique knowledge and experiences” should you talk about? Select two to four, and for at least two, give concrete examples. For all, discuss relevant insights – after all, that’s what you’re really bringing, not the fact of having done something. To select the best, consider what aspects of your experience would be interesting and/or useful to the Booth EMBA cohort and give them fresh insight or perspective. It could be related to industry, function, geographic/global experience, a formative personal experience, a particularly meaningful extracurricular (community or other non-work) involvement, etc. Choose points that expand the reader’s understanding of you, things they won’t necessarily glean from your resume, AND that have relevance to them.
2. OPTIONAL: If there is anything else you would like the Admissions Committee to know about you, please share that information here. (maximum 2 pages, 12 pt. Times New Roman)
This question invites you to present new material that will enhance your application, as well as to explain anything that needs explaining (e.g., gap in employment, choice of recommender if not using a direct supervisor, etc.). As far as enhancement points, there should be a clear value to the information you’re sharing – and it should not be content that more appropriately belongs in the main essay (contributions of unique knowledge and experiences).
3. REAPPLICANTS ONLY: Please give us an update on your professional, academic, and community activities since your previous application and highlight what you have done to strengthen your application. (maximum one page, single spaced, 12pt. Times New Roman)
Whatever developments you discuss, for each, describe the situation/experience concretely and clarify the impact you had. Also clarify how it demonstrates growth (i.e. not just “another” achievement), and why it makes you a stronger candidate.
By Cindy Tokumitsu, co-author of The EMBA Edge, and author of the free special report, Ace the EMBA. Cindy has helped MBA applicants get accepted to top EMBA programs around the world. She is delighted to help you too!