NOTE: These questions are for the fall 2014 applications; the questions for the spring 2014 applications are different and were featured in a previous post.)
Two questions in this set – questions one and three – address your potential interactions with your classmates and your fit with the class. No accident! The fact that the adcom has seen the need to emphasize these factors gives you valuable information for developing your application. It indicates that they see a successful MBA program for all as shaped in part by the dynamics among the unique individuals who comprise that student body. It’s an interesting balance to Chicago Booth’s renowned analytic and quantitative rigor. While your application must demonstrate that you have the requisite analytic chops, these essays invite you to round out your profile by portraying your ability to engage with your classmates.
Here are some tips for making the most of that opportunity. (In addition, check out my earlier post with tips for applying to part-time programs!)
Essay One (250 words): Imagine yourself at LAUNCH (your three-day orientation) meeting your classmates for the first time. Introduce yourself.
There’s no formula here! Just a little protocol – write the essay in the voice you would use in the setting mentioned: LAUNCH. With just 250 words, be thoughtful about what points to mention; they should reflect something fresh and relevant about you. For most people, a mix of work and non-work points will be best. For work, don’t just repeat your resume or describe your current position. (Or even worse, describe in abstract terms your leadership.) Rather, a good approach is to portray a key work experience – something with broader implications, something illuminating about you as a professional – and then reflect succinctly on what significant and distinctive it shows about you. For the non-work segment, rather than a pastiche of your life, pick one or two distinctive and also meaningful points, and discuss them briefly.
Essay Two (500 words): How will an MBA from Chicago Booth, from the Weekend MBA Program specifically, at this point in your life help you achieve both your short- and long-term goals?
A straightforward and effective approach to this essay is to start by discussing your current professional situation, focusing on your goals over the next one to three years – the time you’ll be in the program. (Goals mean what you want to accomplish and achieve for your organization and/or clients and other stakeholders, not just what you want to learn/gain for yourself.) Then elaborate your post-MBA and longer term goals – be specific about the likely position(s) and organization(s). In describing your goals at any given point, indicate why you are planning that step or pursuing that role. Put more detail into the nearer term plans.
In discussing how the Booth Weekend MBA program will benefit you, describe what skills and knowledge you need for your goals and how the program meets those needs. Refer to the structure and special features of the program. There are two approaches structurally: discuss this element at each stage of your goals, or present your goals holistically first and then address this element after.
Essay Three (500 words): Please complete this statement; I am a valuable member of a team because…
Reflect on your strengths as a team member. In what ways do you contribute most to your teams and their success? Do you resolve conflicts tactfully? Draw out people’s inputs? Subtly prod the team to keep moving? If you’re on a global or dispersed team, do you continuously keep everyone on the same page or “interpret” across cultures? These are just a few of the infinite ways one can be a valuable team member. So think of two to three such aspects of your performance as a team member. In the essay, present each through the anecdote about it. Then summarize by reflecting on these points, perhaps also discussing the Chicago Booth teams and how these qualities/experiences will help you contribute in that context. As for structure, start right in with the first story; no need for a separate introduction when you have only 500 words. Consider using stories from different points in your career, to illuminate these different phases.
Reapplicant Essay (250 words): Upon reflection, how has your thinking regarding your future, Chicago Booth, and/or obtaining your MBA changed since the time of your last application and what steps have you taken to strengthen your application since the last time you applied?
There are two parts of this short question. The first asks you, in essence, how you’ve grown or evolved (how your thinking has changed) since your last application. The second part may include things such as re-taking the GMAT, taking a course, gaining experience in a new sector or function, increasing responsibility, improving your leadership, etc. Don’t just randomly list ten things, but identify factors that are significant and meaningful, and/or address a perceived weakness in your previous application.
Optional Essay (250 words): If there is any important information relevant to your candidacy you were unable to address elsewhere in the application, please share that information here.
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 non-necessary points, keep in mind that if you are making the adcom read more than is required, there should be a clear value to the information you’re sharing.
Deadline for fall 2014: May 16, 2014
By Cindy Tokumitsu, co-author of The Finance Professional’s Guide to MBA Admissions Success, and author of numerous ebooks, articles, and special reports. Cindy has advised hundreds of successful applicants in her last fifteen years with Accepted.com.