UPDATE: The tips for the 2010 Chicago Booth Application are now available online. Please post questions or comments to the new post.
Round 1 Oct 15, 2008 Dec 18, 2008
Round 2 Jan 7, 2009 Mar 25. 2009
Round 3 Mar 11, 2009 May 13, 2009
My comments below are in red.
The Chicago GSB has once again changed their essay questions and in accordance with long Chicago tradition — not to mention its “Challenge everything” motto, — they are distinctive. At the same time, Chicago has abandoned the “off-the-wall” question that used to be its signature. It has retained the slide presentation, in a slightly modified form.
Essay Questions and Slide Presentation
Essay questions for the Fall 2009 application are below. The Fall 2009 Chicago GSB application will be available in late-July 2008.
Why are you pursuing an MBA at this point in your career? (750 word maximum).
This is similar to last year’s Essay 1, but less directed and shorter. Here is one way to approach the question (and there are definitely others): Identify two or three critical elements in your life that have convinced you now is the right time to pursue your MBA. Describe what you want to be doing, highlighting both the foundation provided by your chosen experiences and the gap between where you want to be and where you are.
The question does not ask specifically “Why Chicago.” While you will explicitly tie your answer to Chicago in the next essay, in this essay you should reveal the elements in your decision-making process and goals that demonstrate fit with Chicago.
Please select one of the following two questions to answer. (1000 word maximum)
a) Please provide an example of a time when you had to make a choice between two equally important obligations. How did you decide which obligation deserved your attention?
b) Did you try and predict other people’s reactions to your decision? If so, how accurate were you? Why do you think you were or were not accurate in your prediction?
c) Reflecting on this experience, how do you think an MBA from Chicago GSB might have aided in your decision making process?
a) Have you ever made a decision that caused you to go against popular opinion? Please describe that situation and your rationale for you decision.
b) Did you feel at any point that people misperceived your motives? Explain.
c) In retrospect, how do you think an MBA from Chicago GSB would have affected your decision?
The first task: choosing Option 1 or 2. Select the option that allows you to show yourself forging your own independent path in a venue not revealed either in your Essay 1, the Slide Presentation, or your optional essay.
Realize that both options ask for an experience. These are behavioral questions, and they reflect Chicago’s focus on ethics and values.
Option 1 starts as the flip-side of a classic ethical dilemma question. The B and C elements of that question are where Chicago adds its own unique twist. Make sure you answer all parts of the questions.
Option 2 asks for a time when you did something unpopular. I can imagine many situations, especially in volunteer organizations where people act with only the noblest of intentions, when an idiosyncratic approach or novel idea is negatively received. And because opponents are motivated only by the good of mankind or at least of the group, they find it easier to attack the motives of the person behind an unpopular idea than the logic underpinning the idea. Has that happened to you? There’s your A & B. Now just add C.
We have asked for a great deal of information throughout this application and now invite you tell us about yourself. Using four slides or less, please provide readers with content that captures who you are.
We have set forth the following guidelines for you to consider when creating your presentation.
- The content is completely up to you. There is no right or wrong approach this essay. Feel free to use the software you are most comfortable with. Acceptable formats for upload in the online application system are PowerPoint or PDF.
- There is a strict maximum of 4 slides, though you can provide fewer than 4 if you choose.
- Slides will be printed 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. Color may be used.
- Slides will be evaluated on the quality of content and ability to convey your ideas, not on technical expertise or presentation.
- You are welcome to attach a document containing notes if you feel a deeper explanation of your slides is necessary. However the hope is the slide is able to stand alone and convey your ideas clearly. You will not be penalized for adding notes but you should not construct a slide with the intention of using the notes section as a consistent means of explanation.
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 GSB community.
If there is any important information that is relevant for your candidacy that you were unable to address elsewhere in the application, please share that information here.
Last year Chicago specified that this question was intended to discuss “anomalies”: gaps in your resume, a bad year in college, the absence of a recommendation from your current employer, etc. Certainly that possibility remains, but until Chicago posts similar limitations on this question for this year, I view it as a broader optional question. IN the absence of instructions to the contrary, If there is something positive, important, and relevant to your candidacy that you are unable to address in the two essays and slide presentation, then use this question to present it. I would stay under 500 words.
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