UPDATE- The tips for Kellogg’s 2011 Application are now available online. Please post questions or comments to the new post.
|Round 1||Oct. 15, 2009||Jan. 11, 2010|
|Round 2||Jan. 14, 2010||Mar. 29, 2010|
||Mar. 4, 2010||May 17, 2010|
Please note that Kellogg has a more complex deadline system than most schools. Please visit their web site for details.
My comments are in red. This year’s essay questions are similar to last year, with a bit of reshuffling. Kellogg also rephrases a couple of questions and asks new question in essay 4. Finally, Kellogg requests four essays this year, as opposed to five last year.
Essay #1 –MBA Program applicants – Briefly assess your career progress to date. Elaborate on your future career plans and your motivation for pursuing a graduate degree at Kellogg. (600 word limit)
This question is the same as Kellogg’s #1 for the last several years. Kellogg wants to know your goals and the ways you believe Kellogg will help you achieve them. As I have said repeatedly, post-MBA goals are front and center in the MBA application. You need to connect the dots between your past, your desired future, and Kellogg to answer this question well. Thought and research are prerequisites.
When writing an earlier Kellogg tip, I referenced an email from a client. In the email, he thanked his editor for pushing him to clarify his goals — which he hadn’t wanted to do. He acknowledged how important they are. Make sure you know why you want an MBA before you start to answer this question.
Essay #2 – Describe your key leadership experiences and evaluate what leadership areas you hope to develop through your MBA experiences (600 word limit)
Appearing last year as essay 3, this question was “promoted” to the second essay. Kellogg of course is famous for its teamwork, and it certainly wants students with strong teamwork skills, but it also wants leaders. Don’t be taken in by Kellogg’s teamwork mantra and laid-back reputation. Employers wants to see leadership in Kellogg’s grads, and you need to show leadership in your application — especially in answering this question.
This essay allows you to both spotlight your outstanding leadership skills and show your knowledge of Kellogg. Go beyond your response to #1 and focus here on leadership. A corollary of this tip would be to use #1 to focus on non-leadership aspects of your experience i.e. teamwork.
As usual, you don’t have a lot of room to elaborate. Choose 1-2 examples not discussed in depth elsewhere in the application. State how they prepare you for Kellogg in terms of allowing you to demonstrate leadership. Don’t forget to answer the last part of the question.
Essay #3 – Assume you are evaluating your application from the perspective of a student member of the Kellogg Admissions Committee. Why would your peers select you to become a member of the Kellogg community? (600 word limit)
This is similar to an old question that had been part of Kellogg’s application for years and was removed a couple of years ago; it asked you to evaluate your own file as if you are a member of the Kellogg Admissions Committee. In this case you are a student member of the committee.
But let’s go back to the first part of the question that asks you to “evaluate your application.” Does that wording imply the kind of objectivity your grandmother provides? Definitely not. Clearly you are trying to market yourself so you should emphasize the positive and provide a cogent argument for acceptance using Kellogg’s criteria, but most of you will have weaknesses in your profile. What compensates for them? Why should Kellogg admit you despite your weakness? This is a great place to show why a substandard GMAT or GPA should be overlooked.
In general you want each essay to reveal something new about your experience. How can you do so with this question, which by its very nature requires you to use the information found in other parts of your application? Include at least one or two elements that you either discussed in your interview or intend to discuss in your interview. Or go into more depth about something mentioned in an application box or your resume, but clearly this essay is not going to provide a lot of new information.
Essay #4 – Complete one of the following three questions or statements. (400 word limit)
Re-applicants have the option to answer a question from this grouping, but this is not required.
a) Describe a time when you had to make an unpopular decision.
New Question- Similar to last year’s question about motivating a reluctant group, please note a few facets of this question. It is only 400 words. It does not ask for a treatise on popularity or decision-making. It asks you to “describe a time” (emphasis added), not multiple times. It asks for a story, an anecdote. Yes in discussing this incident, you can draw a conclusion or two about decision making, motivation, or leadership , but keep your response succinctly experiential.
b) People may be surprised to learn that I….
New Question- If professional activities dominate essays 1-3, this is an opportunity for you to shine a bright light on your favorite hobby or passion. Do you juggle, bike, run, cook, drum, trek, save the world, or? Let the reader know a highlight of your experience and why you do it. Also, address the irony inherent in doing something surprising.
c) I wish the admissions committee had asked me……
In many respects, similar to #b. Have fun with this one. Let this essay show a different facet than is revealed by any of the other essays. If you play basketball every Sunday and haven’t mentioned it anywhere, perhaps this is the place to talk about the fun side of you. Or perhaps you are a cellist in a local orchestra. Or you were active in Barack Obama’s campaign. Or you lead a church youth group. The possibilities are infinite.
Required essay for re-applicants only – Since your previous application, what steps have you taken to strengthen your candidacy? (400 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? If you aren’t sure where you fell short, obtain an MBA Application Review.
Responding to the Kellogg application essays will tell the committee a lot about you, your character, and your interests — if you do a good job. It is a solid and comprehensive set of questions.
If you want to start now on your Kellogg application, please keep in mind that Accepted.com is running an Early Bird Special through the end of July: 15% off all MBA essay consulting and editing. Alternatively, consider our Kellogg consulting and Editing Comprehensive Packages. They too are 15% off this month. Start your applications early, submit first round, and save money.