This Kellogg 2012 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. Check out the entire 2012 MBA Application Tips series for more valuable MBA essay advice.
Essay #1 –
a) MBA Program applicants – Briefly assess your career progress to date. Elaborate on your future career plans and your motivation for pursuing an MBA. (600 word limit)
b) MMM Program applicants – Briefly assess your career progress to date. How do the unique characteristics of the MMM Program meet your educational needs and career goals? (600 word limit)
This question is the same as Kellogg’s #1 for the last several years. Kellogg wants to know your goals and why you believe Kellogg will help you achieve them. As I have said repeatedly, post-MBA goals are front and center in much of MBA admissions, certainly in applications that ask you about your aspirations. You need to connect the dots between your past, your desired future, and Kellogg to answer this question well. Self-awareness 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. Consider yourself pushed. 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)
Kellogg 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 want 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 experiences and show your knowledge of Kellogg. Go beyond your response to #1 and focus here on influence, initiative, and management. A corollary of this tip would be to use #1 to focus on non-leadership aspects of your experience, for example, 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. Discuss how Kellogg’s leadership opportunities will allow you to build on your past experiences.
Essay #3 – Assume you are evaluating your application from the perspective of a student member of the Kellogg Admissions Committee. Why would you and your peers select you for admission, and what impact would you make as a member of the Kellogg community? (600 word limit)
Let’s go back to the first part of the question that asks you to “evaluate your application.” Does that wording mean the kind of objectivity provided by your grandmother? No. 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 MBA 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. Argue your point from the point of view of a student who might see you adding something special to the class or just fun to hang out with.
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 going to provide less new information than other essays.
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 you had to inspire a reluctant individual or group
This is a new question and a behavioral one at that. When did you lead and face resistance from a group? When did you motivate a recalcitrant individual? Choose one example and describe the source of reluctance and how you addressed it. What made your approach successful?
b) People may be surprised to learn that I….
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, trek, drum, ride a unicycle, have a passion for spelunking, merely want to save the world, or ? Let the reader know of an illustrative experience and why you do what you do. Also, address the irony inherent in doing something surprising. Depending on the nature of the surprise, a lighter tone may be appropriate for this essay.
c) The riskiest personal or professional decision I ever made was…..
In general I recommend a 2:1 ratio of professional:non-professional experiences in an application, but that is a flexible guideline and not set in stone.
For this essay, you could start with a sign of the tension that comes from a tough decision (sweat dripping down your back, waking up at 3 AM thinking about pros and cons, a splitting headache, silence in the room, wrinkled brows around a coffee table). What was the choice? The upside? The downside? What did you decide and why? How did it work out?
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? Check out MBA Reapplicant 101 — a lot of (free) resources.
Responding to the Kellogg application essays will tell the committee much about you, your character, and your interests — if you do a good job. It is a solid and comprehensive set of questions. If you’d like more help with your Kellogg MBA application, please consider Accepted’s MBA essay editing and MBA admissions consulting or our Kellogg MBA Packages.
|Round 1||Oct. 18, 2011||Dec. 19, 2011|
|Round 2||Jan. 10, 2012||Mar. 26, 2012|
||Apr. 5, 2012||May 14, 2012|
Please note that Kellogg has a more complex deadline system than most schools. Please visit their web site for details.