Freedom and culture. These are the two operative factors for Booth’s MBA program. And they are not unrelated:
Both forge a connection between the inner person and the outer world.
Freedom is prominent in the full-time Booth MBA landing page and is portrayed in 3 facets: “academic freedom, freedom to take risks, and freedom to define your impact in the world.”
Let’s look more closely at these 3 freedoms:
- Academic freedom means there isn’t a prescribed path; you can choose the courses and devise a learning program that suits your individual interests and needs. And you can explore beyond just practical applications.
- Freedom to take risks means, academically, you don’t have to stick with courses that support your goals; you can (and probably should) expand your horizons by trying out topics for the intellectual interest and challenge. It also means you can possibly risk a change in your planned career course if you encounter a new, compelling path. Also, you can risk personally, exploring and experiencing relationships and sharing ideas in ways that might challenge your worldview.
- Freedom to define your impact on the world means you can make happen what you want to make happen, what you think needs to happen (and implied therein is the responsibility to make a considered impact).
The person who can productively use these freedoms is the person who is ideally suited to benefit from Booth’s renowned flexibility.
And such a person, in turn, must:
- Have a high degree of self-understanding and sound judgment (i.e., be MATURE!).
- Know how to balance exciting exploration of the new with practical learning needs.
- Be able to both (paradoxically) create and follow a plan AND adapt to changing needs/circumstances.
- Possess initiative.
That’s you? So far, so good.
Now let’s look at the school culture that is described in the “Student Experience” page of the website. It’s intense. It has two key facets:
- Intellectual culture: This means students who thrill to explore new topics, challenge their own assumptions, push the boundaries of their capabilities and encourage others to do likewise, play with ideas, engage with contrarian views. One may be an intellectual individual, but intellectual “culture” indicates an engagement on this level, an ongoing give-and-take.
- Community culture: Sharing. Supporting one another, achieving together, exploring together. Growing together. Enduring together. Taking risks together. Celebrating together. You don’t have to be a gregarious socialite, you might well be reserved or a tad shy. But contributing to the community is a must.
Given these characteristics, how do you show fit with the program?
- Don’t explain how you exercise these aspects, such as intellectual freedom or community participation.
- Do show how you exercise intellectual freedom, community participation, etc.
Anybody can say they do these things. Showing that you do them makes your story credible. And, because showing necessarily involves detail and anecdote, it will also make your application interesting. Finally, showing – because each individual experience is unique – will differentiate and distinguish you from other applicants, even those from similar geographic, industry, and functional backgrounds.
Here are some practical tips for integrating the characteristics of the program into your application naturally:
- Your resume should identify areas, roles and achievements that reflect a collaborative effort and, if relevant, risk-taking.
- In your main essay, in selecting and conceptualizing your topic, look for something that centers on and illuminates experiences reflecting the programs’ stated key qualities. Build your case with anecdote and example.
- If your recommenders welcome input, discuss with them this program’s character so that they can select points that will align with it.
In your interview, discuss your understanding of and appreciation for these aspects of the program directly if/when asked why you want to attend Booth. If you are asked about your goals, you might also explain how they necessitate the approach that Chicago employs. Also, find opportunities to weave in examples and stories that reflect these characteristics.
Good luck with Chicago Booth! Having worked with many successful Chicago Booth MBA applicants, I would be glad to help you craft an application that brings out your unique fit with this great program.Cindy Tokumitsu has advised hundreds of successful applicants, helping them gain acceptance to top MBA and EMBA programs in her 20 years with Accepted. She would love to help you too. Want Cindy to help you get Accepted? Click here to get in touch!
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