Chicago Booth has always prided itself on valuing applicants who can handle ambiguity and lack of structure. And it's application reflects that principle. In spades. This year's Booth also application mirrors the "streamlining" that has taken place throughout the b-school world as well as Chicago's distinctive culture and love of ambiguity. This essay/presentation question, which is new for this year, is about as open-ended as it gets.
My tips are in blue below.
Chicago Booth values adventurous inquiry, diverse perspectives, and a collaborative exchange of ideas. This is us. Who are you?
This is a really difficult question.
What do you want to tell Booth that reflects your adventurous and curious nature, your distinctive perspective and experience, which will contribute to the class' diversity, and your ability to contribute to a vigorous but still collaborative exchange of ideas? And yes it should be genuinely you.
To start make a list of the experiences and achievements that you are most proud of and that best reflect who you are. Then review the presentation/essay guidelines below as well as the Booth admissions criteria. Next to each item on your list, add the qualities from Booth's criteria that this experience or achievement reveals.
Also look at the other information you are providing in the application including your resume and those boxes. What about you is absent from these other parts of the application? Write those experiences and attributes down too in a separate list. Which items on your "absentee" list introduce the qualities Booth seeks? Are any of them on your first list of achievements?
Focus on the items that are on both lists and that are most important to you and distinctive about you. As Booth itself instructs "We’ve learned a lot about you throughout the application, but what more should we know?" The answer to that question is a critical part of a effective response to Booth's essay question.
• Be reflective. We’ve learned a lot about you throughout the application, but what more should we know?
• Interpret broadly. “Who are you?” can be interpreted in many different ways. We encourage you to think critically and broadly about who you are, and how your values, passions and experiences have influenced you.
• Determine your own length. There is no prescribed minimum or maximum length. We trust that you will use your best judgment in determining how long your submission should be, but we recommend that you think strategically about how to best allocate the space.
Don't give in to temptation. Lack of a word limit or guideline is not a license for verbosity or permission to write the great American novel (or autobiography). Concision is valued in the business world. Show good judgment and consideration for the reader's time. Keep it short, but tell your story.
• Choose the format that works for you. You can design your presentation or compose your essay in the format that you feel best captures your response. However, please consider the specific technical restrictions noted below.
• Think about you, not us. Rather than focusing on what you think we want to hear, focus on what is essential for us to know about you. Simply put, be genuine.
• File Size: Maximum file size is 16 MB.
• Accepted Upload Formats: Acceptable formats are PDF, Word and Powerpoint.
• Multimedia Restrictions: We will be viewing your submission electronically and in full color, but all submissions will be converted to PDF files, so animation, video, music, etc. will not translate over.
• Preserve Your Formatting: We strongly recommend converting your piece to a PDF file prior to submitting to ensure that everything you see matches what we see.
A few thoughts:
Should you write an essay or use a visual presentation? That depends on you. If you are talented visually and love graphics and powerpoint, use a visual medium as long as it will translate to PDF. If you are a "words person" comfortable expressing your thoughts in writing, write the essay. Do what will make it easiest for you to express your essence.
Optional Essay: If there is any important information that you were unable to address elsewhere in the application, please share that information here. (300 word maximum)
The instructions are pretty clear. Is there something you want the admissions committee to know about that is not included elsewhere, here's the spot for it. A gap in employment? A dip in grades caused by illness or family problems? This is the spot.
Reapplicant Essay: Upon reflection, how has your perspective regarding your future, Chicago Booth, and/or getting an MBA changed since the time of your last application? (300 words maximum)
This is a critical essay for MBA reapplicants. Remember, Chicago (and any school you are reapplying to) wants to see growth. Same ol’, same ‘ol got you a ding last time and probably will again this time. Let this brief essay show a maturation and evolution of your goals and reasons for wanting to attend Chicago Booth. Chicago loves to see critical thinking.
If you would like professional guidance with your Chicago Booth MBA application, please consider Accepted’s MBA essay editing and MBA admissions consulting or our MBA Application Packages, which include advising, editing, interview coaching, and a resume edit for the Booth application.
Chicago Booth 2015 MBA Application Deadlines:
||Final Decision Notification
||September 25, 2014
||December 18, 2014
||January 6, 2015
||March 26, 2015
||April 7, 2015
||May 21, 2015
By Linda Abraham, president and founder of Accepted.com and co-author of the new, definitive book on MBA admissions, MBA Admission for Smarties: The No-Nonsense Guide to Acceptance at Top Business Schools.
• School-Specific MBA Application Essay Tips
• Chicago Booth B-School Zone
• Audio & Video in Admissions, a free guide
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This article originally appeared on the Accepted Admissions Consulting Blog, the official blog of Accepted.com.