Northwestern Kellogg School of Management Class of 2016 Essay Analysis by Stacy Blackman Consulting
Fit is a crucial aspect to demonstrate in your Kellogg MBA application. The close-knit community values leadership and teamwork. At the same time, diversity in experience, background and thought is valued among the developing leaders of Kellogg. Doing your research on the programs, activities, clubs, classes and professors at Kellogg will be important as you approach your essays. While you are reading and conversing with students and alumni, keep in mind how you envision your own background adding to the community.
This year, Kellogg has added a mandatory video interview to the application process. While it won’t replace the in-person interview for Kellogg, it is an opportunity for the admissions committee to see the person behind the accomplishments you will describe. Video interviews can be daunting, and Stacy Blackman
Consulting has developed customized preparation to help you practice for this important component of the application and provide our expert feedback.
Essay 1What’s the greatest obstacle you’ve overcome (personally or professionally)? How has overcoming this obstacle prepared you to achieve success now and in the future? (350 word limit)
This essay question is designed to evaluate your character and how you handle adversity. Even if you have not faced a dramatic difficulty in your life thus far you have definitely encountered challenges. The obstacle is not as important as the lesson, so consider moments in your life when you changed perspective or learned how to solve problems as a result of a difficult situation.
No one has a completely smooth road to success, and it is often the obstacles that clarify your true passions and lead to growth. Leaders are not always perfect when difficulties arise, so even if you made mistakes along the way it is likely you learned from them. The bulk of this short essay should focus on how you overcame the obstacle and what you learned that has prepared you to solve problems or handle challenges. Consider how you would approach a similar difficulty now and what you might advise a friend in a difficult circumstance.
Essay 2What have been your most significant leadership experiences? What challenges did you face, and what impact did you have? This is your opportunity to explain how you Think Bravely. (500 word limit)
The Kellogg MBA seeks to make “strong leaders stronger.”?Therefore, you will want to demonstrate that you are a strong leader, and that a Kellogg MBA can make you stronger. This question focuses on leadership experiences you have had and seeks to understand how you think and behave in challenging situations that may have tested your ability to work with others.
This behavioral question requires a very specific example to work effectively. The intention for this question is to see an example of a past experience that indicates how you will behave in the future, potentially when you must lead at Kellogg and in your future career. Make sure you include details about exactly what you did and said in your leadership story.
Essay 3Part 1: What career/role are you looking to pursue and why? (250 word limit) Part 2: Why are Kellogg and the MBA essential to achieving these career goals? (250 word limit)
(Please answer Part 2 in terms of your program choice: One-Year, Two-Year, MMM, JD-MBA).
This question has changed slightly from prior years and indicates you can approach it either as a long-term or short-term career question. Ideally your career vision is cohesive and both flow together. A career unfolds over time and can include many roles, so it’s most reasonable to consider both your long-term and short-term goals in answering this question.
Doing your research on Kellogg MBA’s academics and resources will help you answer the question about how Kellogg is essential to achieve your goals. Choose specific classes, professors and programs that fit into your career goals. Think about clubs and conferences that are unique to the Kellogg MBA and will advance your career. Your motivation to pursue an MBA at Kellogg should also show that you are interested in being an active part of the community if possible.
If you are applying to the MMM program, you’ll have to show how the MEM degree will prepare you more effectively for your career goals than the MBA alone. Be able to articulate what is different about the Kellogg MMM program as compared to the MBA and other joint degrees. Know the classes you want to take, the professors you hope to work for, and how the MMM experience will be an asset in your future career. Similarly, the JD-MBA at Kellogg is a highly competitive admissions process and will require a very clear explanation of what you will do with both degrees after school. Consider the unique attributes of the Kellogg JD-MBA program as compared to others, and also why you specifically need both a JD and an MBA.
Re-Applicants OnlySince your previous application, what steps have you taken to strengthen your candidacy? (400 word limit) Please note: re-applicants are required to answer this question in addition to #1-3.
In answering this question make sure you provide tangible evidence that you have improved the overall package you are submitting this year. Improvements like GMAT score or new quantitative classes are especially tangible, but a promotion, increase in responsibility at work, a job change or even a change of goals and mission can apply.
Additional Information (Optional)
If needed, briefly describe any extenuating circumstances (e.g. unexplained gaps in work experience, choice of recommenders, inconsistent or questionable academic performance, etc.) (No word limit)
If there are any areas of concern, this is the correct place to address them. Strike an upbeat tone here and avoid excuses. Explain your issue clearly and focus most of the essay on the correction for the issue. For example, if you had a disciplinary issue in college, spend most of the essay demonstrating that you learned from the experience and have been an ideal citizen ever since. Low GPA issues should be explained here, and if there is a grade of C or below on your transcript the admissions committee will want to know why and feel comfortable it is an outlier in your overall academic record. For academic questions make sure you emphasize your improved performance either later in your college career or in subsequent work or classes since college.
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MBA blogger, US News and Author, The MBA Application Roadmap