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Kellogg 2011 MBA Application Questions, Deadlines, Tips. 0

This Kellogg 2011 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. You can access the entire series at My tips for answering Kellogg's are in red below.

Northwestern Kellogg 2011 MBA Essay Questions

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 an MBA. (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 many MBA applications, certainly in the ones 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. 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)

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 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. Discuss how Kellogg's leadership development programs 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 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 an instance where you encountered resistance in a professional team setting. How did you address the situation?

Similar to last year's question about making an unpopular decision.  Let's explore a few elements of this question. It is only 400 words. It does not ask for a treatise on handling opposition or working in teams. It requests an example from a professional setting, so sports and extra-curricular experiences won't fit. It asks you to "describe an instance" (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 handling resistance, achieving consensus, motivation, or leadership , but keep your response succinctly experiential.

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, 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) The best mistake I ever made was……

New Question. Think about turning lemons into lemonade. Can you acknowledge a mistake? Can you learn from it? Do you have the self-awareness to look back and see that something you did wrong actually turned out well?  The ability to admit to a mistake, learn from it, and turn it into a positive demonstrates resilience, maturity, and character. Show 'em you have it.

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 is running an Early Bird Special: 10% off all MBA essay consulting and editing.  Consider our Kellogg Consulting and Editing Packages. They too are 10% off thru July 31. Start your applications early, submit first round, and save money.

Northwestern Kellogg 2011 MBA Essay Application Deadlines

Round Due Date Notification
Round 1 Oct. 14, 2010 Dec. 20, 2010
Round 2 Jan. 11, 2011 Mar. 28, 2011
Round 3
Apr. 7, 2011 May 16, 2011

Please note that Kellogg has a more complex deadline system than most schools. Please visit their web site for detail

By Linda Abraham, President and Founder of