Kellogg MBA Essay Tips & Deadlines
As I write this post I’m on an airplane after spending two days on the gorgeous Northwestern campus and at Kellogg as part of the Association of International Graduate Admissions Consultants’ annual conference. I have come away not only with a deeper appreciation of the Kellogg MBA and its admissions process, but immense admiration for Dean Sally Blount’s accomplishments in her tenure at Kellogg. Dean since 2010, she has invigorated the school and spearheaded several initiatives, including a record-breaking fundraising campaign and the construction of Kellogg’s magnificent, airy, and light 415,000-square-foot new home overlooking Lake Michigan.
It is simply stunning.
However, she is stepping down in June, taking a one-year sabbatical and then returning to teaching. She leaves very big shoes to fill.
While Kellogg searches for a new dean, their admissions team is moving forward and preparing for the 2018-19 application cycle. They liked the results of last year’s application and have made only minor tweaks to the video component this year.
I’d like to highlight one of my takeaways from our sessions with the Kellogg admissions team. If there is one theme I heard over and over from them, it’s “intentionality.” They want to see it in you. They really want to understand why you’re making the choices that you are making. Keep that theme in mind as you respond to Kellogg’s questions.
Northwestern Kellogg MBA Application
My tips are in blue below.
Kellogg MBA Essay #1:
Kellogg’s purpose is to educate, equip & inspire brave leaders who create lasting value. Tell us about a time you have demonstrated leadership and created lasting value. What challenges did you face, and what did you learn? (450 words)
First things first: Kellogg is asking for ONE experience. Not more. Unlike many similar essay questions, Kellogg is not limiting you to professional settings. You do have the option to use a non-professional leadership experience.
You can use a CAR framework for this response (Challenge, Action, Results). Start with the challenge or challenges that you faced by simply describing the situation and obstacles. Then relate your actions. How did you motivate others to move in one direction? How did you influence and persuade?
Keep in mind that word “brave.” It implies there were risks (absent risk, bravery isn’t necessary).
Finally, what were the results? How did you create value, not just for yourself but for your team, group, department, company, club, or whatever entity you were contributing to? And what did you learn about leadership, collaboration, and influence?
While it isn’t a requirement, and I can imagine instances where this may not be true, examples where you led by virtue of your stature and others’ respect for you will be more compelling than those where you led by virtue of station and title.
Kellogg MBA Essay #2:
Pursuing an MBA is a catalyst for personal and professional growth. How have you grown in the past? How do you intend to grow at Kellogg? (450 words)
This is a difficult question, and the response should provide Kellogg with real insight into the individuals applying to its MBA program. Before responding, do your homework on the Kellogg program and what you want to do after you leave Kellogg. The latter will tell you how you want to grow and the former will tell you how you will do so at Kellogg.
First, think about times you have grown either professionally or personally. Which of those instances would you like Kellogg to know about? Ideally the event you choose to focus on will relate in some way to the growth you want to have at Kellogg.
Then reflect on how you intend to grow while at Kellogg. I think a strong answer to this question will really go beyond mere skill acquisition, although that can be part of your response. How are you going to take advantage of what Kellogg offers to become a person who can see opportunity when faced with challenge, envision an outcome when faced with a void, and harness emotional intelligence, data, and acquired skills to lead collaboratively and with clarity of purpose?
Finally this very short essay also asks for you to give an example of a time you grew in the past. You can tie your future growth to this past growth, even if not in a professional arena, by highlighting your vision, interpersonal skills, or ability to lead collaboratively in the past and in the future.
Certain applicants will respond to additional questions:
Kellogg Essay for Dual-degree Applicants:
For applicants to the MMM or JD-MBA dual degree programs, please explain why that program is right for you. (250 words)
A straightforward response is required here. What do you want to do that requires both degrees? Why is this joint program the right one to fill in the gaps in your education and take you to a point where you can go down your desired professional path?
Kellogg MBA Reapplicant Essay:
Since your previous application, what steps have you taken to strengthen your candidacy? (250 word limit)
No trick questions here. How are you a better candidate today than when Kellogg rejected you? How have you addressed weaknesses in your previous application?
All applicants have the opportunity to provide explanations or clarification in Additional Information:
If needed, use this section to briefly describe any extenuating circumstances (e.g. unexplained gaps in work experience, choice of recommenders, inconsistent or questionable academic performance, etc.) (no word count)
This is a true optional question. If necessary, use it to provide context for possible negatives. Take responsibility for mistakes if necessary and discuss what you have changed so that you don’t err in the same way again.
Keep this section short and to-the-point. Don’t be fooled by, “No word count.”
Kellogg MBA Video Essay:
The Video Essay is one component of the application and provides you with an additional opportunity to demonstrate what you will bring to our vibrant Kellogg community – in an interactive way. You will respond to several short video essay questions. The questions are designed to bring to life the person we have learned about on paper.
• After submitting an application and payment, you will be able to access the video essay through your application status page. One question will be a “get to know you" icebreaker type of question. The second question will be an opportunity to describe your plans for the future and how Kellogg will help you on that journey. The other questions will be randomly generated questions that will be similar to interview questions.
• There are practice questions that you may complete as many times as you like to get comfortable with the format and technology. The practice questions and experience will simulate the actual video essay experience, so this is meant to be a useful tool to help you feel prepared.
• We encourage you to practice so you are comfortable with the format once it is time to complete the official questions. There is not an opportunity to re-do the answer to the official video essay questions.
• You will have 20 seconds to think about the question and up to one minute to give your response.
• We estimate the video essays will take 20-25 minutes to complete – which includes time for set-up and answering all the practice questions. You will need an internet connected computer with a webcam, microphone and an updated version of Adobe Flash in order to complete the video essay.
To prepare for your webcam session, you need to practice for the experience of talking to a video camera with no responses from another human being. For tips on how to prepare and behave during the webcam session, please see Kellogg’s “Video Essay” on its Application Process page as well as my Tips for Video MBA Essay Questions.
For expert guidance with your Kellogg MBA application, check out Accepted’s MBA Application Packages, which include comprehensive guidance from an experienced admissions consultant. We’ve helped hundreds of applicants get accepted to Kellogg’s MBA program and look forward to helping you too!
*Your application must be received by Kellogg no later than 5 p.m. CT on the deadline for the round in which you are applying.
***Disclaimer: Information is subject to change. Please check with individual programs to verify the essay questions, instructions and deadlines.***
By Linda Abraham, president and founder of Accepted and co-author of the definitive book on MBA admissions, MBA Admission for Smarties: The No-Nonsense Guide to Acceptance at Top Business Schools.
• 5 Fatal Flaws to Avoid in Your MBA Application Essays, a free guide
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