Kellogg MBA Essay Tips & Deadlines [2019 – 2020]
I’d like to highlight one of my takeaways from our sessions with the Kellogg admissions team at a recent AIGAC conference and also a recent online webinar for admissions consultants. 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. What has motivated you in the past and what is motivating you today? I believe those questions form the underlying foundation of the Kellogg MBA application and should be front of mind as you answer the questions posed.
Kellogg completely changed its essay 2 and edited essay 1 slightly. Your response to the first essay question is now limited to a “recent example.”
My tips are in italics below.
Kellogg MBA application
Each Kellogg essay lets you explain in your own words, why you think Kellogg is right for you. Take some time to think through the experiences that led you here and how they have shaped where you want to go.
Kellogg MBA essay #1:
Kellogg’s purpose is to educate, equip & inspire brave leaders who create lasting value. Provide a recent example where you have demonstrated leadership and created value. What challenges did you face, and what did you learn? (450 words)
First things first: Kellogg is asking for ONE recent 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.
I’d try to keep your example within the last two years. Presumably, you are going to choose something your proud of, and if it’s from longer ago in the past, a reader may wonder “What have you been doing lately?”
You can use a CAR (Challenge, Action, Results) framework for this response. 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 the 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:
Values are what guide you in your life and work. What values are important to you and how have they influenced you? (450 words)
This is a real stop-and-think question. (Actually, aren’t they all? Yes, but this one probably will require a little more thought.)
What values are important to you and how have they influenced your behavior, your life, and dreams for the future?
The value(s) you focus on could be a particular religious or philosophical approach to life. It could be something political or something more personal like mindfulness, healthy living, service to others, helping the less fortunate, or any number of values. There really are a lot of possibilities.
However, the tough part of the question isn’t listing values; it is discussing how they have influenced you. How are you a different person because of them? How do those values guide your behavior guided?
Since Kellogg provides a 450-word limit, you don’t have a lot of room to discuss many values. I’d focus on one or two and discuss their impact on your daily or weekly life. If the impact of your value has led you to have an impact on others, include the ripple effect too.
Certain Kellogg applicants will respond to additional questions
Please discuss your post-MBA career goal, the current experience you will leverage to support the transition, and the Kellogg 1Y opportunities that will help you reach this goal. (250 words)
Again “intentionality is the name of the game at Kellogg. Why do you want a Kellogg MBA and how has your past experience and education prepared you to pursue the abbreviated, intense 1Y program to achieve those goals.
Please discuss your post-JD-MBA career goals and why the JD-MBA Program is the right program to help you reach those goals. (250 words)
This is a succinct goals question for the Kellogg’s JD-MBA applicants. What do you want to do that will benefit from both degrees and why is Kellogg’s intense 3-year JD/MBA program the right place for you to achieve those goals?
You can start with a vision of the future and then circle back to how the Kellogg JD/MBA will help you realize it.
The five core values of the MMM Program are curiosity, creativity, empathy, open-mindedness and a learning mindset. Describe a situation in which you demonstrated one of these values. Why is this value an important part of the MMM experience for you? (250 words)
Kellogg’s MMM program is looking for fit with this question. It wants to see in this essay that at least one of its core values is something that resonates and motivates you. Describe the situation, ideally an experience in which you exhibit more than one of the core values, and then focus on the one that you want to highlight. And of course, don’t forget to answer the “Why is this value important” part of the question.
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?
Kellogg MBA optional essay:
All applicants have the opportunity to provide explanations or clarification in Additional Information. Use this section if you think the person reviewing your application might have a few questions about one or more of your responses. This could include:
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.
Kellogg MBA video essay:
The video essay 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.
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 itsApplication Process page as well as my Tips for Video MBA Essay Questions.
Also since at least the first essay question is going to be fairly open-ended and give you the opportunity to introduce whatever aspect of your life you want, prepare what you want them to know that isn’t discussed elsewhere in your application. It could be a challenge you’ve overcome. It could be a hobby or non-professional interest. It could be an experience or achievement not mentioned elsewhere. Remember they are viewing this video with a desire to understand what you’re going to add to the Kellogg community.
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!
Round 1: Application deadline September 18, 2019 ; Decisions released December 11, 2019
Round 2: Application deadline January 8, 2019 ; Decisions released March 25, 2020
Round 3: Application deadline April 8, 2020 ; Decisions released May 13, 2020
*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 Kellogg’s essay questions, instructions and deadlines.***
By Linda Abraham, president and founder of Accepted. Linda earned her bachelors and MBA at UCLA, and has been advising applicants since 1994 when she founded Accepted. Linda is the co-founder and first president of AIGAC. She has written or co-authored 13 e-books on the admissions process, and has been quoted by The Wall Street Journal, U.S. News, Poets & Quants, Bloomberg Businessweek, CBS News, and others. Linda is the host of Admissions Straight Talk, a podcast for graduate school applicants. Want an admissions expert help you get accepted? Click here to get in touch!
• 5 Fatal Flaws to Avoid in Your MBA Application Essays, a free guide
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