Kellogg 2016 MBA Essay Tips
Posted by Chioma Isiadinso
The 2015-2016 Kellogg School of Business MBA essay prompts have been released, and one thing is clear: Kellogg wants applicants to demonstrate that they have put in a lot of time and thought to prepare for their essays.
For their application, Kellogg requires two 450-word written essays, as well as two 20-second video essays, from all students. Additional essay questions are required for re-applicants and students pursuing dual degrees.
There is a lot of ground to cover for the Kellogg MBA essays, so let’s look at it piece by piece.
Writing your 2015-2016 Kellogg MBA application essays
The first required essay reads:
Leadership and teamwork are integral parts of the Kellogg experience. Describe a recent and meaningful time you were a leader. What challenges did you face, and what did you learn?
There are a couple of important elements to note in this essay.
First, they are giving you a clear breakdown of what they want you to cover in your essay:
– Recent leadership experience – Within the last 3-4 years
– Meaningful leadership experience – Not necessarily your biggest or most impressive-sounding title, but the experience that meant the most to you. Maybe you learned something new about yourself as a leader, or about working with different personality styles. What matters is that the experience changed you or had a lasting impact on you in some way.
– Challenges you faced – No leadership role runs 100% perfectly all the time. Challenges can be external (conflicts with your team members or roadblocks to completing your project) or internal (feeling inexperienced or vulnerable as a leader), but they should be something you either solved or learned how to prevent in the future.
– What you learned – What were your takeaways from the experience? This is where you can demonstrate your ability for growth and self-reflection.
In addition to showing you what they want, the first essay prompt is also framed by Kellogg culture, emphasizing the importance of leadership and teamwork both. Your essay example should speak to the importance of teamwork, not dictator-style leadership.
The second required Kellogg MBA essay reads:
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?
As with the first essay prompt, answering this one well will require you to research Kellogg and understand what sets it apart from other top business schools.
After all, the question is not “How do you intend to grow while earning an MBA”, but “How do you intend to grow at Kellogg?”
Remember to cover both personal and professional growth in your essay. Try to choose an example that highlights how you have taken advantage of an opportunity to work hard in order to grow, or one that illustrates how you have grown from working within a strong team.
Creating your 2015-2015 Kellogg MBA application video essay responses
Kellogg is unique among top business schools in requiring students to submit video essays along with their application.
By far the most important thing to realize about the Kellogg MBA video essays is that you must practice, and practice a lot, in order to do well on them.
The school does not release the specific questions for the videos ahead of time, to avoid having students read pre-written answers. Kellogg is looking for authenticity in their video essay responses.
While you can’t know the specific questions you will be asked, there will likely be one question about your interest in the Kellogg MBA specifically, and another question designed to get to know you better as a candidate.
The school will give you 10 sample questions to practice with before moving on to the actual recorded video essay prompts. However, you can and should still practice beforehand to get comfortable with the format, and with responding succinctly and elegantly to a video question.
One great strategy is to have a friend give you essay questions via Skype, and time your response. You can also simply make your own 20-second videos after choosing a prompt at random.
Additional essays for the Kellogg 2015-216 MBA application
While the traditional and video essays discussed earlier are required for all Kellogg applicants, there are two situations where candidates may be required to write an additional essay: re-applicants, and those applying to a dual-degree program.
Both essays have a 250-word limit. The prompt for re-applicants reads:
Since your previous application, what steps have you taken to strengthen your candidacy?
The prompt for dual-degree applicants reads:
For applicants to the MMM or JD-MBA dual-degree programs, please explain why that program is right for you.
In both cases, space for the essay is very limited, so it’s important to get right to the point.
A degree of introspection is vital for answering well, and both questions also require applicants to have a clear understanding of the Kellogg culture and brand.
For re-applicants, the application essay should highlight deliberate choices that you’ve made to improve as a potential Kellogg student. In other words, don’t just tell the committee what has changed about your application; show them how you have worked to grow and effect change in your career path.
For dual-degree applicants, the application essay should acknowledge the additional work required for a dual degree, and show that you have put thought into both how you will accomplish the enhanced workload, and why you are pursuing a dual degree as opposed to either degree individually.
When it comes to something as important as your MBA application, it helps to have an outside opinion to make sure you’re putting forth your best work.
With a free MBA assessment from Expartus, you’ll get a thorough outside analysis of your application, your professional and educational background, and the business schools that would be the best fit for you.
Admissionado here, representing our favorite city of Chicago, while also throwing down some MBA knowledge for y'all. Behold: our 2017-2018 Kellogg MBA Essay Analysis! The Kellogg essays (like all MBA essays, really!) present some challenges for applicants. We hate to see people struggle so we got the crew together to analyze the Kellogg essay prompts and provide you a helpful little road map to follow as you dive in. Just think of us as the Waze of MBA Admissions.
Northwestern Kellogg School of Management 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)
This is a tricky one. Created lasting value? First of all, that’s some serious sh*t. Second, how would you know if you actually created lasting value? It’s one thing to think that that’s the case. It’s another thing for it to be true, persistently. First thing’s first, we need to identify our story before we do anything else…
Creating lasting value implies bringing something new to the table. You changed a company’s algorithm for hiring: previously they’d focused on X, you inspired them instead to focus on Y. Or, you pursued a growth opportunity no one had ever considered before. It worked, and now it’s a stable and NEW source of revenue. There are a million versions. Whatever it is that you did … it can’t have been in the job description. It can’t have been something that was expected of you. It has to be something YOU brought to the table in a somehow surprising way. Think of your best few examples of that. That’s a good starting point.
Now, let’s talk about how you LED the thing. This particular leadership example requires proactively doing something that otherwise wouldn’t have happened. What were the stakes? What obstacles stood in your way? Why was it difficult? What were your personal risks? What propelled your forward in SPITE of those challenges? What were you hoping to achieve? Take us through your actions, bringing us into your thought process along the way. Let’s see how your gears work.
Finally, what did you learn during all of this? Did everything work out as expected? Congrats… you didn’t learn anything. There must have been twists. An instance when you were WRONG. An instance when you made a bad call. An instance when a certain challenge was HARDER than you expected it would be. An aspect of yourself that you had rated too highly, or not highly enough. Something that bumped along the way. Take us through the “before” and “after” here. Somewhere inside that delta of where you landed AFTER this experience should have POSITIVE implications for your NEXT leadership adventure. If you have an example, even better. If not, throw it into the future regardless, forecasting how you’ll APPLY some of the lessons learned here.
Part I – Setup the Situation. Explain the status quo you were hoping to disrupt. Or the boss’s directive. Whatever it was that led to your stepping into a leadership role and ultimately delivering something cool and NEW to the table. Set it up by explaining what the goal was, what the challenges were, why it was important, and what you stood to gain or lose. End this section laying out what would be required for “someone” to step in and lead this thing to success. (100 words)
Part II – Explain the leadership stuff. Take us through the “what you did” piece, step by step, decision by decision. Conflict to conflict. Inner debate, weighing options, eventual decisions. All of it. Lay it all out. (125 words)
Part III – How did this create lasting value? Now comes the tricky part. Where’s the evidence that this “was bigger than you,” and actually fundamentally changed things? First we need to learn of this in some verifiable way other than “you think it created value.” How did you come to learn of it? Walk us through that, and then explain in plain terms what that value actually means. It’s important to do this in the simplest of terms we can understand. (100-125 words)
Part IV – Wha’d Ya Learn? This is reflection time. Time to expose some of those bumps, bad calls, or incorrect assumptions. It doesn’t have to be “bad” but something that convincingly outs you as a REFLECTIVE individual. Put yourself on trial here, throw yourself under the microscope. Make a case for why the version of you at the END of this experience is better than the person at its BEGINNING. Try to wrap your mind around that… Something shifted along the way to IMPROVE you. What was it? Take your time to identify what those things might have been, and try to articulate it all as simply and clearly as you possibly can here. (100-125 words)
Northwestern Kellogg School of Management 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)
Let’s talk about two key elements of Kellogg’s “growth” essay:
What is growth?
How should you relate this to Kellogg?
Growth. Growth is all about change from X to Y. Consider a plant. If a plant is in a certain environment, subjected to certain external pressures and conditions, it will experience a fundamental change we call “growth.” It may lengthen. It may produce flowers. Whatever it is, there’s some kind of DELTA between the before and after. Easy enough to understand right?
Okay, but let’s dig into it a bit more. What actually caused that growth? Was it the DNA of the plant? Or was it the conditions it was exposed to? Well, it can’t JUST be the DNA. If that were true, you could plant evergreen trees in the middle of the Sahara desert and they’d do just fine right? Wrong. The DNA is a terrible match for the harsh, arid environment of the desert. So, DNA alone doesn’t ensure growth. Likewise, conditions are only as effective as the “DNA” of the thing they’re influencing. Reverse it. Apply rain to coniferous trees and they love it. Apply the same rain to succulents, and it’s lights out. We’ve just applied the wrong “environment” to the DNA.
Conclusion: it has to be a match of:
The inherent characteristics of the element.
The conditions of its environment.
This is a key concept as you consider your own growth stories. First, you have to talk about growth in terms of a clear before and after. But also, you must address what the environment was, and how it influenced “your DNA.” In order to do this well, you need show a clear understanding of what you’re made of, and how that particular environment helped to shape it.
Now, you need to airlift that formula and apply it to something you detect about Kellogg. What is it about the Kellogg environment that holds promise for you that you will grow in a similar way? What is it about their culture, or a specific aspect of their curriculum, or some other Kellogg-specific thing that is going to exert a force on you that encourages personal growth? The only way you can predict this is if you have a story in your past that shows how you respond to certain stimuli, that you can then connect to something at Kellogg that therefore holds the same promise for you.
First, walk us through a “growth” story. Paint a clear before and a clear after, and explain how the ENVIRONMENT acted to help SHAPE that transformation from A to B. Hover on the environmental aspect, focus on the stuff that helped bring about that change. What were those external influences? How did they inspire you to grow?
Now, identify specific aspects of Kellogg that resemble those “conditions.” Be careful, the stuff you pick can’t apply equally well to other schools, or else your point won’t weigh anything. It has to be Kellogg-specific. Now explain the parallel to how these conditions are the exact conditions that promote personal growth in you. We’ll believe you because you’ve already PROVEN this in section 1.
Northwestern Kellogg School of Management Dual-Degree Applicant MBA Essay
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)
Not much to analyze here, but here’s a neat little trick.
Explain your goals. Then, in general terms, explain what SOMEONE (anyone) might need in order to achieve those goals. Then explain what it is you already have, which should get you to about 60-70% of the way there on this essay.
Now explain how either the MMM or JD-MBA program specifically allows YOU to shore up YOUR specific gaps to meet your established goals. It’s two paragraphs, and it’s pretty straightforward:
Paragraph 1 – These are my goals. This is what someone needs in order to succeed at these goals. This is what I have, and more interestingly, everything I don’t have … and therefore need.
Paragraph 2 – This specific dual degree is ideal because unlike THIS OTHER path, and THIS OTHER path, this combines XYZ and solves ABC in this and that amazingly efficient and effective way. Check out these three specific examples of how this program specifically shores up gaps in MY SPECIFIC profile and helps me get to my SPECIFIC goals… perfectly.
Northwestern Kellogg School of Management MBA Optional Essay
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)
Read our team’s complete take on the idea of optional essay, including a brief (recent) history of b-schools’ relationship with it, and how our recommendations have evolved over the years, right here.
Northwestern Kellogg School of Management 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 the 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.
We’ve written in detail about the video essay, and no matter what school you’re applying to, the same general principles apply. Read our 7 Tips for Preparing the Dreaded Live Video MBA Essay.
And that's that. Helpful, eh? If you have any questions on it or Kellogg or anything, just reply here or shoot us a PM. And if you want more Essay Analysis Goodness, check out more schools here. We're updating 'em daily as new prompts are released, so keep checking back.
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Last edited by JonAdmissionado on 17 Aug 2017, 12:33, edited 1 time in total.