Category Archives: Kellogg School of Management

Kellogg Essay Writing Tips and Deadlines 2012-13

– Jessica Nitschke

Deadlines

The Kellogg deadlines are quite complicated, involving a 2-step application process and separate deadlines for interview requests. For further details on their deadlines I’d like to direct you to Kellogg’s deadline instructions  here.

Essays

For the 2012-2013 application season the admissions team at Kellogg has completely changed three of its four required essay questions and reworded the remaining one (about leadership) to make what they’re asking more explicit. The new questions seem to be aimed at getting applicants to focus their answers more – to be more specific and direct about who they are and what they plan to get from their MBA education. These changes in Kellogg’s application are further evidence that, as always, applicants should strive to avoid generality and vagueness in their essays.

1. Discuss moments or influences in your personal life that have defined who you are today. (500 word limit)

This question is about allowing the admissions officers to get to know you more deeply, beyond the facts of your resume. This is your chance to introduce yourself and make a memorable impression on the reader, which is important when you consider that admissions officers read thousands of essays from applicants, many of whom have similar types of work experience, test scores, and so on.

What they’re looking for is a description of an influential episode or person in your life that had a lasting impact on you, such that it is in part responsible for the choices you have made in your life and the type of person you have become. It could be an encounter you had while traveling, a childhood experience, a personal setback, an influential teacher, or a book you read. Whatever you choose, you need to make it clear how this experience contributed to make you the person you are today. With only a 500-word limit, it is best to focus on just one or two moments or influences, giving sufficient explanation or narrative detail to make the episode meaningful, rather than create a list, which will be too general and not have much impact.

2. What 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 (personally and/or professionally). (500 word limit)

The admissions team at Kellogg has updated this traditional leadership question to address the specific characteristics that they look for and cultivate in leaders: courage to think outside the box and to influence others, collaboration, innovation – all of which are part of their “Think Bravely” tag line (applicants would be wise to read more about this on their website). So in approaching this question, applicants should use examples that reflect these qualities. The question asks for more than one example, but you have limited space, so it’s best to stick to just two examples, preferably ones that highlight different strengths. They don’t both have to come from your work experience (although one certainly should), and if you have had leadership experiences in sports or volunteer organizations, this is an excellent place to call attention to that part of your resume and background.

3. Imagine yourself at your Kellogg graduation. What career will you be preparing to enter, and how have the MBA and Kellogg helped you get there? (Please answer in terms of your program choice: One-Year, Two-Year, MMM, JD-MBA) (500 word limit)

What they’re looking for here is concrete evidence that you have seriously thought through your decision to pursue an MBA – that you’ve done the necessary self-reflection of yourself and your career to date; that you’ve researched what an MBA can and cannot do for you; and that you have thoroughly investigated Kellogg’s program and can articulate precisely what aspects of this program will help you in your goals.

In answering this question, be sure you present a clear idea of what you want to be doing when you finish – it’s ok if you’re not 100% sure – no one is going to hold you to exactly what you write in this essay. But you do need to demonstrate that you have specific goals that are ambitious but still realistic, and that an MBA from Kellogg is an important step in reaching these goals. The more specific you can be on this point, the better, to show your familiarity with Kellogg’s offerings and how they are well matched to your academic needs.

4. What one interesting or fun fact would you want your future Kellogg classmates to know about you? (25 words or less)

These types of questions are always difficult, as it’s challenging to try and guess what others would truly find interesting about yourself. Look at the question this way: this is a chance for you to round out your application. After you’ve finished all the other essays and finished editing your resume, you should try to take a step back and look at your application as a whole, consider the picture that you’ve painted of yourself, and ask, is there something missing? Is there something important, something beyond your professional identity, which makes you interesting and enjoyable to be around, which you just haven’t had the chance to put anywhere else in your application? Then this is the place to put it. This could be a hobby or skill, an interesting childhood pursuit, an unexpected part-time or summer job, or something else entirely. Just be sure that it doesn’t duplicate something you’ve already discussed elsewhere in your essays. If you’re struggling to answer this one, the best course of action is to consult with a variety of friends or co-workers – people who know you pretty well – about things that they find interesting about you.

Reve Counselor Jessica Nitschke has a BA from the University of Chicago and a PhD from the University of California, Berkeley. She has taught at Berkeley and is a former faculty member at DePauw University and Georgetown University. Most recently she was living and conducting research in Tokyo, Japan before moving to Cape Town, South Africa.

Kellogg Essay Question Analyses and Deadlines 2010-11

Kellogg has a slightly more complicated application process than any business school I know of and so I encourage you to visit their website to read thoroughly about the deadlines. However, I’ll sum up here their application timetable to make things a little easier.

Application Timetable

Kellogg has 2 parts to their application, and you cannot submit Part 2 (the main part consisting of the essays and recommendations) until you submit Part 1. There are different deadlines for each part meaning you need to plan ahead.

Part 1 is a brief application (though I do not encourage waiting until the last minute to complete this) in which you need to fill out a profile of your background along with a request for an interview, either on or off campus. Depending on whether you want to interview on or off campus, there is yet another deadline. Finally, there are additional deadlines by which you need to complete your ON CAMPUS interview so please check the website for this set of deadlines as I did not include them here. (If you request an off-campus interview, you just need to wait to be contacted by the admissions office.)

So, in sum, here are the main Kellogg deadlines:

 

  Round 1 Round 2 Round 3
Part 1 – OFF CAMPUS INTERVIEW September 24, 2010 December 15, 2010 March 24, 2011
Part 1 – ON CAMPUS INTERVIEW October 14, 2010 January 11, 2011 April 7, 2011
Part 2 October 14, 2010 January 11, 2011 April 7, 2011

Deadlines are 11:59 PM central time.

Below are Kellogg’s essays with my comments:

1. Briefly assess your career progress to date. Elaborate on your future career plans and your motivation for pursuing an MBA. (600 word limit)

This is a standard goals essay. Be sure to begin by discussing briefly your career – not a repetition of your resume but an explanation of your career growth, how you got to where you are now. Though they do not ask you specifically to discuss Kellogg, be sure to talk about how Kellogg’s resources will help you.

2. Describe your key leadership experiences and evaluate what leadership areas you hope to develop through your MBA experience. (600 word limit)

Please note that there is a typo in Kellogg’s on-line application this year. This question should read as above (the on-line application question asks for “leadership” in the singular form). I had contacted the admissions office on September 1 and this was their response:

Thank you for your email and for catching our typo.

Yes, that statement is supposed to be plural: “leadership experiences”.  Please answer the question with plural experiences.

We apologize for the mistake and thank you for alerting us to it.

As for the analysis, please make sure you notice that Kellogg is asking for a description of your key leadership experiences plural and use your best judgment as to how many you wish to write about. Given the word limit, I generally recommend writing about two key experiences which provide different insights into your strengths (e.g., one professional example and one sports or community example; one “thought” leadership episode and one “people” leadership episode). Lastly, don’t forget to conclude the essay with a thoughtful assessment of what other aspect(s) of leadership you’d like to strengthen and develop through your MBA studies.

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).

This is basically the same question as last year with the addition of another question at the end about impact.

You are asked to evaluate your application from the perspective of a student admissions committee member. What’s the difference? In my experience sitting on admissions committees, while faculty focused on things like GPAs and test scores, the student members cared much more about what it would be like to actually study and socialize with these prospective students. So, as you write this essay, think about the qualities that your future classmates would care about. (On the flip side, if you were a Kellogg student, what kind of fellow classmate would you want to have?) What qualities do you have that would be appealing to your future classmates, and what examples could you use to back them up? Finally, given your traits and experiences, what kinds of contributions could you make as a Kellogg student?

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?

This is a question about your ability to handle opposition. Perhaps you have dealt with reluctant staff or client members, people who didn’t quite want to follow your ideas or directions. What was the situation and how did you handle it? Did you succeed in winning them over?

b) People may be surprised to learn that I …

This is an open-ended question that allows you to talk about anything not immediately apparent in your application. Don’t take this question too literally – even if all your friends know that you skydive, the admissions committee won’t, so do use this essay to talk about something “interesting” about yourself. As you make your choice, though, remember that it isn’t necessarily what you write about that’s important, but how you write it. Use your topic as a way to show the reader something more about who you are – e.g., your values, your personal qualities, etc. Use this essay to balance out your essay set.

c) The best mistake I ever made was …

A great mistake is one that really taught you something important or really opened your eyes. What was your best mistake? What happened? What did you learn and how did the experience or lesson impact you?

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.)

This is straightforward. Since the essay questions are so thorough, I’d recommend using this question only to bring up any issues of concern like the ones they list. Keep this short.

Kellogg School of Management 2009-10 Essay Question Analyses and Deadlines

Kellogg has a complex and dizzying table of deadlines so let me try my best to organize them here (please note that you need to first submit a short Part 1 application (where you can make your request for either an on- or off-campus interview) before you can submit Part 2 (which is the traditional application set with the essays, transcripts, etc.)

from: http://www.kellogg.northwestern.edu/Programs/FullTimeMBA/Applying/Deadlines.aspx

Round 1 Round 2 Round 3
Part 1 of App AND Off-Campus Interview Request due Oct. 2 Dec. 18 Feb. 19
Part 1 of App AND On-Campus Interview Request due Oct. 15 Jan. 14 March 4
ON-Campus Interview to be Completed Dec. 11 March 5 April 16
Part 2 of App Due
by 11:59 pm CDT
Oct. 15 Jan. 14 March 4
Decision Rendered Jan. 11 March 29 May 17

And here are the essay questions for MBA applicants (I did not include the joint MBA/JD questions here) with my comments. The instructions below are from the on-line application:

~ ~ ~ ~

When uploading your essay, please include at least a one-inch top margin on each page, and re-state the question at the beginning of the essay.

MBA Program applicants
1. Briefly assess your career progress to date. Elaborate on your future career plans and your motivation for pursuing a graduate degree at Kellogg. (600 word limit)

The standard goals question. Be sure to start your essay with a discussion of how, professionally, you went from Point A to Point B (etc.) to where you are today. Be clear about what you want to do post-MBA (short and long term) and how Kellogg fits into your overall plans.

MBA and MMM Program applicants
2. Describe your key leadership experiences and evaluate what leadership areas you hope to develop through your MBA experience. (600 word limit)

Please make sure you notice that Kellogg is asking for a description of your key leadership experiences plural and please use your best judgment as to how many you wish to write about. Given the word limit, I generally recommend writing about two key experiences which provide different insights into your strengths (e.g., one professional example and one sports or community example; one “thought” leadership episode and one “people” leadership episode). Lastly, don’t forget to conclude the essay with a thoughtful assessment of what other aspect(s) of leadership you’d like to strengthen and develop at Kellogg.

MBA and MMM Program applicants
Assume you are evaluating your application from the perspective of a student member of the Kellogg Admissions Committee. Why would your peers select you to become a member of the Kellogg community? (600 word limit)

This is a different version of a former classic Kellogg essay question in which applicants were asked to evaluate their own applications from the point of view of an admissions officer. This time, you are asked to evaluate your application from the perspective of a student admissions committee member. What’s the difference? In my experience sitting on admissions committees, while faculty dwelled on things like GPAs and test scores, the student members cared much more about what it would be like to actually study and socialize with these prospective students. So, as you write this essay, think about the qualities that your future classmates would care about. (On the flip side, if you were a Kellogg student, what kind of fellow classmate would you want to have?) Consider the contributions you could make, whether abstract or concrete, that would be appreciated by the student body. Are you team-oriented? Do you have unique things to share? What makes you a good fit?

All program applicants
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.

These short essays are used to round out your application. See what you have covered so far in the essays above, and find the essay below that would best provide that final perspective on your candidacy.

a) Describe a time when you had to make an unpopular decision.

Answering this question provides you an opportunity to show your strength of character, your strong will, your leadership. Making a decision that is not supported by many takes courage, confidence and self-awareness. If you choose this question, be sure you also describe the thinking and reasoning behind your decision.

b) People may be surprised to learn that …

This is an open-ended question that allows you to talk about anything not immediately apparent in your application. Don’t take this question too literally – even if all your friends know that you skydive, the admissions committee won’t, so do use this essay to talk about something “interesting” about yourself. As you make your choice, though, remember that it isn’t necessarily what you write about that’s important, but how you write it. Use your topic as a way to show the reader something more about who you are – e.g., your values, your personal qualities, etc.

c) I wish the admissions committee had asked me …

And finally, this is the most open-ended question of the three options, just in case neither A nor B gives you the freedom to talk about what you want to. Again, consider what you have talked about in your essays so far and write about something that balances out the rest of the essays. Make sure that whatever you choose to write about provides deeper insight into who you are as a person.

Re-applicants Only (required essay)
Since your previous application, what steps have you taken to strengthen your candidacy? (400 word limit)

Admissions committees don’t want to see the exact same application from last year, but would like to see that you have been serious enough about your MBA studies to take steps to improve your candidacy. Perhaps you took on a significant project at work or further worked on a skill that you wanted to develop. If your test scores weren’t impressive last time, perhaps you retook the GMAT and/or TOEFL and did better. Or maybe last time you simply weren’t 100% focused in terms of career goal and your target schools, and over the last several months you’ve talked to people in the field and done more research on Kellogg. Explain to the committee how you have tried to improve yourself since your last application.

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.)