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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.

Kellogg 2016 MBA Essay Tips

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.

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 – 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.

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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:

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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.

Your turn

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.