Kellogg Mba 2009 Essays
Northwestern / Kellogg 2015-2016 Essay Topic Analysis
Now that Northwestern has announced the Kellogg MBA essay topics for the 2015-2016 admissions season, we wanted to offer our advice to applicants who are targeting that program’s Class of 2018.
The format for Kellogg’s essays remains the same as last year’s: applicants will respond to two required essays in a maximum of 450 words. Meanwhile, the content of the essay prompts has changed a bit since the previous season. Kellogg continues to ask a leadership-focused question, signaling an enduring interest in this element of professional development and interpersonal skill. Meanwhile, the program has replaced last year’s question about grit with a query about the candidate’s plans for growth during the MBA. Given the program’s emphasis on student culture, it seems possible that information about the applicant’s plans for her time on campus may be more helpful to the adcom in making admissions decisions than a broader essay about resilience.
Kellogg invites all applicants to interview — a rare policy among leading MBA programs — and also requires that applicants record and submit two sixty-second extemporaneous video essays after submitting their online applications. This means that the adcom ends up with quite a number of data points on every student seeking a seat in the incoming class. While some applicants (especially those who are very confident in their interpersonal and communication skills) might feel that this renders their written essays less important, it’s essential for all applicants to convey thoughtfulness and enthusiasm about the program throughout their applications. And, candidates who are nervous about the on-the-spot nature of the video portion should of course take advantage of the time and reflection afforded by the written Kellogg application.
Let’s take a closer look at each of the Kellogg MBA essays for 2015-2016:
Essay 1: 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? (450 words)
This question asks the candidate to recount a leadership experience that involved overcoming challenges and learning something that will continue to serve them in future situations. In selecting a topic, applicants should first heed the “recent” qualifier, as this question aims to assess the applicant’s current leadership potential. We strongly encourage applicants to select an experience that occurred within the past two years; applicants should think very carefully before selecting a topic older than this. As for the sorts of examples that one might cover, the wording of this question is technically wide open to personal and professional experiences. That said, the mention of both leadership and teamwork in the introduction suggests that an involvement in a structured work or community project might lend itself better to this response than a personal or academic example.
Of course, the word “meaningful” is arguably the most important descriptor in this prompt. Rather than gauging the significance of an experience in dollar amounts or percentages, we encourage applicants to attend to the follow up question about the challenges faced and lessons learned. The best topics for this response will be experiences that have informed the way you think about leadership and approach team experiences today. Whether the challenge was logistical (like stretching yourself to coordinate across internal teams while managing a client’s expectations) or interpersonal (such developing a good working relationship with an adversarial colleague), effective responses will highlight a transferable skill that was formed or strengthened during this process.
With respect to structure, we recommend a basic STAR approach for this response. Begin by describing the situation, the players, and stakeholders involved before moving into the task: what you needed to accomplish in your leadership goal. You should also lay the groundwork for the challenges you encountered in this introduction, identifying the factors or relationships you would need to navigate to be successful. You should then move into the action, providing a chronological account of how you moved through the project or process. It would likely make narrative sense to introduce the challenges and how you overcame them as part of this narrative rather than addressing this in a separate section.
Finally, you should comment on the result — the outcome of your leadership efforts and the resolution of the story. For most applicants, this will likely involve a comment on a positive impact and happy clients, customers, or stakeholders. That said, we can also imagine effective responses that might cover less-than-flawless performance that resulted in valuable feedback and growth, so if a not entirely successful leadership experience is the one that stands out as your most meaningful, it may still be a viable topic for this response. Either way, the response should then conclude with a reflection on the lessons you learned, and perhaps a comment on how they have served you since and/or how they position you to add real value to the Kellogg community (introducing a follow-up success will be particularly important if a candidate chooses to cover a leadership experience that wasn’t a clear win).
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 two-part question asks about past growth — either personal or professional — as well as the applicant’s plans to continue developing in important ways during his or her MBA studies.
While the latter part of the prompt is fairly focused, the first query is quite open ended; this part of the discussion can be drawn from any aspect or era of the applicant’s life. To narrow the scope, we suggest that applicants remain mindful of Kellogg’s even-stronger-than-average emphasis on the program’s collaborative student culture. It would therefore make sense to identify past growth that now makes you an even better potential student, classmate, colleague, and friend to other members of the MBA community. This can still take virtually any form; you might write about learning to handle ambiguity during a turbulent time at work, growing as a teammate under a demanding supervisor, developing more patience and compassion while caring for a sick relative, tapping into your focus and resilience in overcoming an illness or injury, or becoming more comfortable and authentic in an important aspect of your identity. Effective essays will touch on 2-3 areas or experiences and comment on the growth that occurred, and link these to ways the applicant might contribute to the Kellogg community. In choosing what sorts of experiences to highlight, applicants would likely do well to strike a balance between personal and professional examples.
As for the growth that the applicant will undertake at Kellogg, this section should likely touch on the candidate’s mid- to long-range professional plans. After all, this is (presumably) the primary reason you’re applying to MBA programs. Identifying the industry or sector one hopes to enter and the impact one hopes to make through one’s career — even in 1-2 sentences — can help to establish the context for the professional growth the applicant hopes to achieve. Naturally, it will also make sense to comment on how you intend to accomplish this growth (and to demonstrate your familiarity with Kellogg’s offerings) by naming specific courses, programmatic offerings, and student organizations that are aligned with these objectives. As for personal growth, you might also want to identify management skills you hope to refine or identify a hobby in which you’d like to deepen your involvement — and, of course, name a corresponding feature of the Kellogg program or community that would facilitate this. It will be important to develop a good sense of the growth opportunities available at Kellogg; visiting the campus or attending information sessions, speaking with students and alumni about the growth they’ve experienced, or learning about the program through our in-depth Clear Admit School Guide to Kellogg will pay dividends here.
Structurally, the school asks applicants to cover a fair amount of ground in just 450 words. It will therefore be important to make judicious use of space. We recommend that applicants aim to cover past growth in 150-200 words in order to have ample room to discuss their plans for growth while on the Kellogg campus.
Re-applicant Essay: Since your previous application, what steps have you taken to strengthen your candidacy? (250 word limit)
The framing of this question suggests that the adcom is more interested in proactive steps toward material improvement of one’s candidacy, as opposed to a reflective discussion of personal growth (in fairness, the growth angle is well covered in the school’s required essays). Applicants should therefore focus on the specific ways they’ve worked to strengthen their candidacies over the past year (e.g. assuming more responsibility at work, attending conferences in line with your long-term professional goals, retaking the GMAT, or bolstering community involvement), and the reasons that they believe themselves to be a better applicant to Kellogg this time around.
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)
The wording of this prompt signals that comments in this section should be limited to explaining potential liabilities or inconsistencies in one’s application. While applicants are free to write as much as they like here, we recommend a straightforward approach that uses as few words — and as little of the reader’s scarce time — as possible. Applicants who chose to respond to this essay should adopt a humble tone, acknowledge the issue without making excuses, and gently suggest other aspects of his or her candidacy that may help to compensate for this weakness.
Clear Admit Resources
Thanks for reading our analysis of this year’s Kellogg MBA essay topics! As you work on your Northwestern MBA essays and application, we encourage you to consider all of Clear Admit’s offerings:
Posted in: Essay Topic Analysis
Schools: Northwestern / Kellogg
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, 11:33, edited 1 time in total.