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.
Northwestern’s Kellogg School of Management
The 2015-2016 batch of applicants to the MBA program at Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management will have to pass a couple of new admission hurdles. The school announced today (July 8) that it is switching out one essay question, tweaking another, and changing up its video essays for candidates to the Class of 2018.
Even so, there are no really big changes afoot in how Kellogg intends to evaluate its applicants. “We didn’t do anything materially different as we did two years ago,” says Kate Smith, Kellogg admissions director. “We are making a few small changes that come out of our review to refine our process and make sure it is providing the best opportunity to get to know our prospective students.”
Kellogg set a round one deadline of Sept. 22, with decisions released on Dec. 16. The school’s second round deadline is Jan. 6th, with a notification date of March 23rd, while its third and final deadline for applications is April 6th, with decisions due on May 11th.
KELLOGG WILL CONTINUE TO INTERVIEW AS MANY APPLICANTS AS POSSIBLE
What hasn’t changed, says Smith, is the school’s desire to interview as many applicants as possible. Kellogg is one of a few schools with an open-interview approach to admissions, preferring to see all candidates who apply to the school without an initial review and invitation. And the school will continue to have both written and video essays as it has in the past two years.
Kate Smith, Kellogg’s new director of admissions. Photo by Andreas Larson
In the 2013-2014 admissions season, 4,652 candidates applied to Kellogg, down from 5,453 a year earlier. The school admitted 1,081 out of the 4,652 for an acceptance rate of 23.2%. Some 691 students enrolled with an average GMAT score of 713, unchanged from the year before. The most recent application volume and acceptance rate for Kellogg’s incoming class has yet to be released. “We’re happy with everything this year,” says Smith. “It was another great year for us. We are thrilled with the quality and talent applying to Kellogg. Things continue to go very well.”
This year’s new essay questions, each with 450-word limits:
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?
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?
“The first question focuses in and around leadership,” explains Smith. “At Kellogg, we are really transparent on the criteria we use to evaluate applicants: work experience, professional goals, leadership, impact, interpersonal skills. So we have earmarked one of the questions around leadership to give applicants an opportunity to share their perspectives on that. We are a team-based learning environment so we really want to assess candidates’ leadership and teamwork experiences. We really want to insure that students are going to be active and engaged here, bringing their leadership qualities to the program.”
The initial essay is closer to last year’s prompt, though nuanced to give applicants the chance to describe a recent experience as a leader. The second query, says Smith, is “quite different.”
“The second question is more around why you are interested in pursuing your MBA and why Kellogg. We’re asking applicants to be reflective and forward-looking. This is an opportunity for them to pause, assess, and share their reflections on where they are coming from and where they want to go.”
KELLOGG WILL NOT REVEAL ONE OF TWO ESSAYS TO APPLICANTS IN ADVANCE
This will be the third year in which Kellogg asks applicants to complete two video essays, a still relatively rare admissions practice that has also been adopted by Yale University’s School of Management and the University of Toronto’s Rotman School. “We’ve learned from year one and year two,” says Smith. “We really want to meet all our applicants wherever they are in the world. This is an enabler to help admissions meet every single candidate. We have really enjoyed it. The first question is similar to last year and is more of an ice breaker It is chosen randomly from a range of questions. We are communicating the second question in advance which is a break from the past when both questions were random. We feel like it parks the video closer to the essay side.”
Applicants have a bank of practice questions so they can get used to the technology. A question pops up on the screen and an applicant has 20 seconds to reflect and then a 60-second window in which to respond. “The second question is a little bit more akin to a traditional essay question,” adds Smith. “It’s almost like an elevator pitch and more people need to be effective in doing that. Being able to articulate your point of view in that format is a skill that is becoming more and more a part of our daily life.”
The video questions:
Ice breaker/get to know you question- specific question not released in advance.
What path are you interested in pursuing, how will you get there, and why is this program right for you?
DON’T MISS: 2015-2016 MBA APPLICATION DEADLINES FOR TOP BUSINESS SCHOOLS or THE MBA GATEKEEPER AT KELLOGG