Chicago Booth MBA Essay Analysis – 2012-2013

Booth is known for their unique application because of their famous presentation question.  it is back.  The application also includes the staple ST/LT goal/yBooth essay along with two new short-answer questions seeking to understand how you think and react to situations.

1. What are your short- and long-term goals, and how will an MBA from Chicago Booth help you reach them?  (500 words)

This is a slightly shorter question from last year, but a standard essay question; the key is execution.  Make sure to articulate a career path that is achievable, especially if you are a career switcher.  If you are not sure, do your research and talk to folks who have experience in your intended career path.  Try to be as specific as you can—it’s OK to change your mind once you get in, but you have to get in first!

Admit Advantage: Make sure to address how Booth will help you achieve said goals.  Think about what you are looking to get out of an MBA and how Booth will specifically equip you to achieve these career goals.  Again, try to be as specific as you can and be careful not to list why you like Booth without tying it to how it is going to help you with your career goals.  Rooftop cubs games and deep dish pizza, although a valid reason for some (including me), is not for the admissions committee.

Admit Advantage: An adjacent question that you can answer here is why Booth is right for you at this point in your career.  You can go back and talk (briefly) about your career progression and how it ties into your future career goals.

2. Short Answer Essays

a. What has been your biggest challenge, and what have you learned from it? (200 words maximum)

Admit Advantage: Short and sweet here.  If I were allocating words, I would say 50-75 words to setup the challenge and 125-150 words to talk about reflections and what you learned from the challenge.  Keep it relevant and recent.  This should be a real challenge (see “biggest”), so make sure not to come with a speed bump or the admissions committee will question your candidacy like the BCS questions Boise State and TCU (for my NCAA football fans).

b. Tell us about something that has fundamentally transformed the way you think. (200 words maximum)

Admit Advantage: This essay, similar to the other short answer essay, is seeking to find out a bit more of what you are made of. This would be a great opportunity to talk about a personal struggle that you’ve overcome, a person in your life that has made an impact on how you think, a great boss (that’s specifically a hint to my team), or a life-changing global travel experience.  “My first wife” might be a funny essay, but probably not going to win too many fans at Booth (if you write it, please forward to me – we work long hours during application season and I could use the entertainment).

1 a) Re-applicants only: Upon reflection, how has your thinking regarding your future, Chicago Booth, and/or getting an MBA changed since the time of your last application? (300 words)

Hopefully, you were reflective upon your last denial and have taken appropriate steps to address your weaknesses.  If you are unsure of your weaknesses from the last application, Admit Advantage has a ding analysis that will help you in that regard.  Read your previous application before addressing this question (Booth Adcoms will be).

Admit Advantage: There are three potential questions to answer: 1) how has your thinking about your future changed (and why); 2) how has your thinking about Booth changed; and 3) how has your thinking about an MBA changed.  Think about your deficiencies from the previous application (i.e. did you not show passion for Booth, or passion for the MBA) and address that question here.  If things haven’t changed much, reaffirm your interests and articulate how you’ve strengthened your focus on your goals.

3. The Chicago experience will take you deeper into issues, force you to challenge assumptions, and broaden your perspective. In a four-slide presentation or an essay of no more than 600 words, broaden our perspective about who you are. Understanding what we currently know about you from the application, what else would you like us to know?

We have set forth the following guidelines:

  • The content is completely up to you. There is no right, or even preferred, approach to this presentation.
  • There is a strict maximum of four pages (presentation) or 600 words (essay), though you can provide fewer if you choose.
  • Acceptable formats for upload in the online application system are PowerPoint or PDF.
  • The document will be viewed electronically, but we cannot support embedded videos, music, or motion images. Additionally, all content MUST be included in the four pages; hyperlinks will not be viewed.
  • The file will be evaluated on the quality of content and ability to convey your ideas, not on technical expertise or presentation.

The power point (aka “deck”, “pitch”, “slides”) is the language of business across many consulting firms, financing companies and other corporations.  This is a great opportunity for you to demonstrate your business acumen by presenting a well-crafted power point pitch.

Admit Advantage: The content is completely up to you, so it is your job to determine what you want to deliver.  Think about your unique character traits, values, passion and that will be a good starting point for your content.  Once you’ve determined what you want to say, the next part (arguably tougher part) is how to deliver it.

Admit Advantage: A few pointers for the power point.

  1. 1. Be careful with text-dense slides.  If they really wanted an essay, they would have asked you to write an essay. Feel free to use pictures and diagrams.
  2. 2. Think about the information you provided in the first two essays and try to minimize duplication.  This is your chance to differentiate, so seize the opportunity!
  3. 3. Now is not the time to be shy and hold anything back.  If you have done amazing things or overcome major obstacles, share it. Make sure this deck is memorable.
  4. 4. Read the directions.  Every year, candidates try to submit URL, videos and longer pitches than the question allows.  Judgment is one of the criteria for acceptance, so use your best.
  5. 5. If you have areas that need to be addressed, speak now or forever hold your peace.  Address those areas of concern in your application and what you’ve done to mitigate them.
  6. 6. Have fun with it—really
  7. Save your money on a professional production/artist helping you here (spend it on us J).  Content and creativity win the day, not style.

1 Comment

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