Northwestern Kellogg Deadlines, Essays & Analysis (Class of 2013, Starting Fall 2011)

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2011 Application Essay Questions 1Y, 2Y & MMM questions Essay #1 a) MBA Program applicants - Briefly assess your career progress to date. Elaborate on your future career plans and your motivation for pursuing an MBA. (600 word limit)

Analysis: Please see: The MBA Goals Essay

b) MMM Program applicants – Briefly assess your career progress to date. How does the MMM Program meet your educational needs and career goals? (600 word limit).

Analysis: Please see: The MBA Goals Essay

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

Analysis: Please see The MBA Leadership Essay for background on answering typical leadership/accomplishment questions. Note that Kellogg is asking not just for a single example but for "experienceS" (plural). Given the word limit and the need to say something significant about each, I would say two to three examples is about right. Anything less is not enough. Anything more and your answers might become too thin. Both personal and professional topics are appropriate, and the more recent the better. As with other MBA programs that ask for multiple accomplishments in a limited space, like HBS and INSEAD, focus on your actions and decisions that led to success. Detail them as much as possible, while providing just enough background and results to understand the importance and impact. Analyzing how and why you succeeded is key to elaborating on the leadership areas you still need to develop.

Essay #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).

Analysis: Until a few years ago, Kellogg asked applicants to evaluate their applications from the perspective of an adcom member. Starting last year, they revived that question, but changed the perspective you have to adopt. (Makes sense, given that Kellogg students often conduct their on-campus interviews.) There are myriad approaches to this question, but key to all of them is self-awareness, which in this case is the ability to see yourself from someone else's viewpoint. More specifically, can you match your unique combination of strengths, personality and potential contributions to what a current student/potential classmate at Kellogg would most highly value? Teamwork has to be at the top of the list, as would experiences and accomplishments that would make you a fun, involved, interesting, insightful and collaborative person both inside and outside the classroom. Assume that you are "on the bubble" (i.e., the decision could go either way) and concentrate on your most distinctive qualities. I have to imagine that, since work backgrounds are often similar, your professional experience and hard skills are a lower priority when compared to your personal experience. You will almost certainly have to repeat or refer to examples from your other essays. That's fine. Just be sure to provide a third-person analysis that adds valuable new perspectives. I think it is also fine to introduce new topics here that could be considered as coming from your interview. A good advocate, as this imaginary adcom rep should be, would also address any weaknesses in your application, and reassure other adcom members that they are surmountable.

While the wording of the essay is a bit different from last year's version, and somewhat confusing in terms of chosen viewpoint (first person, third person, singular, plural?), the overall approach described above should be the same. I recommend picking one viewpoint and maintaining it throughout the essay to avoid confusion.

Essay #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?

Analysis: The ability to overcome (not just encounter) resistance is a hallmark of a good leader, and chances are your leadership experiences in Essay #2 include some element of it. The difference in this essay is the mandated team context, a clear effort to probe your potential as an influential, steadfast and effective team player at Kellogg. But in this case, winning by itself is not enough. You have to demonstrate the ability to promote your ideas without breaking the team bond.

b) People may be surprised to learn that I…..

Analysis: How do you think other people view you, and what aspect (hobby, belief, experience, etc.) of yourself might change that image or balance that perspective? Again, self-awareness is crucial to this essay, which could be answered whimsically or seriously or in between, depending on what would be the most unexpected. One way to approach this topic is to assume that the adcom will read all your other materials first. What kind of impression would they have of you? And how can you surprise them with something they might have never suspected? Ask your friends or family. You might get a surprise yourself.

c) The best mistake I ever made was…….

Analysis: I suppose this could be considered an upbeat failure essay, however, the jaunty tone of the question makes me think they are looking for a "happy accident". Did you ever volunteer for something you didn't mean to? Get on the wrong bus? Send the wrong message to someone, either literally or figuratively, all to have it work out for the best?

Required essay for re-applicants only – Since your previous application, what steps have you taken to strengthen your candidacy? (400 word limit)

Analysis: Please see: The MBA Re-applicant Essay