Chicago Booth 2013-14 Essay Analysis

Chicago Booth has changed its essays this year. Gone are the career goals  from the main essay questions- these find their place as short questions in the employment section of the application. The 4-slide presentation continues its stronghold in Booth’s essay lineup for yet another year.

So why the change? The Booth admissions team felt that a lot of information, such as the career history and career goals was getting answered in various portions of the application, and hence was being repeated in the career goals essay. Instead, they have introduced 2 short answers that will help them to get you know better on a personal level. The career goals related questions will appear in the online application, as short answers.

Here’s some advice given by the admissions team – “We encourage you to think about the experiences that have shaped and influenced you, your passions and interests (professionally and personally), and what you think the Admissions Committee needs to know about you in order to fully understand your candidacy”.

Below are the essay questions for the 2013 – 14 application. Stick to the Word limit for all essays.

Short Answer Essays

 Please respond to the following two essay prompts:

a.   My favorite part of my work is… (250 words maximum)

B-schools often ask applicants questions about work related achievements, failures and other situations. In those essays you get a chance to describe the situation and your crucial role in it.

However, this essay prompts you to talk about the roles/responsibilities that you like performing at work- something that you are driven to do, rather than just handed out by your supervisor.

Our suggestion is to answer this in three parts- 1. What aspect about your work interests you? 2. Why? This second part will give the admissions team some access to your thoughts and motivations. You make like doing a particular task because you like to face challenges and this task is full of ambiguity. Or, you may have superior skills for carrying out this responsibility and therefore, its something that you are really good at. Or that you like to initiate and innovate and this responsibility throws you the chance to learn something new every day.  3. You can give a relevant example to explain further.

A lot of applicants will think of writing something that will sufficiently please the adcom. Don’t do that! Having read thousands of applications year after year, the adcom will look through your plot to impress. A better strategy is to really think through this. Make a list of activities and responsibilities that give you immense satisfaction at work. Jot down the reasons why? Next, jot down examples that support your answer. Now you can take a two way approach: 1. Use the story which stands out as the strongest. 2. Use a personality aspect (skill or trait) which you most want to highlight, and which you display often at work.

b.       I started to think differently when… (250 words maximum).

This essay gives you an open field to answer a professional or personal situation. The essay prompt implies that you started to think differently when you were influenced by something/ somebody.

Again there is an open ground for the influencing factor. It could be a discussion with your grandfather that challenged your ethics, or an eye-opening book/ magazine article that changed your view of the world, or a movie that made you aware about an issue you had never thought of until then. The possibilities for a story idea are limitless and depend on your own experiences.

A complete answer will include not just the description of the event that led to the change in your thinking, but also the process/journey you underwent thereafter; and then, how you used your newly formed thoughts or visions to guide you in future situations. If space permits, a short example would be apt to explain how you conducted yourself after your thought process changed.

You may not have undergone an immediate “Aha” experience- it may have taken a while for you to change your thinking – this is alright, so long as you are able to explain your metamorphosis and the underlying thoughts and emotions during this phase.

A nice ending would be a summation of why this change has been important in your personal growth and development.

Presentation/Essay
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 rest of the application, what else would you like us to know?

First things first- you can submit either a 4-slide presentation OR a 600 words essay. There is no advantage of submitting one over the other, so select the style that best fits with the information you have to convey.

The Chicago GSB presentation has been a force to reckon with on the MBA admissions’ essays circuit. Its been there for a while and something that you will either love or fear.

The challenge lovers must attempts the PPT, or as current GSB students say, have fun with it. If you have done many different things in life and have a ton of varied information you want to get across to the adcom, then the PPT is an excellent way of doing it. You can be creative- use pictures, images, cartoons, illustrations; diagrams and charts;  or just plain write-ups, whatever you like. However, do not go overboard squeezing in pointers after pointers. Keep a tight focus on those positive aspects of your personality – you do not want to bombard the adcom with too much information which they can not register.

A mistake I have seen many applicants making is fearing this presentation. As a result they procrastinate it until the end, and eventually it becomes a hastily put together summary of the rest of the application. That’s a harmful approach because you are just being repetitive and boring. Idea is that you convey important data about you that has not been addresses elsewhere in the application, and in an interesting way. Therefore, get back to the writing pad and note down all those interesting you have done at a personal and professional level and take your best picks from there.

Presentation/Essay Guidelines (given by Booth)
We have set forth the following guidelines:

  1. The content is completely up to you. There is no right, or even preferred, approach to this essay. Feel free to use the software with which you are most comfortable. Acceptable formats for upload in the online application system are PowerPoint, Word, or PDF. However, we suggest converting your file to a PDF to preserve your intended formatting.
  2. There is a strict maximum of four pages (presentation) or 600 words (essay), though you can provide fewer if you choose. All content must fit within four pages (presentation) or 600 words (essay).
  3. The file size is limited to 16 MB.
  4. The document will be viewed electronically, but we cannot support embedded videos, music, hyperlinks, or motion images.
  5. The file will be evaluated on the quality of content and ability to convey your ideas, not on technical expertise.

Reapplicant Question: Upon reflection, how has your perspective regarding your future, Chicago Booth, and/or getting an MBA changed since the time of your last application? (300 words maximum)

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