Chicago Booth Admissions Essays for 2010-2011

Today we take a close look at Chicago Booth’s MBA admissions essays, which have changed quite a bit since last year. It’s interesting to note that, after there was some chatter a few months ago that Booth would drop its “PowerPoint question” this year, the question lives on. We firmly believe that schools like Booth are still looking for new ways to learn more about you, and while that question hasn’t been perfect, they don’t want to give up on it since it’s still Booth’s best bet to get to know the real you before interviewing you.

Here are Chicago Booth’s essays for the Class of 2013, followed by our comments in italics:

Chicago Booth Application Essays

  1. The Admissions Committee is interested in learning more about you on both a personal and professional level. Please answer the following (maximum of 300 words for each section):

    a. Why are you pursuing a full-time MBA at this point in your life?
    b. Define your short and long term career goals post MBA.
    c. What is it about Chicago Booth that is going to help you reach your goals?
    d. 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?

    This question is new this year, although in many ways it’s a direct descendant of last year’s first essay question. This is the fairly standard “Why an MBA? Why this school?” question that most schools ask. Note that, as important is it is to make a convincing case about your career goals and your reasons for wanting an MBA, you also really need to take part (c) seriously… What about Booth attracts you to the school? This is where you need to show that you’ve done your homework, and convince the school that you’re not only applying because Booth is highly ranked.

  2. Chicago Booth is a place that challenges its students to stretch and take risks that they might not take elsewhere. Tell us about a time when you took a risk and what you learned from that experience .(750 words)

    This question is also new this year. The best response here will come directly from your work experience, provide enough drama to pull the reader in, and give you an opportunity to really answer the second part of the essay prompt: What did you learn from the experience? Last year “reflection” was a big theme in Booth’s essay questions, and while this question doesn’t specifically ask for reflection, this is your chance to show the kind of self-awareness and introspection that Booth admissions officers really want to see.

  3. At Chicago Booth, we teach you HOW to think rather than what to think. With this in mind, we have provided you with “blank pages” in our application. Knowing that there is not a right or even a preferred answer allows you to demonstrate to the committee your ability to navigate ambiguity and provide information that you believe will support your candidacy for Chicago Booth.

    We have set forth the following guidelines:

    • The content is completely up to you. Acceptable file formats are PowerPoint or PDF.

    • There is a strict maximum of four pages, though you can provide fewer if you choose.

    • The document will be printed in color and added to your file for review; therefore, flash, hyperlinks, embedded videos, music, etc. will not be viewed by the committee. You are limited to text and static images to convey your points.

    • The file will be evaluated on the quality of content and ability to convey your ideas, not on technical expertise or presentation.

    • Files need to be less than 9 megabytes in order to upload. If your file is too large you may save your file as a PDF and upload your essay.

    This is the famous “PowerPoint question,” although Booth sets it up differently this year, putting much more emphasis on the “Hey, you have a blank slate here!” message than before. Here the school asks you to present yourself creatively and succinctly. Almost nothing is out of bounds, but you really must ensure that these pages add something new to your application — don’t use it to just show off professional achievements that you already cover elsewhere in your application. Be creative! The reason Booth kept this question is because, while it hasn’t worked perfectly for the school so far, it really is the admissions committee’s best chance to tease some personality out of your application. So, give them some!

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