Chicago Booth has released its admissions essays and deadlines for the 2011-2012 applications season. Last year the Booth admissions office made a lot of changes to the school’s application. While the change look less dramatic this year, there’s still plenty to dig our teeth into, so let’s begin.
Here ate Chicago Booth’s MBA admissions deadlines and essays, followed by our comments in italics:
Chicago Booth Admissions Deadlines
Round 1: October 12, 2011
Round 2: January 4, 2012
Round 3: April 4, 2012
Chicago Booth Admissions Essays
- What are your short- and long-term goals, and how will a Chicago Booth MBA help you reach them? (600 words)
Booth replaced last year’s three-part question with this one, which is a more traditional “Why an MBA? Why this school?” question. 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 the “Why Booth?” part 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. Chicago Booth looks for a specific kind of applicant — one who’s intellectually curious and is not afraid of rigor. Does that appeal to you? If so, show it here!
- 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)
This question gets at the heart of what MBA admissions officers ask when they see a reapplicant: “What has changed since last time?” While we don’t believe the Booth admissions committee did it deliberately, we do think that the phrasing here can be a bit misleading. The way it’s written, this question may lead some applicants to believe that they didn’t get in before because of something wrong in the way they answered the “Why an MBA? Why Booth?” question, but that may not at all be why they were rejected last time. Imagine you’re an applicant who had all the right reasons for applying to Booth last year, but you had some other big weakness that kept you out, such as a low GMAT score or not enough meaningful work experience. Now you’re back, and you’ve worked hard to plug those holes, and now you need to manufacture a reason why your thinking is now different, although that thinking wasn’t the problem the first time around.
So, our advice here is to answer the question (ALWAYS answer the question asked!), but keep in mind that this may be a bit of a red herring. If you’re certain that it was something else that kept you out, be sure to work that into this essay, particularly if it’s something that won’t immediately jump out at admissions officers when they review your application data sheets.
- At Chicago Booth, we believe each individual has his or her own leadership style. How has your family, culture, and/or environment influenced you as a leader? (750 words)
This question is also new this year, and it replaces a question that asked about a time when you took a risk. This question is potentially more interesting, although the fact that it’s less specific may invite pompous, rambling responses from some less savvy applicants. We envision a misguided applicant starting with a high-minded quote from a world leader and then providing five paragraphs that leave admissions officers wondering about who the applicant really is. How can you avoid this? Stick with specifics. You have a decent amount of room to work here (750 words), so plan on demonstrating your leadership style through one or two stories, preferably from your work experience (although stories from extracurricular activities are fair game, too). Avoid generalities and keep the focus on you, and you can do well with this essay!
- Considering what you’ve already included in the application, what else should we know about you? In a maximum of four slides, tell us about yourself.
We have set forth the following guidelines:
* The content is completely up to you. There is no right, or even preferred, approach to this
* There is a strict maximum of four pages, though you can provide fewer if you
* Acceptable formats for upload in the online application system are PowerPoint or
* 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
* The file will be evaluated on the quality of content and ability to convey your ideas, not on technical expertise or presentation.
Ahh, Chicago Booth’s “PowerPoint question” is back yet again, although it’s been reworded this year. The one noteworthy change is in the very first eight words: “Considering what you’ve already included in the application…” In other words, don’t simply rehash what you’ve already covered elsewhere in your application. 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!