Northwestern (Kellogg) Essay Analysis

1. Master of Business Administration applicants only. Briefly assess your career progress to date. Elaborate on your future career plans and your motivation for pursuing a graduate degree at the Kellogg School. (one to two pages double-spaced)

Again, because of significant overlap from school to school, we have produced a document on personal statements and are more than happy to offer it to anyone interested. Please email for an electronic copy which will help you approach this essay. While Kellogg is not as rigid in its request for future career plans (instead of short and long term goals) it is important that offer a clear vision for yourself going forward and then discuss exactly how your Kellogg MBA will facilitate these goals.

2. Each of our applicants is unique. Describe how your background, values, academics, activities and/or leadership skills will enhance the experience of other Kellogg students. (one to two pages double-spaced)

This essay is broad and sweeping in nature so it allows you to showcase a mix of your greatest strengths – professional, community, academic and personal. You should attempt to select a diversity of these experiences and present them in such a way you will be able to relate them back to your ability to contribute in a variety of areas – for example, the classroom, your learning team and the community at large. A successful essay will be one which not only details unique personal strengths, but also clearly illustrates how these strengths will be in action at Kellogg, meaning that you will have an opportunity to show your intimate understanding of and connection to Kellogg.

3. You have been selected as a member of the Kellogg Admissions Committee. Please provide a brief evaluative assessment of your file. (one to two pages double-spaced)

Sometimes it is easier to explain what you should do in an essay by first explaining what you should not do. This essay should not be a review of the basic facts contained within your application; Kellogg does not need a boring in depth review of your GPA and GMAT, your career history, etc. You have provided a transcript, GMAT score, resume, written other essays, etc. This essay needs to offer analysis of why you will succeed academically and socially at Kellogg and thereafter – essentially, you need put these facts about yourself into action and then add color and analysis to prove that you are the type of individual who is Kellogg material.

4. Complete three of the following six questions or statements. (two to three double- spaced paragraphs each)

A. What have been your most significant leadership experiences to date?

The key word in this question is “roles” – plural. Ideally, you will offer two distinct experiences that show different sides of your personality and different aspects of your leadership style. Then, in the concluding paragraph you will reflect upon these experiences and why they are significant to you/ how they have had an impact on you going forward.

B. Describe an ethical dilemma that you faced and how it was resolved?

Again, “Sometimes it is easier to explain what you should do in an essay by first explaining what you should not do”. Inevitably, a candidate will always asks if a story like the following would work: “My boss told me to trade on inside information and I said ‘no.’” In such an instance, there is no ethical dilemma; no one should be trading on inside information; no one should be breaking the law.

You need to start by offering an example in which there were two reasonable options which stand in stark opposition to each other — both with positive and negative aspects — and explore how you made your choice. In such circumstances, the outcome is less important than your reasoning. The committee is seeking to understand your thought process and trying to recognize the reasonable, logical and ethical applicant within.

C. Outside of work I… E. I wish the Admissions Committee had asked me…

C and E are essentially free passes for you to discuss anything vital — compelling stories or differentiators — that you have not yet showcased. Basically, you could not ask for a better opportunity to show the AdCom how you are unique. Many candidates use these opportunities to discuss a hobby or interest; it is important that if you make this choice you somehow express an inordinate passion, otherwise you are offering a boring window into your life. Ask yourself, “How can I show that I take this passion further than others?”

If you are going to answer both of these questions, it is not a good idea to answer them in a similar way – two passions for example. If you can offer dramatically different experiences, then proceed with both. This should not be a default option, but an opportunity to offer something new and different.

D. Describe a professional situation where you were able to successfully persuade others to see things your way.

In this essay, it is probably best for you to establish a situation in which there are two meritorious sides, analyze why you chose one and why others may not have been on board and then, of course, discuss how you persuaded them otherwise. In discussing your attempts to be persuasive, it is important that the reader understand the specific methods that you used and how/why you were successful. Ultimately, the reader should gain a window into your personality and understand how you can be diplomatic and compelling.

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2020–2021 MBA Essay Analysis

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