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University of Chicago (GSB) Essay Analysis

Note: The following essay questions pertain to the previous academic year. This section will be updated when the new question are released in early to mid-July of 2008. 

This year, Chicago continues with its “offbeat” approach to essays, incorporating a 4 page PowerPoint presentation that will challenge candidates’ creativity. Our analysis of its essays and presentation follows:

1. Why are you pursuing an MBA at this point in your career? Describe your personal and professional goals and the role an MBA from the University of Chicago GSB plays in your plans to reach these goals. (1,500 word maximum)

Because of significant overlap from one MBA application to the next, we have produced the “MBA Mission Personal Statement Guide.” We offer our guide to candidates free of charge, via our online store.  Please feel free to download your copy today.

2. If you could step into someone else’s shoes for a day, who would it be and why? (500 word maximum)

Chicago offers this “wide open” and unorthodox question, not as an opportunity to find out which celebrity you admire, but to understand your personality through the eyes of another. While the individual that you choose is quite important, the reasons why you chose him/her are even more crucial to the essay. As absurd as this may seem, the essay, while about someone else, is still fundamentally about you. When approaching this essay, you should challenge yourself to consider the vicarious experiences that you would need to grow professionally, personally and/or spiritually — but we would have a bias toward the personal/spiritual sides. By “becoming” this person for the day, you will need to show significant learning and a potentially enduring impact on your life.

An important note: this is not an opportunity for you to praise Warren Buffet or admire Steve Jobs. Unless you are very careful or have an inordinate personal connection to this individual, picking someone who is quite famous can often be no more than a descent into cliché.

3. We have asked for a great deal of information throughout this application. In this portion of the application, we invite you tell us about yourself using a non-traditional application format–a PowerPoint presentation. In four slides or less, please provide readers with content that captures who you are. Given that this is a new section we have set forth the following guidelines for you to consider when creating your presentation. The content is completely up to you. There is no right or wrong approach to the way you construct your slides or answer this question. There is a strict maximum of 4 slides. Slides will be printed 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. Slides will be evaluated on the quality of content and ability to convey your ideas. You are welcome to attach a Word document of notes if you feel a deeper explanation of your slides is necessary. If you do not have access to PowerPoint or a similar software application, you can contact the admissions office at admissions@chicagogsb.edu for alternative methods.

At mbaMission, we are quite excited about this essay, as it represents a blank slate. Thus, it is an incredible opportunity for candidates to create presentations that are entirely distinct from all others. What is great about this essay/presentation is that in a traditional essay, it is your task to differentiate yourself via your content, but in this presentation, you can showcase your unique attributes via content and also captivate via your design.

Because this presentation is so open, we would need to meet with candidates one-on-one to devise personal strategies. Still, as a general rule, we recommend that candidates consider their content first and then devise a design that will allow them to communicate all of the important attributes that they have identified. You do not want to make the mistake of choosing a distinct and captivating method of presentation that limits your ability to tell your story in its entirety. Choosing to understand your content first will prevent this from happening and start you on the right track.




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