Chicago (GSB) Essay Analysis

Essay 1: Complete all parts below. (1500 word maximum)

Explain the path that has led you to pursue an MBA as the next step in your professional and personal development. Describe your short and long term post-MBA career goals. What or who influenced your choice of schools, and how specifically will Chicago GSB help you succeed?

Many candidates regard writing this 1500 word essay as a “monster” of a task. While it is true that this essay is 500 words longer than similar essays from Wharton or Columbia, this should be seen as an opportunity to allow the Admissions Committee to get to know you, your goals, your sense of purpose and need to attend Chicago in greater depth.

Last year, when this question first appeared, many candidates saw an opportunity to present their career histories in their entirety. You should notice that the question does not ask for your entire career history, but asks for the “path that led you to pursue an MBA…” You need to exercise judgment in discussing your path and develop “cause and effect” relationships between your experiences, showing the reader how your MBA is the culmination of your experiences, not merely stating that it is the next in a line of fruitful experiences. To some, this may be a nuanced point, but it is certainly important that you understand it (and if you do not, please email: [email protected]).

Other than the word count, the other significant differentiator between Chicago’s essay one and other “typical” personal statements is that Chicago specifically asks, “What or who influenced your choice of schools…” Chicago wants to be sure that you have made an effort to get to know the GSB and that you have truly done your homework; you are best off explaining a priori experiences that you have had with alumni, students, professors, administrators, admissions officer, etc. in order to explain how you have learned about the school. Then, you will need to explain what it was about these encounters that made you want to learn more and apply – whether you were learning about academic resources or were simply attracted to the environment/personalities or both.

With Chicago’s “extra” words, you have a wonderful opportunity to develop your compelling connection to the school’s unique offerings. You can develop in depth arguments along thematic lines, but need to show how you will use their resources to advance your goals. Again, it is not enough to merely explain what programs they offer – they already know! Considering that Chicago has this added element – “what or who influenced…” – this is essay is not as daunting as it may initially seem. If you properly utilize this section and add to the section on how Chicago will specifically advance your career goals, your extra 500 words should be easily manageable.

Essay 2: Choose one of the following questions. (500 word maximum)

If the admissions committee were to interview one of your closest colleagues, what aspect of your personal development would this person say is especially important for the admissions committee to know?

You have been asked to write an editorial about the most pressing issue facing humanity. Please identify the issue and justify why you have selected it.

Last year Chicago asked candidates to choose between two options, one which approached a challenging team environment, the other a challenging leadership experience. This year, the options are completely unrelated. In the first sub-question, you can discuss a personal triumph or offer insight into your personal growth which will require candor, honesty and introspection. The more honest and personal – without your “aspect” being inconsistent with values espoused by Chicago — the better your essay will be. In the second, you will need to offer a very educated opinion, as “the most pressing issue facing humanity” can leave you with few options, many of which will be difficult to truly differentiate (i.e. terrorism). When choosing the latter option, be sure that you have truly tested your ideas and have insight into the matter that you are bringing to light. While a well-written “pressing issue” can be remarkably valuable as it can show a certain worldliness, compassion, solution-orientation, etc, it can also result in a clichéd or, even worse, dogmatic piece. Caution: be very careful when expressing personal political opinions.

Essay 3: Complete each of the following questions. (100 word maximum for each question below)

One hundred words can be three or four sentences for some, so, clearly, your space is very limited in this section. These bullet essays are designed so that the admissions committee can rapidly understand the individual behind the resume – these are basically personality questions.

What is the one thing that most people do not know about you?

In this brief space, the idea is to offer the AdCom something new or unusual, possibly something that shows that you have taken a personal or professional risk or tried to accomplish something daring. Essentially, the AdCom is saying, “We have come to understand who you are through your application – now show us something different or exciting”.

What book, play, or movie would you recommend to the admissions committee? Why?

Because artistic mediums such as books, plays and movies are so intensely personal, the AdCom has created an opportunity to get to know more about your world view via these avenues. You should keep in mind that your choice is meant to be reflective and illuminating, so, you need to do more than rave about a novel that you love; you need to show within the novel there is something that is consistent with your personality or philosophy. This is not to suggest that you answer need be a rumination; this simply to suggest that the reader needs to learn about you, not your book/play/movie via your choice. There is true flexibility in this answer so this question should be a tremendous opportunity to think creatively and differentiate.

It is your first day of business school and people are selecting study groups. How would you describe the value you will bring to a study group?

This question is worded in such a way that you do not need to focus on one specific area, but could select from personal and professional strengths (keeping in mind the word limits). We recommend a bias toward the personal side, with very brief examples to reinforce the attributes that you have selected, but if you have unique knowledge of a certain professional area and can differentiate along these lines, then you can seize the opportunity as well.

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