Kellogg Essay Tips

Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management is a close-knit community that values a diverse community and philanthropy. At the same time, diversity in experience, background and thought is important to the Kellogg admissions committee.

Do your research on the programs, activities, clubs, classes and professors at Kellogg as you approach your essays. While you are reading and conversing with students and alumni, envision how you will contribute to the community.

Kellogg now has a video essay as part of the application process and it’s worth visiting the Kellogg FAQs site to learn more.

REQUIRED ESSAYS
Essay One: Kellogg’s purpose is to educate, equip & inspire brave leaders who create lasting value. Tell us about a time you have demonstrated leadership and created lasting value. What challenges did you face, and what did you learn? (450 words)

This essay focuses on leadership using a behavioral essay framework (the clue is “tell us about a time…”). The details about exactly what you did, said and learned in your leadership story communicate valuable information about how you approach issues and learn from experience.

When approaching this essay spend some limited time to set up the background of the story, and then use the majority of the space to describe specifically what you did, thought, felt and how you behaved. Use details to entice the reader and set yourself apart. A few well-placed specifics will add color without adding length to the essay.

The topic you choose can be anything regarding leadership. It might be a time that everything went perfectly smoothly and you learned how to work with a group or inspire people to action. On the other hand, it could be a challenging situation where you learned what not to do! Don’t be nervous about showing weakness here.

If you choose a challenging situation the learning part of the essay will be crucial. Show you can and do learn from experience. Every leader has to learn and develop, and willingness to be open to feedback and improve will be an asset to your application.

Do not neglect mentioning teamwork, which is a core value of Kellogg’s culture. Your leadership experience is likely part of a team at work or in an extracurricular activity, and sensitivity to teamwork and collaboration in any leadership story demonstrates maturity and social skills.

A post on Kellogg’s Inside Perspective blog provides additional insight into the evolution of this season’s essay question, which you won’t want to miss.

Essay Two: Pursuing an MBA is a catalyst for personal and professional growth. How have you grown in the past? How do you intend to grow at Kellogg? (450 words)

This essay question is a hybrid of a classic career goals essay and a personal essay. Kellogg is interested in candidates who are able to integrate their personal and professional goals and show how a Kellogg MBA will serve both sides of life.

When you describe professional and personal growth in the past, make sure it is relevant to your plans to pursue an MBA at Kellogg. The story you tell in this essay should provide insight into your decision to pursue an MBA and allude to your future goals. Because this isn’t a question about your entire career and personal life thus far, you should choose only one or two main experiences to share.

The topic of this essay should also be an experience that demonstrated growth over time. Perhaps you started in an entry-level position at work and progressed into a management role. Or maybe you learned more about yourself by switching jobs and careers, showing progression in your understanding of your goals and aspirations.

For the personal angle of the essay you could focus on a passion outside of work that has developed over time and led to personal growth. It’s also possible to have both personal and professional growth in your career. Many people mature significantly in the time period between college and graduate school and typically work and life both contribute to that growth.

VIDEO ESSAY
The Video Essay is one component of the application and provides you with an additional opportunity to demonstrate what you will bring to our vibrant Kellogg community – in an interactive way. You will respond to several short video essay questions. The questions are designed to bring to life the person we have learned about on paper.

One question will be a “get to know you” icebreaker type of question. The second question will be an opportunity to describe your plans for the future and how Kellogg will help you on that journey. The other questions will be randomly generated questions that will be similar to interview questions.

After you submit your application you will receive the video interview questions, one of which will focus on Why Kellogg and another will be a general “getting to know you” question. The video essay is an opportunity for the admissions committee to see the person behind the accomplishments you will describe.

Prepare as if you would for an interview, drafting the topics you want to cover and practicing your presentation. Writing some bullet points down in advance will help you remember and focus as you answer the questions.

The video should accurately portray your personality and demeanor, it’s a way for the admissions committee to see how you communicate non-verbally. Extensive preparation will help you be comfortable and be yourself when you are recording the video.

Kellogg allows you to practice with the video format a few times before you submit your official video, and it would be useful to do some additional rounds of practice in front of the camera. Use friends and family to give you feedback on your performance. Stacy Blackman Consulting also uses a video tool to provide feedback for you, contact us to learn more.

Dual-degree applicants:For applicants to the MMM or JD-MBA dual degree programs, please explain why that program is right for you. (250 words)

Doing your research on Kellogg MBA’s academics and resources will help you answer the question about why you need a dual degree to achieve your goals. If you are applying to the MMM program, you’ll have to show how the degree will prepare you more effectively for your career goals than the MBA alone.

Be able to articulate what is different about the Kellogg MMM program as compared to the MBA and other joint degrees. Know the classes you want to take, the professors you hope to work for, and how the MMM experience will be an asset in your future career.

Similarly, the JD-MBA at Kellogg is a highly competitive admissions process and will require a very clear explanation of what you will do with both degrees after school. Consider the unique attributes of the Kellogg JD-MBA program as compared to others, and also why you specifically need both a JD and an MBA to achieve your career goals.

Re-applicants: Since your previous application, what steps have you taken to strengthen your candidacy? (250 word limit)

In answering this question make sure you provide tangible evidence that you have improved the overall package you are submitting this year. Some of the most tangible improvements are a stronger GMAT score or grades from new quantitative classes you attended since the last time you applied.

Other steps that you can describe include a promotion at work, new volunteer activities, or increased responsibility at work or in your activities. If you don’t have something tangible and external to report, it’s reasonable to discuss how your career goals have changed or your personal aspirations have been refined as you revamped your applications.

Additional Information (Optional)
If needed, use this section to briefly describe any extenuating circumstances (e.g. unexplained gaps in work experience, choice of recommenders, inconsistent or questionable academic performance, etc.) (no word count)

If there are any areas of concern, this is the correct place to address them. Strike an upbeat tone here and avoid excuses. Explain your issue clearly and focus most of the essay on the correction for the issue. For example, if you had a disciplinary issue in college, spend most of the essay demonstrating that you learned from the experience and have been an ideal citizen ever since.

Low GPA issues should be explained here, and if there is a grade of C or below on your transcript the admissions committee will want to know why and feel comfortable it is an outlier in your overall academic record. For academic questions make sure you emphasize your improved performance either later in your college career or in subsequent work or classes since college.

This entry was posted in Application Tips, Northwestern Kellogg Advice and tagged application tips, applications, career goals, Essay Tips, Fall 2018 MBA Essay Tips, Kellogg MBA, Kellogg School of Management, MBA application.
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Dear Kellogg MBA Applicants,

Admissionado here, representing our favorite city of Chicago, while also throwing down some MBA knowledge for y'all. Behold: our 2017-2018 Kellogg MBA Essay Analysis! The Kellogg essays (like all MBA essays, really!) present some challenges for applicants. We hate to see people struggle so we got the crew together to analyze the Kellogg essay prompts and provide you a helpful little road map to follow as you dive in. Just think of us as the Waze of MBA Admissions.


Northwestern Kellogg School of Management MBA Essay 1


Kellogg’s purpose is to educate, equip & inspire brave leaders who create lasting value. Tell us about a time you have demonstrated leadership and created lasting value. What challenges did you face, and what did you learn? (450 words)

Analysis


This is a tricky one. Created lasting value? First of all, that’s some serious sh*t. Second, how would you know if you actually created lasting value? It’s one thing to think that that’s the case. It’s another thing for it to be true, persistently. First thing’s first, we need to identify our story before we do anything else…

Creating lasting value implies bringing something new to the table. You changed a company’s algorithm for hiring: previously they’d focused on X, you inspired them instead to focus on Y. Or, you pursued a growth opportunity no one had ever considered before. It worked, and now it’s a stable and NEW source of revenue. There are a million versions. Whatever it is that you did … it can’t have been in the job description. It can’t have been something that was expected of you. It has to be something YOU brought to the table in a somehow surprising way. Think of your best few examples of that. That’s a good starting point.

Now, let’s talk about how you LED the thing. This particular leadership example requires proactively doing something that otherwise wouldn’t have happened. What were the stakes? What obstacles stood in your way? Why was it difficult? What were your personal risks? What propelled your forward in SPITE of those challenges? What were you hoping to achieve? Take us through your actions, bringing us into your thought process along the way. Let’s see how your gears work.

Finally, what did you learn during all of this? Did everything work out as expected? Congrats… you didn’t learn anything. There must have been twists. An instance when you were WRONG. An instance when you made a bad call. An instance when a certain challenge was HARDER than you expected it would be. An aspect of yourself that you had rated too highly, or not highly enough. Something that bumped along the way. Take us through the “before” and “after” here. Somewhere inside that delta of where you landed AFTER this experience should have POSITIVE implications for your NEXT leadership adventure. If you have an example, even better. If not, throw it into the future regardless, forecasting how you’ll APPLY some of the lessons learned here.
Organization:

Part I – Setup the Situation. Explain the status quo you were hoping to disrupt. Or the boss’s directive. Whatever it was that led to your stepping into a leadership role and ultimately delivering something cool and NEW to the table. Set it up by explaining what the goal was, what the challenges were, why it was important, and what you stood to gain or lose. End this section laying out what would be required for “someone” to step in and lead this thing to success. (100 words)

Part II – Explain the leadership stuff. Take us through the “what you did” piece, step by step, decision by decision. Conflict to conflict. Inner debate, weighing options, eventual decisions. All of it. Lay it all out. (125 words)

Part III – How did this create lasting value? Now comes the tricky part. Where’s the evidence that this “was bigger than you,” and actually fundamentally changed things? First we need to learn of this in some verifiable way other than “you think it created value.” How did you come to learn of it? Walk us through that, and then explain in plain terms what that value actually means. It’s important to do this in the simplest of terms we can understand. (100-125 words)

Part IV – Wha’d Ya Learn? This is reflection time. Time to expose some of those bumps, bad calls, or incorrect assumptions. It doesn’t have to be “bad” but something that convincingly outs you as a REFLECTIVE individual. Put yourself on trial here, throw yourself under the microscope. Make a case for why the version of you at the END of this experience is better than the person at its BEGINNING. Try to wrap your mind around that… Something shifted along the way to IMPROVE you. What was it? Take your time to identify what those things might have been, and try to articulate it all as simply and clearly as you possibly can here. (100-125 words)

Northwestern Kellogg School of Management MBA Essay 2


Pursuing an MBA is a catalyst for personal and professional growth. How have you grown in the past? How do you intend to grow at Kellogg? (450 words)

Analysis


Let’s talk about two key elements of Kellogg’s “growth” essay:

What is growth?
How should you relate this to Kellogg?

Growth. Growth is all about change from X to Y. Consider a plant. If a plant is in a certain environment, subjected to certain external pressures and conditions, it will experience a fundamental change we call “growth.” It may lengthen. It may produce flowers. Whatever it is, there’s some kind of DELTA between the before and after. Easy enough to understand right?

Okay, but let’s dig into it a bit more. What actually caused that growth? Was it the DNA of the plant? Or was it the conditions it was exposed to? Well, it can’t JUST be the DNA. If that were true, you could plant evergreen trees in the middle of the Sahara desert and they’d do just fine right? Wrong. The DNA is a terrible match for the harsh, arid environment of the desert. So, DNA alone doesn’t ensure growth. Likewise, conditions are only as effective as the “DNA” of the thing they’re influencing. Reverse it. Apply rain to coniferous trees and they love it. Apply the same rain to succulents, and it’s lights out. We’ve just applied the wrong “environment” to the DNA.

Conclusion: it has to be a match of:

The inherent characteristics of the element.
The conditions of its environment.

This is a key concept as you consider your own growth stories. First, you have to talk about growth in terms of a clear before and after. But also, you must address what the environment was, and how it influenced “your DNA.” In order to do this well, you need show a clear understanding of what you’re made of, and how that particular environment helped to shape it.

Now, you need to airlift that formula and apply it to something you detect about Kellogg. What is it about the Kellogg environment that holds promise for you that you will grow in a similar way? What is it about their culture, or a specific aspect of their curriculum, or some other Kellogg-specific thing that is going to exert a force on you that encourages personal growth? The only way you can predict this is if you have a story in your past that shows how you respond to certain stimuli, that you can then connect to something at Kellogg that therefore holds the same promise for you.
Structure:

First, walk us through a “growth” story. Paint a clear before and a clear after, and explain how the ENVIRONMENT acted to help SHAPE that transformation from A to B. Hover on the environmental aspect, focus on the stuff that helped bring about that change. What were those external influences? How did they inspire you to grow?

Now, identify specific aspects of Kellogg that resemble those “conditions.” Be careful, the stuff you pick can’t apply equally well to other schools, or else your point won’t weigh anything. It has to be Kellogg-specific. Now explain the parallel to how these conditions are the exact conditions that promote personal growth in you. We’ll believe you because you’ve already PROVEN this in section 1.

Northwestern Kellogg School of Management Dual-Degree Applicant MBA Essay


Dual-degree applicants: For applicants to the MMM or JD-MBA dual degree programs, please explain why that program is right for you. (250 words)

Analysis


Not much to analyze here, but here’s a neat little trick.

Explain your goals. Then, in general terms, explain what SOMEONE (anyone) might need in order to achieve those goals. Then explain what it is you already have, which should get you to about 60-70% of the way there on this essay.

Now explain how either the MMM or JD-MBA program specifically allows YOU to shore up YOUR specific gaps to meet your established goals. It’s two paragraphs, and it’s pretty straightforward:

Paragraph 1 – These are my goals. This is what someone needs in order to succeed at these goals. This is what I have, and more interestingly, everything I don’t have … and therefore need.

Paragraph 2 – This specific dual degree is ideal because unlike THIS OTHER path, and THIS OTHER path, this combines XYZ and solves ABC in this and that amazingly efficient and effective way. Check out these three specific examples of how this program specifically shores up gaps in MY SPECIFIC profile and helps me get to my SPECIFIC goals… perfectly.

Northwestern Kellogg School of Management MBA Optional Essay


All applicants have the opportunity to provide explanations or clarification in Additional Information:

If needed, use this section to briefly describe any extenuating circumstances (e.g. unexplained gaps in work experience, choice of recommenders, inconsistent or questionable academic performance, etc.) (no word count)

Analysis



Read our team’s complete take on the idea of optional essay, including a brief (recent) history of b-schools’ relationship with it, and how our recommendations have evolved over the years, right here.

Northwestern Kellogg School of Management MBA Video Essay

The Video Essay is one component of the application and provides you with an additional opportunity to demonstrate what you will bring to our vibrant Kellogg community – in an interactive way. You will respond to several short video essay questions. The questions are designed to bring to life the person we have learned about on paper.

After submitting an application and payment, you will be able to access the video essay through the your application status page. One question will be a “get to know you” icebreaker type of question. The second question will be an opportunity to describe your plans for the future and how Kellogg will help you on that journey. The other questions will be randomly generated questions that will be similar to interview questions.
There are practice questions that you may complete as many times as you like to get comfortable with the format and technology. The practice questions and experience will simulate the actual video essay experience, so this is meant to be a useful tool to help you feel prepared.
We encourage you to practice so you are comfortable with the format once it is time to complete the official questions. There is not an opportunity to re-do the answer to the official video essay questions.
You will have 20 seconds to think about the question and up to one minute to give your response.
We estimate the video essays will take 20-25 minutes to complete – which includes time for set-up and answering all the practice questions. You will need an internet connected computer with a webcam, microphone and an updated version of Adobe Flash in order to complete the video essay.

Analysis


We’ve written in detail about the video essay, and no matter what school you’re applying to, the same general principles apply. Read our 7 Tips for Preparing the Dreaded Live Video MBA Essay.


And that's that. Helpful, eh? If you have any questions on it or Kellogg or anything, just reply here or shoot us a PM. And if you want more Essay Analysis Goodness, check out more schools here. We're updating 'em daily as new prompts are released, so keep checking back.
_________________

Jon Frank
Founder, Admissionado

Admissionado | Packages | Success Stories | Team

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Last edited by JonAdmissionado on 17 Aug 2017, 12:33, edited 1 time in total.

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