2017-18 Kellogg MBA Essay Tips:

by on July 26th, 2017

New Building + Top 4 Ranking = Stiff Competition at Kellogg

With Kellogg’s state-of-the-art global hub opening its doors in March and the school’s push into the Top 4 in the latest US News & World Report MBA rankings, it’s safe to say that obtaining a coveted seat in the Class of 2019 will be as competitive as ever for the estimated 4,500 Kellogg MBA hopefuls.

Don’t count on a strong GMAT to differentiate you amidst the increasingly competitive applicant pool at Kellogg. Last year, the average score of Kellogg admits hit an all-time high of 728—behind only Stanford and Wharton!

Consequently, applicants must take full advantage of every opportunity to distinguish themselves in their battle for one of the precious 475 target seats in the class. You will need to show your best self with essays that are not only carefully tailored to Kellogg but also compelling and memorable.

Kellogg got such great responses to last year’s essay prompts that they kept them for the 2017-2018 application season. We sat down with a former Kellogg student admissions lead to get his take on successful essay strategies.

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)

This is your chance to tell a leadership story. Kellogg really wants to know how you influence those around you. Highlighting the value you delivered to your team and/or organization as a leader is the essence of a great response to this essay prompt. Building a model that impacted your company’s bottom line may be impressive, but it isn’t leadership. Don’t fall into the trap of writing an entire leadership essay without talking about how you inspired and motivated others to contribute. Kellogg recognizes the fact that not everyone has had the opportunity to directly manage others, but applicants do need to be able to tell a story about how they have influenced others in pursuit of a greater goal. This is what Adcom wants to hear. What was the situation? What were the stakes? How did you win over key stakeholders?

“Kellogg Admissions wants to know how your interpersonal skills will translate into their collaborative culture,” explained the former student admissions lead. “How will you drive value for the institution, marketplace, and society at large?”

He went on to emphasize the importance of using the active voice and writing about your individual contributions in this essay: “In American culture, we are trained to talk about ‘we’ and ‘us’. Don’t do that here. Kellogg wants to understand how you lead, what you did to drive value—not just the actions of the collective group.”

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)

Essay 2 ties directly into Kellogg’s current brand position as the business school leader on growth, which they define as the growth of individuals, organizations, and markets. Ultimately, Kellogg is trying to understand what your career trajectory is to date, and the reader will want to see some level of introspection in how you’ve grown through challenges and failures, and where you aspire to go in the future.

“Adcom wants to understand the trajectory of your life. Deviations and career changes are welcome, as the MBA is often used as a pivot point or catalyst to change direction, but it’s important to use this opportunity to explain these life stages and the motivations behind them.”

How will you pursue your personal growth goals on campus? You’ll want to link your growth objectives to program specifics. For example, if you want to grow as an entrepreneur then you might connect to Kellogg’s new entrepreneurship emphasis, extracurriculars, and experiential learning opportunities, such as Venture Lab or NUvention. How will you make an impact on campus? Where and how will you get involved? How will you help yourself, your classmates, and the program grow?

“A narrative theme is important in this essay,” we were advised. “You’ll want to avoid an essay that focuses solely on a single life event over a more thorough life narrative. How you grew when you learned French, in isolation, is not what they’re after.”

Tieing it all together

Demonstrated leadership and a growth mindset are the raw intangibles that tie together Kellogg’s perennially collaborative and overtly social class. How do you demonstrate these attributes? Start with a heavy dose of introspection, and be sure to emphasize empathy through your stories of leadership, influence and personal high-expectations. Show yourself to be curious and accepting of different cultures and viewpoints. It’s all about how and what you will add to the carefully constructed school culture that is assembled by admissions each year.

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