Essay Advice – Kellogg School of Management

by Vantage Point MBA, Aug 5, 2021

VPCL

Kellogg’s 2021-22 application is open! If you’re considering applying to Kellogg, here is what you need to know:

Application Run Down

The deadlines are as follows:

Round 1: 15 September 2021

Round 2: 5 January 2022

Round 3: 6 April 2022 (please do yourself a favor and don’t wait for Round 3)

There are two required essay questions, which remain unchanged from last year:

  1. Kellogg’s purpose is to educate, equip and inspire brave leaders who create lasting value. Provide a recent example where you have demonstrated leadership and created value. What challenges did you face and what did you learn? (450 words)
  2. Values are what guide you in your life and work. What values are important to you and how have they influenced you? (450 words)

There is also a third required essay for those applying to a specialized MBA program and/or for those who are reapplying. Finally, Kellogg has three video essay questions – you can find advice for approaching these here.

How To Tackle These Essays

While it’s always crucial to present yourself in an authentic and individual way, it’s helpful to keep in mind the qualities Kellogg seeks in its applicants. As Kate Smith shared in a recent blog article, Kellogg ‘…develop[s] leaders who are empathetic, innovative and who harness the power of diverse teams to meet complex challenges.’ Aim to put your own personal spin on this statement and share experiences that demonstrate it resonates with you.

Think Long and Hard About the Story You Select for Essay One

As the first essay prompt indicates, Kellogg is looking for you to share one concrete ‘story’ in your answer. So, essentially, you have one shot to demonstrate why, as proven by a past experience, you will make an indelible mark on their incoming class. That’s a lot of pressure to put on one story, so it’s important to choose wisely.

Our recommended approach is to brainstorm a variety of stories you could potentially use here and not simply go with the first one that comes to mind. Just because an accomplishment was personally significant to you doesn’t mean it is the best material for this essay.

As general guidance, we would steer you towards a professional example that is relatively recent (within the last two years) and involved teamwork of some kind. Kellogg wants to see the kind of leader you are today and given the heavily team-oriented nature of the program, telling a story about a time you accomplished something without the help of others doesn’t demonstrate the fit they are looking for. Further, gravitate towards a time where you acted outside of your day-to-day job responsibilities (maybe you took the initiative to fix a process that was broken or launched a new employee resource group at your company) – this is how you hit on the ‘brave leadership’ element Kellogg is looking for.

Essay Two Should Blend the Personal and Professional

When it comes to the content for essay two, it should nearly always include some discussion of your future goals. If you’ve done robust personal branding work, these goals are rooted in your values and passions, exactly what this essay is looking for.

Thinking holistically about the Kellogg application, there really isn’t another place to talk about your vision for the future and how an MBA fits into it. As such, this is the ideal place to include it.

That said, the whole essay probably shouldn’t be forward looking. You want to show that you’ve put your values into practice through your past choices and actions too. Maybe the same value that led you to your pre-MBA career (drive for excellence, a desire to overcome challenges, etc.) is also influencing your future goals and decision to pursue an MBA.

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