Essay 2# Chicago Booth immerses you in a choice-rich environment. How have your interests, leadership experiences, and other passions influenced the choices in your life? (250-word minimum)?
1) Start with the Family
We underestimate the role our parents, elder sibling(s) or the father figure played in the development of our leadership skills, attitude, and the choices we made in our life.
Even growing up in a certain culture, financial status, economy, family, or neighborhood would stretch your leadership skills in unexpected ways.
If it was a tough neighborhood where safety was a concern, attention to cues of threat might later develop into attention to details in your professional environment.
If it were an immigrant family, you would never take the opportunities for granted. The tales of parents’ struggles although act as fodder for ridicule inside the family, they later develop into an unmatched work ethic.
If you were raised in an emerging economy – Asia and Africa where the fruits of globalization are finally showing results, you would be the lucky few to witness the before/after snapshot of the economy. Technology and free trade’s value at multiplying opportunities would have built your confidence in capitalism despite its numerous flaws.
If your parents navigated their small enterprise to a multi-million-dollar business, the optimism would translate to a growth-mindset, even outside Entrepreneurial pursuit.
2) Bring Conflict/Tension/Unexpected choices early on
None of our life stories are devoid of conflicts, setback, and life lessons. The choices in your life essay require an early setback or unexpected turn of events to hook the admission team. Often, we have seen applicants rambling on and on about a cause without spending enough time on narrating how the challenge/setback injected passion into the cause.
Most stories have a personal connection to the cause. The ideal example would include a non-profit - either founding or leading, or the choices in the professional career that were driven by long-term goals and vision for a better world/community/country.
There is no one winning formula.
It is all about personalizing your story and demonstrating a passion for the choices you have made.
3) Acquisition of Values – Through Inspiration or Setback
We either acquire values by mimicking a person we admire or learn through a personal setback or use a combination of both.
Inspiration changes with age. Childhood heroes would have no relevance when we take our careers and life goals seriously. While mentioning mentors/heroes/inspirations, be mindful that it should be relevant to your career and personal goals.
Failures/Setbacks are the biggest teachers. Success could be derived from academic competence or a chain of lucky events. They could be so deceiving that you wouldn’t spend any time analyzing the reasons but instead waste your time celebrating it.
Failures put a full stop to your ride and forces you to introspect.
The mightier the forces that put you down, the more likely that you would develop values to counter such forces in the future.
4) End with Chicago Booth
Chicago Booth MBA curriculum should be quoted in Essay #1. However, Essay #2 should capture one ‘unique’ advantage that would help you achieve your vision. It should not just be a goal but a way of thinking or a value that is characteristic of what the University of Chicago transmits.
5) Keep the 1-page word limit
When we wrote the four Sample Essays for the choices in life essay, the first and second drafts were elaborate narrative with ample details on the environment, the era, and the neighborhood. I was hesitant to delete it. Once the samples sat for a couple of days, I went back and defined the target audience.
The admission team is not interested in reading the ‘details.’ They want just enough detail to understand the circumstances, the challenges you faced, and the origins of your leadership values and passion.
By strictly following a 1-page or a 500-word limit, you can keep the narrative short and interesting. For applicants with multiple functional and industry experience (more than 2), with experiences in multiple non-profits and global projects (more than 2), a 750-word essay or 1.5 page is pardonable.