2014-15 Kellogg MBA Essay tips

Kellogg MBA Essay Tips 2013-14For 2014-15, the total number of essays is two that include one essay about the greatest challenge and the second one about leadership experience, and how you influenced people in a group environment.

2014-15 Kellogg MBA Essay Tips

Essay 1: Resilience. Perseverance. Grit. Call it what you will…. Challenges can build character. Describe a challenging experience you’ve had. How were you tested? What did you learn? (450 words)

Before writing essay 1, plan whether you will include your personal experience in Essay 1 or 2. Both have contexts where you can write about your personal story. One is about overcoming challenge, and the other is about leadership. We would recommend that you write about your personal story for this essay. It can be about something that you had to overcome while learning a new skill – music or one aspect of managing a non-profit:  running a campaign, building a team of volunteers, or persevering to meet financial goals.

The regular obstacles that you face in a new environment cannot be categorized as Challenges. Those are learning experiences. Although gifted writers can make anything sound as a challenge, MBA application is a comparative exercise, and your story about resilience, perseverance, and grit to learn a new technology or concept might sound similar to what the next applicant has written. Think beyond the cliché. What was truly challenging, that helped you grow as a person?

Building character only comes when you lose smaller battles but win the ‘big war’. If you have watched superhero movies, the protagonist faces smaller defeats, every 20 minutes but eventually the hero always wins. What attracts us to these movies is the hero’s grit to keep carrying on, despite the small defeats. Writing about overcoming challenges is a similar exercise. Unless you write about defeats and make the admission committee hooked onto “what happened next”, your essay will be categorized among the ‘Cliché essays’.

The essay has specifically asked about “What you have learned”, so devote the last paragraph on this section. With a word-limit of 450 words or 1-page, words are in shortage. Carefully select on event in your life that was challenging. Reflect why the event had all the elements of a superhero movie – the protagonist (you), the sidekicks (your support system), and antagonist (circumstances – deadlines, lack of skills or an overwhelming target).

To help you pick an event worth mentioning in the essay, follow this two-step process:

a) Write down 15 challenging situations from childhood (Age 5 and above) that you had to overcome
b) Brainstorm with your close friend, partner, and boyfriend/girlfriend, and ask them about the 15 incidents. They can give a unique perspective on the event.

Several incidents might not be relevant for the essay, but this exercise is an audit of your life events. This will help you find the moments that have defined your personality.  The world limit is 450. So make sure that you pick obstacles that are worth mentioning. Don’t pick them just to make your story more compelling, instead pick elements that make your story an authentic representation of yourself. Kellogg values diversity not just in nationality but also in experience and personality. Write about your unique experience, and the personality that molded out of the experience.

Essay 2: Leadership requires an ability to collaborate with and motivate others. Describe a professional experience that required you to influence people. What did this experience teach you about working with others, and how will it make you a better leader? (450 words)

Leadership has several contexts and characteristics. Luckily, Kellogg AdCom has defined the context in which you have to answer the question – leadership where you have collaborated and motivated your team members. This is a perfect essay to write about your professional experience.

Kellogg SOM values leaders who are also great team players. When you brainstorm for leadership experiences where you had to overcome several challenges, shortlist experiences where you have shown...

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