Essay 1: How will the Booth MBA help you achieve your immediate and long-term post-MBA career goals? (250 word minimum)
Define your goals. Your immediate post-MBA career goal will be the job you hope to gain directly out of business school. Your long-term post-MBA career goal is the job you see yourself in 5-10 years after graduation, or maybe even further out. Your goals should be clear, meaning they should be well defined, as opposed to vague. You want to be specific, but not too narrow. An example of a goal that’s too narrow would be: “Upon graduation, I will seek to be the Corporate Product Manager for Kiva Microfunds, focused on business development in the Latin American region.” Instead, you might say something like: “I seek to leverage my experience in finance with my demonstrated passion for developing nations. Ideally, I would apply for a business development role for a philanthropic organization such as Kiva, Grameen Bank, or even traditional lenders such as Bank of America, which has started a microlending practice.”
Connect the dots. You also want to make it clear how an MBA from Booth will help you achieve your goals. An MBA may seem like an obvious choice to you, but don’t just assume that the admissions committee will understand why it’s the right choice. They want to hear your decision-making process in your own words. Clearly connect the dots among what you’ve done to this point, what you want to do in the future, and why you need an MBA from Booth to get there.
Be specific. Talking about specific resources and opportunities uniquely available to you at Booth and tying them in with your goals is strongly advisable. Keep in mind that anyone can browse the school’s website and drop some professors’ and clubs’ names into this essay; a response that will really stand out is one that is believable, shows that you’ve done your research, and reveals something unique about you. In this portion of the essay you might weave together experiences from your campus visit, information sessions, or conversations with current students with similar interests.
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).
Get personal. Essay 1 is an opportunity to talk about your professional future, as well as what has led you to this point. In Essay 2, don’t be afraid to talk about the interests, leadership experiences and other passions you have outside of the workplace. Don’t miss this opportunity to let your personality shine through.
Identify key themes. It may be helpful to brainstorm a list – think about extracurriculars, volunteer work, your family, your friends, and your ideas – and then circle the most impactful 2-3 experiences, perhaps focusing on the experiences where you had to make a decision. Another great activity is to select 3 adjectives that you feel accurately describe you. For example, you could choose resilient, creative, and fearless. Think about what experiences in your life cause you to describe yourself this way. What have you done that’s creative? Have you designed an app or generated a creative solution to a problem at work? What choices have you made because of your resiliency? Did you not quit Teach for America? Awesome. This activity will lead you to some very rich ground for your essays, and ideally you’d be able to tie your passions back to Chicago Booth. Most importantly, clearly describe who you are and how you got to this point.
Optional Essay: Is there any unclear information in your application that needs further explanation? (300 words maximum)
Don’t ignore glaring weaknesses. If you have a blemish that you need address, this is the place to do it. You don’t want to leave a glaring weakness unaddressed. However, if you don’t have too much explaining to do, don’t be afraid to reveal something personal and memorable about yourself here.
Reapplicant Question: Upon reflection, how has your perspective regarding your future, Chicago Booth, and/or getting an MBA changed since the time of your last application? (300 words maximum)
Focus on improvement. This question gets at the heart of what MBA admissions officers at any school care about when they see a re-applicant: What has changed since last time? While we don’t believe the Chicago Booth admissions committee did it deliberately, we do think that the phrasing here can be a bit misleading. An important thing to think about: The way this question is written, it may lead some applicants to believe that they didn’t get in before because of something wrong in the way they answered the “Why an MBA? Why Booth?” question and that this is their chance to make another run at answering that question. But, that may not at all be why they were rejected last time. Maybe you had a weakness in your application that had nothing to do with your research on Chicago Booth or your reasons for wanting to earn an MBA, such as a low GMAT score or lack of leadership experience at work. While you do need to answer the question, you will also need to make it obvious that your application weaknesses have been strengthened since your previous application.
Do I have a chance if I re-apply? Chicago Booth actually tends to have a positive view of re-applicants, especially if the application has significantly strengthened since the prior attempt. Perseverance is seen as a sign of passion and commitment to the school, and re-applicants are often admitted at higher rates than first-time applicants.