Admissions at Chicago
What Booth Is Looking For
As Chicago Booth has climbed to the top of business school rankings, it has attracted a larger number of applicants, some of whom may not be a great fit with the school. The obvious benefit is that the admissions office can choose from an even stronger, more diverse pool. But the school’s challenge is to figure out who really belongs at Chicago Booth, as well as who really wants to attend. Be honest with the admissions committee (and with yourself) about why you are considering Chicago Booth. Then, be sure to demonstrate your fit with the program and how you will contribute to the school’s community.
Showing that you fit. Despite the fact that the school’s 24% acceptance rate (for the Class of 2016) is higher than that of any other top program, candidates should not assume that the Chicago Booth admissions committee is easy to impress. Much care is given to figuring out whether applicants have the chops to survive in what is one of the most rigorous and analytical MBA programs. Furthermore, the school wants to make sure that incoming students are on board with the various elements of the Chicago Booth approach, and that they have the kind of robust work experience and professional development that will suggest strong performance in group projects. They also value innovation, creativity, and problem-solving skills.
Admission criteria. Other important factors Chicago Booth considers when admitting candidates are those that should already be familiar to applicants interested in elite business schools. Chicago Booth is looking for academic ability, proper motivation, preparedness, intellectual curiosity, communication skills, and professional success. They find these traits among the usual application components: GPA, GMAT, essay, recommendation letters, resume, and, later in the process, interview. Successful candidates use each part of the written application to present a unique aspect or element of their candidacy, so that the entire package fits together as a complete picture. Wherever possible, avoid regurgitating facts from one place to the next. Instead, let each piece build on and reinforce the others so the admissions team can see more of who you are and why you’re right for Chicago Booth.
Re-applicants. Chicago Booth has a slightly different policy for those who are trying again: You are considered a re-applicant if you submitted in either of the previous two years. (Other schools define a re-applicant as someone who applied in the just-prior year only.) This can be an advantage, because someone in this position would not have to write the essay and get all new recommendations. However, a re-applicant definitely needs to demonstrate how her profile has changed and her candidacy improved if she’s going to be successful in her second attempt. Chicago Booth has a specific re-applicant essay question that invites candidates to explain how their “thinking has changed” about their goals and their desire for an MBA. This is an interesting angle and indicates the type of insights or self-reflection that the school expects re-applicants to demonstrate.