Chicago Booth, while well known for its quantitative approach and highly flexible curriculum, continues to use the application process to identify strong qualitative thinkers who offer a broad diversity of experiences that will bring variety to class discussions and add complexity to the team dynamics the school emphasizes.
For the 2020-2021 admissions season, Chicago Booth has made a slight change to one of its application questions. This will help you understand where the program is looking to focus its qualitative attention with respect to the diversity of the applicants for the upcoming year. The school has changed the second long essay to focus less on the flexible course curriculum and professional experience and more on the applicant’s unique experience.
With visits to campus and live classes, as well as presentations, limited during the pandemic, those applicants who take the initiative to review the school’s digital literature will find it very helpful when answering the essays.
The school’s short answer questions are meant to help the reviewer understand your current goals and expectations. A clear path will help the reviewer understand your motivations and how well the program is aligned with your expectations. Even if you are slightly unsure today about either answer, it is suggested to show a plan that makes realistic sense to the reviewer.
What is your immediate post-MBA career goal? (250 characters)
You are identifying the position you’d like to have immediately upon graduation from the program. Be as specific as possible: “I want to join a consulting firm such as McKinsey in its Technology Strategy practice.” Additionally, identify what growth you want to gain from the job: “because it will give me the opportunity to work across many different industries and business models.”
What is your long-term post-MBA career goal? (250 characters)
For this question, the school is looking for where you want to be five to ten years from today. That is, what will you do with your post-MBA experience along with the skills and experience gained during your time at Chicago Booth? Again, be specific: “After my time at McKinsey, I would like to join the venture arm of a tech company such as Google, where I can lead a specific line of business and help the company make strategic investments in that sector.”
Essay One: How will the Booth MBA help you achieve your immediate and long-term post-MBA career goals? (250 word minimum)
In the past, the school looked for creativity by using image prompts, and thus many responses came in Slide/PowerPoint format. Chicago Booth changed to this straightforward question to allow for an organized text format with linear reasoning that will allow the school to compare each individual’s goals to those of other candidates. This question, now used for three years, allows the admissions committee to still receive creative yet thoughtful and thorough responses that reveal the applicant’s true self. A strong response will show that the applicant has identified specific areas of development and knowledge that they want to focus on at Chicago Booth. They will back this up by showing the research that they have done by demonstrating their knowledge of the program
While this essay has a minimum 250-word count, we suggest that you answer this question in 550–750 words.
Essay Two: An MBA is as much about personal growth as it is about professional development. In addition to sharing your experience and goals in terms of career, we’d like to learn more about you outside of the office. Use this opportunity to tell us something about who you are… (Minimum 250 words, no maximum.)
This is the essay that has changed for this year.
As with Essay 1, while there is a minimum 250-word count for this submission, we suggest that you answer this question in 550–750 words.
While different from last year’s question, this one is simply a more refined way of asking you to tell the reviewer what makes you tick. Last year, the question asked how you made choices in your life in a choice-rich environment, but the responses didn’t showcase the individual personalities and experiences of the applicants. It is important to remember that the school celebrates team-based approaches, so if you have any personal growth experiences that offer personal examples of growth via team dynamics, that would be a plus.
This is where significant events that altered your life come into play. Whereas many candidates share similar professional experiences, personal experiences are what differentiate people. Given that there will be fewer opportunities to make a personal connection with the admissions committee decision makers, it is believed this essay will help to identify you as a unique candidate in the application pool.
In a prior year, a contact from the Admissions Department said that they want to see where the applicant’s ambition comes from and how authentic it sounds. Once again, make your essay as personal as possible to make your response unique and recallable by those on the Admissions Committee who read it. This will have the committee eager to interview you for admission.
Optional Question: Is there any unclear information in your application that needs further explanation? (300 word maximum)
This question only needs to be addressed if there are gaps in your employment or some specific situation where providing background or context would be helpful. Some other examples would be if your recommender is not your direct supervisor. Or maybe your transcript looks like Swiss cheese, with some holes or bad grades scattered in there. No need to make this any longer than it needs to be to explain. Do not feel compelled to hit the 300-word maximum.
If you have any special extracurricular causes or work that you believe helps to further explain who you are, this would be a good place help the committee learn about this aspect of who you are.
Re-applicant Question (unchanged): 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 word maximum)
This is an opportunity to explain how you have grown since you last applied. Ideally, you have improved on some aspect(s) of your profile—whether that is a higher test score or more work experience and a promotion, etc. Be sure to explain what it is about the school that motivates you to apply again. This can be a great way to show your specific and sincere reasons why you value a Chicago Booth MBA.