Chicago Booth Application Essay Tips, 2023-2024
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. Indeed, through this attempt to “play against type” by making its main essays open-ended and emphasizing the whole person (Essay Two), the program is making efforts to broaden its appeal and enhance its overall image.
The school’s short-answer questions (in the Chicago Booth & You section of the application) are meant to help the admissions reviewer understand your professional goals and expectations. Outlining a clear path will give them useful insight into your motivations and how well the program aligns with your expectations. To that end, we urge you to lay out a plan that makes logical sense and doesn’t require the reviewer to connect the dots themselves; provide explicit rationale for your objectives.
What is your immediate post-MBA career goal? (250 characters)
Just 250 characters is a small window, but you still have enough room to offer a strong description. Start by identifying the position you’d like to have immediately upon graduation from the program. Provide some brief context that reveals that you have the skills/interest to succeed in this role and then be as specific as possible: “I want to join a consulting firm such as McKinsey in its Technology Strategy practice….” Additionally, identify the growth you can gain from the job: “because it will give me the opportunity to work with globally competitive firms across many different industries and models, while collaborating with….” Know your target career well so you can own this short answer.
What is your long-term post-MBA career goal? (250 characters)
For this question, the school is looking to learn where you want to be five to ten years from today — that is, what will you do with your post-MBA experience, equipped with the skills and experience you gained during your time at Chicago Booth? Again, be specific and share context: “After my time at McKinsey, I would have the domain expertise 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.” It is important that your long-term goal is actually achievable via your short-term goal. If you cannot build that bridge, the admissions committee will assume that you are either naïve or just haven’t done your homework — and that conclusion alone could sink your application. Moreover, if there are certain core causes you care about, this is an opportunity to explain your dedication. For example, if you’re passionate about gender equality, climate change, or education in Africa, for example, and want to dedicate your career to solving challenges in that meaningful space, include that purpose in your response.
Essay One: How will the Booth MBA help you achieve your immediate and long-term post-MBA career goals? (250-word minimum)
We advise applicants to start any conventional personal statement with some simple context/backstory. Simply launching into why you want to go into product management at Facebook or “proptech” or whatever your interest might be could be confusing for the reviewer. They need to have some sense of why you have that interest. So, your first task is to establish that your goals are real without rehashing the entirety of your professional path.
Once you have established that clear context, you can then share the immediate goals that are derived from it. You should not worry that there is a “right” position and that the admissions committee wants “types”; as noted, they want diversity and, once again, they want to know that your goal is ambitious and achievable for you. Thereafter, you can connect your short- and long-term goals, which don’t necessarily need to be linear, but do need to be both logical and ambitious. So, if you said you want to be a hedge fund analyst in your short-term goal statement, and in the long run you want to be a marketing consultant, we have a problem! You don’t need to say that you want to stay in hedge funds for your whole career (though there is nothing wrong with that if that is your goal), but you need to be sure that your long-term goals are a natural progression from this hypothetical stint in the hedge fund world.
Of course, a strong response will show that you have identified specific areas of development and knowledge that you want to focus on at Chicago Booth. You should back this up using the research that you have done by demonstrating your knowledge of the program and how it relates to your growth and progression. So, this should not be a list of Chicago Booth resources but rather a well-developed “case” for how the school’s MBA program will facilitate your success.
Although this essay has a minimum 250-word count, we suggest that you answer the 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)
While many candidates share similar professional experiences, personal experiences are what differentiate applicants from one another. Here is your chance to tell the admissions committee who you are as a person, what you value, and what makes you tick. In considering what you will share, know that “something” can be interpreted broadly. You don’t need to share one thing — one experience. You can share a trait instead. Maybe you have overcome setbacks consistently, for example — you can present a narrative about the obstacles you have faced and the resilience you have developed. You should not force a theme, and do not fall into the trap of thinking that Booth is looking for a specific profile. Just be true to yourself, and your genuine voice will come through.
When you write this essay, share specifics to make the details come to life. Avoid remaining at such a high level that the actual experience is lost. Also, rather than stating explicitly who you are, demonstrate who you are through your actions in your story.
Whether you share a single experience or an enduring theme, what is important is that you can hold up this essay at the end and have someone who knows you read it and say, “Yeah, that’s you!” You want this essay to really capture your values via the experiences you share.
As with Essay One, although there is a minimum 250-word count for this submission, we suggest that you answer the question in 550–750 words.
Optional Question: Is there any unclear information in your application that needs further explanation or additional details you would like to share with the Admissions Committee? If so, please use this section to clarify. (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 here and there. If you use this essay to explain an issue that you’ve now overcome, be sure to cement that idea by sharing a subsequent experience in which you succeeded. There is no need to make this any longer than it needs to be to explain your answer. 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, and that the admissions committee might not otherwise discover, this could be a good place to help them learn about this aspect.
Re-applicant 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-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, more work experience, a promotion, or something similar. 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 for valuing a Chicago Booth MBA in particular.
In Stratus Admissions’ Guide to Getting into Chicago Booth School of Business, you will find information on a variety of the MBA program’s offerings, such as the LEAD program, the New Venture Challenge, the Polsky Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation, and student-led industry treks. Download our free guide to learn more about Chicago Booth!