Kellogg has made two important changes to its essays and application this year. The first is that applicants can now select and receive consideration for multiple MBA programs through one application. This has been a stress point for candidates for many years, so the ability to rank your interest in several different programs in Kellogg’s portfolio is a welcome upgrade. The second change relates to the third video essay question. Applicants are asked to share their resilience with the Kellogg admissions team by describing a challenge they have encountered in their life and how they faced it.
Kellogg’s 2021−2022 application essay questions are as follows:
Essay One (Required): Kellogg’s purpose is to educate, equip and inspire brave leaders who create lasting value. Provide a recent example where you have demonstrated leadership and created value. What challenges did you face and what did you learn? (450 words)
When reading this essay prompt, applicants might first ponder the word “recent.” How far back can one go with “recent”? Well, it is a judgment call, of course, but we would suggest writing about something that happened in the past year—or if your anecdote is particularly powerful and the impact lingers to this day, two years might be your max. You should heed the prompt’s wording of “demonstrated leadership and created value.” The reader does not just need to read about how you rallied the troops, so to speak, but they also need to know that the rallying itself was significant because it produced a desired outcome. What risks did you take to champion an important initiative? A well-constructed narrative will introduce a problem or opportunity and then show how you, the “hero” of the story, took steps to engage others in solving that problem, leading to very clear results that made a notable impact. Please avoid a common mistake: many applicants write about their leadership experience and then share a reflection at the end (“What did you learn?”) that is untethered from their core narrative. If you are going to say, for example, that you learned to communicate better after an initial stumble, that must be evident in your narrative! We recommend that you devote roughly two-thirds of your essay to sharing the anecdote and roughly one-third to a reflection.
Essay Two (Required): Values are what guide you in your life and work. What values are important to you and how have they influenced you? (450 words)
In a webinar, Kate Smith, Kellogg’s assistant dean of admissions and financial aid, said of this essay, “The goal is to uncover more about what motivates and inspires Kellogg applicants as well as what drives them. Kellogg wants to know how you will become a meaningful member of the Kellogg community and how these things shape the kind of leader they want to become.”
Before writing, start with a quick review of the key qualities Kellogg looks for in its applicants, broad as they are:
- Can motivate a team to drive impact
- Are not afraid to question the status quo and seek the non-obvious solutions
- Approach business problems with a mix of intellect, energy, and creativity
- Seek diversity in their networks and teams
- Are eager to dive in and collaborate with an engaged, ambitious community of peers
Although you might keep these values in the back of your mind as you write, don’t pander to the admissions committee by dropping phrases like “question the status quo.” The admissions officers are seeking to get a sense of your values, and pandering is the opposite of that! Instead, think of a core value, or possibly two core values, that you possess, and then explore it/them through examples. A good essay won’t merely be a rumination on a theme such as “teamwork” or a list of successes as a team player; it will introduce a theme and then briefly back it up with substantial anecdotal evidence that shows how these values now serve as guides.
Kellogg has long valued high-impact, low-ego leaders, so keep this in mind when setting the tone in your essay. In addition, because Kellogg wants to know how you will become a meaningful member of its community, you might use this essay as an opportunity to share how you plan to engage with the community—briefly. If you go down this path, be sure to research the curriculum, overall program, and club offerings so you can share your connection in a genuine manner.
Certain applicants will respond to additional questions:
One-Year applicants: Please discuss your post-MBA career goal, the current experience you will leverage to support the transition, and the Kellogg 1Y opportunities that will help you reach this goal. (250 words)
Because the 1Y experience moves so quickly, Kellogg wants to know that you have done some research on how you will make the most of your four Kellogg quarters. Be specific in noting how certain courses, pathways, clubs, and initiatives can help you reach your professional goals.
MBAi applicants: The Kellogg McCormick MBAi program is designed to train the next generation of leaders who can help businesses deliver successful outcomes through AI-driven technology. This requires leaders who have both strong technical and business skills; many firms struggle to find leaders with these skills. Tell us about your firsthand experience with this disconnect between business and technology and how MBAi will prepare you to successfully lead businesses at the intersection. (450 words)
Kellogg wants to understand the experience you bring to the intersection of business and technology. Be sure you provide enough specific supporting evidence to demonstrate the professional expertise you will bring to the program.
MMM applicants: The five core values of the MMM Program are curiosity, creativity, empathy, open-mindedness and a learning mindset. Describe a situation in which you demonstrated one of these values. Why is this value an important part of the MMM experience for you? (250 words)
This question provides an opportunity to share a story that substantiates why one of the MMM core values resonates with you and also to demonstrate some understanding of how the program can support and strengthen any of these values.
JD-MBA applicants: Please discuss your post-JD-MBA career goals and why the JD-MBA Program is the right program to help you reach those goals. (250 words)
Given that the JD-MBA program is a specialized one, Kellogg asks for more information about your career goals to ensure this program truly makes sense for you. Be sure to cite some of the courses and clubs that can help you reach your goals.
Reapplicants: Since your previous application, what steps have you taken to strengthen your candidacy? (250 words)
There are no tricks here. Just think about how you are a stronger applicant than you were when you last applied. Have you retaken the GMAT or GRE? Completed new courses? Been promoted or faced new challenges at work? Use these 250 words to show growth, change, improvement, and excellence.
All applicants have the opportunity to provide explanations or clarification in Additional Information. Use this section if you think the person reviewing your application might have a few questions about one or more of your responses. This could include: Unexplained gaps in work experience, Academic, GMAT or GRE performance, Extenuating circumstances that we should be aware of when reviewing your application
This question needs to be addressed only if there are gaps in your employment or some specific situation about which providing some background or context would be helpful. Some other examples would be if your recommender is not your direct supervisor or if your transcript has some obvious holes or bad grades scattered here and there. No matter what the issue is, there is no need to make this any longer than it needs to be to explain your answer.
If you have any special extracurricular causes or work that you believe helps to further explain who you are, and that Kellogg might not otherwise discover from the other parts of your application, this could be a good place to help the committee learn about this aspect.
Video essay 1: Please introduce yourself to the admissions committee.
– Consider this your opportunity to share what you would want your future Kellogg classmates and our admissions committee to know about you. What makes you, you?
Video essay 2: What path are you interested in pursuing, how will you get there, and why is this program right for you?
– This is an intentionally broad question so you can answer honestly and meaningfully. We want to know why you’re pursuing an MBA and why you’re choosing a particular Kellogg Full-Time Program
Video essay 3: This question will be based on a challenge you’ve faced and what you’ve learned from it.
Kellogg asks all applicants to complete a “video essay,” which likely seems daunting to some at first. However, it is really just an opportunity to get the unscripted version of you—Kellogg wants to see your personality come out. And although we use the word “unscripted,” we do suggest that you practice delivering responses both before you go live and once you are in the school’s online system. Kellogg notes that “you may complete (practice questions) as many times as you like to get comfortable with the format and technology.”
So, how does it work? Once you have completed your practice sessions and are ready to move on to the real thing, you will have 20 seconds to think about your response to each question and one minute to respond. If you manage your time poorly and get cut off or lose your way, don’t worry; Kellogg has accepted many candidates who have had small stumbles. Manage yourself with humility and humor, and you should be more than halfway to your destination.
- In the first video essay, you can share a mini biography—and the key here is “mini.” You can’t say absolutely everything you’d like to, so pick highlights. Don’t brag, and think about what you can add to the class.
- In the second essay, you will need to show that you have a clear direction in mind for yourself and that you understand how Kellogg’s resources will facilitate your goals. Again, you should not have a “Kellogg list” ready but should instead share a reasoned point of view. Show that you are deliberative—pursuing Kellogg purposefully—because it has what you need.
- In the third essay, just be real! Talk about a specific challenge and growth opportunity, and focus on the latter. Kellogg wants to know that you are resilient rather than perfect!
In Stratus Admissions’ Guide to Getting into Kellogg School of Management you will find information on a variety of the MBA program’s offerings such as the Global Hub building, Complete Immersion in Management, the Kellogg Ski Trip, and the Kellogg Tech Conference. This free guide also includes class profile statistics and our expert advice on answering the business school’s application essay questions. Download our brand-new guide to learn more about Kellogg!