November 17, 2022

Kellogg Essay Tips: Essays 1 & 2

Kellogg School of Management’s R2 deadline is fast approaching on January 10th. Kellogg requires MBA applicants to submit two written essays. Some applicants (One-Year, MBAi, MMM, JD-MBA) must respond to additional questions. In today’s blog, the Admitify team would like to share our guidance on the two required essays — we’ll share our guidance on the additional questions next time. 


Essay 1: 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)


Admitify Guidance

This is in some respects a traditional accomplishments essay — focus on your most significant accomplishment whether from work, community, school or your personal life. What’s different about this essay are the words ‘brave’, ‘lasting’, ‘leadership’ and ‘challenge’. The words ‘brave’ and ‘challenge’ tell you they are looking for an accomplishment where you faced resistance and had to exercise some courage. ‘Leadership’ tells you that they want an accomplishment that demonstrates your ability to guide/manage/inspire people. ‘Lasting’ tells you they’d love an accomplishment where the end result was significant – is still in use/adding value today, really changed the way the organization does things. (But don’t freak out if your biggest accomplishment had no permanent legacy.)


Because Essay 2 below is more of a personal essay and because Kellogg gives you no other essays in which to elaborate on your biggest accomplishments, I would lean toward using a professional example here unless you have an obviously more substantial accomplishment from your non-professional life to write about.


Start the essay with a short paragraph describing the context. Then walk the reader through all of the challenges and how you handled them. At the end of the essay, add a paragraph about what you learned. Choose the one with the most demonstrated leadership (largest team under you).


Essay 2: Values are what guide you in your life and work. What values are important to you and how have they influenced you? (450 words)


Admitify Guidance

What does Kellogg mean by ‘values’? The 5 values mentioned in their MMM question can give you a starting point. Here it is:

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?

If you are applying to the MMM program, be sure to coordinate the values you discuss here with the value you discuss in the MMM essay. But even if you are not applying to MMM, that program’s essay prompt can guide about what Kellogg values. Of course, don’t feel obligated to discuss the values referred to in the MMM essay; be yourself, mention values that truly do drive you and that you can illustrate with examples. Given the word limit you may be able to discuss 2-3 values in this essay. Each value must be illustrated with at least one impressive or powerful example or if you lack those perhaps 2-3 more concise examples, each of which illustrates the value. Perhaps you developed or embraced these values at different times in your life. In that case you could structure the essay chronologically, so each value is presented in the order in which you recognized it in your life. Be aware that many applicants will state a value such as ‘making the world a better place’ or ‘helping people’. These are usually low-value-adding because they are generic and fairly common and therefore won’t differentiate you. Often these are chosen because they are what the applicant thinks Kellogg wants to hear. Weak values might include ‘excellence’ or ‘persistence’ – every applicant to top business schools will be able to claim these two as values. The key phrase in this prompt is ‘how have they influenced you?’ Kellogg wants to see examples of you living these values (in that sense this prompt is again similar to the MMM prompt, which states: “Describe a situation in which you demonstrated one of these values.” Consider identifying 2-3 values that complement each other or that can be illustrated with your most significant accomplishments or defining moments: so ‘creativity’ or ‘imagination’ could be the value that defines your extracurricular passion for dance or gaming; ‘self-improvement’ or ‘curiosity’ could be the value that defines your academic achievements; ‘integrity’ or ‘ethics’ could be the value that illustrates your best example of ‘doing what’s right’; ‘compassion’ or ‘selflessness’ could allow you to share an accomplishment from your community involvements. Think out of the box: maybe ‘friendship’, ‘adventure,’ ‘risk-taking’, ‘love’, ‘loyalty’, or ‘courage’ are the values that best capture who you are and what you’re proudest of.


Check back each week for more essay tips, and contact us now for help on your R2 Kellogg essays!