July 22, 2021

Kellogg MBA Essay Guidance (2021-2022)

Read below for more essay guidance from our President, Paul Bodine.

“Kellogg is unique in that we ask you to complete written essays as part of the application as well as video essays. This is your chance to tell us why you think Kellogg is the right place for you. Take some time to think through the experiences that led you here and how they have shaped where you want to go.” 

Question 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). 

Question 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 below can give you a starting point about the kinds of values Kellogg values. Be sure to coordinate the values you discuss here with the value you discuss in the MMM essay below (if you are applying to the MMM program). 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’; don’t feel obligated to use such values because you think it’s what 

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 below, 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. 

Additional questions: “Certain applicants will respond to additional questions.”

1Y 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) 

Admitify Guidance: Note that whereas Kellogg’s two-year program doesn’t ask you for an essay on your goals, its 1Y program does. That’s because applicants to the 1Y program will not have access to a summer internship and therefore need to persuade the admissions committee that they are savvy/realistic about their post-MBA goals. One goal of this essay should be to convince that committee that you are someone who excels in the time-constricted environment of an intensive one-year program. 

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) 

Admitify Guidance: In the first half or two-thirds of this essay Kellogg hopes to see via examples from your experience that you have both technical/analytical/domain expertise skills *and* business (management, problem solving, people, or other functional skills: sales/marketing, finance, etc). Kellogg wants to see that you can and have drawn from both these skill sets in specific examples illustrating the technology-business intersection. The word ‘disconnect’ signals that Kellogg is also allowing you to provide examples where you saw the technology and business domains collide and weren’t able to converge the two (obviously, this would not be the ideal response to this prompt). Kellogg would welcome examples that show you finding ways to overcome conflicts or collisions between technology and business, e.g., a technology innovation that was amazing/cutting edge but had no application or market yet (how did you help find that market or use or how did you tell the technology team they needed to modify it for the real world?). Or, perhaps a technology that poses ethics (e.g., privacy) or regulatory risks if fully implemented, risks that could damage the business’s reputation. The rest of the essay should be devoted to demonstrating your due-diligence in learning about the Kellogg MBAi resources (and people) that most align with your post-MBA goals. 

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) 

Admitify Guidance: Be strategic about choosing the core value that you discuss here. If any of these values are discussed in Question 2 above, you’ll want to highlight a different value here. I view the higher-value-adding values here as ‘creativity’ (all business schools seek innovative, imaginative thinker-doers), ‘empathy’ (evidence of a desire to benefit society is valued by all schools), and ‘open-mindedness’ (think of this as an openness to people different from yourself – diversity & inclusion). ‘Curiosity’ and a ‘learning mindset’ sound like very similar values to me – they speak to intellectual motivations, which are great, but business school is much more about learning to work and grow in teams than it is in intellectual exploration for its own sake. If you’re uncertain which value to choose let the scale or impact of the ‘situation’ you’ll use to illustrate the value decide for you: choose the example/value with the most impact or leadership. 

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) 

Admitify Guidance: Few applicants will truly need the demanding (expensive) experience of a JD-MBA program, so applicants who are sure that the program is relevant to them need to use this essay to state goals that clearly are more achievable via a legal and management education and to explain how each of the degrees is relevant to their long-term career plan. 

Reapplicants: Since your previous application, what steps have you taken to strengthen your candidacy? (250 words) 

Admitify Guidance: Most applicants know or can figure out why they were dinged. It’s those deficits that this essay should be addressing. The big-ticket reapplicant improvements are job promotions, higher test scores, and big extracurricular or community impact. But if you don’t have any of these, share what you do have. There’s no way you don’t have some experience or achievement that can’t be pitched as evidence that you are improved since your last application. Everything counts here: work improvements and test score improvements above all, but also new coursework, a big new personal experience or achievement, even new interactions with the target school that have helped you learn more about it. 

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 

Remember, you should not use this Additional Information section to slot in an accomplishment or fun fact (they’re not asking for that) or to explain something (e.g., a 3.8 GPA) that doesn’t need explaining. This section is for damage control. Period. State the circumstance that needs explaining briefly and factually. The emphasis should be on the mitigating factors that may excuse or offset the gap or performance issue. Maintain a mature and non-whining tone. 

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