Posted on February 25, 2012

Chicago Booth Essay Questions Analysis- 2011-2012

Essay #1: What are your short-and long-term goals, and how will a Chicago Booth MBA help you reach them? (600 words)

A Goals Essay connects past, present, and future i.e. your past work- experience (past), your goals, (future), and the need for an MBA from a particular school to achieve your goals (present). Schools want to see that you have a clear plan/ vision for the future, and you have the ability to convince them of the same by telling your story in an engaging manner.

  • Past: Begin your essay with a story/ event/ life experience that reflects a passion for your chosen field (e.g. marketing or finance) leading to your bachelor’s degree.

Continue your story about your experience and provide details about how you have pursued your interest/passion and progressed along your career path all these years. Make sure your story showcases your personal and professional attributes. (approximately 150 words)

  • Future: Then relate your short-term and long-term goals to real-life experiences that have helped you shape your goals. Explain why you believe that an MBA is the next logical step in your career path? How an MBA will bring you closer to the fulfillment of your goals? Also, discuss why it makes sense to do an MBA NOW and not after 1-2 years?
  • Short-term goals: Be clear and quite decisive for short-term goals (even if you are not 100% sure.) Show that you have put some thought into it.
  • Long-Term Goals: It is ok to be broader and more idealistic for long-term goals but explain steps (A to B to C) Show sincerity and passion in talking about your dreams. When discussing your long-term goals, please make sure there is a logical connection between short-term and long-term goals. (approximately 200-250 words)
  • Present: Once you have justified the need to do an MBA, explain how an MBA from Chicago is your best bet at this time? How it will help you achieve your goals? Discuss how you will use their resources to achieve your goals? Be specific in answering the second part of the question -' Why Chicago Booth?' Go online, visit campus, classes, talk to professors, students, and alumni. Discuss the experiences you have had visiting classes, programs, professors, if you can. Make sure there is a connection between your goals and the offerings of Chicago (approximately 200 words)

Lastly, even though the essay prompt does not ask you about your contribution to Chicago, include a brief statement about how you are a good match for Chicago Booth’s program?

Essay #2: At Chicago Booth, we believe everyone has his or her own leadership style. How has your family, culture, and/or environment influenced you as a leader? (750 words)

To approach this question, you need to first have a clear idea of leadership. Leadership involves aligning people, motivating them, setting a direction for them, stirring in them a sense of belonging and self-esteem. It also means looking for the right fit between people and the vision, leading in crisis, coping with changes, taking calculated risks, and seizing opportunities. Nest, you need to do some introspection so you can select a variety of experiences (stories/ anecdotes) related to your family, culture, and environment that demonstrate your leadership style.

The essay's word limit allows you to select three or more different stories (from family, culture, and environment) to illustrate your leadership style. Your stories about your family should show how your father, mother, or your sibling relationships have impacted your style? For example, if you have witnessed your father always taking a calculated risk and growing from it, you may very well narrate that story to demonstrate how it has influenced your leadership style and helped you apply it in your work.

Please make sure all your stories do not come from your family. You should also endeavor to select experiences that are typical of your culture. For example, if you were raised in a highly collaborative or competitive culture, how has it influenced you and how you apply that style at work. The last influencing factor is 'environment'- a pretty open-ended word that may mean a leadership experience in your community or at work.

In selecting your stories, keep in mind that your most meaningful experience may not be the ones in which you produced the greatest results, rather the ones in which you challenged yourself leaving your comfort zones. The most crucial part is what you learned from it, how it enhanced your skills, or how it deepened your perspectives. Lastly and most importantly, do not brag or make blanket statements about leadership. The schools do not want to know the definition of leadership, they want to know what kind of a leader you are.

Essays #3: Considering what you have already included in the application, what else should we know about you? In a maximum of four slides, tell us about yourself.

Booth has provided the following guidelines for Essay #3:

  • The content is completely up to you. There is no right, or even preferred, approach to this presentation.
  • There is a strict maximum of four pages, though you can provide fewer if you choose.
  • Acceptable formats for upload in the online application system are PowerPoint or PDF.
  • The document will be viewed electronically, but we cannot support embedded videos, music, or motion images. Additionally, all content MUST be included in the four pages; hyperlinks will not be viewed.
  • The file will be evaluated on the quality of content and ability to convey your ideas, not on technical expertise or presentation.

This PPT slide presentation may be looked upon as an 'optional essay 'asked by other schools- an opportunity to tell the Ad Com what you could not tell in other parts of your application. In Question #1, you have already discussed your goals and why you want an MBA from Chicago, and in Question #2, you have discussed your leadership experiences in detail. Your resume and the application form provide information regarding your experience, so don’t just repeat all that information here.

So how to get ideas for these four slides? Well, be creative and imaginative and consider this PPT presentation as an opportunity to provide the AD Com information about those aspects of your personality that have not been discussed in other parts of your application. For example, if you passionately pursue a hobby e.g. painting, photography, reading, or singing, etc. you may use 1-2 slides to present details of your hobbies through vivid images. Make sure to use images to help them understand you better Remember, it is not a test of your PowerPoint presentation skills; it is a platform to present to the Ad Com those aspects of your personality that will support your candidacy. If you can convey your ideas effectively through minimal images, that is fine.

Also, you may use one of the slides to elaborate/ re-emphasize your most unique personality trait. For example, if you have an amazing example of your ability to take initiative or to think outside the box, but could not describe it in detail in other essays because of limited space, it is a good idea to tell that particular story through images here. Another option can be to showcase your international experience or cultural adaptability, for almost all B-schools look for international experience as one of the desired assets in their potential candidates. So, if you have one, your best bet is to use one of the slides for your most impressive story that showcases your international exposure, global outlook, and cultural adaptability.

Do you have questions about your application? E-mail Poonam at or sign up here for a free consultation.