Posted on June 8, 2019

Kellogg MBA Deadlines and Essay Analysis – 2019-20


Kellogg has released its application deadlines and essays for the 2019- 20 application season. The first question remains unchanged from last year and asks about a leadership experience and impact made. The second question is new. instead of asking about your growth, it now asks about your values and motivation in life and work and how they have shaped/ influenced you.

Application Deadlines:

Application Deadline Decision Released
Round 1 September 18, 2019 December 11, 2019
Round 2 January 8, 2020 March 25, 2020
Round 3 April 8, 2020 May 13, 2020

Written Essays:

Kate Smith, Assistant Dean of Admission and Financial Aid at Kellogg advises in her blog post:

“To make sure you are perfect for Kellogg and can explain that in this set of essays, do your research on the programs, activities, clubs, classes, and professors you are most excited about. While you are reading and conversing with students and alumni, keep looking for ways in which you will contribute to the community. As you browse the questions, I encourage you to take your time and organize your thoughts on what you’d like to tell us.”

Let’s take a closer look at the essays:

Written Essay 1: Kellogg’s purpose is to educate, equip & inspire brave leaders who create lasting value. Tell us about a time you have demonstrated leadership and created lasting value. What challenges did you face, and what did you learn? (450 words)

This question asks the applicants to recount a leadership experience in which they made a significant impact while overcoming challenges and learning something that helped them in similar situations in the future. Please note the word “brave leaders” and choose a leadership example in which you stepped outside your comfort zone to guide people around you towards a goal.

Regarding examples of leadership, you may choose examples from your personal or professional experiences. Make sure that the impact you have made and the value you have created is not only in terms of dollar amounts or percentages, but also in terms of the challenges faced, such as handling an uncooperative team member, or a supervisor, taking a decision with insufficient information, convincing someone of your innovative ideas, handling a new project, meeting stringent deadlines, managing a client’s expectations, or resolving the conflict between two team members, etc.

As always, we recommend you follow the 4-part STAR framework below:

  1. Situation: what was the situation/ challenge? Who were the people involved in this situation- players, stakeholders?
  2. Task: what you needed to accomplish? What conflict/ challenges did you encounter?
  3. Action: What were the actions you took? Describe this in detail as it will become a crucial part of your essay.
  4. Result/ Impact: What was the outcome of your leadership efforts? Were you able to address the situation? What “lasting value” you created? What lessons did you learn?

Since the second part of the essay question asks you to share what the experience taught you, it is imperative that you explain at length why that experience is meaningful to you, in terms of what you achieved and what you learned about yourself. The experience may have revealed to you your strong attributes, which you might not have been aware of earlier. For example, you might have never known that you could lead a team so effectively, but this complex situation offered you an opportunity to successfully lead a team that yielded great results. You may wrap up the essay with a final note about how you are now applying or trying to apply those lessons in similar situations at work.

You may also use this essay as an opportunity to comment on a leadership position you are interested in holding as a student at Kellogg and add value to the Kellogg community

Kate Smith’s advice: “We’re looking specifically for examples of spearheading change, striving for excellence or creating a lasting impact. We want our students to be the kind of people who aim to leave an innovative mark on their companies before and after Kellogg.”

Written 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)

This new essay requires applicants to do a significant amount of self-reflection to understand what values and beliefs are truly important to them. Simply discussing values that you think will impress the admission committee members will not work here. You need to make sure to explain how you have demonstrated those values/ beliefs in your life.

Also, please don’t be tempted to provide a laundry list of values. You may discuss only 2-3 values and back up your statements with concrete examples from your life (personal or professional). Also, make sure to provide some personal details about how these values have shaped your personality and have influenced your decisions and actions.

You may wrap up your essay by stating how you will enrich the Kellogg community through these values.

Kate Smith’s Advice: Our goal this year is to uncover what motivates and inspires you. What drives you? How will this make you a meaningful member of the Kellogg community?

Video Essays:

Kellogg has retained its video essays. The first video essay question is new, and it requires the applicants to introduce themselves to the admission committee. The second and third video essay questions remain the same.

Video essay 1: Please introduce yourself to the admissions committee

This question gives you an opportunity to present your personality to the Ad Com and your classmates. You can discuss your cultural background, motivation, personal and professional goals, hobbies/interests, and issues that pique your interest. The motive is to tell them who you are. Since you will be discussing your plans in your second video essay, you may just touch upon them in this video essay.

Kate Smith’s advice: “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?

The second question provides you an opportunity to describe your plans for the future and how Kellogg will help you achieve them. Since the written essays do not offer you a chance to discuss your post-MBA goals and why you are applying to Kellogg, this is a great place to show how your goals are aligned with the offerings and resources of Kellogg.

Kate Smith’s advice: “This is an intentionally broad question so you can answer honestly and meaningfully. We want to know what set you en route to pursuing an MBA and why you’re choosing a particular Kellogg Full-Time Program.”

Video essay 3: Each of you will receive a randomly selected prompt, all of which have the same objective. We want you to show us how you handled a challenging situation in your career or personal life. For example, we might ask you to tell us about a time you failed to achieve a goal you had set for yourself.

This is typically an interview-style question and is usually related to the workplace or your leadership skills, for example, “Tell us about a time when you had to make a difficult decision?” or “Tell me about a time when you overcame an obstacle in the workplace.”

The Kellogg application suggests some sample questions that you can use to prepare for video essays. You should practice as many times as you like until you get comfortable with the format and technology. You may prepare MBA related questions as well as non-work questions about your interests/ passions and volunteer work. Add more questions to the list and begin practicing. Also, it’s a great idea to seek the help of family or friends and get their feedback on your questions and delivery style so you can improve yourself accordingly in your next recording.

You will have 20 seconds to think about the question and up to one minute to give your response. So timing is the most important thing to prepare for. Please note that you will not get a second chance to record your response to the official video essay questions. So make sure to practice to get a clear sense of how much time you need to think and record your response.

Kate Smith’s tips for completing the 2019-20 Kellogg application

You may be interested in the video interview of a Kellogg alumnus, wherein he shares his preference for Kellogg over other programs, his experiences in and outside of the classroom that transformed him, and his advice to the incoming students, specifically international students, about their career goals, involvement in events at Kellogg, and recruitment process.

You may also be interested in a video interview of a Kellogg alumnus.

Free Resources:

10 Key Essay Tips with Examples

Essay Analysis of Other Tops Programs- 2019-20

25 Video/Chat Interviews of Successful MER Students

Since 2011, MER (myEssayReview) has helped many applicants get accepted into the top 20 MBA programs. (Poonam is one of the top 5 most reviewed consultants on the GMAT Club.)

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

Web / Blog/ Free resources