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Kellogg Class of 2018 Essay Question Analysis


The Kellogg experience is a great one that incents collaboration, encourages new ideas and “inspires growth.” It is important to identify with Kellogg’s new mission statement and reflect on your experience growing. The essays ask about growth and require you to write about how you have grown. It is also a good idea to reflect on what growth means to you and how you measure growth as this could be important for the interview process.

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(1) Leadership and teamwork are integral parts of the Kellogg experience. Describe a recent and meaningful time you were a leader. What challenges did you face, and what did you learn? (450 words)

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How to answer the question

First, make sure to answer all three parts of this question. 1) When you were a leader, 2) What challenges you faced and 3) What you learned. Since the essay is only 450 words, try not to spend too much time up front explaining the situation. You want to give enough detail so the reader understands the situation and then dive into explaining how you were a leader during that situation.

What are some things you could include?

  • Leadership in the form of leading a team or leading a work stream on a team.

  • Taking on a new responsibility outside of your normal role.

  • Leadership that you had to assume. Explain how and why you assumed it and what the outcome was.

  • Starting a new initiative / program at work. Who you had to convince along the way.

  • Extra-curricular leadership. Your role in the organization and what you learned about working with different types of people to accomplish shared goals.

What should you keep in mind while writing?

  • While you want to write about challenges, this is not the time to include failures. The challenge could have set you back, but if it was major enough to be categorized as a failure, it is not the best example for this essay.

  • The challenges should be real and don’t be afraid to write about something that did not go well.

  • There can be many different answers for what you learned. Reflect on your overall story, how you have developed over time and how you want to continue developing (without stating this because that is the next essay) and write about things you have learned that have helped your specific career progress.

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(2) Pursuing an MBA is a catalyst for personal and professional growth. How have you grown in the past? How do you intend to grow at Kellogg? (450 words)

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How to answer the question

Start with a clean sheet and think about how you want to grow while at business school. Look at your life and career progression to date and reflect on the major changes / inflection points. How have you become a better consultant, a more innovative leader or a more strategic marketer?

What are some things you could discuss?

  • Personally, talk about how you have become a better person, a better listener, a more engaged partner or a more compassionate friend. Why did you evolve in this way?

  • If you have become stronger because of an unfortunate incident, health issue or other struggle you have overcome, this is great material to include and reflect on.

  • Professionally, what you have learned at work and what you do now that you didn’t used to do. This can come in the form of being a stronger presenter, better at client management or a more diligent analyst who sees the big strategic picture in addition to the analysis required.

What should you keep in mind while writing?

  • Every essay should be very different. There really is not one particular right answer.

  • Try to come up with a theme for your career and personal progression. Ideally you have done certain things along the way to get you part of the way toward your long-term goals. What is left to get you the rest of the way there?

  • Based on what you want to do after Kellogg, write about the specific parts of Kellogg that will help you get there. This is not a traditional “Why Kellogg” essay though. You can, and should, get specific about the things you will learn on campus but you should also write more theoretically and higher level about how you want to grow.

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(3) Re-applicants: Since your previous application, what steps have you taken to strengthen your candidacy? (250 word limit)

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How to answer the question

Be sure to reflect on your profile from the previous year and tell the admissions committee how you improved. Getting rejected one year does not mean you won’t get in the next. It does mean, however, that you need to show improvement. This could come in the form of a job promotion, increased responsibility at work, higher GMAT score or substantial leadership in extra-curricular activities. Unless your goals were not clear or after reflection did not make sense last year, it is not advised to change your goals and motivation for an MBA. Additionally, Kellogg is interested both in how you improved and how you are trying to improve further. Because the question asks about what steps you have taken to strengthen your candidacy, it is ok if you talk about something you are in the process of doing in addition to something you have already completed.

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Video essay: After submitting your application, you will be asked to complete two video questions. One will be about your interest in Kellogg while the other will be more of a “getting to know you” question. There are 10 practice questions that will allow you to get used to the format and technology. You will have 20 seconds to think about the answer and 1 minute to deliver your response.

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How to prepare

Answering video interview questions is very different from talking in a traditional interview. There are specific tips and tricks to acing the video interview, many of which include practice delivering answers without having human interaction. Should you wish to have detailed advice or coaching to prepare for the video interview, I can provide one-on-one support.

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If you would like individual and personal support developing your story for the Kellogg application, or have questions about choosing the right topics to answer these questions, please find information about Personal MBA Coach’s comprehensive packages or contact me to learn how I can help! scott@personalmbacoach.com

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