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Kellogg 2020-2021 MBA Application Essay Analysis


Once again, Kellogg School of Management asks applicants to answer two essay questions. This year, Kellogg is minimizing changes and keeping both essays the same as the previous application cycle.

Read Personal MBA Coach’s Kellogg essay analysis below for key tips on tackling this year’s questions for the full-time MBA program for the class of 2023.

The 2020-2021 Kellogg MBA application deadlines are as follows:

Round 1: September 16, 2020

Round 2: January 6, 2021

Round 3: April 7, 2021

Both of these MBA application essays are fairly broad, giving candidates the opportunity to reflect on and discuss multiple aspects of their candidacy. However, remember to strive for quality over quantity when crafting your essays. With a 450-word limit for each, your responses should be particularly succinct.

Kellogg’s 2020-2021 MBA Application Essays:


“This is your chance to tell us why you think Kellogg is the right place for you. As you get started, remind yourself of the experiences that led you here and how they have shaped where you want to go.”


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)


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)


Essay 3 (MMM Applicants Only): 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)


Additional Information: If needed, use this section to briefly describe any extenuating circumstances (e.g. unexplained gaps in work experience, choice of recommenders, inconsistent or questionable academic performance, etc.).



Personal MBA Coach’s MBA Essay Writing Tips:

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)


Many candidates are likely to share a professional story to answer this first prompt. However, strong leadership examples in your extracurricular activities could also work well here. Keep in mind the request for a recent example when developing your response to this first application essay.


Be sure to think of a significant undertaking where you can clearly demonstrate the value you added. This story should also be easy enough to explain that you do not have to waste too many words setting up the situation. A strong essay will discuss the actions you took and try to show how these actions required you to demonstrate bravery and leadership.

Equally as important as what you did is what you learned from this experience. Learnings should be specific. Ideally, you would also mention how you have carried these learnings forward to future endeavors. A strong answer here will not only demonstrate leadership experience but also highlight your strengths and specific skills.

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 second Kellogg MBA essay is a challenging one as it forces candidates to reflect on what truly drives and motivates them. Authenticity will be key when developing your answer to this question.


Admissions committee members want passionate students and well-rounded classes. So do not simply tailor your answer to what you think admissions committee members want to hear (a common MBA application misconception). Instead, you should write about the values that you have repeatedly demonstrated throughout your life.


For each value selected, discuss WHY this value is important to you and show HOW you have integrated this value into your life. While I do not advise a laundry list, you should include more than one value in your response.


Candidates should also include some personal detail so that the reader can better understand how this value has influenced their actions, beliefs, and aspirations. It is particularly crucial that you have someone who knows you well read through this essay to ensure it is authentic. Of course, this is a good idea for all essay questions.


Essay 3 (MMM Applicants Only): 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)


This third question should be answered only by applicants to Kellogg’s MMM program. For those unfamiliar with the MMM program, it is a dual degree program offering graduates both an MBA from Kellogg and an MS in Design Innovation from the Segal Design Institute at the McCormick School of Engineering and Applied Science.

For this essay, select just one value. The value you select is less important than the accompanying story. With only 250 words both to tell the story and tie it to Kellogg’s MMM program, pick a story that is easy to explain. Be sure you can show the reader how you lived this value, clearly explaining your actions. Finally, help the reader to understand why this value matters to you and how it will shape your MMM experience. This is a lot to cover so choose your words carefully.


Video Essay Questions:


“Show us the person behind all those carefully crafted words. The video will be comprised of three questions, each designed to help you showcase your personality and share some of the experiences that brought you here today.”


Finally, the Kellogg video essay questions remain from the previous year as well. This component of the application offers admissions committee members the chance to learn more about you on a personal level.

Once you submit your Kellogg application, you will be asked three questions, with 20 seconds to think about the question and up to one minute to answer:


Video essay 1: Please introduce yourself to the admissions committee. 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? This is an intentionally broad question so you can answer honestly and meaningfully. We want to know why you’re pursuing an MBA and why you’re choosing a particular Kellogg Full-Time Program.

Video essay 3: 2020 has been a year of seismic disruption — fighting the global COVID-19 pandemic, tragic deaths that have brought systemic racism and social justice issues to the forefront of long overdue conversations, and economic and political divides that are growing deeper and deeper. How has this unprecedented year challenged you and how have you faced that challenge?


Read our MBA application tips for handling videos and other application extras here.


Are you looking for help with your MBA Applications? Personal MBA Coach is willing to be your guide. Founded by a Wharton and MIT graduate, we regularly help applicants navigate their applications each year. We also conduct mock interviews with former M7 interviewers on our team.

Personal MBA Coach has been guiding candidates through all aspects of the MBA application process for 13 years with a 96% success rate. Call us today at +1 617-645-2424 or email scott@personalmbacoach.com for a free consultation on your profile along with how we can help make your MBA dreams a reality!

Check out these blogs for additional MBA admissions consulting advice:

How to Get into Harvard Business School


How to Get into Wharton MBA


Getting into Columbia Business School

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