You know that feeling you get when you call your mom after a long time and she asks you what you’ve been up to? After suppressing intense feelings of guilt, you foolishly try to compress everything that has happened since the two of you last spoke into a coherent summary before finally giving up. Tackling the Chicago Booth MBA essay for the 2017 season feels a little bit like that.
Approaching the Booth Moments Essay
This year, the admissions committee at Chicago Booth is sticking with their Booth Moments essay questions, and for good reason – the essay has been working for them. As it has in prior years, the Booth application asks applicants to pick their favorite “moment” from a set of images and then write an essay (or develop a PowerPoint) explaining how the photo relates to their desire to go to Booth. Your mom might be forgiving if you ramble on incoherently while answering her question, so here’s the first piece of painfully obvious advice: your mother doesn’t work in the Chicago Booth admissions office!
Fear not, though. Booth knows that its reputation as a quant-heavy intellectual powerhouse is rock-solid. They’ll use your GPA, GMAT, recommendations and resume to ensure that you can do the academic heavy-lifting if admitted. It follows, therefore, that admissions officers want insight into other aspects of you as an applicant in your essay. Heck, their intentions are right there in the essay question: “Which moment resonates with you, and tell us why?”
Choosing Your Booth Moment
When it comes to choosing your Booth moment from the half-dozen images the school provides, trust your gut. I guarantee you that only one (or maybe two) will make you pause and say, “Huh, that one is interesting.” Stop right there and dig deeper. Ask yourself why that Booth moment jumps out at you. “Free associate,” as a therapist might say. Is there something in your background that might explain your reaction?
For example, if that first Booth moment of a student walking past a piece of art catches your eye, maybe it stands out because you love to visit art museums? Or perhaps you took an art history class in college that changed your perspective and inspired you to learn more?
Write those thoughts down and ask yourself if there is a connection between these experiences and the reasons why you want to go to Booth. Does the work of art remind you of the process of taking a blank canvas and turning it into something more? Could it be that you know your Booth experience will expand your perspective and expose you to ideas that inspire you, like that art class in college … see what we did there?
You can follow the same exercise with other images. In all cases, you want to use the Booth moment as a connecting thread to weave together your research on the Booth MBA program. Include information you gained from the info sessions you have attended and the students to whom you have spoken. Build the facets of Booth that impressed you most into your essay by describing how what you learned reinforced your desire to go to Booth.
At this point, some writers will forget about the essay prompt entirely — don’t forget to connect back to the image in each paragraph of your Booth essay.
Shaping Your Essay
Once you have the main ideas down, it’s time to think about the form you want your “essay” to take. Booth allows you to use any medium that you choose, so go with your natural strength — for some that may mean a traditional essay, while for others a PowerPoint presentation will work best.
If you opt for PowerPoint, then you will want to get your point across in 4-5 slides, heavy on images and light on words. If you choose the written essay format, we recommend no more than about a 500-700 word essay to avoid trying the admissions committee’s patience. Be as clear and concise as possible and you will show the Booth admissions office you are an adept communicator — a vital business skill.
And my last piece of advice — call your mother. Not only does she miss you, but you will also need her advice and support to make it through the application process!