You probably have a college friend who you haven’t seen in a long time, and who you remember as wild and wacky. This friend was someone you always thought was going to buck trends and pursue a crazy, unconventional career. However, when you finally run into each other years later, you’re surprised to see a clean-cut, buttoned-down professional who has settled into a traditional career. That’s an apt analogy for Booth’s switch from its “Moments” essay question of the past several years to the more traditional essay questions the school is asking MBA applicants in 2018.
Well, people change and so do admissions committees, so how is an applicant to approach these new Booth essay questions?
Remember, you still have to advocate for yourself. The key is to not duplicate what your resume, college transcript, GMAT, and recommendation letters are already communicating about you. Take the opportunity to ask yourself what those other elements won’t describe – THAT is what you need to emphasize when answering these questions.
Note that Booth hasn’t completely given up on its unconventional nature. It lists a minimum word limit for both of its essays (250 words) as opposed to the maximum limit you’ll find in other MBA applications. 250 words is not much space, but if you can get your point across within that constraint, then great! However, most applicants will need more space. My guidance would be to aim for about 500 words for each essay. Writing concisely and conveying essential information is a key business skill, so keep that in mind as you compose your content.
Let’s take a look at the two Booth essay questions.
How will the Booth MBA help you achieve your immediate and long-term post-MBA career goals? (250 word minimum)
With our emphasis on communicating a different side of your story in mind, approach the first essay as a classic career goals essay. Two of the qualities that the Booth AdCom values most during the admissions process are a sense of personal direction as well as realistic expectations for what your MBA can do for your career prospects. Describing specific, yet realistic career goals provide evidence of your passion for your chosen field as well as your potential for success after attaining your MBA.
A compelling career goals essay will outline how your MBA will solve the important issues in your future field, the logical and realistic steps that you will take after achieving your MBA, and your strong demonstrable interest or deep personal connection to this field. As Booth also emphasizes philanthropic tendencies in their application process, it helps if the results of this proposed career path will have a beneficial social impact. However, integrity is a key aspect of this application; admissions committees can tell the difference between an actual passion and an inauthentic answer.
Lastly, remember to show off your insight and knowledge of Booth and how its programs and philosophy are going to be a great fit for you.
Chicago Booth immerses you in a choice-rich environment. How have your interests, leadership experiences, and other passions influenced the choices in your life? (250 word minimum)
This second essay is where you get to reveal more of your personality and talk about your passions and interests. What makes you different?
Booth looks for applicants whose personal and professional experiences will strengthen their intellectually rigorous community. This means that during the admissions process the AdCom will look for community-oriented qualities, such as a history of community leadership, a track record of teamwork and collaboration, strong interpersonal skills, and a unique perspective. They will use the response to this essay question to determine a candidate’s overall fit with Chicago Booth and to predict their potential contributions to both the school’s community and its culture.
Also consider how your response to this essay might dovetail with your answer to the first question. For example, let’s say that you are an engineer looking to make a career change into healthcare consulting. Things to cover in this essay might include why you fell in love with engineering in the first place, but also why your passions have taken off in a new direction. Was your career change inspired by a life event, such as the illness of a loved one?
Above all, Booth seeks out candidates who will challenge the status quo; applicants who will lend a unique perspective to the complex issues that a Booth MBA student will inevitably face. This essay prompt gives you the opportunity to show the Booth AdCom that you aren’t afraid to take calculated risks and question the way things have been done in the past.
Final Thoughts on the Booth Application Essays
Your long-lost friend is probably still the same person underneath that starchy, buttoned-down collar. So too with Chicago Booth – your writing assignment is to be creative and jump off the page, but you’ll have to do so with this year’s more traditional essay format.