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Kellogg Essays, and other updates

September 2, 2008

Between one blogpost and the other, things change. Mood changes. School list too !! Wharton’s back in my list. Cambridge will have to wait. I’m running into some trouble with my recommender who has stopped responding. In the worst case scenario, my second recommendation will be done by a peer, with some sensible explanation about it in the optional essay.

Initial school selection is just one part of the school selection process. I think you also develop a lot of passion, or don’t, once you begin the essays for a school and understand where the questions are leading you. Among the schools you thought you would fit at, its time now to rank them according to your fit. Kellogg scores over Ross for me. I wasn’t half as passionate about Kellogg earlier as I became once I began their essays. So over to Kellogg’s essays –

Essay 1: Briefly assess your career progress to date. Elaborate on your future career plans and your motivation for pursuing a graduate degree at Kellogg (1-2 pages).

Look at the career goal essay of each school, and you can see where the focus lies for each of them. Focus for Tuck is on why MBA is critical and why Tuck is your best choice. For Ross its why now, and what made you go for Ross? Wharton focuses on your goals and how Wharton can help you reach there, and why now?

Kellogg says – Assess briefly how and why you’ve come so far. Elaborate on where you want to go, and what motivates you for doing it via Kellogg?

Ok I am just playing with words, but I think its significant in order to get the tone of your answers right. There are subtle differences, and one would do well to note them in penning their essays. Again, if you start ‘tailoring’ your essays for every school, how would your fit come out clearly to the adcom, and you? So don’t fool yourself. If you are not enjoying answering the essay questions for some school, more often than not, you would not fit there. Thats a maxim I’m giving away for free!

However, if you’re not enjoying answering the essays for any school, it does not mean you won’t fit in any of them. It just means you are ready to fit anywhere. The adcoms need one like you in every study group they form.

Essay 2: Describe how your background, values, academics, activities and/or leadership skills will enhance the experience of other Kellogg students (1-2 pages).

The first part of this question is what schools leave you to answer in their optional essays. Kellogg’s thrust on your overall personality gels with their people-focused culture, and this is where you can get all personal and bare all your secrets out. Be wise, and don’t dwell too much on your ‘direct’ leadership skills too much, as you have the whole of third essay waiting for you to answer the same. Bring the positives out, and don’t beg by trying to show how your background makes you one of the worst off applicants. Your choice of words and how you portray it matters. Every aspect of yours needs to translate into some benefit for the other students. Noone cares if you topped your undergrad, unless you show how it will be of help to your classmates. Get the focus right, and nailing this question should come easily for you.
Essay 3: Describe your key leadership experiences and evaluate what leadership areas you hope to develop through your MBA experience (1-2 pages).

So, you have ‘enhanced’ the experience of other students. Its time to see how your experience is also enhanced in return. The sharing, collaborative, close-knit, strong community (you know your Kellogg essays are distinct if a CTRL-F does not return anything for any of these words!) is not just about giving it all away. You’re coming for an MBA, and not social service. First, demonstrate your leadership style and why the group matters as much to you as yourself, and second, identify areas which will make you more individualistic and not as dependent on groups as you are now. Ok that was a joke, but you get the drift.

Essay 4. Applicants must answer 2 of the below essays (2 paragraphs per question).

4A – Describe a time when you had to motivate a reluctant individual or group.
4B – I wish the Admissions Committee had asked me…
4C – What do others admire about you?

Choose 4A if you still want more room to highlight your leadership skills. Choose 4C, and then be honest. Its about what others admire about you, not you would like them to admire about you. This lets you show adcom much more of yourself, and in fact if you look at all the Kellogg essays, the focus is always on You.

Choose 4B if you want to enjoy framing the question yourself. Its too tempting for me to not go for this essay. Again, after you get a few marks for your creative question, make sure that its answer highlights some aspects not covered earlier. Being quirky may not help, else my favourite answer would be this –

I wish the Admissions Committee had asked me to take an admission immediately, and I would have said ‘Thank you so much, for making my dream come true!”.

Thats a 20 word essay. Marks for brevity, if nothing else.


I have used Times New Roman, 11 pt., one inch margins. In one of the essays I’ve reduced the left n right margins to 0.7″. Not sure though if we can have different margins for different essays.


If you have read this so far, I’d like your views on interpreting the second part of the following Ross essay –

Essay 3: If you were not pursuing the career goals you described in Question 1, what profession would you pursue instead? (for example, teacher, musician, athlete, architect, etc.) How will this alternate interest contribute to your effectiveness in solving multi-disciplinary problems?

Really, what multi-disciplinary problems are we talking about here? Those that come with making this interest successful, business, or life in general ? The room’s too wide open and I don’t really like this part of the question. It takes away the thrill of answering the first part which is such a lovely question.

Suggestions are welcome.

4 Comments leave one →
  1. September 2, 2008 12:11 pm

    Hey dude…

    Good analysis!

    Really, what multi-disciplinary problems are we talking about here? Those that come with making this interest successful, business, or life in general ?

    I think their aim is to evaluate if we’d be able to contribute effectively to their Multidisciplinary Action Program (MAP) and their Action-based Learning approach. Just my thoughts though.

    All the best with your apps.

  2. missionmba permalink
    September 3, 2008 12:26 am

    Don’t go for a peer-reco!! Schools strongly discourage it(normally)

    BTW, gr8 analysis of Kellogs essays.. Almost tempting me into apping to K. Butgiven my sluggish speed, may be I’ll keep it for R2..
    If you were not pursuing the career goals you described in Question 1, what profession would you pursue instead? (for example, teacher, musician, athlete, architect, etc.) How will this alternate interest contribute to your effectiveness in solving multi-disciplinary problems?

    Unlike Ashwanath above, I won’t try to force-fit MAP here.. I’d rather prefer concentrating on life/business as a whole..Whether you concentrate more on businss or personal aspects will depend on what alternate profession you choose.
    For example, if you wanted to be a professional trekker, you must surely be pursuing your interest at least as a part-time activity. What all do you learn from it? Perseverence? Fighting spirit? Zeal of setting new targets everytime you reach the old one.. What do you learn when you fail to attain a target? Then bring this all to multi-discipliniary busiess world and I guess your answer is ready..(of course with some tweaking)

  3. September 3, 2008 2:17 pm


    I didn’t mean force fitting MAP in the essay. I agree with you and your choice of example. In fact, I am on the same lines as well for my essay. I am an active sportsperson and I will be projecting team work and other related traits as reasons that will make me effective in solving multidisciplinary problems.

    In my previous comment I only meant to say that the adcom may probably use this essay to judge if the candidate is a good-fit for their Action-based Learning approach.


  4. ahembeea permalink*
    September 3, 2008 3:05 pm

    Ashwanth & mission – thanks for your valuable inputs. I’ll touch this subject again in my next post on Ross essays, but yes, I feel your answer to this part of the question should reflect your approach towards multi-disciplinary aspects. Now what does multi-disciplinary mean if we are not talking about business? It can mean a lot of things. Keep the discussion going!

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