Booth has made a couple of changes in its application this year. The major change is that it dropped the image prompt essay from years past. This allows applicants to focus specifically on their relationship as they see how it relates to the school and to be more direct rather than creative in their responses. The school has said they want to see more real insight into the individual, allowing applicants to focus more on their goals and why they are important. This is an indirect message for you to focus more on the introspective aspects of your application rather than your academic record (GMAT and GPA).
When asked about the change in this year’s application, Admissions Officer Donna Swinford explains on the Full-Time MBA Admissions Blog, “At Booth, passions and ambitions serve as a compass in navigating our choice-rich environment. This year, you will find we want to get right at those motivations—to the things that inspire you and your post-MBA future.”
What is also different is that while many schools offer a maximum word limit for their essays, Booth has a word minimum. Again this allows the applicant a chance to express who they are without constraints and to be able to fully express the way the school will fit their goals on a personal level as well as an academic level. This relieves the applicant of any anxiety on being too verbose or having to chop key details out of their response. It is recommended that 550-650 words should do it. Use 750 words as your max or you risk indicating to the reader that you are searching aimlessly for answers.
Before answering these essays, it is highly recommend that you visit the school, talk to alums and students, take a tour, and immerse yourself in the Hyde Park neighborhood and Chicago in general. Make sure you do your homework by following the school’s social media sites as well as their website and blogs.
Essay One: How will the Booth MBA help you achieve your immediate and long-term post-MBA career goals? (250 word minimum)
This is the classic essay, “Why Booth?” There are two goals for your response. The first is for you to display your knowledge of what you know about the Booth MBA as it pertains to you, and the second is for you to demonstrate that you have assessed your strengths and weaknesses as they pertain to your goals five or ten years down the road. So make sure you completely understand the school before answering this question by taking the steps to learn as much as you can about Booth.
This will be your chance to show what is important to you as well. What other aspects of going to Booth appeal to you? Is it a particular set of classes and faculty, the community of Hyde Park, the City of Chicago, or? Be as authentic as you can so that you can explain quite simply why Booth is the best place for you to become the person you want to be both professionally and personally, and if possible, that you will attend Booth if accepted.
Although your career path might change over time, the school wants to see what aspirations you have. It is important to be realistic and for you to share that vision with the reader who will believe in the school’s ability to help you.
Essay Two: 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)
You might want to answer this question first. This tells the Admissions Committee about how you got to Essay One. They are prompting you to look back at your past whereas Essay One wants you to look to the future.
With a flexible schedule and only one required class at Booth, the school wants to know what motivates you and how you got to this point in your career. They are not necessarily looking at just your work experiences, but your personal experiences as well (both failures and successes). They want to know how those milestones in life drove you to make those decisions. It is not the “what” as much as it is about the “how” and the “why” you were driven.
Try to avoid repeating information in this response that you provide in the other essay. Additionally, do not get tripped up by the word “passions.” Replace the word “passions” with “factors.” Perhaps a death, a birth, a mentor, or a special circumstance created a key turning point in your life.
More Response Guidelines From Booth’s Admissions Committee:
There is no maximum length, only a 250 word minimum. We trust that you will use your best judgment in determining how long your submission should be, but we recommend that you think strategically about how to best allocate the space.
As you will have to use Booth’s website portal to submit your essay, we recommend working in a word processing program to think through, edit and refine your essay. Copy and paste into their portal only when finished. When editing, bear in mind that special formatting (such as italics, bold and underline) will not copy over.