Things to Keep in Mind for the 2018-2019 Kellogg Essays

I’ve been fortunate to have returned to Kellogg twice in the past 2 months, once for my 25th year Kellogg MBA reunion and once as part of the AIGAC (Association of International Graduate Admissions Consultants) Conference where Kellogg hosted us to learn even more about their outstanding portfolio of MBA programs. If you have not been to Kellogg in the past fifteen months, you need to do so immediately. The new Global Hub takes Kellogg to an entirely new level of sophistication, collaboration and excellence.

While the essays themselves have not changed in the past year, it is worth noting that last year’s addition of “lasting value” to this question has important implications as you answer. Sally Blount, the Kellogg dean who led this impressive expansion project, is quoted on the website saying “Our purpose is to educate, equip and inspire brave leaders who build strong organizations and wisely leverage the power of markets to create lasting value.”

When Kate Smith, Kellogg’s Assistant Dean of Admissions and Financial Aid, spoke to our AIGAC group in June about this mission statement, she emphasized these words: Brave, Strong Organizations and Lasting Value. Kellogg seeks brave leaders who embrace and support risk taking, engaged leaders who build strong organizations and create impact and people who are involved for the long term in creating lasting value.

Kate also talked about the high impact, low ego personalities of Kellogg students along with their strong sense of empathy and how a Kellogg student raises the quality of everyone in the room and keeps the group focused on the big picture. Keep these thoughts in mind as you approach Kellogg’s essay questions.

Essay 1: Kellogg’s purpose is to educate, equip & inspire brave leaders who create lasting value. Tell us about a time you have demonstrated leadership and created lasting value. What challenges did you face, and what did you learn? (450 words)

This question serves to highlight Kellogg’s deepest mission to develop strong leaders who create lasting value. Think about which leadership experience you should highlight – ideally, this is not a one-time event but part of a deeper commitment to create impact and lasting value.

Here are some general tips:

Be specific in describing one particular leadership experience and keep these attributes that Kellogg values in mind as you answer.

Take enough time to describe the situation and your leadership role, but make sure you leave enough space to address what you learned.

Don’t be afraid to talk about failures; sometimes you learn more from failures than from successes.

Go back as far as you need to in sharing an example where you created lasting value, but don’t lose sight of the fact that business schools are most interested in what you did recently and how this is relevant to your overall goals and interests. A personal example could also work here as long as you have created lasting value.

Self-reflection is a key part of this essay, so be prepared to share some things that went right and some that didn’t.

Essay 2: Pursuing an MBA is a catalyst for personal and professional growth. How have you grown in the past? How do you intend to grow at Kellogg? (450 words)

This question requires some more reflection on how you have changed personally and professionally based on previous experiences. The essay has to simultaneously show experiences that allowed you to grow in the past and also identify areas of your life that could flower at Kellogg.

– You can address both personal and professional growth in your response. Think about how the experience changed you and how you can continue to grow through your experience at Kellogg.

– Kellogg recognizes that graduates will be faced with increasingly complex problems as they progress in their careers. Beyond listing specific classes, clubs, pathways and community activities that will help you grow at Kellogg, think about the leadership qualities you need to develop. How will Kellogg help prepare you for the complexities of life and business?

Most importantly, be sincere and self-reflective as you answer. Remember that real people are reading these essays. In all my interactions with Kellogg’s admissions team, I have been impressed with their sincerity in wanting to get to know you personally, which they do both through these essay questions, the video interview and your personal interview.

Certain applicants will respond to additional questions:
Dual-degree applicants: For applicants to the MMM or JD-MBA dual degree programs, please explain why that program is right for you. (250 words)

The MMM and JD-MBA are definitely more customized programs. There is great interest in the MMM program, which partners with the McCormick School of Engineering in providing a Master of Science in Design Innovation. Despite great interest, however, there are currently only about 65-70 students who enter the MMM program each year. There are approximately 25-30 people admitted to the JD-MBA program. In each of these cases, use this additional essay to provide insight about why this program is right for you. Think about how the coursework combined with the overall experience will help you achieve your goals. It is useful to do your due diligence ahead of time because Kellogg only evaluates you for the specific program you apply to. If you are not a good fit for MMM, for example, your application is not sent back to the 2YR program for further review. Reach out to current and former students as part of the application process so that you apply to the best fit program for you.

Re-applicants: Since your previous application, what steps have you taken to strengthen your candidacy? (250 word limit)

This essay requires excellent self-reflection in identifying key areas where you have improved your candidacy since the last application. In my experience I have seen that Kellogg gives previous applicants full consideration and is impressed by your continued interest in Kellogg. Be honest and thoughtful as you approach this question.