Category Archives: Kellogg School of Management

Must-Read Advice Before Submitting Your MBA Application

By Vincent Ho-Tin-Noe (last updated: September 4, 2016)

Just a few weeks (or even days) before the first round application deadlines for most top MBA programs, including Harvard Business School, MIT, Stanford, Booth, Kellogg, LBS, and Wharton, we thought that MBA applicants could use a checklist for items to review before hitting the “Submit” button.

View of Harvard University and the Charles River

View of Harvard University and the Charles River

1. Thoughts About Harvard’s Essay

In the past, Dee Leopold, former director of admissions at HBS, tried to offer comforting words to its MBA applicants. She insisted that the essay should not be considered a hit or miss exercise. It is really just meant to add color to your application package. More recently, HBS’ new dean of admissions, Chad Losee, wrote the following: “(…) As in years past, we will read (and re-read) and consider the application in its entirety —application, resume, essay, recommendations, transcripts, interview, post-interview reflection, GMAT or GRE scores, etc. Said another way, no one thing will get you admitted or “released” from our admissions process.” Therefore, do not feel that you have to cover any particular topic in this optional essay. You set the rules here, depending on what you believe will allow the admissions committee to better understand what makes you unique. Interestingly, this year’s essay prompt is similar to the one HBS used just a couple of years ago: “As we review your application, what more would you like us to know as we consider your candidacy for the Harvard Business School MBA program?”. In 2014, Kyle Watkins had provided advice about  a very similar HBS essay. We also wrote about the overall HBS application process in several posts. Make sure to check them out.

2. Completing The Application Form

Most business schools have a lengthy online application form. You should allocate at least 3 hours to go through it and fill it out properly. You will be asked about past job titles, exact employment dates, and compensation data. You will have to describe your employer, explain why you left the company, detail your key accomplishments and most significant challenges. You already should have some of this on your resume, but in a different format. Although Harvard’s admissions team is telling you not to obsess, you’ll notice that it’s easy to spend 20 to 30 minutes writing a meaningful job description in the space allotted to your answer. And then you will go through the same excruciating process for your extra curricular activities, awards and recognition, and academic experience. Some candidates tend to describe the online form as a collection of mini-essays, and approach the form’s questions as such. Don’t fall into that trap. Do your best, but be ready to settle for good enough, unless you are willing to spend 10 hours filling that form.

In any case, do not panic if the options from a specific drop down menu do not match perfectly your personal situation, and do not sweat over the limited space allocated to describe your work experiences. Filling this form properly is important, but keep in mind that the admissions committee will largely rely on your resume to assess your pre-MBA experience.

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Last-Minute MBA Application Review and Edits

By Kyle Watkins (last updated: January 1, 2015)

The coming week will be the busiest of the year for MBA applications. Almost all of the top business schools have their second-round deadline, which tends to be the most popular among MBA applicants. It also tends to be one of the most stressful weeks of the year, as candidates are always understandably hesitant to finally push the “submit” button.

If you’re looking for one last set of eyes to review your application before you submit, we are happy to help. Many applicants take advantage of our Final Application Review package. For $395, we’ll read your entire application from start to finish, proof read it for any errors, and provide written edits on any last-minute tweaks you can make to improve your odds of getting admitted. We’ll also schedule a 30-minute phone call with you to review any questions you have before submitting. And we’ll do it all before the end of the following day.

If interested, please send us an email, and we’ll get back to you immediately.

Good luck, and don’t forget to check out our must-read advice before hitting submit!

Great MBA Recommendation Letters: Tips and an Example

By Kyle Watkins (last updated: January 1, 2015)

This year’s MBA applicants face fewer required essays and shorter word counts than any recent class of candidates. But applicants haven’t been the only ones facing the squeeze over the past few years. Recommenders, too, have found themselves with less and less space to make an impact: over the past several years, schools not only reduced the number of recommenders a candidate was allowed to have, it also cut the word count allotted to those recommenders. Many of the top programs have also converged around the same two recommendation questions:

  1. How do the candidate’s performance, potential, background, or personal qualities compare to those of other well-qualified individuals in similar roles? Please provide specific examples.
  2. Please describe the most important piece of constructive feedback you have given the applicant. Please detail the circumstances and the applicant’s response. 

What does this mean for this year’s MBA applicants? First and foremost, applicants need to pick the right recommenders to advocate on their behalf. Second, applicants need to make sure they are adequately preparing those recommenders to write great recommendations.

In this blog post, I’ll illustrate the keys to getting great letters of recommendations for MBA applications by revealing a few snippets of a real recommendation from my own business school applications.

The Keys to Getting Great Recommendation Letters for MBA Applications

Each part of your MBA application should demonstrate different qualities to the admissions committee. Your resume is a place to tell your professional story and to illustrate your accomplishments; your essay is a place to show the admissions committee who you are and what you value. Your recommendations, then, must be reserved to demonstrate characteristics that you yourself cannot credibly speak to:

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How to Prepare for the Kellogg Video Essay

By Vincent Ho-Tin-Noe (last updated: January 13, 2015)

Video interviews are here to stay at Kellogg

Kellogg confirmed last summer that they would once again be asking MBA applicants to go through the video interview questions for the school’s MBA Class of 2017 application. The “video essays” were introduced last year by both Kellogg and Yale SOM (we also analyzed the Yale video essay at length as part of our Analyzing the Applications series). Video interviews help schools compare applicants more directly, as the admissions committee is not only able to watch every applicant’s video (as opposed to seeing just the handful that they interview) but they are also able to juxtapose applicants’ answers directly.

At the same time, the new video essay format induced a lot of anxiety among applicants. However, we do not think there is much cause to be anxious. If you are about to go through the video interview process, we suggest that you read our list of preparation tips in order to increase your odds of making a positive impression on the adcom.

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Analyzing the Applications: the Kellogg Essays

By Kyle Watkins (last updated: December 17, 2013)

After covering Kellogg’s video essay question in a recent post, and with only about two and half weeks before Kellogg’s first-round deadline, we wanted to take a step back and consider the best approach to tackling the school’s essay questions.

The Kellogg School of Management

The Kellogg School of Management

More than perhaps any other top-tier MBA program, Kellogg places significant emphasis on a candidate’s character. First, consider that Kellogg interviews all of its applicants. They’ve clearly demonstrated that they need to meet each candidate to judge whether he or she is a fit. They don’t simply weed out 80%, as HBS does, based on stats, resumes, and essays alone. Second, consider the questions implicit across Kellogg’s website and admissions materials: What do you value? What motivates you? How strong are your interpersonal skills? Are you mature? How do you contribute to the community? You shouldn’t have to search long to find phrases like those across Kellogg’s website or admissions office.

Given this emphasis, it’s important your Kellogg essays focus primarily on one of a few areas: your character, your motivations, your leadership style, or your interpersonal skills. Of course, you must also talk about what you’ve accomplished, but that will never be the focus of the best Kellogg essays.

With that in mind, let’s breakdown each of Kellogg’s essay questions:

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