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How to write Kellogg MBA essays for 2021 intake – Video essay tips included

Getting into Kellogg MBA is a dream for most candidates. To do that you’ll have to convince Kellogg’s admissions officers that you’re the one they’re looking for. One of the ways you can do that is by writing a spectacular MBA essay for their 2021 intake. In this article, Prashant Tibrewal, an admissions consultant who has helped numerous students with their MBA application, shares his analysis and tips on the Kellogg MBA essay for 2021 intake. He also shares his first-hand experience of visiting the Kellogg School of Management. Here is what he has to say.

Sitting inside the White Auditorium, listening to Kate Smith, Assistant Dean, Admissions and Financial Aid at Kellogg School of Management, address a select group of AIGAC members, I cannot resist getting distracted by the picturesque views of Lake Michigan, right beside the Global Hub, the spectacular new home to the Kellogg MBA. The Global Hub represents not only the transformational impact that Kellogg is set to bring about in management education but also the future-focused and global vision of the school.

Entering the building, you cannot miss the grand 34-foot-wide stairway inspired by the famed Spanish Steps in Rome, running up from the ground to the first and second floors. With collaboration oozing out of this architectural marvel, the 6000-square-foot central atrium is aptly named the Collaboration Plaza. If you are an MBA aspirant, there is no way you can visit the new campus and not make Kellogg your most cherished aspiration.

Kellogg MBA essay

Kellogg Presents an exciting portfolio of full-time MBA programs, including the Two-Year MBA, One-Year MBA, MMM, and the JD-MBA. As you research the option most suitable for you, it may be a good idea to connect with the school to understand the pre-requisites for each of the options. Should you find yourself prepared to apply in the 2020-2021 intake, the application is now open, with the following deadlines:

Kellogg MBA Application Deadlines

Round 1 September 16, 2020
Round 2 January 6, 2021
Round 3 April 7, 2021

Kellogg MBA Application Essays 2021

There are 2 compulsory essays for the 2021 admissions of Kellogg MBA program. Apart from these 2 essays, there is one reapplicant essay and one optional essay in which you can provide explanations or clarifications about certain aspects of the information shared by you.

Here are the Kellogg MBA essay topics for the 2021 intake:

  1. Kellogg’s purpose is to educate, equip, and inspire brave leaders who create lasting value. Provide a recent example where you have demonstrated leadership and created value. What challenges did you face and what did you learn? (450 words)
  2. Values are what guide you in your life and work. What values are important to you and how have they influenced you? (450 words)
  3. Reapplicants: Since your previous application, what steps have you taken to strengthen your candidacy? (250 words)
  4. Additional Information: All applicants have the opportunity to provide explanations or clarification in Additional Information. Use this section if you think the person reviewing your application might have a few questions about one or more of your responses. This could include:
  • Unexplained gaps in work experience
  • Academic, GMAT or GRE performance
  • Extenuating circumstances that we should be aware of when reviewing your application

Kellogg MBA Essay 1 Analysis

Kellogg’s purpose is to educate, equip, and inspire brave leaders who create lasting value. Provide a recent example where you have demonstrated leadership and created value. What challenges did you face and what did you learn? (450 words)

Kellogg Leadership essay

The first essay for Kellogg has remained the same as that of last year. “We’re looking for those individuals who have found or plan to find unique ways to demonstrate the Kellogg purpose in their careers.

As you consider leadership, in particular, keep in mind that Kellogg was the school that pioneered the team-based learning model that is now ubiquitous among the top business schools.

We want all of our students to be able to step up when their teams need them”, suggests Kate Smith in the Kellogg admissions blog. As you strive to match your demonstrated aptitude and skills with the Kellogg purpose, it is advisable to understand the traits that the school is looking for in its students. These include:

  • The ability to motivate a team, to drive impact
  • The courage to question the status quo and to seek unconventional solutions
  • Creativity and talent that is rooted in self-awareness
  • Robust diversity in their networks and teams
  • Eagerness to pitch in and collaborate with an engaged, ambitious community of peers

Effectively, leadership and teamwork come across as the underlying traits that Kellogg values the most. This essay, in very explicit terms, asks for one, recent example. Let’s break the question into smaller parts to understand what it seeks:

“A recent example…” – How recent is recent? Clearly, you cannot afford to bring in college stories here. Post-college, you have probably worked with one or more organizations.

If you have worked with multiple organizations, it will be important to choose an example from your current organization (unless you joined, let’s say, only three months ago).

While we routinely recommend this to applicants, Kellogg cuts the chase by explicitly mentioning it. On the other hand, If you have worked with just one organization throughout your career, present an example from your current role.

As individuals, and as professionals, we continuously evolve – and the recency of the example serves as valid corroboration of how much you may have evolved through your career.

 

“… where you have demonstrated leadership and created value” is a prompt that hints at the fact that leadership and the creation of value often go together.

Your example, therefore, shouldn’t focus solely on activities related to leading teams or projects or budgets; rather, it should establish how, in each instance, you succeeded in creating value for your organization, your team, and/or even for yourself.

While you have had good training in presenting quantifiable impact and high dollar savings, creating value goes beyond that.

As you narrate your story, it will be interesting to ask yourself if you went beyond the deliverables of the project to build and influence teams, demonstrated innovation and creativity, and put in conscious effort to deliver lasting impact.

 

“What challenges did you face…” – An achievement devoid of challenges is akin to playing tennis without nets.

It is important to establish why your achievement makes you proud. Explain what made this initiative or exercise so challenging and how you shaped your response to those challenges.

 

“… and what did you learn” – indeed! Learning is often associated with failure, but a leader is someone who is forward-looking and continues to learn even from achievements.

You probably learned something about team dynamics or working with multi-cultural teams, or inspiring people to work towards a common goal, or even discovered the extent of your own capabilities.

 

Kellogg MBA Essay 2 Analysis

Values are what guide you in your life and work. What values are important to you and how have they influenced you? (450 words)

Values

This essay replaced the “how have you grown in the past and how do you intend to grow at Kellogg” essay that Kellogg asked two years ago.

It is often insightful to compare an old essay prompt with the new one to draw deeper messages and gauge what the admissions teams may be looking for.

If you compare the current and the previous essay prompts, what is clearly common is the school’s intent to understand you beyond your professional achievements, and your ability to contribute to the class at Kellogg.

This further gets established through Kate Smith’s statement, “Our goal this year is to uncover what motivates and inspires you. What drives you? How will this make you a meaningful member of the Kellogg community?”

 

While the question does not insist on isolating a single value; it may be wise to identify just two or three strongest values that you can back with examples, instead of spreading yourself too thin by presenting a range of values.

Further, this is one of those questions that require reading well between the lines. The prompt starts with the statement that values guide you in your “life” and “work”, suggesting that you may want to present examples from both the fronts.

If a certain set of values are important to you, you are likely to have strong examples to show how these values have influenced you and your decisions in the past.

The essay wouldn’t be complete without presenting how these values will continue to drive your aspirations and plans – at Kellogg, in your professional career, and in the larger scheme of things.

In other words, it may be a good idea to present how you may be equipped to contribute to the Kellogg community in specific ways, how your long terms goals are influenced by your values and how this may impact your career choice post-MBA.

450 words isn’t a lot of space to communicate all of this, but it is often useful to start with a larger perspective and then narrow it down through multiple reiterations.

 

Kellogg MBA Reapplicant Essay Analysis

Since your previous application, what steps have you taken to strengthen your candidacy? (250 words)

This is the best opportunity to convince the school that you have indulged in introspection to evolve a fresh perspective and enhanced your eligibility by upskilling or retooling.

If you applied in R1 last year and are applying in R1 again, you have had almost a year to plan afresh. Recapitulate the entire effort you may have expended to improve your profile.

If you applied in R2 last year and are now applying in R1, you have had just about 8 months, and this span may not reflect significant changes in your profile.

Did you still create opportunities to enhance your skills? You presented certain career goals in your last application. Did you take up professional initiatives and self-learning opportunities to move towards your professional career goals? Did you assess what might have gone wrong, talk to alumni and industry experts and attempt to position yourself better this year? If your GMAT score was not good enough, were you willing to push yourself and retake the test?

If you ended up scoring the same again – the school will still appreciate your intent and your commitment to the goal of pursuing an MBA.

Talk about the new projects, new learnings from these projects, things that you got to do for the first time, interactions you have had that had an impact on you and your career plans.

Do not forget to include the experiences that helped you refine your core and soft skills further.

If you presented a goal or a career plan last year that you failed to justify in the interview; or if, after more thorough research, you have decided to opt for an alternative plan that you can validate, do not hesitate to make a statement.

Feel free to present the specifics of the research you engaged in to arrive at a more rational career plan. For all logical purposes, this is a better approach than presenting the same career plans again, when you are not too confident about being able to substantiate them.

 

Kellogg MBA Additional Essay Analysis

All applicants have the opportunity to provide explanations or clarification in Additional Information. Use this section if you think the person reviewing your application might have a few questions about one or more of your responses. This could include:

  • Unexplained gaps in work experience
  • Academic, GMAT or GRE performance
  • Extenuating circumstances that we should be aware of when reviewing your application

As straightforward as it looks, candidates often end up overdoing the additional essay by presenting things that may not be required.

It is important to value the reader’s time and adhere to the instructions. While some schools keep the additional essay open-ended, Kellogg has presented clear guidelines that suggest that you should this space only to explain any inconsistencies or extenuating circumstances.

While this looks like a place where you are likely to touch upon the aspects of your profile that aren’t obviously your strengths, it is important to not get too defensive and to not list excuses that look immature.

Go ahead and present specific reasons why you may not have the best college GPAs or a high GMAT score, but don’t blame it on a particular committee you were a part of during college or an office project deadline that coincided with your GMAT date.

Instead, show through external certifications or course, how you are academically capable, despite not having done so well in the college first year, even with your grades improving in the subsequent years.

You may touch upon the quantitative tasks that you may have taken at work to alleviate concerns about your quantitative ability because of a low GMAT Quant score.

Above all, remain cognizant of the fact that schools are looking for reasons to select you and not to reject you. You may not need to justify everything where you think you fall short; as long as you are giving the school enough reasons to believe that you are a deserving candidate.

Kellogg 1-Year MBA Essay 2021

Please discuss your post-MBA career goal, the current experience you will leverage to support the transition, and the Kellogg 1Y opportunities that will help you reach this goal. (250 words)

kellogg one year mba essay

The Kellogg 1-Year MBA, unlike most other 1-year MBAs in the US, has a class profile that’s pretty similar to that of its 2-year version.

The 1-year MBA is just an accelerated format, meant for a small group of about 90-100 participants with a good business background. Applicants to the Kellogg 1-Year MBA, therefore, have to write this career goal essay, in addition to the other required essays.

While it’s a standard career goal essay, it is different in that it requires you to present a higher level of goal clarity than a typical applicant to a two-year program.

A one-year program moves ahead at a significantly higher pace, and if you do not know exactly what you want to do post MBA, the kind of recruiters you would target, and the kind of roles you would like to apply to, you may not be in a position to make the best use of the opportunity.

Further, an important ask of the essay is “the current experience you will leverage to support the transition”.

It is important to relate your current skill set and industry / functional exposure to your future plans if you are hoping to make a smooth career transition through the one-year degree.

This essay isn’t as elaborate as the other ones, with just 250 words to communicate all that you would like to – but you will need to work well to pack a punch even with specific courses and opportunities at Kellogg that will enable you to achieve the desired career transition.

Clearly, if you have decided to apply to the Kellogg 1-Year MBA, you better have the right experience, goal-clarity, and academic background to fit in.

Kellogg invites its 1-Year MBA applicants to fill in an Eligibility form before you start working on the application – something that you may certainly want to make use of.

Kellogg Video Essays – 2021 admissions

Following are the instructions for the Kellogg Video Essay:

After submitting your application and payment, you will be able to access the video essay through your application status page.

You will be asked to answer three questions:

  • Video Essay 1:Please introduce yourself to the admissions committee.
    Consider this your opportunity to share what you would want your future Kellogg classmates and our admissions committee to know about you. What makes you, you?
  • Video Essay 2:What path are you interested in pursuing, how will you get there, and why is this program right for you?

This is an intentionally broad question so you can answer honestly and meaningfully. We want to know why you’re pursuing an MBA and why you’re choosing a particular Kellogg Full-Time Program.

  • Video Essay 3:The third question will ask about a challenge you’ve faced.

There are practice questions that you may complete as many times as you like to get comfortable with the format and technology. The practice questions and experience will simulate the actual video essay experience, so this is meant to be a useful tool to help you feel prepared.

You will have 20 seconds to think about the question and up to one minute to give your response.

We estimate the video essays will take 20-25 minutes to complete — which includes time for set-up and answering all the practice questions. You will need an internet-connected computer with a webcam, microphone, and an updated version of Adobe Flash in order to complete the video essay.

Kellogg MBa video essay

Kellogg Video Essay 1

Please introduce yourself to the admissions committee.

Consider this your opportunity to share what you would want your future Kellogg classmates and our admissions committee to know about you. What makes you, you?

Is this supposed to be your Elevator Pitch? Probably yes, albeit a more personal one. Having presented most of your information through your resume and application essays, this should be your space to “connect” with your future classmates as well as the admissions committee.

While the video will allow the admissions committee to see you and hear you, it is your passion and your story that will invite them to feel your presence and personality. Prepare a story that is authentic, exciting, and enchanting. Above all, sound fluent, but not rehearsed!

Kellogg Video Essay 2

What path are you interested in pursuing, how will you get there, and why is this program right for you?

This is an intentionally broad question so you can answer honestly and meaningfully. We want to know why you are pursuing an MBA and why you’re choosing a particular Kellogg Full-Time Program.

While the first question was about you, the second question is about you and Kellogg. What leads you to Kellogg?

What are the opportunities and platforms you seek to leverage at Kellogg to achieve your career plans? What research have you done to discover and explore the most relevant opportunities and activities that you plan to participate in once you are on campus?

These are all obvious extensions to the second question. As you articulate your thoughts to answer these questions, it may be a good idea to present your plans for taking any initiatives at Kellogg that will further help you, and hopefully your peers, interested in pursuing a similar career path.

Kellogg Video Essay 3

The third question will ask about a challenge you’ve faced.

This is one question that you wouldn’t know in advance, but the prompt suggests classic behavioral interview questions that require you to draw examples from your professional or personal life.

Possibilities are immense and varied, ranging from challenges within a team to challenges while working with a client.

The key is to go prepared with a set of diverse stories that you can leverage in varied situations. An instance or example may involve multiple challenges, and if you are well prepared, you will be able to summon the one that’s asked in the essay.

Do not forget, of course, to follow the Challenge-Action-Result framework by not only discussing the challenging situation itself but also delineating the action you took to counter that challenge and the results that you were able to achieve or deliver.

You will have just about 20 seconds to think about the question before you start answering – important, therefore, to not start your video session unprepared.

Here are a few Sample Video Essays for Kellogg Essay 3 that you may want to practice:

  • Describe a challenging time when you had a difference of opinion with a teammate.
  • Describe a time when you took an initiative that wasn’t successful.
  • Describe a time when you had a conflict with your senior/manager.
  • Tell us about a time when you had to make a split-second decision.
  • Tell us about a time when you were forced to make an unpopular decision.
  • Discuss a challenging project where you couldn’t meet the deadline.
  • Discuss an instance when you were misunderstood.
  • Discuss a challenging time when you had to convince or negotiate with a colleague/superior.

I hope this analysis of Kellogg MBA essays for the 2021 intake will help you make a very strong application and the gatekeepers at Kellogg will gladly give you your place at Kellogg; your new home for the next 2 years.

Applying to Wharton? Read our detailed Wharton Essay Analysis

About the Author

Prashant_Tibrewal_US_News_Business_School_Rankings_2020_Analysis

Prashant Tibrewal is the founder of Admit Square Consulting and has mentored 1000+ MBA aspirants to get into top global universities such as Harvard, Stanford, INSEAD, Oxford, HEC, ISB, etc. Prashant has also served on the Board of the Association of International Graduate Admissions Consultants (AIGAC) and led the AIGAC Conference 2020, attended by admissions officers from 25+ top-ranked MBA programs.

Admit Square Consulting has mentored applicants from diverse backgrounds to apply to top MBA programs. With a proven track record of 10+ years, and admits to universities such as Stanford, MIT, Kellogg, Cambridge, INSEAD, etc., Admit Square was awarded the Most Successful International MBA Consulting Company in India at the India Education Awards, 2019. With a team of Consultants from top business schools such as MIT, Yale, LBS and Oxford, Admit Square offers 100% Money-back Assurance on its services. You may send your details to info@admitsquare.com for a free profile evaluation.

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