Chicago Booth prides itself on having the world’s most flexible full-time MBA programme. The programme’s cornerstones are its three freedoms – academic freedom, the freedom to take risks and the freedom to define your impact on the world. The school looks for risk-takers who believe in challenging the status quo. Potential Boothies must dream big and set target goals that go beyond themselves to impact the world. Courses are intended to strengthen a student’s business fundamentals, teach them to use analytical frameworks and evidence-based thinking to solve complex business problems and create an impact in their businesses, industries and the world.
Booth follows a unique method of leveraging analytical skills to address business problems: the Chicago Approach. This enduring, multidisciplinary framework empowers students to turn business challenges into opportunities in any industry, anywhere in the world. The MBA curriculum also instils quantitative skills to resolve issues faced by businesses.
The key element you need to remember while framing your essays is to use examples from your life to represent your intellectual curiosity, ambition and academic rigour. Applicants who can articulate strong analytical and quantitative skills in their essays have a better chance of securing an interview.
The University of Chicago Booth School of Business Essay Analysis
The two required essays have only a word limit floor but no cap. While an applicant is expected to take advantage of this, they should convey thoughts, feelings, hopes and aspirations succinctly. A 1,000-word essay may be comprehensive but not engaging. Both essays focus on providing the admissions committee with a strong, evidenced-backed narrative that emphasises a clear action plan predicated on networking and deep thought. Finally, also think about articulating how you can contribute to the wide and diverse University of Chicago community.
How to Tackle the Chicago Booth MBA Essays
Essay Prompts – Required Essay 1:
How Will the Chicago Booth MBA Help You Achieve Your Immediate and Long-Term Post-MBA Career Goals? (Recommended Minimum Word Limit – 250 words)
Tips on Brainstorming for the Essay:
- The school expects applicants to conduct a thorough research using multiple resources. Networking with alumni and deeply reflecting on how the school will help you achieve your goals via course offerings and student-led club activities will enable you to build a nuanced case for yourself.
- Define the problem or business scenario you want to address with an MBA from Booth in a way that highlights your intellectual curiosity and indicates that you have a clear understanding of how a multi-disciplinary approach will allow you to advance your career plans. For example, instead of merely sharing how you want to expand the reach of a particular business, elaborate on the problems in this particular business sector (back your claims up with quantitative data that indicates your depth of knowledge of the field). After this, share how the business you propose to expand will address these problems and finally, write how factors in the sector will fuel the expansion of the business.
- Clearly state your short-term and long-term goals, then support them with well-placed reasons as to how and why Chicago Booth will help you achieve them. Establish a clear link between your short-term and long-term goals. For example, if you want to pursue a career in investment banking immediately after the Booth MBA, follow a career in impact investing and depict how your long-term goal is linked to and followed by your short-term career goal.
- Focus on sharing how the course will hone leadership skills and problem-solving approaches for issues you foresee in businesses you hope to join. Avoid generic statements and be specific in your approach. For example, in a conversation with an alumnus, you could learn how an economic policy course taught him how consumer surplus could be used in assessing whether trade between two nations had beneficial ramifications on consumers residing in the importing nation. This course, co-taught by then Dean Professor Ted Snyder, Nobel Laureate Professor Gary Becker and Professor Kevin Murphy, provided him with an enriched learning experience and far-reaching insights that influenced and guided critical professional decisions. Reference this conversation to show your enthusiasm for how Chicago Booth links theory to practice.
- Elaborate on how you will use Booth’s training to create frameworks and address analytical or leadership problems you’ve encountered at work.
- While networking is vital to the Booth experience, avoid making generic remarks, such as ‘Chicago Booth will help me acquire a strong network’, or ‘in a globalised world, the Chicago Booth MBA will add value. Ask the alumni questions to gain a clear perspective of Chicago Booth’s culture – such as whether support from the network helped them solve a professional problem. Explicitly write about this in your essay to give the admissions committee a strong example demonstrating your understanding of the school’s culture and value systems. Be sure to get in touch with Booth Student Ambassadors to discover the Booth culture.
Suggested Essay Structure With Word Count Breakup:
Begin with your short-term goals and how Booth will help you accomplish them – this can be around 250-300 words. Then focus on your long-term goals, how you plan to leverage your experience at the school and the resources you will acquire as an alumnus to achieve this vision. This will be another 250-odd words. In your concluding paragraph, highlight elements from your short-term and long-term goals to describe the impact you hope to make in the world and how your time at Booth will be instrumental in putting you on the path to making that difference.
Essay Prompts – Required Essay 2:
An MBA is as much about personal growth as it is about professional development. In addition to sharing your experience and goals in terms of career, we’d like to learn more about you outside of the office. Use this opportunity to tell us something about who you are. (Recommended Minimum Word Limit – 250 words)
Tips on Brainstorming for the Essay:
- This essay helps you convey facets of your personality that cannot be covered in the goals essay. Here, speak of extracurricular activities contributing to your holistic personality development. It is not sufficient to merely list these activities; instead, state what you learned from them. For instance, a bibliophile can share how reading books stimulated creativity and shaped how they solved problems in different spheres of life. A cricket buff can share what they learned from playing cricket in the form of esprit de corps. With deeply thought-out insights, you will demonstrate your intellectual vitality outside your chosen field of work.
- Dean Madhav Rajan once said, “Friction generates heat, but also light”. This forms the substance of the Chicago Booth perspective. In this essay, you should be able to demonstrate how your extracurricular activities, while arduous, had positive effects. Say, as an avid runner, you may have suffered injuries, but by showing perseverance, you still accomplished your goal of becoming fit. In other words, you must focus on conveying how the process is as important as accomplishing the goal.
- While many applicants describe the community service they have done in this essay, write about the thoughts and ideas that have enabled you to assume a leadership role in these community activities. In this way, you will distinguish yourself from other applicants and establish that you will be a good fit with the Giving Something Back club, an important part of the Chicago Booth community that values leadership and not mere participation.
Suggested Essay Structure With Word Count Breakup:
Begin the essay with a succinct description of the activity you want to talk about – perhaps 150 words. Then talk of significant life examples that will illustrate important personal milestones and insights, such as how you happened to gain interest, instances where you were challenged and how your interest has evolved. Remember to also focus on the insights you gained from each of those experiences and how those have shaped your personality and outlook on life. These examples will be crucial to your narrative and will range between 300-400 words.
Close by talking about how you hope to evolve in the future while pursuing these activities – you can also share how you see your personality developing because of these activities as you take on senior roles and even change industries or geographies. Remember that Booth will be an important part of your journey, so research where the school will be a part of your interests and shape your perspective.
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