The following essay topic analysis examines the Indiana University’s Kelley School of Business (Kelley) MBA admissions essays for the 2020-2021 admissions season. You can also review essay topic analysis for other leading MBA programs as well as general Essay Tips to further aid you in developing your admissions essays.
Indiana / Kelley MBA Essay Topic Analysis 2020-2021
Let’s take a closer look at each essay:
Discuss your immediate post-MBA professional goals. How will your professional experience, when combined with a Kelley MBA degree, allow you to achieve these goals? Should the short-term goals you have identified not materialize, what alternate career paths might you consider? (500 words)
This prompt is a standard career goals essay that touches on one’s career history, the short term, as well as one’s interest in the Kelley MBA with the slight nuance of an alternate short-term plan. The most direct structure for this response will be to address each of these items in the order in which it appears in the prompt. You may therefore begin by identifying the function or job title you plan to pursue after business school, as well as your target industry and perhaps one or two target organizations. This position should be a logical first step toward a longer-term role that you hope to hold 10 or so years after your MBA. While not asked for directly, a brief mention of long-term plans would lend meaning to your proposed short-term goals and also support reasoning behind an alternate short-term path.
It would also make sense to include a few sentences about how your work experience to date has influenced (and prepared you for) these future roles, as well as the skills and knowledge that you still need to gain in order to move successfully along this path. With this “why MBA” piece established, candidates will then want to offer a detailed treatment of the ways specific elements of the Kelley MBA program would help you to bridge the gap between their current skill set and their future plans. We recommend that candidates aim to devote at least 200 words to this section of the essay, if not a full half of their response.
To get as much mileage as possible out of this essay, you should aim to develop a very detailed response that explains how lessons from key classes and participation in certain student organizations will position you to accomplish your professional objectives. The adcom will also be interested in hearing about how you see yourself contributing to the community and enhancing the experience of other students, so naming some events that you would like to help organize or a club you would hope to lead will also bolster your case. Covering all of this ground within a 500-word essay is no easy task, so zeroing in on the aspects of the Kelley MBA program that are most closely aligned with your goals will be important to developing an effective response; an in-depth review of the program website, conversations with current students and alumni, or visits to campus, are all viable sources of the information you’ll need here.
In terms of an alternate short-term goal, you may consider wrapping up the essay with a brief mention of these plans, per the order of the prompt. However, ending the essay with a clear vision of how you would partake in student life is also a good idea. Hence, this alternate plan may best be established briefly in conjunction with the initial statement of your goals. Structurally, it should be tailored to the flow of the essay.
Please respond to one of the following short essay prompts. (300 words)
- My greatest memory is…
- I’m most afraid of…
- My greatest challenge has been…
- I’m most proud of…
Given the emphasis on professional experience in Essay 1, this is a prime opportunity to shed light on skills or experiences outside the office—be it academic or community based. That said, if you have an impressive work-related project that you could not develop in Essay 1, it would make sense to elaborate further here. The key is to select an example of success. Also, given Kelley’s emphasis on collaboration, a team-based leadership anecdote would be ideal.
It is also a good rule of thumb to limit anecdotes to the past five years. So, no matter how much you may treasure the memory of the light show at Disney World, be sure to keep your story current and relevant to business school. Consider, then, examples of leadership, teamwork or entrepreneurship and showcasing your visionary abilities or ability to communicate with and motivate others. If you are a recent college graduate, for instance, you may discuss being most proud of launching an on-campus campaign on a global issue, or spearheading a club initiative. No matter the focus of your involvement, it would be ideal to show your success with quantified results. For instance, you may have influenced a policy change on campus or raised an impressive amount of funds to support a cause. You may approach this by considering your anecdotes of success and then figuring out which leading prompt allows you to showcase it richly.
Share a brief fact about yourself that your classmates would find interesting, surprising, or noteworthy. (25 words)
This question asks applicants to reveal an interesting, unexpected or exceptional element of their backgrounds. Though there are myriad potential items to highlight here, you should consider the balance of subjects you have covered across your other essays and choose a fact that provides new insight into your overall candidacy. For example, if the majority of content in the previous essays is focused on your professional life and accomplishments, this would be an opportunity to highlight your extracurricular passions or interests.
Is there anything else that you think we should know as we evaluate your application? If you believe your credentials and essays represent you fairly, you shouldn’t feel obligated to answer this question. (300 words)
While the opening question of this prompt sounds rather inviting, this is not a mandatory essay. Applicants should, therefore, take a conservative approach to this response, including only information, e.g. gaps in employment, a misrepresentative academic record, etc., that you believe warrants the extra item it will require for a reader to review.
Clear Admit Resources
Before you start writing your responses to the Indiana Kelley essay topics, check out some of our Kelley School of Business resources: