Kellogg MBA Essay Questions & Analysis 2023-2024
The following essay topic analysis examines the Northwestern University Kellogg School of Management’s (Kellogg) MBA admissions essays. The Kellogg MBA essay questions are for the 2023-2024 admissions season. You can also review essay topic analyses for other leading MBA programs as well as general Essay Tips to further aid you in developing your admissions essays.
Northwestern / Kellogg MBA Essay Questions & Analysis 2023-2024
Let’s take a closer look at each of the Kellogg MBA essay questions for 2023-2024.
Kellogg MBA Essay 1
Kellogg Leaders are primed to tackle today’s pressing concerns everywhere, from the boardroom to their neighborhoods. Tell us about a time in your life where you’ve needed a combination of skills to solve a problem or overcome a challenge. Which skills did you use? What did you accomplish? (450 words)
This Kellogg MBA essay question asks the candidate to recount a leadership experience in which they (ideally) had a substantial impact, and which also involved overcoming challenges and applying multiple skills. Given the mention of boardrooms and neighborhoods, there is a consideration of community. You’ll want to choose leadership examples that showcase not only your ability to rally others around you and guide them toward an objective, but also your ability to do so in an innovative way.
Regarding the sorts of recent examples that one might cover, the wording of this Kellogg MBA essay question is technically wide open to personal and professional experiences. Rather than gauging the significance of an experience solely in dollar amounts or percentages, we encourage applicants to attend to the follow up question about the challenges faced and lessons learned. Whether the challenge was logistical (like stretching yourself to coordinate across internal teams while managing a client’s expectations) or interpersonal (such as developing a good working relationship with an adversarial colleague), effective responses will highlight a transferable skill that was formed or strengthened during this process. Of course, the end result must be lasting and positive.
With respect to structure, we recommend a basic STAR approach for this response. Begin by describing the situation, the players, and stakeholders involved before moving into the task: what you needed to accomplish in your goal. You should also lay the groundwork for the challenges you encountered, identifying the factors or relationships you would need to navigate to be successful. You should then move into the action, providing a chronological account of how you moved through the project or process. It would likely make narrative sense to introduce the challenges and how you overcame them as part of this narrative rather than addressing this in a separate section.
Finally, you should comment on the result — the positive outcome of your efforts and the resolution of the story. The response should then conclude with a reflection on the lessons you learned, and perhaps a comment on how they have served you since and/or how they position you to add real value to the Kellogg community.
Kellogg MBA Essay 2
At Kellogg, our values are based on research that concludes organizations comprised of leaders with varied backgrounds and perspectives outperform homogeneous ones. How do you believe your personal and professional experiences to date will help to enrich the Kellogg community? (450 words)
This question reflects Kellogg’s interest in identifying students who are in a position to contribute meaningfully to the school’s community. Candidates will be well served by some deep reflection on this topic, with the ultimate goal of offering insight into how they have enacted—and will continue to enact—their defining values.
If you are struggling to determine your defining values, you may try to ‘work backwards’ when crafting this essay via a simple exercise.
If you find yourself struggling with how to answer this question, try this simple exercise:
- Write down the 15 to 20 most important events, accomplishments, interests, or experiences in your life. Include the good, the bad, the astounding, the ugly, etc.
- Look at the list you have generated and try to determine the values that unify the important events, interests, and ideas in your life.
- Select a small number of diverse items from the list that best support a given value and use them to define your approach and kick off the drafting process for the essay.
In short, since the purpose of this Kellogg MBA essay question is to let the admissions team get to know you better, you might start with some notes about who you are and all that you have experienced and accomplished, and then work backwards to find prevalent qualities. Keep in mind that your direct ‘answer’ to the question here is NOT what is going to make you stand out (it may even be somewhat pedestrian). Rather, it is the series of anecdotes and supporting evidence you provide that will help you convey your unique candidacy to the admissions team.
The adcom wants to know how your background, perspective and experiences will make you an asset to the Kellogg community. Therefore, it would make sense to wrap this essay up with connections to Kellogg’s offerings. Consider specific classes, programs, potential collaborations with other parts of the school, clubs, conferences, or other offerings that your involvement would enhance. Learning about the school’s curriculum, special programs and extracurricular activities–whether through a visit to campus or conversations with alumni–will help you craft a response that really stands out.
How have you grown or changed personally and professionally since you previously applied and what steps have you taken to become the strongest candidate you can be? (250 word limit)
The framing of this Kellogg MBA essay question suggests that the adcom is more interested in proactive steps toward material improvement of one’s candidacy. Applicants should therefore focus on the specific ways they’ve worked to strengthen their candidacies over the past year (e.g. assuming more responsibility at work, attending conferences in line with your long-term professional goals, retaking the GMAT, or bolstering community involvement), and the reasons that they believe themselves to be a better applicant to Kellogg this time around.
We know that life is full of extenuating circumstances. Whether you want to explain gaps in work experience, your choice of recommenders, inconsistent or questionable academic performance or something else, you can use this section to briefly tell us anything we need to know about your application. (280 words)
The wording of this prompt signals that comments in this section should be limited to explaining potential liabilities or inconsistencies in one’s application. While applicants are free to write as much as they like here, we recommend a straightforward approach that uses as few words — and as little of the reader’s scarce time — as possible. Applicants who chose to respond to this essay should adopt a humble tone, acknowledge the issue without making excuses (though you can create context), and gently suggest other aspects of his or her candidacy that may help to compensate for this weakness.
Clear Admit Resources
Thanks for reading our analysis of this year’s Kellogg MBA essay topics! As you work on your Northwestern MBA essays and application, we encourage you to consider all of Clear Admit’s offerings:
- Northwestern / Kellogg School of Management Profile on the Clear Admit website: up-to-date advice and admissions information
- Clear Admit Northwestern Kellogg Interview Guide: learn what to expect and get ready to ace your interview with strategic advice and frequently-asked interview questions!
- Clear Admit LiveWire: admissions updates submitted in real time by applicants to Kellogg
- Clear Admit DecisionWire: school selections in real-time by admits to Kellogg