Booth School Business Application Essays

Hey there Booth applicants of 2017!

Admissionado back once again with fresh, off-the-shelves essay analyses for Booth's 2017 application! We wanted to jump in and give you a head-start on those essays questions jog that imagination, and give you a few tips and tricks to get started on your Chicago Booth essays to get you started on the best foot this year. Soooooo, without further ado:

Chicago Booth MBA Essay 1


View this collection of shared Booth moments. Choose the moment that best resonates with you and tell us why.

Presentation/Essay Guidelines:

Choose the format that works for you. Want to illustrate your response visually? Submit a slide presentation. Like to express yourself with words? Write a traditional essay. Use the format that you feel best captures your response, the Admissions Committee has no preference.
Determine your own length. There is no prescribed minimum or maximum length. We trust that you will use your best judgment in determining how long your submission should be, but we recommend that you think strategically about how to best allocate the space.

Technical Guidelines:

File Size: Maximum file size is 16 MB.
Accepted Upload Formats: Acceptable formats are PDF, Word, and PowerPoint. We strongly recommend converting your piece to a PDF file prior to submitting.
Multimedia Restrictions: We will be viewing your submission electronically and in full color, but all submissions will be converted to PDF files, so animation, video, music, etc. will not translate over.

The 2017 Chicago Booth essay question is the same as last year’s version, which had been a significant departure from previous years, where the famous Powerpoint prompt seemed to leave things even more open-ended. This year, they’re asking you to engage with a series of photos, and then explain your connection to one of them, specifically around the idea of resonance. That’s what the prompt says, anyway.

Resonance, yes. But… to what end? If a pic of their resonates with a 96-year old infirm gentleman moments before he passes, it may be a wonderful moment for the admissions committee, but it doesn’t exactly do them much good. Or if this were to resonate with a 13-year old because some aspect of one of their photos struck a deeply emotional chord. It might make for a tearjerking story, but… if that kid doesn’t end up becoming a businessman through the Booth program, improving from it, and improving others along the way, none of it matters. See what we’re driving at here? Don’t let the wording distract from the fact that you need (as with any MBA application essay) to prove beyond a shadow of a doubt, that you are destined for success. Period.

So, once again, the best response to this prompt comes down to one thing and one thing only: proof of future success.

First, let’s dig into the idea of proof itself. This is where visual media can be incredibly useful in helping you support your claims more effectively than through the written word. Imagine an artist (painter) telling you about his work. However good his descriptions may be, will it ever be as convincing as actually showing you the actual work itself? Or even better, imagine a chef describing what his best dish tastes like, in an essay. Wouldn’t the most effective delivery method be to taste the actual food? Or a musician, extolling the virtues of a song in a speech, rather than… playing the song. You get the idea.

For this particular essay, you should consider yourself an artist. Or a chef. Or a musician. You’re about to make some kind of claim about what makes you marked for success, and to then take it a step further to show exactly how your potential for success is heightened somehow by Booth specifically. But, remember, if they can’t see, or taste, or hear your argument, it won’t weigh much.

So let’s dig into the meat a little more. Three pieces to this thing:

Piece 1 = What you’re all about.

Piece 2 = Why Booth complements that unusually well.

Piece 3 = Why these things combine ultimately to spell success in your future.

Which part to attack first? Your instincts may tell you to start with Piece 1, but we’re gonna recommend otherwise. First, do your homework on Booth. Research. Read. Poll alums. Investigate. Follow the careers of professors. Read their work. Dig into clubs, Booth-specific offerings, course list, the latest happenings on and off the campus. At some point during this research, you’re gonna come across something that resonates with you. Something you find appealing. Something that makes you say to yourself “I want that for myself.” Your brain is unusually adept at filtering out the stuff that’s common to all programs, all the overlap. Trust those raw instincts when you sense something that’s somehow… “Booth.” Your brain will latch onto something that generates a gravitational pull toward Booth and Booth alone. “I wanna be around THAT.” “THAT looks fun.” “I wanna experience THAT.” “That thing is right up my alley.” “That thing captures me perfectly.” Make a note, and try to articulate (to yourself, or in a note) what it is about the article or picture or finding that appeals to you. See if you can find a few of these. This is a great starting point.

Now, get your Freud on. Take a look at the stuff you found appealing about Booth, and see what it says about who YOU are. What are you made up of such that those aspects were appealing? See how that works? It’s reverse engineering at its best. Let’s say, for example, that there’s some kind of team building culture at Booth that inspires you. Great, now turn inward and recognize that you THRIVE in team-based environments. Now, here comes the tricky part: It’s not enough for you to recognize that trait and then just… claim to have it. You have to now find the EVIDENCE in your background and “prove it.” Maybe it’s through photographs. Maybe it’s through creative flowcharts. And maybe it IS through a compelling written story. Whatever the medium, your goal is to demonstrate a clear understanding of certain appealing aspects of Booth, at the same time as you sell your connection to those aspects.

But now comes the icing on the cake. If you only demonstrate an understanding of Booth, and manage to show a connection to YOU, but don’t quite paint a picture of how those two things spell success in your future… you haven’t quite cinched it. In order to scorch this “essay,” you need to crush all three. So that’s your challenge throughout the process. Am I delivering clear, compelling proof about what makes me tick? Am I connecting that to something specific about Booth? And finally, have I suggested that when those two things combine, it serves almost like a product guarantee that I (product) am gonna succeed?

(Use the photos as a jumping off point. Go after essences and don’t take the pictures too seriously or literally.)

Chicago Booth MBA Essay 2


Is there any additional information that you would like the Admissions Committee to know? If so, please address in an optional essay. (300 word maximum)

Analysis


Read our team’s complete take on the idea of optional essay, including a brief (recent) history of b-schools’ relationship with it, and how our recommendations have evolved over the years, right here.

And that's that. Helpful, eh? If you have any questions on it or Booth or anything, just reply here or shoot us a PM. And if you want more Essay Analysis Goodness, check out more schools here. We're updating 'em daily as new prompts are released, so keep checking back.
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Founder, Admissionado

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Chicago Booth MBA Essay Topic Analysis 2017-2018

Following up on the release of the University of Chicago Booth MBA essay topics for 2017-2018, we wanted to offer some guidance to applicants as they prepare to tackle this potentially challenging prompt.

The adcom presents candidates with images that capture life at Booth; applicants are asked to choose one and explain why it resonates with them.  As was the case last season, applicants have the option of writing an essay or developing a PowerPoint and PDF response. Moreover, there is no word, page, or PPT slide limit listed, meaning that the length of the response is left to the applicant’s judgment (and the 16MB maximum file size). These format options allow both verbally and visually oriented applicants to draw on their strengths in answering the prompt, and offers a bit more breathing room than the program’s original 4-slide PPT-only formulation of the personal expression essay.

Chicago Booth MBA Essay Topic Analysis 2017-2018

Essay 1

View this collection of shared Booth moments. Choose the moment that best resonates with you and tell us why. 

Presentation/Essay Guidelines:

  • Choose the format that works for you. Want to illustrate your response visually? Submit a slide presentation. Like to express yourself with words? Write a traditional essay. Use the format that you feel best captures your response, the Admissions Committee has no preference.
  • Determine your own length. There is no prescribed minimum or maximum length. We trust that you will use your best judgment in determining how long your submission should be, but we recommend that you think strategically about how to best allocate the space.

Technical Guidelines:

  • File Size: Maximum file size is 16 MB.
  • Accepted Upload Formats: Acceptable formats are PDF, Word, and PowerPoint. We strongly recommend converting your piece to a PDF file prior to submitting.
  • Multimedia Restrictions: We will be viewing your submission electronically and in full color, but all submissions will be converted to PDF files, so animation, video, music, etc. will not translate over.

Booth presents applicants with a half dozen images, depicting such scenes as a student passing inspiring art, a watery adventure by students abroad, a famous Chicago landmark, and more. We recommend that candidates begin by reviewing the photos and identifying the 2-3 to which they are most drawn on a gut level. It might also be worth making some notes about why each one resonates with you and seeing whether there’s overlap in the aspects that draw you to each, as these core points of connection could be valuable to incorporate into your response, no matter which of the photographs you ultimately select.

While a sense of automatic resonance is a good starting point, it’s also important to be strategic and to select the photo that will be the best vehicle to discuss your fit with the Booth MBA program and community. For this reason, we recommend that you set your top 2-3 photos aside and reflect on what you most want to convey about  your candidacy, career goals, and fit with the Chicago MBA. This might involve completely pausing the process of developing your response while you learn about the school. We therefore recommend that applicants review the program’s website, reach out to students and alumni, digest the Clear Admit Chicago Booth School Guide, and consider attending an information session or visiting the campus before they begin working in earnest on their responses. The admissions committee is looking for students who have really synthesized and internalized the Booth program, and who have a good understanding of their fit with its offerings.

Once you’ve identified the essence of your fit with Booth — in terms of what you would gain, what you would contribute, and how your values are aligned with those of the program — we suggest revisiting your top photo choices with an eye to which one most resonates with your message. You may even choose to review all six options again, in case your research on the program has changed your perspective. Attend to what’s happening in the picture, as well as how it makes you feel, as you’re making your selection.

In addition to choosing which photo will inform their responses, applicants will also need to determine the best medium for conveying the “why” component of the question. For those whose strong suit is writing, a traditional essay is absolutely acceptable here — though we encourage even essay-writing applicants to include a visual touch point or two, in the spirit of the prompt. A selfie on the Booth campus could do wonders to convey your excitement about the program, and a photo of your own travel abroad scene could underscore your fit with the adventurous student spirit depicted in some of the Booth photos.

As for applicants who choose a visual-heavy PowerPoint format, it will still be very important to include some text to accompany any photos you share and to spell out the reasons you feel a fit with Booth based on your chosen photo from the essay prompt. To summarize, we recommend a balance of text and imagery, with an eye to authentic expression of your sincerely felt connection with the Chicago MBA program. In terms of length, meanwhile, we recommend limiting essay responses to 750 words (plus a few photos, perhaps), and PowerPoint responses to as many slides as an admissions reader could comfortably review in 5 minutes.

As a final note on the content of this response, we encourage applicants to show the adcom who they are and to articulate why they’re a fit with the program. For some, this might involve identifying several themes that are reflected in the stimulus photo and developing a few paragraphs or PowerPoint slides around each. For others, it might involve a verbal or visual narrative of their professional journey and the reasons they see their path intersecting with the scene depicted in their chosen picture. And for others still, their response might include a treatment of their most dearly held value, as reflected in the Booth photo and other experiences with the program. What effective responses will have in common, however, is a sincere and thoughtful treatment of their fit with the collaborative Booth community, and a genuine enthusiasm about the Chicago MBA program and their ultimate career goals.

Optional Essay

Is there any additional information that you would like the Admissions Committee to know? If so, please address in an optional essay. (300 word maximum)
This response will be an appropriate place to address any elements of one’s application that need further explanation (e.g. recommender choice, low GMAT score, questionable undergraduate performance, expected promotions, etc.). The wording of this essay is fairly open and inviting, and so it may be an appropriate place to share an additional anecdote or highlight an impressive accomplishment. Applicants should aim to demonstrate good judgment in deciding whether to respond to this prompt, and should take care not to introduce information that appears elsewhere in their materials or that could have been covered in response to one of the above essays.

Re-applicant Essay

Upon reflection, how has your perspective regarding your future, Chicago Booth, and/or getting an MBA changed since the time of your last application? (300 words maximum)
This response asks applicants about how their career plans, interest in Booth, and desire to obtain an MBA has evolved since last season’s admissions decision. Applicants should note that this prompt seems to assume that some change and growth has taken place, so it would be prudent to showcase an enhanced appreciation of the merits of the Booth MBA program and its potential to advance the candidate’s progress toward his or her well defined goals.

Clear Admit Resources
Thanks for reading our analysis of this year’s Booth MBA essay topics! As you work on your University of Chicago MBA essays and application, we encourage you to consider all of Clear Admit’s offerings:

Posted in: Admissions Tips, Essay Topic Analysis, Essays

Schools: U. Chicago Booth

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