Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management today (July 12) made its new MBA application live and changed up a key essay question for candidates.
After a review by the school’s admissions committee, Kellogg tweaked one 450-word-limit written essay on leadership and teamwork by including language from the school’s purpose statement. This year’s revamped prompt: Kellogg’s purpose is to educate, equip & inspire brave leaders who create lasting value. Tell us about a time you have demonstrated leadership and created lasting value. What challenges did you face, and what did you learn?
The change is subtle. Last year’s prompt was: Leadership and teamwork are integral parts of the Kellogg experience. Describe a recent and meaningful time you were a leader. What challenges did you face, and what did you learn?
APPLICATIONS TO KELLOGG’S TWO-YEAR MBA PROGRAM UP SLIGHTLY BY 1%
After a year in which applications for the two-year MBA program rose slightly by 1% to 4,595 from 4,553 a year earlier, it’s the only substantial change in the school’s 2017-2018 application. We have not made a lot of significant changes this year,” says Kate Smith, assistant dean of admissions and financial aid at Kellogg. “A couple of years ago we really got sharp on what we are looking for and we’re happy with what we are getting from applicants. So we changed only the first essay question.”
“Our reasoning for the change is that leadership can be described in many different ways but we are specifically looking for candidates who are spearheading change or creating legacy in one’s organization,” adds Smith, in an interview with Poets&Quants. “We want our people to be those who leave a lasting mark on their organizations.”
Otherwise, Smith is standing pat on every other element of Kellogg’s application this year, including the school’s long-standing desire to interview in person as many applicants as possible, its two written essays and a trio of video essays, including one that candidates know in advance. “Our goal is to meet all of our applicants, wherever they are in the world,” she says. “We have found the video component to be a wonderful opportunity to meet the candidates and to hear how they communicate.”
IMMIGRATION WORRIES AREN’T HAVING AN IMPACT ON THIS YEAR’S CLASS
Widespread concern by international candidates of anti-immigration talk by the Trump administration has not had an impact on the school’s applicant pool. Smith told Poets&Quants, “With all the candidates we admitted, we are highly likely to have the same percentage of internationals as we had last year, and the demand from international students we saw was there,” she says. “They accepted their admission offers. Our concern was that we would see a drop off of acceptance rate (by international), but we didn’t see any negative impact there.”
Overall, Smith adds, the school saw continued “strong demand from high-caliber students. The only other trend is that demand from women is increasing. The number of women applying to Kellogg has been growing on a percentage basis so that is exciting. ”
Meantime, the school just matriculated its largest class of one-year MBA students ever. Between 2011, the year before Smith left her job as senior director of marketing for Gatorade to join Kellogg, and 2017, the school’s one-year MBA program has grown in size by more than 50%. In what is the 53rd year of the one-year option, Kellogg has just enrolled its largest class of 135 students two weeks ago. “We were in the low 80s in enrollment in my first year here,” she says. “The quality of demand is phenomenal. We continue to see demand from all over the globe. In years past, the demand for this one- year degree was higher from international students who accounted for just over half the students. This year we are at 60% domestic students so there also has been growth in demand from applicants in the U.S.”
GOLDMAN SACHS, LINKEDIN, APPLE & AMAZON NOW USING VIDEO TO INTERVIEW
Smith says the school is especially pleased at the use of video, added in 2013, as an application component. At Kellogg, the first video question is something of an ice breaker, randomly chosen from a rotating pool of queries. The second question offers applicants a chance to describe which Kellogg MBA program they are most interested in, whether the one-year or two-year MBA, the MMM program with the university’s engineering school or its JD-MBA, their plans for the future and how Kellogg could help them on that journey. Candidates are given 20 seconds to think about their question and up to one minute to give their response.
“We did not make any material changes to it,” says Smith. “The structure is the same. The idea is that you are being asked a question randomly and you have to think on your feet and respond. In a live conversation, of course, you wouldn’t have 20 seconds to think about a response. So we have found the time frame helpful and we provide practice questions for them to get comfortable with the technology.”
The video test, which was expanded to three questions last year from two, also mirrors increasing use of video in the corporate world. “What we are seeing is that MBA students often are being interviewed for jobs by video. We have seen this trend accelerate over the past year. Goldman Sachs dropped in-person interviews last year to require a video essay to all applicants in the first round. LinkedIn, Amazon and Apple now leverage videos in the hiring process. Video is just becoming more prominent as a communications medium.”