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Former Booth Admissions Officer Explains Booth’s Essays

The University of Chicago’s Booth School of Business ranked as the number two business school in Poets&Quants’ MBA ranking this year.

And while other B-schools saw a decline in applications, Booth was one of only two top-25 U.S. B-schools that didn’t experience a slump. In fact, the Chicago B-school grew its MBA while keeping its admissions selective.

But what exactly does it take to get into Booth and what does the B-school look for in applicants?

Krista McNamara, an Expert Coach at MBA admission consulting firm Fortuna Admissions and former Assistant Director of Admissions at the University of Chicago’s Booth School of Business, recently broke down Booth’s 2020-2021 MBA essays and how applicants should address the prompts if they hope to gain admission into the prestigious institution.

“Chicago Booth aims to create a well-rounded, diverse, and unique class, and is looking for individuals who like to challenge conventional wisdom,” McNamara writes. “Given that most students enter the program from a business, economics, and engineering undergraduate background, the essays represent a valuable opportunity to distinguish yourself from other high achievers with similar profiles.”


The first prompt asks applicants: How will the Booth MBA help you achieve your immediate and long-term post-MBA career goals? (250 word minimum)

McNamara says this question is a version of the old ‘Why an MBA and why this school.’

To answer the prompt, she suggests breaking the approach into two parts: self-reflection of your own goals and journey and aligning them to Booth’s own values as a B-school.

“Your ability to articulate clear goals – even if they evolve throughout the MBA journey – show the Admissions Committee your confidence and maturity,” she writes. “It also requires a deep understanding of Booth’s values, culture and what makes it special. Without a nuanced appreciation of its unique community and program offerings – gained by thorough research, thoughtful networking and, whenever possible, a visit to campus – the admissions committee may not see you as a good fit. Acknowledging the specific things that stand out about the school and why they are important to you is key.”

Essay 2

The second prompt asks applicants: 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. (250-word minimum)

This question, according to McNamara, is more personal and goes beyond the professional resume and test scores to get to know you as a person.

“This essay is new this year, and Booth is mining for a glimpse of who you are above and beyond a shimmering track record of excellence,” McNamara writes. “Booth admissions can glean your professional journey and goals from your resume, letters, and first essay. Now, in this essay, they are looking to find out about what motivates you outside the workplace.”

Because this essay is personal, experts say, there really isn’t a right or wrong way to go about answering it. Rather, applicants should think about the overall theme in their personal life and use it to add color to conveying who they are outside of their professional life.

“You should also think about what gets you most excited, where you spend your time, or what you talk about when you aren’t talking about work. Travel, hobbies, sports? The latest episode of the Queen’s Gambit? Why are those things important to you? How did you get involved?”, Bill Kooser, Director at Fortuna Admissions and former Chicago Booth Associate Dean, says. “Booth isn’t looking for anything in particular here – they really do want to get to know you. Therefore, if it’s important to you, it will be a relevant topic for your essay. It’s a chance for your personality to shine through and demonstrate that you would be a great addition to what is sure to be an accomplished, diverse, and occasionally quirky class.”

Sources: Fortuna Admissions, Poets & Quants, Poets & Quants



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