Chicago Booth Essays

Good luck to all BSers who submitted to Booth for Round 2!

 

Chicago Booth Full-Time MBA Essay Questions – Class of 2020

They’re sticking to the same prompt, just with a different, and smaller, set of photos for you to choose from.

The following is a collection of shared Booth moments. Choose the moment that best resonates with you and tell us why.


One of the best collections of modern art in the city of Chicago is found within the walls of Chicago Booth. Walking through the classroom level, a student passes by one of the nearly 500 ceonceptually challenging pieces, which inspire converastion and push people to think differently. #ChicagoBoothMoments #WhyBooth #ChicagoBooth #HarperCenter



These two Boothies remain grounded even when standing 1,353 feet above the city streets of Chicago. Investing in each other empowers Booth students to pursue their passions and reach new heights. #ChicagoBoothMoments #WhyBooth #ChicagoBooth #WillisTowerSkyDeck #1353feet #LoveChicago #MyKindOfTownChicagoIs #FlexibleCurriculum


This adventurous group of students traveled together for a fun-filled Spring Break in Central America. From learning to pitch to sharks in the boardroom to literally swimming with, well, sharks in the Barrier Reef, there are limitless ways to explore interest and challenge yourself during your two years at Booth. #ChicagoBoothMoments #WhyBooth #ChicagoBooth #BoothSpringBreak #SharkTank



A student snaps a photo of friends at a school-wide celebration organized by multiple student groups in recognition of the support and diversty within the Booth community. #ChicagoBoothMoments #WhyBooth #ChicagoBooth #TheBoothExperience #BoothBetterTogether



A student takes notes during an afternoon class. The unique perspectives and individual insights of each student play a vital role in Booth’s classroom experience-whether lecture, case-based, discussion, or lab #ChicagoBoothMoments #WhyBooth #ChicagoBooth



The central pulse of Booth emanates from Harper Center’s light-filled, six-story atrium – where it all happens. From weekly socials to Nobel laureate speeches, this is the place where lasting friendships form, ideas take shape, and Booth comes to life. #ChicagoBoothMoments #WhyBooth #HarperCenter @rafaelvinoly

EssaySnark says…. dang there are a lot of borrowed slogans going on in these photos this year! “Better Together”? “Think Differently”? And the weird Yoda-speak of “My kind of town Chicago is”?? Sorry Booth adcom. You guys should stick to your day jobs of recruiting applicants to your class. Marketing copywriting is clearly not your strong suit.

The full application requirements are available on the Booth admissions site . Our Booth essay guide has also been updated for the 2017 cycle with even more strategies for how to identify the best content and put together your presentation (and yes, a PowerPoint is recommended, instead of an essay! Our Booth application guide explains why).
 

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, PowerPoint, and Word. We strongly recommend converting your piece to a PDF file prior to submitting.

Multimedia Restrictions: We will view 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 Booth 2017 Application Guide gives you a map to developing a strong presentation for the Booth Moments and covers many other angles and aspects to a strong candidacy for the University of Chicago’s MBA program. It’s been refreshed and revised with all of EssaySnark’s latest-greatest tips for success, based on that of all the BSers who have gone before (including many admits from Snarkville in 2016 and again in Round 1!). Pick it up and get started on this critical app strategy.

Booth has also introduced an interview-invite short-answer question this year — sneaky Booth!! — where those who get the invitation for the interview will need to submit a separate mini essay in advance. The essay is not part of the interview experience per se, it’s just another aspect of you that you get to present for them to learn more about you. You get a choice of three questions and about a week to respond. EssaySnark’s advice? Choose something that’s new and different from what you did before!!

 
 

Chicago Booth MBA Application Deadlines

See their website for more details: Booth MBA Application Deadlines

  • Round 1:   This year, interview invitations came out the week of October 10th, with a mid-cycle “release” on October 14th. Then, another essay was due on October 20th!!
  • Round 2: January 3, 2018 – another right-after-the-holidays deadline. Ugh. Interview invitations and mid-cycle release are likely to be in the first week of February.

 

Chicago Booth MBA recommendations – Class of 2020

2For 2017, Chicago is using one of the two sets of standardized recommender questions — the same questions that Harvard and Columbia are using.

 

Chicago Booth Useful Links

school pages:

 

From the ‘Snark:

The standard career goals advice we’ve offered for schools like Columbia and Harvard (and others) may be helpful for you in tackling the Booth application. In addition, the suggestions about NYU Stern’s essay 3 are very relevant for a Booth PowerPoint presentation in 2017.

 
 

The SnarkStrategies Guide for Chicago Booth has been updated for 2017! Get it now and get started on your Booth presentation!


 

For Reference: Booth’s Past-Season Essay Questions

Click to view last year's question


They’re using a photo prompt again, which is great – and what’s even better is that they completely simplified the actual question you are asked to respond to. Here it is:

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

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, PowerPoint, and Word. We strongly recommend converting your piece to a PDF file prior to submitting.

Multimedia Restrictions: We will view 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.

Yay Booth! They kept the awesome and fixed the awful. This is much simpler than last year – though there’s still ways for your answer to go sideways if you’re not paying close attention to strategy in how you present yourself (and authenticity matters just as much).

This is what they said on their blog when announcing this year’s question :

We encourage you to be genuine, authentic, and not overthink the question. Consider each moment, study the captions, and select the moment with which you feel most connected. Our hope is to learn a little more about why you chose a particular moment and what it means for you in your decision to apply to Booth.

The exercise is about showing us something we cannot learn elsewhere in the application. There is no wrong way to approach this. The question and moments are yours to answer and yours to interpret.

Here’s the fun photos that you get to think about – with a handful of links to the stuff that is referenced (you’re welcome):


Fellow classmates cheer on members of TransparentC as they are announced the winners of the 2016 Edward L. Kaplan, ’71, New Venture Challenge [winner announcements]. Run by @polskycenter [Polsky Center site], #ChicagoNVC [Twitter] is an experiential learning program that helps students turn their ideas into viable businesses. Celebrating its 20th year, NVC [NVC site] is recognized as the top-ranked university accelerator program in the nation [Seed Rankings site], where more than 140 companies got their start. #SeedCon #ChicagoBooth #ChicagoBoothMoments

EssaySnark comment: It’s interesting that the first photo of the bunch is one on entrepreneurship!



A group of students travel together through Colombia. Each year, hundreds of Booth classmates have the opportunity to travel around the world, visiting destinations from Argentina to Vietnam. Interantional opportunities like Random Walks [2016 Random Walks site], the International Business Exchange Program [IBEP page], and Industry Treks [Treks page (out of date)] result in lifelong memories and lasting friendships. @BoothRW #WhyBooth #ChicagoBooth #ChicagoBoothMoments

EssaySnark comment: Keep in mind as you’re reviewing this one that you don’t go to bschool in order to travel…



A second-year student helps the incoming class develop their individual leadership styles as a part of Leadership Effectiveness and Development (LEAD) [LEAD page], the cohorted course every Booth student takes at the beginning of their first year. As LEAD Facilitators, second years have an opportunity to further practice those leadership skills and pay it forward to the next generation of Booth students. #WhyBooth #ChicagoBooth #ChicagoBoothMoments

EssaySnark comment: All the schools like to hear about examples of leadership (but we’re not 100% sure about how easy it will be to present one of yours in response to this photo! #tricky).


Walking in front of the Charles M. Harper Center [Harper page], a student is captured during a quiet moment before the beginning of a day on campus. #WhyBooth #HarperCenter #ChicagoBooth #ChicagoBoothMoments

EssaySnark comment: Hmmmm…. Talk about open-ended! This one might actually invite some interesting (or completely boring!) responses.


#ChicagoBooth faculty are thought leaders whose ideas influence markets and politics in industries across the globe. Their research delves deep into the foundations of economics and behavioral sciences that underline how markets work, businesses function, and people make decisions. #RichardThaler [Booth faculty page]#LuigiZingales [Booth faculty page]#RaghuramRajan [Booth faculty page]#NicholasEpley [Booth faculty page] #ChicagoBooth #ChicagoBoothMoments

EssaySnark comment: Wait! There’s nine books but only four names called out. What’s up with that? Regardless, there seems like lots of possibilities here. (Just please don’t say that you want to be a thought leader when you grow up. Please please please don’t do that.)



#ChicagoBooth students visit a village in India as part of a Global Social Impact Practicum [course description] led by the Social Enterprise Initiative (SEI) [SEI site]. The program explores the potential for bamboo-based power and its impact on employment in rural India. #BoothSEI supports similar efforts through #ExperientialLearning opportunities in communities around the globe. #ChicagoBoothMoments

EssaySnark comment: There’s more than just social impact here, people!


A team of #ChicagoBooth alumni compete in the 2015 Global MBA Trophy [event website] regatta in Athens, Greece. The sailing race draws accomplished alumni from top business schools around the world. Annual events such as these happen globally, bringing alumni together to connect, collaborate, and share in new moments. #sailing #ChicagoBoothMoments

EssaySnark comment: Well you learn something new every day! This was an event that we had never heard of. Very cool! The Booth team even won one year.


On the floor of the New York Stock Exchange [NYSE site], cofounder and CEO Matt Maloney, ’10 [Matt Maloney LinkedIn], is joined by food mascots to help ring the opening bell as his company @GrubHub [prolly dint need to link that one when you use it every night] lists its initial public offering in April, 2014. Shares of the company, valued at the time at $2 billion, climbed more than 30% the first day of its IPO. @NYSE [Twitter]#Instafood [Instagram] #ChicagoBooth #ChicagoBoothMoments

EssaySnark comment: Another entrepreneurship story??? OK whatevs. (Not throwing shade on GrubHub but all the top schools have similar bragworthy alumni success stories too ya know.) Anyway, what’s with the #Instafood tag? If you can do something (relevant) with that in your PPT, we’ll be impressed!



Students speak with Chairman and Co-CEO of Dimensional Fund Advisors [company website], David Booth, ’71 [Wikipedia], whose unprecedented donation in 2008 led to renaming the school in his honor. The opportunity for business leaders to bring insights from their careers to students is an invaluable complement to Booth’s world-class academics. #ChicagoBooth #ChicagoBoothMoments

EssaySnark comment: There aren’t too many alumni out there with wiki pages on them! (Not that we’re suggesting that that’s what you should focus on with this one. It was really just an offhand comment. This one has much more to be explored than that.)



Nearly 100 #ChicagoBooth students put on a massive flash mob to surprise the Class of 2017 admitted students visiting #HarperCenter [Harper page] in February, 2015. The choreographed performance of the hit “Uptown Funk,” [YouTube] was organized by members of the Booth Dance Club [BDC page], one of 80 student groups on campus [Booth clubs page]. #WhyBooth #ChicagoBoothMoments

EssaySnark comment: As with the travel thing, we’ll caution you again, you don’t go to bschool to dance. Just be careful if you choose this one; stay focused on the task at hand, which is to communicate something meaningful of who you are in the context of your application to business school. Also: typo. #eek


If you’d like to see what Booth asked of past years’ applicants (including last year’s version of this assignment) you can review the archive of Booth questions.

Last year around this time, we threw out a bit ‘o advice on Twitter:

@MBA_Hopeful1908 Remember you can include text in PPT too! We often see people do a much better job sharing depth of who they are thru pics.

— Essay Snark (@EssaySnark) July 15, 2015

@felipecorcuera Many of our clients are able to communicate more of who they are through slides or other visuals instead of just text 😉

— Essay Snark (@EssaySnark) July 15, 2015

[end discussion of last year’s question.]


Click to view 2016 questions

Brand-new essay requirement from Booth – they mixed things up, yet not really. You still need to do a presentation (ideally, or an essay) to say how you fit with them. You just need to pivot that discussion off one of their Booth-centric images. So it’s less open-ended than before. On Sept 2 we covered the key mistakes that people are making with this year’s Booth essay and in November, we presented the simple way to handle the Booth question this year. You can also see what the Booth adcom says they saw with Round 1 applicants in 2015 .

They preserved their one main app requirement – the traditional Booth PPT, or you can make it a written essay – but you need to approach things differently from how past years’ Brave Supplicants have.

Chicago Booth values individuality because of what we can learn from the diverse experiences and perspectives of others. This mutual respect creates an open-minded community that supports curiosity, inspires us to think more broadly, take risks, and challenge assumptions. At Booth, community is about collaborative thinking and tapping into each other’s different viewpoints to cultivate new ideas and realize breakthrough moments every day.

Using one of the photos (here’s the PDF to download them all together), tell us how it resonates with your own viewpoint on why the Booth community is the right fit for you.

Here’s the 16 choices – most of which we recognize as images that Booth has been using on its website for awhile. You will pick just one to talk about in your response.


Wow! Talk about taking the question of “school fit” to the next level!

They’re still asking you to produce a PowerPoint or a Word file (or, you could build it in something else as long as you can save it as PDF). So to that extent, it’s the same as they have had before. And again, there are no limits – though it’s helpful to recognize that in prior years when the PPT was one of several essays, then it was limited to 4 slides total. That’s a pretty good ballpark place to start when thinking about how long you might want to go.

Audio/video/etc are still not allowed, which is a bummer (especially when they do allow videos to be submitted by waitlisted candidates).

You can review the entirety of the instructions as posted on their website on 7/8/15.

The main benefit of this new question is in Booth’s favor: You will not be able to reuse anything you build out for another school. You need to create it organic to Booth. Pretty clever on their part. And, having 16 different images to choose from means that applicants will feel like they’re empowered (provided they don’t feel overwhelmed by too many options) plus it ensures that the adcom won’t get bored by seeing the same thing over and over again. It should invite more diversity in responses.

Hopefully. 😉

There is also an optional essay (only use it if you need to literally explain something that you cannot otherwise cover), and there’s a separate 300-word reapplicant essay if you’re trying again. And, lest you think that they don’t care about goals, they do; as with the prior year, they ask about them in the app.

We participated in a Twitter chat where things were discussed:

.@gbarbieB One tip we can offer: Dissect the Q, & really reflect on each noun that's included – they bring insights! http://t.co/toe8Dfw0EZ

— Essay Snark (@EssaySnark) July 15, 2015

Oh yeah – that last photo? #16?

So @BoothFullTime, we really should know this, but…. Who's that in Essay Photo #16 ? Is that Mr. Booth? #BoothMBApic.twitter.com/pKNHuzE9Bc

— Essay Snark (@EssaySnark) July 15, 2015

@EssaySnark That is Eugene F. Fama, 2013 Nobel laureate in economic sciences. http://t.co/cDadVnN85X#BoothMBA

— Chicago Booth (@BoothFullTime) July 15, 2015

You’re welcome. 😉

[end discussion of Booth’s 2016 question.]


Click to view 2014 questions


They had just one main app requirement – the traditional Booth PPT, or you could make it a written essay.
  • Presentation/Essay: Chicago Booth values adventurous inquiry, diverse perspectives, and a collaborative exchange of ideas. This is us. Who are you?

This was remarkably similar to the HBS question… which we have to point out, was worded quite closely to Booth’s original version of this prompt from several years back.

For Booth last year, you could write a traditional essay (no word limit mentioned) or do a PowerPoint (again, no limit; in past years when the PPT was one of several essays then it was up to 4 slides total). We’re betting they stick with something similar this coming season, too.

They recommended converting to PDF before uploading. Audio/video/etc were not allowed however this is another change they make this year – why not video submissions this year, Booth Insider? You allow them in the waitlist process. Seems ideal to front-load that opportunity for your candidates.

You can review the entirety of the instructions as posted on their website on 7/17/14.

There was also an optional essay, which they’re likely to preserve, and there’s a separate 300-word reapplicant essay if you’re trying again. And, lest you think that they don’t care about goals, they do; as with the prior year they asked about them in the app.

[end discussion of 2013 questions.]


Click to view 2013 questions

2013 Essays – EssaySnark’s Analysis

This is what we said when the two-years-ago essays came out:

Here’s the new Booth essay questions – no career goals! Interesting.

Two short-answer questions and the classic Booth presentation:

  1. My favorite part of my work is… (250 words)
  2. I started to think differently when… (250 words)
  3. The Chicago experience will take you deeper into issues, force you to challenge assumptions, and broaden your perspective. In a four-slide presentation or an essay of no more than 600 words, broaden our perspective about who you are. Understanding what we currently know about you from the rest of the application, what else would you like us to know? [that phrase “the rest of” is the only change from last year]

Those two short-answer questions make us feel like we work at Apple.

The Booth online application does in fact ask about career goals – here’s some of the questions:

  • Please select the industry that best represents the majority of your work experience to date (dropdown)
  • Proposed industry post-MBA (dropdown)
  • Proposed job function post-MBA (dropdown)
  • What is your short-term post-MBA goal? (700 characters)
  • What is your long-term post-MBA goal? (700 characters)

[end discussion of 2013 questions.]


Click to view 2012 questions


2012 questions – these are REALLY OLD
Three essays:
  1. What are your short- and long-term goals, and how will a Chicago Booth MBA help you reach them? ( but they didn’t!!)
  2. a. What has been your biggest challenge, and what have you learned from it?
    b. Tell us about something that has fundamentally transformed the way you think.
  3. The Chicago experience will take you deeper into issues, force you to challenge assumptions, and broaden your perspective… [The same 4-slide presentation or 600-word essay as we got in 2013 except that they added the phrase “the rest of the application” to the actual prompt.]

[end discussion of 2012 questions.]


 

[Index of essay questions by bschool]


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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