You Oughta Know
When should I apply? Kellogg uses a standard three-round system for applications. This means that you may submit your application in any of its three rounds for consideration. However, 90% or more of the class will be filled with the first two rounds of applicants, so we do not encourage you to wait until the final round without compelling circumstances. Round 3 candidates will be considered alongside waitlisted candidates from the first rounds. (Waitlisted candidates from Round 1 will be considered with Round 2 applicants, but we’ve seen a number of R1 waitlistees held on the waitlist again and admitted in Round 3.)
Traditional applicants. If you are a traditional candidate from management consulting or finance, we encourage you to apply in the first round (assuming you have a strong GMAT score), as you’ll be competing against many candidates with very similar profiles. In a later round, it’s possible that the school may see you as a viable candidate but may have already admitted several other applicants with similar profiles, so it might pass on you to bring greater professional diversity to the class. (Plus, the school knows you’ve been planning on an MBA since the day you graduated from undergrad, so there’s no reason to delay!)
Applying early. Please note that Kellogg encourages you to apply at least two weeks before the deadline to increase your chances of accommodating your interview preference. You may choose an on-campus interview or an alumni interview conducted off campus in your local area (more on that below). Avoiding last-minute procrastination is valuable in any business school application, but with Kellogg there’s a concrete benefit.
Don’t rush! Even though the top schools encourage you to apply in the earliest round possible, this does not mean that you should apply with a rushed application or a mediocre GMAT score. There’s no sense in applying early if you’re just going to be denied. A GMAT score that’s above the school’s average will do more for your candidacy than applying in the first round.
Navigating deadlines. Kellogg’s September 21 Round 1 deadline remains essentially unchanged from last year. If you plan on applying to Kellogg in Round 1, you should get started no later than early August. Why? Because very few applicants are successful when they’re writing their essays, managing their recommendation writers, and tracking down transcripts all while also trying to break 700 on the GMAT. And pulling together your applications (and doing it well) will take you at least a few weeks from start to finish.
Note that applying in Round 1 means that you will get your decision by December 14, which should give you enough time to submit your Round 2 applications for other programs, if you don’t get good news from Kellogg. However, we don’t recommend that you wait to start other Round 2 applications; rather, prepare all necessary materials beforehand and submit them if you receive bad news in Round 1. The school’s Round 2 and Round 3 deadlines are virtually unchanged since last year.
Specialty programs. Applications to the MMM and JD-MBA programs require an additional essay that’s pretty straightforward, but don’t take it lightly. You have 250 words to explain why the program is right for you, and the joint-degree admissions committees look at these essays closely. For JD-MBAs, if the committee gets the sense that you’re only doing it because it adds no more time to a standard three-year law degree, so “why not?” then you have a high likelihood of being denied. The MMM program has far less flexibility when it comes to electives and scheduling than the standard MBA program, not to mention an extra quarter of coursework, so admissions officers want to see a compelling reason for the choice beyond mere curiosity or interest in the subject matter.
1Y vs. 2Y. Candidates applying to Kellogg’s two-year program with a business major and significant work experience on their resume who are not changing careers may want to explain why they want to attend the two-year track instead of taking advantage of the growing one-year option. If you’re going to business school in order to switch careers, then the opportunity to dip your toe in the water of your new career through a summer internship is reason enough for the two-year program. If you’re looking to return to your previous employer or a similar one in your industry, then the one-year program may be the ideal fit.
Instead of thinking of the video essay as a chore, think about how it can personalize your application, says Brittney Moraski, a 27-year-old D.C. native who will graduate from Kellogg in 2016. She says she appreciated having the opportunity to present herself beyond her test scores, essays and recommendations.
"You want your personality—not your panic—to come through in the video, so prepare in advance," says Ms. Moraski, who compiled a list of possible questions, then propped up her smartphone and recorded herself answering them before she signed on to complete the process online. In interviews, Ms. Moraski, MBA consultants and Kate Smith, assistant dean of admissions at Kellogg, offered the following advice:
1"BE AUTHENTIC AND BE TRUTHFUL TO WHO YOU ARE," Ms. Smith says. But fight those instincts to get too creative. "Do answer the question that's posed to you," she cautions. "We're asking a question because we want to know what you think about the answer."
2PRACTICE, PRACTICE, PRACTICE. Ms. Moraski says practicing on her smartphone "forced me to verbalize my answers." Just as important, it gave her a sense of the response time window. Use practice rounds to watch the "ums" and "uhs" (MBA coach Dan Bauer of MBA Exchange Ltd. keeps count of those in his video and interview coaching) and to be mindful of facial expressions and body language. "Practice gives you a sense for length, tone and demeanor in how you present yourself," says Jon Fuller, an MBA coach at Clear Admit LLC.
3DRESS BUSINESS-CASUAL AT THE MINIMUM. There's no need to Rent the Runway, but treat the video essay as seriously as an interview. "Wear something professional, but you don't have to wear a suit and tie," Ms. Smith says. "We only see you from shoulders up, so you can wear sweat pants if you want, but wear something professional on top." The bottom line: Go middle of the road. No tuxedos, no T-shirts.
4MINIMIZE DISTRACTIONS. "Find an environment where you won't be interrupted," Ms. Smith says. Make sure the dog isn't going to bark and that the neighbor isn't practicing his tuba. Cellphones should be silenced. Since the recording will be taking place over a computer, make sure that all email prompts and Twitter feeds that could pop up mid-recording are shut down.
5CREATE A NEUTRAL BACKGROUND. The conference room at work? Appropriate. Laundry room or your dirty kitchen? Not so much. Resist the urge to dress the background in school colors. "The admissions officer is going to look at many of these (videos)," Mr. Fuller says. "You want to make sure that if you're the 10th one that day, they're able to focus."
6PAY ATTENTION TO LIGHTING. Daylight is better than artificial light, but don't sit too near a brightly lit window. Too much light can wash out a person.
7WATCH THE BODY LANGUAGE. "Leaning forward, rocking in a chair, slouching—those are all almost subconscious things that should be corrected," Mr. Bauer says. "It's not just what you say but how you look when you're saying it."
8MAKE EYE CONTACT WITH THE CAMERA. "Look directly at the camera and not the monitor that is below to give the impression that you are making eye contact with the person who is viewing the video," Mr. Fuller says.
9DON'T OVERPREPARE. This may sound counterintuitive, but it is possible to come off as too practiced, which defeats the purpose of the video essay. "Coming off as too rote and not approachable is a mistake, especially for a school like Kellogg, where the culture is very much about being collegial," Mr. Bauer says. Ultimately, the video essay is just one component in the campaign to gain acceptance and should be consistent in effort and message with the written essays, recommendations, resume and application.
Rohan Rajiv, a 25-year-old native of India who is also a member of the 2016 class, suggests "focusing on your 'why' and communicating it," he says. "The rest will follow."
The video essay question he landed was, "What has been the most important invention in your lifetime?"
His answer: "The Internet."
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