Chicago Booth Executive Mba Essays Poets

One of the photos that Booth is asking applicants to write about in its new essay

The University of Chicago’s Booth School of Business is asking applicants to write an admissions essay based on one of 16 photos that depict various aspects of its MBA experience. The new essay question, with no word limit, along with the school’s 2015-2016 MBA application deadlines was released on Wednesday, July 8th.

In a blog post, Kurt Ahlm, associate dean for student recruitment and admissions, said the school adapted the unusual format for this year’s essay “in the spirit of diverse perspectives and challenging the status quo—even our own status quo.”

A young Eugene Fama, a Nobel prize-winning economist at Booth. It’s one of the photos that the school is asking applicants to reflect on

The photos are something you might find on an Instagram feed, ranging from classroom shots to a selfie with Dean Sunil Kumar and Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella, a Booth alum (see below). There are pictures of MBA students involved in extracurricular activities, social events, and their own graduation. There’s one black-and-white photo of a young Eugene Fama, one of Chicago’s several professors who have won a Nobel Prize. The school then asks applicants to answer how the photo “resonates with your own viewpoint on why the Booth community is the right fit for you.”


Early reaction from MBA admission consultants appears positive. “At first I thought, ‘huh’? and then after about 10 seconds, I thought, ‘yeah, why not?,’ says Betsy Massar, founder of Master Admissions. “There are plenty of angles to choose from, and even though the question is open ended, there’s enough focus on fit with Booth to get people started. Glad there’s a sense of fun to it as well. I appreciate that Booth is not trying to take itself overly seriously.”

As it has in the past, Booth is asking applicants to respond to its prompt in a traditional essay, slide presentation, or any format that candidates believe best captures a response. The new essay replaces last year’s prompt:

Chicago Booth values adventurous inquiry, diverse perspectives, and a collaborative exchange of ideas. This is us. Who are you?


The school said its first round deadline would be Sept. 17, with decisions released on Dec. 10. Booth set a second round deadline of Jan. 5, with a release date of March 24th, and a third and final round deadline of April 5th, with a release date of May 19.

“Creating an MBA application that allows applicants to be authentic and honest is something we strive for at Booth,” said Ahlm. “The essay is where we really get a feel for who someone is, how they think, their distinct viewpoint, and how they can contribute to the community.

“While this is an opportunity for us to learn about you, we also want to share a more complete picture of what our community is all about. We value individuality and diverse experiences because it inspires collaborative thinking and the unique learning environment here at Chicago Booth.”

Booth Dean Sunil Kumar takes a selfie


I can finally see some light at the end of this very long tunnel of pre-MBA exam prep, test-taking, app and essay writing, interviewing, waiting, worrying, and just plain ‘ole stress.

So here’s the status of my round 1 applications going into the weekend before Thanksgiving (alphabetically):

Chicago – invited to interview; interview complete

HBS – dinged without an interview

MIT – won’t send interview invites until around December

Stanford – nothing yet

Wharton – invited to interview; interview complete

After being invited to interview at Wharton and Booth within a day of one another, I ‘ve completed both interviews within the past 5 days. It’s been a bit of a whirlwind but I am generally pleased with  how things have gone (the actual result won’t be apparent until I get final decisions).

Chicago Booth Interview Recap

Chicago Booth gives you two main interview options: to interview on campus with the admissions committee (which includes 2nd year MBA students) or to interview in or near your city with a Booth alum (where available). Living in Los Angeles makes alums from virtually any school that I would ever apply to locally available.

While I would love to visit each school that I’m submitting to, neither finances nor time will permit such a tour. I opt for local interviews whenever possible to be judicious with my finite time and financial resources.

I applied for my Booth interview right away and was paired with an alumnus within 24-48 hours, just as their admissions website promised; +1.  The night prior to my scheduled interview, I got a buddy of mine who is a recent JD/MBA graduate of and alumni interviewer for The University of Chicago to give me a mock interview.

My friend took it kind of easy on me, asking some basic behavioral questions coupled with the standard goals/why MBA/why now/why Booth questions. I wish he had been a bit tougher.

My interviewer chose a fairly laid back meeting place. I blocked out my schedule for that day and made sure to arrive with about a 30 minute lead on our appointment–half of which I burned up finding parking blocks away and then walking to the establishment.

Not a Clear Read

While very polite, my interviewer was not easy to read. They were also quite skilled at the job at hand. I got lots of behavioral questions peppered with interpersonal and “get to know you” probes that came in the midst of deceivingly random small talk as we navigated the meeting place.

I was comfortable with what was being asked of me and did not trip up or get stumped by any of the questions. I did, however, receive some constructive feedback on one of them. It was good feedback.  I also felt that the feedback came more from a spirit of genuine affinity than a “gotcha” sort of thing; yet, you never really know what someone is thinking.

While I generally feel that I did well in the interview, even the slightest hiccup can cast doubts in such a competitive, subjective process as this. I guess we’ll find out how “constructive” that feedback was come mid-December.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *