Indiana University’s Kelley School of Business ranks amongst the top 50 schools in the world. With just over 200 students in their MBA class, Kelley boasts a tight-knit community and an accessible and rich faculty lineup.

Hitting the road running takes a new form at Kelley as the school provides MBA students with hands-on learning experiences in the first year of the MBA program. Kelley is also far from being a cutthroat MBA environment. Focusing on holistic growth, the admissions committee at Kelley have often spoken about humility being an important part of the fabric of the school.

One of the biggest things MBA applicants struggle with is understanding how much a “good fit” to the business school community matters. With schools like Kelley, the emphasis is even higher.

Fortunately, the Kelley MBA application process allows applicants to share how good of a fit they are for the school. The four MBA essay prompts that Kelley provides give each applicant ample space to share their story.

Kelley School of Business MBA Application Essays

1. Discuss your immediate post-MBA professional goals. How will your professional experience, when combined with a Kelley MBA degree, allow you to achieve these goals? Should the short-term goals you have identified not materialize, what alternate career paths might you consider? (500 words)

The first part of this question is your standards career goals essay. Here you need to talk about what your post-MBA plan is. And you can’t be vague about it. Don’t talk about wanting to “hold a leadership position at a Venture Capital firm”. Instead, be specific in your approach to your post-MBA goals. Having a clear plan shows commitment and research done by an applicant. Along with the job role, and industry, mention the firm you would like to be working at.

Choose a firm that recruits at Kelley. Here is a list of Recruiting Companies at Kelley. If the firm you want to work at post-MBA doesn’t recruit at Kelley, it might discourage the admissions committee from moving you onto the interview stage. If the business school can’t place you after you graduate from their MBA class, they are more likely to not take a risk on you.

The second part of this question is trickier to navigate. Not many business schools ask MBA students for their Plan B. Those that pose this question generally ask students what they would do if they got rejected. However, Kelley simply asks the applicant what role they would choose if their initial plan doesn’t work out.

To answer this question don’t have a drastically different Plan B. For example, if your Plan A was to join a Venture Capital firm, don’t select an HR role for your Plan B. Go for something similar to Venture Capital. In this particular scenario, you could choose a career in Private Equity or even Management Consulting as they provide a growth option into Venture Capital.

Do deep research into your post-MBA goals to answer this prompt. Talking to an MBA graduate that is currently in your Plan A job could also help you understand the job roles and industries that feed into your Plan A.

2. Respond to one of the following short essay prompts. (300 words)

a. My greatest memory is…
b. I’m most afraid of…
c. My greatest challenge has been…
d. I’m most proud of…

Before you blindly decide which one of these prompts you will be answering, answer them all.

Rather than writing a 300-word answer to a single prompt and then realizing that another prompt would have been more impactful to answer, answer all these questions in a few words.

Once you have small versions of your answers to all these prompts, figure out which answer adds the most value to your MBA profile. Do any of your answers back up any claims your MBA profile makes? Does any answer show traits or values that the school resonates with?

Once you have your prompt selected, don’t just share the answer to “What?” for all these questions. Also, answer the “Why?”. Why are you fond of a certain memory? Why does something make you the most afraid?

Be real with the admissions committee. Sharing something personal in such detail can be a great show of strength and empowerment so use them to convey the same.

3. Share a brief fact about yourself that your classmates would find interesting, surprising, or noteworthy. (25 words)

This is a small space with just 25 words to answer, so choose wisely. I would suggest picking a personality trait that isn’t something most people don’t pick up about you when they spend time with you initially.

It will keep the answer personal, and interesting.

Optional: Is there anything else that you think we should know as we evaluate your application? If you believe your credentials and essays represent you fairly, you shouldn’t feel obligated to answer this question. (300 words)

This essay is the perfect space for you to just talk to the admissions committee and share your story. Don’t write this essay to detail more accomplishments simply because you have this space available.

If there is a significant accomplishment that couldn’t be mentioned in any other space throughout your Kelley MBA application, use this space to mention it. Make sure you also explain why that accomplishment is significant enough for you to share it with the Kelley admissions committee.

The purpose of this space, however, is to allow students to explain the weak points of their MBA application essay.

Do you have a low GMAT score? Is your undergraduate GPA lower than the Kelley average? Did you have to approach a non-conventional recommender for your LoR?

Use this space to explain the circumstances behind these situations. Make sure you don’t simply paint yourself out to be a victim. Take responsibility for your weaknesses while explaining how a particular situation or decision might have affected you at that moment.

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