Application Advice from Booth’s Associate Dean

Application Advice from Booth’s Associate Dean

why are you here and not somewhere else
The Booth Experience Team asked Chicago Booth’s Associate Dean of Admissions, Donna Swinford, to give advice for applicants. Learn more about what makes a successful MBA candidate.

What is Chicago Booth looking for in candidates?
First of all, there is no one type of applicant we are looking for at Chicago Booth. So leave that thought behind as soon as you open our application, and just think about telling us who you genuinely are and why you want an MBA. We believe everything you share with us is important to your candidacy. We are interested in you as a whole person, not just your test scores, or academic record, or resume bullets. Our team wants to clearly understand what it is you hope to accomplish with your degree and why Booth is the program that best empowers you to achieve those goals.

What are the common trends of the most successful applications you’ve seen?
It’s good to keep in mind your MBA candidacy is an overall package that’s comprised of various application components. None of the sections in our application stand alone, instead we review your application holistically. Successful apps are those that take advantage of every opportunity to shed light on new aspects of yourself, as opposed to reiterate information already communicated in other sections of the application.

Another common thread of successful candidacies is to share your authentic story and stay true to who you are. Every single applicant is a unique individual with a distinct motivation behind the pursuit of their MBA. Our admissions team genuinely wants to get to know the real you and what you want to achieve with your business degree. In considering the entire admissions process, the interview is really where what you provide “on paper” is substantiated and brought to life. Be yourself and come prepared to have a conversation with us!

Are there any major dos or don’ts when it comes to Booth applications?
Students at Booth have a lot of freedom to select the learning opportunities and growth experiences they want in order to champion their specific professional pathway and build skillsets critical to their post-MBA career goals. So it’s a “do” and is extremely important for applicants to help us see how you plan to utilize your time at Booth to get yourself from point A to point B.

Another “do” is to be yourself! If you’ve read my responses to the above, you probably already know that but I really want to hit home how important it is to your candidacy at Booth.

It’s a missed opportunity when applicants don’t tap into the passion behind what drives them. We’re curious about what motivates you and how that influences your MBA path.

While it’s not a do or don’t, just a piece of advice is to have someone else read through your application components and especially your essays to see what they take away from your full submission. An outside perspective can be very insightful and beneficial for fine-tuning your app, as well as making sure what you want to come across actually does.

Any other words of wisdom for applicants?
I always tell prospective students to have fun with the application! This a rare opportunity to think deeply about yourself, your future, and the impact you want to make in the world. There’s no doubt that the admissions process is lengthy and can be stressful, but I really hope you can approach it as a growth exercise instead of a tedious “check-the-box” task. When candidates truly dedicate sincere thought and energy to the application, it should be a rewarding experience and all of the hard work you put in will be worth it.