How to Get an Interview at Chicago Booth

December 3, 2012

Business School

blog-clearadmitchicagoAbout a month ago, I was invited to interview at the University of Chicago’s Booth School of Business. And while it is still a mystery as to whether I’ll end up admitted, dinged or on the wait list, what I know for sure is that a strong application strategy is what got me to the point of an interview in the first place.

If you follow my blog even somewhat regularly, then you probably already know that the advice, blog posts and forum comments of Booth ’14 Cheetarah1980 played a big part in making sure that I hit the mark. There was another “secret weapon”, however, that helped me submit a strong app; the Clear Admit School Guide for Chicago Booth.

So here’s the interesting thing about Booth. Despite its multiple (and consecutive) #1 rankings in BusinessWeek and consistent top 5 rankings in US News, it still manages to be one of the more underrated elite business schools. In fact, the data that I’ve cited viewed within the context of its popularity compared to that of its most direct competitors (H/S/W, Sloan, Kellogg, Columbia, Tuck, Haas, Stern, Yale) only bolsters my point that much more. Simply put, Booth is a fantastic school that tends to be a bit off of the radar of many quality applicants (unless they are looking to go into finance or get a masters in econ; then there’s no question–those people know without a doubt).

When I first began researching Booth, I did so sheepishly. I had been told that the school was a strong fit for my goals, but I still understood it to be a finance/econ powerhouse as opposed to an entrepreneurial one; however, that was before I found out about the $200M+ in VC funding that Booth students have raised for their ventures within the past 3 years. It was also before I realized that some of my favorite start ups like GrubHub and BrainTree (especially BrainTree) came out of that program.

Once I took the time to really look into Booth, I quickly transformed from a casual onlooker to a ferocious suitor. I began to see myself fitting in there and submitting a stellar application immediately became a high priority.

So what makes a stellar application?

Well, I don’t claim to be an expert on that. I”m neither an admissions consultant who’s seen thousands of applicant profiles (and their results) nor a member of anybody’s ad com. I also have yet to know my own final results; yet, what I do know about is the common thread that was present in the two apps that have gotten me interview invites thus far: Booth and Wharton.

The common thread in those two applications was how detailed and rigorous I was in expressing my unique fit for those schools. Some of that had to do with the fact that both schools gave me a lot of room within which to express that fit (i.e. Booth’s PowerPoint essay and Wharton’s “what would you do during  a work-free afternoon” essay; MIT’s video essay and Stanford’s “what matters most” essay provide a similar opportunity). At the same time, you won’t be getting an invite to interview if you fail at taking full advantage of that opportunity. And that’s where Clear Admit’s guide for Booth came in–at least for me (I can’t speak for anyone else).

It provided me with a wealth of information on the unique attributes of Booth. In turn, I was better equipped to pull from my own introspection and communicate how I fit into Booth’s tapestry with skill and clarity. It also didn’t hurt that the guide was easy on my wallet–a special consideration when you think of how quickly pre-MBA expenses add up (GMAT materials/classes/exam, app fees, school visits/travel/lodging/food, consultants, interview travel/lodging/food, deposit deadlines looming on the horizon, etc.).

Again, I can’t speak for anyone else. There are tons of people who are successful in getting interview invites at their top choice schools without such a guide; but I didn’t want to risk it. I wanted as much information that I could get my hands on that might give me an edge given that ~70% of everyone who applies is qualified. I was lucky to have friends that helped a great deal. And Clear Admit’s school guide for Booth helped a great deal as well.

Best of luck to all Round 2 applicants for turning in apps that get you interview invites!


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About mbaover30

Wharton MBA and admissions expert

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17 Comments on “How to Get an Interview at Chicago Booth”

  1. gaurav Says:

    thanks for the insightful post!


  2. n2739178 Says:

    thanks for the post! your blog is very inspirational to me – I am 3 weeks off 31 years old and so I’m the same boat as you – good to see that being over 30 is not an automatic write-off for these schools


  3. Rachel Says:


    Wish I started reading this long ago, you have a lot of insightful information.
    I have to say it does seem a bit biased towards clear-admit materials. All the luck in any case!


  4. bschool2013 Says:

    Interesting to point out that Booth is underrated given it’s place in the b-school landscape. I think U of Chicago in general is underrated. U.S. News consistently ranks it in the top 5 of its undergraduate rankings, yet for whatever reason it lacks the name recognition that Ivy League schools and the likes of Stanford/Northwestern/Duke have.

    My guess is the naming – elite private schools aren’t typically named after a city. Or a state for that matter – it’s amazing how many people confuse UPENN with Penn State…I’m not even kidding on this one. There are exceptions of course such as Princeton, but let’s face it, that school puts the city on the map. Chicago would exist just fine with out U of Chicago…but I digress.

    But like anything else, those in the know recognize the prestige of Univ of Chicago/Booth – there’s no need to educate the man on the street of U of Chicago’s reputation since he’s probably not hiring anyone from there anyway 🙂


    • cheetarah1980 Says:

      I think that I have expressed the exact same sentiment as you, bschool2013. My parents are only now learning just how gangsta Booth is.


    • tcho Says:

      I went to Penn, and I can tell you that there has always been a small movement to rename Penn to Franklin University. Personally, I’m in favor of the name change.


      • mbaover30 Says:

        I’d love to hear what makes you favor that name change as an alum. IMO Penn’s brand is more commensurate to the high quality of its education compared to Chicago, whose brand (among most people) shortchanges the quality of ed there. I think this is the case due to Penn’s location. If you’re in New England and your schools is fantastic, people will know about it, even if the brand is not as strong as it should be. Wharton definitely passes the brand test–I’d even say above Stanford. I didn’t know that Stanford consistently edged Wharton out in rankings until I began researching business schools. As a layman, I had always heard H/W, not H/S/W. Perhaps Trump and Deutche (sp?) have something to do with that.

  5. MK80 Says:

    MbaOver30, I commented on your page about a month back on taking my GMAT and meeting my deadlines. Guess what, I finally took my GMAt and got a 690. Infact, I had so much test anxiety while taking the GMATprep test the week before that I cancelled my practice test midway. I read your blog post and followed the ‘screw the GMAT weekend’ to the T 🙂 I stopped studying, spent a ton of time at Whole foods and even got a back massage. I walked out of the test center very happy with my score (i could have gotten another 10-20 points more but F it). Now the GMAT is out of the way, I am working on applications. Ross is first on my list. I am researching their website, and I have also purchased a ClearAdmit report. however, I still feel I am not getting the complete picture. I intend to visit the school and have a coffee chat set up with locals in the Chicago area. Is there anything else that you would recommend? thanks for reading


    • mbaover30 Says:

      Great news! You are doing all i the right things! Put a lot of thought into showing a complete and compelling picture of yourself in your essays. Focus on being very specific on why you want to go there. Find something you are in love with: an institute; a professor’s work, etc. get on the phone and get to know everyone around it. Learn details that the other 100 people who will write essays about it wont know about. Do this right, and your app will shine. I did some of that with my apps but would have been an even stronger candidate if I understood that to the degree of detail that I do now.


      • MK80 Says:

        Thanks, What is your opinion of class visits vs attending admissions events. I noticed most schools are closed around this time of this year. In that event, would you still recommend that I visit the campus and talk to current students who might be hanging around during the holidays?

      • mbaover30 Says:

        Depends in the school. Being on campus is better than info sessions, but don’t feel bad if you cant do all or most of them. Do your best.


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