Kshitij’s Kellogg B-School Success Story

Hey there! And this week we have Kshitij with us, who got into Kellogg Graduate School of Management in 2010 Fall. He is a very close friend of mine. We went together to IIT and infact we have the same major. He is one of the nicest person I know and was took time to share his side of story with us. So enjoy the post and leave a thanks for our guest speaker to show your appreciation 🙂 And do not forget to ‘like’ the post of you liked it!

  1. Tell us a little bit about your background.
  2. Hi, My name is Kshitij Chopra. I’m currently a first year student at the Kellogg School of Management, Northwestern University. I did my undergrad from IIT Delhi in 2005, switched jobs around a bit before joining Bain & Co. in 2006 – a few months after they started their India operations. I was with them for ~4 years before leaving to pursue my MBA

  3. What made you decide to get an MBA?
  4. As a consultant, I constantly worked with income statements, balance sheets and financial valuations. Being an engineer, I sometimes felt that I lacked the accounting and finance background to be able to do my job better. So, enhancing my skill set was definitely a reason. Secondly, I had spent 4 yrs. in consulting and wanted to experience life in other industries/sectors before deciding what I want to do for the next 4-5 yrs. An MBA was perfect in the sense it would allow me to experiment with various professions (via projects/ internships) in a relatively risk-free environment.

  5. As a successful applicant, can you tell us a little bit about your strategy?

    1. How did you choose the schools you applied to?
    2. I gave my GMAT in 2007 and got a score that was decent enough not to want me to give it again. Like everyone else, I had a broad list of 10-12 schools to decide. From 2007-2010, I met up with people from almost all of these schools – at admission events in India, via web chats and seminars, by reaching out to people at work who knew someone at these schools, and in some cases, attending prospective student events on campus. All this gave me very good insight into the kind of people, and life at each of these schools. I compared this with my personal criteria of rating (brand name, school culture, location, my chances of getting admitted etc.), and came up with a final shortlist.

    3. What was your timeline?
    4. My timeline for deciding on schools was ~3yrs. When I gave GMAT, I only had 2 yrs. of work experience. And speaking with people from various schools made me realize that I still need to build on my “real-world” learnings before applying to business schools. In terms of timelines for actual essays, I started writing drafts around June-July, which gave me ~3 months before round 1 deadline. I later realized that this wasn’t enough, and my round 2 essays were much, much better than what I had sent out in round 1. So I guess, a 6-month start before the deadline is more ideal.

    5. How you approached the essays?
    6. The most difficult part of the essays was getting started. Being inherently self-effacing by nature, I found it very difficult to talk about all the seemingly great things that I have done in life. Unfortunately, it had to be done the hard way. After countless personal revisions, I asked 2-3 of my friends to give it a read through and suggest changes. After another round of changes/modifications, I asked a few of the senior consultants and managers, who had been to some of the schools to give their feedback, and made final changes based on their comments.

    7. Tips on getting recommendation?
    8. I stuck with people I had worked most with, and who I was sure will give a very good recommendation. Also, since management at Bain is very supportive of people applying to business schools, I did not face any problems there. I also tried matching getting recommendations from alumni of the school I was applying to (though that wasn’t possible in every case). One thing to note here is that if you’re applying to multiple schools, spread the recommendations out so that no one recommender feels overloaded. It also helps if people you’re asking for reccos from have themselves being through the US business school system, so they’d know how to write recommendations.

  6. What was the interview process like with Kellogg?
  7. Kellogg has two sub-parts to its application. Part one (which is due earlier) contains basic, resume-based information while part two has all the essays. Kellogg tries to interview each and every prospective student who submits part one of the application. However in my case, there was an overflow of applications and they couldn’t find enough alumni for an in-person or phone interview. So, they waived off my interview based on my part one submission. When I completed the rest of my submission, they emailed me to schedule a phone interview. But in the meantime, I had reached out to an alumnus whom I had met during the course of the admission events, and asked her to interview me. Thankfully she agreed, so as a result, I did end up having an in-person interview.

  8. What was the most difficult step for you in the entire application process?
  9. The most difficult part was getting started on the essays. As I have mentioned earlier, I was (and am still) quite uncomfortable talking highly about myself – which is what all these essays require you to do. And unfortunately, there is no easy way to overcome this. A good way to start is to make a list of all the attributes you have that you want to highlight, and match them with examples of real life situations where you displayed those qualities. Then all you have to do is to decide what attributes fit best with which essay questions, and weave them into a good story. Easier said than done, I know. But this is one situation where hard work and perseverance pay.

  10. How did you prepare for your GMAT?
  11. I actually did not get much time to prepare for my GMAT. While I had a healthy timeline when I registered for taking the exam, I got stuck in a heavy work-load project and could not give much time to preparation. In the end, I got about a month of solid, consistent preparation (2 hrs a day, and then practice tests over the weekend). I focused more on English than Math, as I felt more comfortable with numbers. In my opinion, the official guide book was one of the best resources I used. The questions in the OG, especially the tricky grammar and sentence correction ones, were the most accurate representation of how things are in the actual test. Math, as mentioned earlier, was pretty straightforward (for me at least) and any of the commonly available books are good enough. Let’s see what else….oh yaa, I got a 710 on my GMAT.

  12. What do you plan to do post MBA?
  13. I’m still experimenting with various career paths and options while at school. Talking to many of my friends and colleagues here, meeting people across different industries and companies so as to make an informed decision. Though return to consulting will always be very attractive and viable option, I still have some time before I need to decide on my full-time career, and I intend to use all of it to increase my knowledge base.


Thank you so much Kshitij! Lemme know if you need any specific help with Kellogg’s application. I will try my best to pass it by Kshitij. All the best guys and do not forget to Subscribe to GMATing. There will be more of these awesome stories coming. So keep coming back for more!

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  1. Thanks much Mukul and Kshijith.
    Its short and informative !

  2. WOW just what I was searching for. Came here by searching for
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  3. I am a B A HONS in Political Science. I am a Private Banker by profession.. I was wondering, will it be difficult for me to manage the Mathematics bit of GMAT preparation ,given the fact that I had Mathematics only till standard X…Also if you could suggest names of specific GMAT guide books to be followed and practiced..
    It was great reading your experience and how you cracked it.


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