The Northwestern Kellogg Video Essay

So–I just completed my Kellogg video essay (like, two minutes ago). I can’t believe what an opposite experience it was from Yale’s.

Unlike Yale’s questions, Kellogg gives you three “chances” to put your best foot forward. Also unlike Yale’s questions, you can review your performance afterward and actually view the video you made. And lastly, from what I could tell, Kellogg’s questions are actually personal, get-to-know-you-type questions that *truly* do not have wrong answers; not job interview-y questions.

All these characteristics were to my advantage and made the entire process much better, and I think I ended up doing a pretty good job. Here’s a rundown of the experience:

1) First, you test your camera/mic/technical stuff. No one sees your test clips, and no questions are asked. You just say “blah blah blah!” to the camera for 10 seconds. Then the video automatically uploads and processes (this can take some time), and you can immediately view it afterward. The video quality was shockingly low (there was some pixelation); it also uses what looks like it uses the old-school 4:3 ratio. I probably could have spent less time trying to gussy myself up because the video is tiny, and you really can’t see much detail. I also once again had flash issues on Chrome, so I used Safari instead.

2) Once your testing is done, you receive a prompt that says “Are you sure you’re ready to do the real thing?” You hit the button that says “Yes, I’m Ready to Submit Myself to Kellogg’s Judgement” button (ok, it doesn’t really say that), then an audio clip plays of someone asking your first question. The audio has the regular play/pause buttons, so you can repeat it if you’d like, but the question is also written on the screen for reference. 90 seconds start ticking down for you to think about and formulate your answer.

From what I could find online, these are real questions that people have received in the past for Kellogg’s video questions:

  • “What is one thing you’ve always wanted to try?” (this one ended up being the first and only question I got)
  • “What is one piece of technology you can’t live without?” (If I had gotten this one, I would have said RSS. I can’t live without my feeds.)
  • “What is the most interesting course you took in university?”
  • “If you could meet anyone (living or dead), who would it be and why?”
  • “What is your most treasured possession and why?”
  • “If you could teach a class on any subject, what would it be and why?”
  • “What is one interesting thing about you that you would want you future Kellogg classmates to know about you?”

I practiced on my own timing myself with Apple’s photo booth function for all of the questions above, and also practiced with some others that I thought were similar.

THE QUESTIONS BELOW ARE NOT REAL KELLOGG QUESTIONS (from what I know, at least. I mean, who knows, they could be!). I just used them for additional practice:

-What is your most cherished memory?

-What is your most favorite place?

-What is your favorite book?

-What person has most influenced you?

3) After the 90 seconds of prep time, recording automatically begins. You get 90 seconds to record your answer, and you have the ability to manually stop the recording  if you finish early. I ended up stopping the recording about 10 seconds short of the full 90.

4) The video automatically uploads and processes. This took a surprisingly long time for me…it looked like it was struggling.

5) The video appears on the screen, and you can view the recording. Some text also appears that says:

You have 2 recording attempt(s) remaining. If absolutely necessary, you may start over. On your reattempt, you will be presented with a random new question.

So I started watching my recording and was actually really happy with how it was looking. Then about a minute in, the screen froze. The audio continued on fine, but for several seconds the screen just stuck. I was on the verge of having a heart attack. Then, the video unfroze for the remainder of the recording.

I had a tough decision to make. Since the audio was fine, my complete answer was accessible. But I was missing 10 seconds of my face talking. And I had no clue what caused the hiccup. I blame their processing software–it seemed like it was having trouble when the video was uploading, and there was no clue that anything was awry during the recording itself. My internet connection is solid, and all was well with my computer. If I took a second question, I wouldn’t even be able to do anything to try to prevent that error from happening again, so it seemed very likely that it *would* happen again. I would also be taking a huge risk of throwing away a good performance for an unknown one with a completely new question. I decided it wasn’t worth the gamble. I’m sticking with my video, even though 10 seconds of it consist of my face stuck in the middle of forming an “ah” sound with my mouth.

I’m planning on submitting both my Berkeley and Northwestern applications this weekend; then I’ll have UCLA due the week after. Then I’ll be done with all my round 1 apps! I can’t wait.


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