Cornell Johnson has released its 2013 MBA Application Essay Questions. My tips are in blue below.
As it did last year, Cornell Johnson asks you to respond to three questions. It dumped last year’s “legacy” question and this year gives applicants three options in responding to Part III. One of those options is last year’s “Table of Contents” question, which was then required.
Cornell Johnson 2013 MBA Essay Questions
Part I: Career Choice Essay (300 word maximum)
How would you characterize your career since college?
This is not your job description or complete history of your work since graduating (we already ask for that in the online portion and can see this on your resume). You need to choose the most important elements that show your initiative, contribution, leadership and results achieved.
There are lots of different ways to approach this question, but you only have 300 words. Hmmm. Has your career been marked by initiative, successful risk-taking, leadership, communication skills, creativity, multi-cultural exposure, insightful analysis, lightening fast career progression, responsibility beyond your years, or something that as atypical or shatters expectations? Any of those and perhaps up to three of those characteristics could be the focus of your career choice essay. Then tie each characteristic to a particular achievement.
Another approach: choose one experience that exemplifies the 2-3 characteristics that have marked your post-college career. Set the stage with a short anecdote revealing what you actually did and the results achieved. Then analyze what made you successful, showing the qualities that have marked your career and alluding to events from your resume and job history that revealed those same elements.
Part II: Career Goal Essay (400 word maximum)
Tell us about your short and long term career goals.
Please show you have a clear direction for your goal post-MBA. Good essays will emphasize what an applicant wants to do while at Johnson and how you will use this experience to accomplish your goal.
This is a classic MBA goals question. What are your immediate professional goals after you earn your MBA? How will they help you achieve your longer terms goals? What do you want to be doing in 5, 10, or even twenty years. Your short-term goal should be fairly specific and include function industry. The longer term vision can be fuzzier.
The directions that Cornell appends to this question are critical. How will Johnson help you achieve your goals? Study the program and student life at Cornell. What do you want to study there? What opportunities would you like to take advantage of? Tie the answers to these questions to your goals.
Part III: Character Essay (400 word maximum for chosen question), please choose one of the following to write about:
The first question you must answer before starting Part 3 is “Which do you answer?” Response: the one that, when added to Parts 1 & 2, allows you to present the most impressive, authentic, and comprehensive picture of you.
a. You are the author for the book of Your Life Story. Please write the table of contents for the book. Note: Approach this essay with your unique style. We value creativity and authenticity.
Have a little fun with the question. You certainly have a lot of options and flexibility here. You can reveal something about your youth, influential experiences or people, challenges, hobbies, interests, passions… Perhaps where you intend to be in 30 years. It’s Your Life Story.
b. Describe a situation taken from your personal or professional life where you failed and tell us what you learned.
An opportunity to show resilience, maturity, and the ability to learn from mistakes! That’s the way to look at failure questions. Tell what happened, what you learned, and how in a similar, more recent situation you applied those lessons to handle the situation successfully. This would also be a great place to bring out a non-professional side of you.
c. What does diversity mean to you and how will you contribute to the diversity of our community at Johnson?
Avoid the theoretical treatise on diversity here. Show more than tell what it means to you by writing a time when you have encountered and embraced diversity. How will your past encounters with difference and diversity help you to contribute to a distinctive element in your background to Johnson?
For those of you from “over-represented groups,” realize that every single applicant out there has to show that he or she belongs to a group of 1. The purpose of the application is to introduce you to the admissions staff as individuals. For some applicants, that task is easier; for you it is a little harder, but it is the same task. If you choose to answer this question, and you may prefer to answer one of the other two questions, focus on the elements of your background that you don’t share with large elements of the applicant pool.
If you would like professional guidance with your Cornell Johnson application, please consider Accepted’s MBA essay editing and MBA admissions consulting or our Cornell Johnson School Packages, which include advising, editing, interview coaching, and a resume edit for the Johnson MBA application.
Cornell Johnson 2013 MBA Application Deadlines
|Round 1||October 17, 2012||December 19, 2012|
|Round 2||November 28, 2012||February 20, 2013|
|Round 3||January 30, 2013||April 3, 2013|
|Round 4||March 27, 2013||April 24, 2013|
By Linda Abraham, president and founder of Accepted.com and co-author of the new, definitive book on MBA admissions, MBA Admission for Smarties: The No-Nonsense Guide to Acceptance at Top Business Schools.