Cornell Johnson 2014 MBA Essay Tips and Deadlines

Check out our tips on how to maximize the minimalist MBA application.

Going with the recent trend in MBA applications, and indeed society, Johnson wants brevity.

Like so many programs this year, Cornell Johnson has significantly reduced the number and length of essays it is requiring of applicants this year. Essay 1 was an option last year (and I think in previous years too.); this year it is required.  Last year Johnson had two additional 400-word essays and one offered applicants 3 options.


1. You are the author for the book of Your Life Story.  In 300 words or less 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. 

2.  Instructions:  Please answer the following three questions in abbreviated format. (Keep each answer in 150 words or less)

Going with the recent trend in MBA applications, and indeed society, Johnson wants brevity.

#1 When did you decide that business school was the next step for you? (Was this an epiphany or an evolutionary process?  What was the catalyst that caused you to consider this next step?)

Here’s one possible approach to this question. First sit down and think. Jot down some notes. What was the epiphany? If it was an evolutionary process, what were the catalysts or key events on your road to this decision.

Then choose the one catalyst that was most important,  will best complement other elements of your application, and is most impressive/distinctive. Focus on it in this very short response. Discuss that moment and 1-3 key reasons it convinced you bschool is right for you. Keep in mind Johnson’s dual focus of collaboration and leadership.

#2 Johnson values people that make things happen for themselves.  Give an example of how you have initiated this for yourself.

The interesting twist on this question is “for yourself.” Have you taken an off-the-beaten-track vacation, trained for the marathon, lost a lot of weight, overcome a significant challenge, taken on a surprising level of responsibility to achieve a goal that was important to you?  Any of these kinds of activities would be good responses to this question and show that you have the initiative and drive Johnson seeks.

#3 Please describe your immediate post MBA career goals.

Straightforward MBA goals question. What do you want to do immediately after you earn your MBA and in what industry do you want to do it?  Please note this question doesn’t ask what do you want to study while at Cornell; it’s asking post-MBA. 

You can also say you would like to work for a company like Company X or Startup Y, but don’t say you only want to work for Company X unless you have been promised a job there.

Also, specificity will add to the credibility of your goal. Don’t say you want to do “finance” or you want to do “marketing.” You will be telegraphing that you haven’t really done your homework. A more thoughtful goal is usually a more specific one. For example, you can write that you want to work for a hedge fund or consult for a strategy consulting firm with a focus on emerging markets.  So research what you want to go into now and then you can reply thoughtfully to this and other schools’ goals questions.

The answer to this question should not duplicate the answer to #1, but they should make sense and it would be natural that they are related.

If you would like professional guidance with your Cornell Johnson MBA application, please consider Accepted’s MBA essay editing and MBA admissions consulting or our  MBA Application Packages, which include advising, editing, interview coaching, and a resume edit for the Cornell Johnson application. 

Cornell Johnson 2014 MBA Application Deadlines:

Application Deadline Decisions Released
Round 1 October 2, 2013 December 11, 2013
Round 2 December 4, 2013 February 5, 2014
Round 3 February 12, 2014 March 26, 2014

Linda Abraham By , president and founder of 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.

  • Linda Abraham

    If any readers would like a profile evaluation for Cornell Johnson, please provide the following information:

    1) Brief description of your full-time work experience.
    2) Your GMAT or GRE. Percentiles preferred.
    3) College info: The name of the college, your GPA or grade average, your major, year of graduation. For any graduate degrees, please provide the same info. If you grades are low, please indicate if there were extenuating circumstances.
    4) Significant college and post-college extra-curricular activities or community service, especially leadership experience.
    5) Important certifications like CFA, CPA, FSA, or CA.
    6) Your post-MBA goal.

    Or if you just have a question about MBA admissions, I’ll do my best to answer it.

    • Neesha

      Dear Ms. Abraham,

      It is quite late to apply now. But the Adcom reached out and I received good feedback. They encouraged me to give it a shot and think I have a good enough profile. In many cases, they would have asked the candidate to apply early next year.

      Would like to hear your perspective. What do you think?



      • Linda Abraham

        Obviously I know nothing about your qualifications, but if they reached out and are encouraging you to apply, I would take the encouragement seriously and apply. I don’t think they’re doing it just to collect an application fee or to boost their yield.

        Just apply quickly and apply well.


        • Neesha

          Dear Ms. Abraham,

          Thank you for your response. I appreciate it. Yes, even I thought so. I did not write about my qualifications because I have previously received feedback from you as well. So did not want to repeat things here again.

          Just wanted to get your perspective of the Adcom encouraging me to apply and not wait till next year. Thank you.


          • Linda Abraham

            You’re most welcome.

            Your name looked familiar, but without a link or reference I couldn’t place you exactly.

            In any case, if you do apply, please let me know if you get in!


          • Neesha

            Dear Abraham,

            Certainly will! Thank you ma’am.


    • Emil Philip

      Dear Ms Abraham,

      Please find the following information to evaluate my profile for Cornell Johnson:

      (1) Working in Misys Financial Software for more than 3 years.

      Multiple achievements including a promotion,5 spot awards, and the best performance rating of Role Model in all the three years.

      Currently leading a development team of 6 members.

      Gained immense knowledge in the domain of retail banking.

      Involved in multiple high stakes project including supporting the go-live of a bank, Cooperative bank of Kenya.

      (2) GMAT in the order taken:-

      GMAT: 690 (87%) QA:48 (74%) VA:36 (81%) AWA: 5.5 (81%) IR:4 (37%)

      GMAT: 700 (89%) QA:50 (88%) VA:34 (71%) AWA: 5 (60%) IR:7 (81%)

      GMAT: 740 (97%) QA:49 (79%) VA:41 (94%) AWA: 5 (60%) IR:3 (25%)

      Bachelor of Technology in Computer Science and Technology from National Institute of Technology, Calicut, one of the most premier institute of technology in India.
      GPA: 7.26/10
      Years of graduation:2007-2011

      At college, I was the marketing coordinator leading the marketing teams of two college level festivals.
      For the cultural festival, I brokered a sponsorship deal worth more than RS 400,000 between a sponsor and the college.
      For the technical festival, I managed a laptop fair, in association with a local laptop dealer, which provided laptops at discounted prices to the students.
      I managed to form a soccer club post work. Initially a club with only 8-10 players has now changed into a club with more than 20 members. Currently driving the club to take it into tournaments.

      (6) Take up a career in Technology Consulting. Use my knowledge gained in the banking domain to fill up gaps in the finance services sector.

      • Linda Abraham


        You have a competitive profile for your target programs and you may also want to consider at least trying for a higher ranked schools like MIT Sloan or Haas.