• Its short-answer question about your immediate post-MBA goal has gone from 100 to 75 characters. Yes, that was characters, not words.
• For question 2, there is a new video to watch and the question itself is more succinct with a different focus.
Other than cutting 25 characters from the goals question, CBS has not cut essays or essay length. Still, you will need to make every word, indeed every character, count to really allow your essays to effectively and compellingly present your qualifications.
My tips are in blue below.
Applicants must complete one short answer question and three essays.
Short Answer Question:
What is your immediate post-MBA professional goal? (75 characters maximum)
Note the character limit. Your response must be less than a tweet. What do you want to do professionally and in which industry immediately after earning your MBA? You may want to provide a geographic location if it is important to your MBA goal. According to CBS, here are examples of possible responses:
“Work in business development for a media company.”
“Join a consulting firm specializing in renewable energy.”
“Work for an investment firm that focuses on real estate.”
Warning: This question is not asking about intended area of study while in business school or a non-professional goal or even a long-term goal. And the subject is assumed to be you. No need to waste characters by including “I.”
Essay 1. Given your individual background and goals, why are you pursuing a Columbia MBA at this time? (Maximum 500 words)
What aspects of your background are motivating you to pursue your MBA at Columbia now? Keep in mind that the MBA is a bridge between your past and desired future. Show Columbia why its program is the right bridge for you and now is the right time for you to be traverse this bridge.
To answer this question well, you will need to really know the Columbia program thoroughly along with why you want a CBS MBA at this point in your career. The essay that shines will do a great job of showing both fit and self-awareness.
Please view the video below:
How will you take advantage of being “at the very center of business”? (Maximum 250 words)
The video is different from the videos last year. Last year’s videos and question focused almost exclusively on the impact of Columbia’s New York City location. This year’s video incorporates that Manhattan location, but it’s more about Columbia as a center of business than NYC being the center of business. So your answer can incorporate the benefits of being at Columbia University as well as being in Manhattan. Just don’t repeat your answer to #1; this question asks you to take a broader perspective.
Watch the video and really think about the points it’s making in terms what being at the center means: Access to an infinite variety of opportunities. Proximity to thought leadership and executive leadership. Convergence of theory and practice. NYC as an — if not the — international business center.
After watching the video, think about how you intend to take advantage of the infinite opportunities and energy that reside at Columbia University and in New York City. How will you take advantage of the entrepreneurial eco-system in New York and Columbia University? The ties to bio science and pharma? the cutting-edge research and thought leadership? Not to mention the practitioners who lead Wall Street and teach at Columbia. Or will you explore the cultural riches of NYC and take advantage of the incredible business opportunities present in the arts and media?
Be careful not to speak of those opportunities in the generalities that I have. If you are interested in luxury goods marketing, as stated in your short answer, then write here about how you will take advantage of Madison and 5th Avenues as well as Columbia’s offerings. If you are interested in finance or consulting, Manhattan and all the businesses in it are at your feet. How will you benefit from this incredible location as well as the practitioners teaching at CBS?
Final point: you don’t have to address all the points raised in the video, but you do have tow rite persuasively about at least one.
Essay 3. What will the people in your Cluster be pleasantly surprised to learn about you? (Maximum 250 words)
Make sure you understand Columbia’s Cluster System.
You only have 250 words here. I would use them to bring out something fun that you like to do. Would you try to get your cluster to train for a marathon? Set up a karaoke night? Plan a ski trip? Explore New York’s museums? How have you contributed to social groups in the past? Relate you plans to a past successful initiative, and you will enhance your answer to this question.
Or perhaps you would take a slightly more serious approach to this question and discuss a challenge overcome. Show that you are a survivor, not a victim and far stronger as a result of this experience. If you take this approach, don’t make it too heavy or too personal. No TMI. You will have barely met these people.
Optional Essay. An optional fourth essay will allow you to discuss any issues that do not fall within the purview of the required essays.
Clearly you can use this optional essay question to address a weakness in your profile or qualifications, but in my mind, this question is also open-ended enough to allow you to discuss a diversity element in your personal background or simply some unique area of interest. Also, tucking a weakness explanation somewhere else would allow you to end the application with a strength and not a flaw.
Don’t use this essay as a grand finale or wrap up. And definitely don’t use it to rehash your reasons for wanting to attend Columbia; those reasons should be perfectly clear from the required essays. If you decide to respond to this essay, use it to educate the reader about another talent, interest, or commitment of yours. As always try to show leadership and impact. In short, give them more reasons to admit you.
Knight-Bagehot Fellows. Rather than answer Essay 1, Part A above, current Knight-Bagehot Fellows applying to Columbia Business School should use the space allocated to the first essay (500 words) to complete the Wiegers Fellowship application essay.
Wiegers Fellowship Essay Question. What are your career goals? How has the Knight-Bagehot Fellowship affected these goals? How will an MBA help you achieve these goals? (500 words maximum)
If you would like professional guidance with your Columbia Business School 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 CBS MBA application.
January 2015 Entry:
October 8, 2014
August 2015 Entry:
Early Decision: October 8, 2014
Merit Fellowship Consideration: January 7, 2015
Regular Decision: April 15, 2015
*All deadlines are 11:59 p.m. New York Time on the date listed.
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.