Columbia Business School 2016 MBA Essay Tips & Deadlines

Click here for Columbia Business School's zone page.Columbia tweaked last year’s questions for this year. Relatively minor changes. Specifically:

• Its short-answer question about your immediate post-MBA goal has gone from 75 to 50 characters. Yes, that was  characters, not words. Two years ago it was a generous 100 characters. And those applicants thought they had it tough. 
• There are wording changes to all the questions. The central focus is the same as in previous years; but nuances have changes. 

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? (50 characters maximum)

Note the character limit. Your response must be less than a tweet. Actually it must be just about one third of a tweet. What do you want to do professionally and in which industry immediately after earning your MBA?  Here are CBS’ examples of possible responses:

“Work in business development for a media company.”
“Join a strategy consulting firm.”
“Launch a data-management start-up.”

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.”

Essays:

Essay 1. Through your resume and recommendations, we have a clear sense of your professional path to date. What are your career goals going forward, and how will the Columbia MBA help you achieve them? (Maximum 500 words)

They already know what’s in your resume. Don’t repeat “your career path to date” here. That’s a waste of essay real estate and means you’re not telling them anything new or answering their question.

Do tell them what you want to do after your MBA and what aspects of the Columbia MBA experience will prepare you to do it. 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.

Essay 2. Columbia Business School’s location enables us to bridge theory and practice in multiple ways: through Master Classes, internships, the New York Immersion Seminars, and, most importantly, through a combination of distinguished research faculty and accomplished practitioners. How will you take advantage of being “at the very center of business”? (Maximum 250 words)

Please watch this video before attempting to answer the question and then keep it in mind as you write.

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. Also note the emphasis in the question on bridging theory (the classroom) and practice (the opportunities that New York City provides).

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? Madison Avenue? 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 to write persuasively about at least one. 

Essay 3. CBS Matters, a key element of the School’s culture, allows the people in your Cluster to learn more about you on a personal level. What will your Clustermates be pleasantly surprised to learn about you? (Maximum 250 words)

Please watch this video to have an idea of what “CBS Matters” is about.

Make sure you understand Columbia’s Cluster System.  And if you have any lingering doubts whether this question is about professional achievement, watch the video again. It’s not.

You can use this essay 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? Or you can reveal something non-professional that is important to you.  How have you contributed to social groups or causes in the past? Relate you plans to a past successful initiative, and you will enhance your answer to this question.

Or you could take a 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, be careful to avoid TMI (too much information). 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.

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.

Columbia Business School 2016 Application Deadlines:

January 2016 Entry: October 7, 2015

Early Decision: October 7, 2015

Merit Fellowship Consideration: January 6, 2016

Regular Decision: April 13, 2016

*All deadlines are 11:59 p.m. New York Time on the date listed.

Download your copy of Navigating the MBA Maze
Linda Abraham By , 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.

Related Resources:

Podcast Interview With the Columbia Business School Admissions Team
Columbia Business School Zone
• Experiences & Advice from Columbia MBA Student Kendall Miller

  • Divya Rajpal

    1) Senior Accountant at Novartis – 6 months (Past Exp : Deloitte – Senior Accountant – 3 years)
    will have 4 yrs work ex by the time I join B-school
    2) Still working on GMAT – currently at 650 level – Target score 730
    3) Symbiosis International University (India) – GPA 3.1, BBA in Accounting and Finance, Year of Grad 2011
    4) Member of Student Govt 3 times (Sports Captain), National Level Table Tennis Player & Head of International Sports Event in college
    5) Qualified CPA – currently working on obtaining license
    6) Consulting in one of the top 3 firms – McKinsey, BCG or Bain

    Target Schools – Columbia, Stern and Ross

    • http://www.accepted.com Linda Abraham

      Divya,

      If you get the GMAT you are aiming for, you have a competitive profile for Ross. NYU Stern and CBS are stretch program.

      Also consider Darden, Duke, and Cornell Johnson.

      Linda

      • Divya Rajpal

        Thanks Linda,

        I am extremely keen on NYU Stern – is there any scope of improvement in my profile in terms of community service, or is my GPA primarily a disadvantage?

        I am co-leading a team of 3, leading an integration project of Saudi accounting activities into our team (demonstrating international experience), and developing Management Reporting which involves engaging with key stakeholders.

        Your inputs would be appreciated.

        • http://www.accepted.com Linda Abraham

          Divya,

          Your GPA is a low for Stern. Hopefully you’ll get the GMAT you are aiming for. If so by all means apply to Stern and make your case.

          You are correct that recent community service doesn’t appear on your information above and that is a bit weak, but my main point is don’t count on Stern.

          It’s a stretch. It makes sense for you to apply (if you get near your target GMAT), but don’t count on it until you are accepted.

  • ragha

    Hi Linda, could you please provide your inputs on my profile for CBS and Wharton?

    Thank you in advance!

    1) 5 years of Analytics experience (at time of application, 6 at the time of intended entry) with Bank of America during which I have been promoted before other peers, relocated from Singapore to the US and hold managerial responsibilities

    2) GMAT Q91%, V69% with an overall score of 710.

    3) Graduated from the National University of Singapore with a Bachelors in Computer Engineering (GPA of 3.7/5)

    4) Very strong extra curricular activies during College, held leadership positions at Bank of America and strong Community involvement in both Singapore and in the US. Have also received key awards as part of my involvement in these activities.

    5) Completed a post-grad Diploma in Management from London School of Economics as part of a distance education program.

    6) Post-MBA goal is to work for a Strategy Consulting firm and long term, to be in a Strategy and Business Development role in a technology firm.

    Citizenship: Indian

    Thanks

    • http://www.accepted.com Linda Abraham

      Ragha,

      You have a competitive profile although your GMAT is a tad low for both programs especially given your Indian male IT background. Everything else is strong.

      Also consider Darden, Ross, Cornell Johnson, CMU Tepper, and Duke.

      Best,
      Linda

      • ragha

        Thank you Linda, really appreciate your taking the time to provide your inputs

        • http://www.accepted.com Linda Abraham

          You’re most welcome.

  • Fall2016Applicant

    Hi Linda,

    Thanks for the above blogpost, quite useful in understanding a little more about the CBS admissions process.

    I’d be very grateful if you can assess my profile as well please. I’m looking at Columbia, Wharton & HBS.

    1) Joined Graduate Program at Barclays Investment Bank out of University in Jul 2009. Promoted to Assistant Vice President (AVP) in the Commodities Derivatives Middle Office team in Feb 2013. Joined Accenture in July 2013 as Senior Strategy Analyst within Global Commodities Strategy practice. Promoted to Strategy Consultant within 7 months in Feb 2014. Up for promotion to Engagement Manager in Dec 2015 or Jun 2016.

    2) 720 (94th Percentile)

    3) Singapore Management University | 3.34 | Major 1 – Information Systems Mgt.; Major 2 – Business | 2009

    4) Post-College: Participant, North Korea SEZ Roundtable, expected to present a session on Microfinance in Pyongyang in November | Founder, Crowdfunded Microfinance Startup (Failed) | Founder & Chairman, Cricket Club (50+ active members, teams in Singapore Cricket League & international tours, collected over $40k in membership)

    College – President, Entrepreneurship Society; Winner – Business Plan Competitions in Singapore, Beijing & HK | Vice President, Debating Society; Participant at Asian Debate Competition (AUDC) in Manila & World Debate Competition (WUDC) in Vancouver | Won Business Case Competitions in Singapore & Frankfurt | Scholar Participant, 2 week program on Entrepreneurship at Stanford University | Founder, Contact Sharing Device Startup (Failed; Funded by B-Plan competition money + University)

    5) N/A

    6) Sr Associate at Energy/Emerging Markets VC Firm

    • http://www.accepted.com Linda Abraham

      Fall2016 Applicant,

      Thanks for the feedback.

      You have a competive profile for HBS, Columbia, and Wharton. You may also want to consider Stanford, Booth, and Kellogg.

      Best,
      Linda

      • Fall2016Applicant

        Thanks a lot for your quick response, Linda!

        I guess I did not mention that I am an Indian national. Does that affect my chances at any school in particular? Or does it mean that I should be retaking the GMAT? Also, I am due to become a Singaporean citizen over the next couple of months. Will that affect my chances positively / negatively in any way?

        How best can I engage with you directly further?

        Thanks again!

        • http://www.accepted.com Linda Abraham

          Fall2016Applicant,

          You’re welcome!

          You have such distinctive experience, especially the North Korean part of it, that I don’t think you need you need to do anything but effectively present yourself. Your legal citizenship isn’t a big deal. The fact that you are an Indian national means competition is greater, but again, your experience is very distinctive.

          I can’t guarantee acceptance, but you are definitely not cookie cutter or typical.

          If you would like help with your MBA applications, please let me know.

  • agamemnonas

    Hello, Linda. I just came across your website and it’s really something! Thanks for all the tips.

    Below is my profile for evaluation.

    1) Internship at Unilever in brand management (5 months); Internship in a small private equity firm as a financial analyst, making valuations and presentations for investors and management (4 months); Full-time consultant at Mckinsey, in a fellowship joint-program with a large retail chain aimed at forming people for strategic positions at the company (4 months); Full-time financial analyst at top 3 bank in Brazil (6 months); Full-time project management analyst, working as the main responsible for financial planning and control in a US$200+ infrastructure project in Brazil’s largest company (3 years already, ongoing).

    2) GMAT: 760

    3) Business Administration, Universidade de São Paulo (USP), grade 62%. There’s no GPA conversion, but it’s below the 50th percentile of the class, probably my biggest weakness, wasn’t as serious a student as I am now. Could my GMAT and CFA performance compensate for it?

    4) Started pursuing a second degree in Law at a top 3 Brazilian university on the field, being approved in a selection with more than 50 candidates per vacancy. Working in the foundation of a new political party, with activities on several work groups, such as the development of the organizational structure and funding. No significant leadership experience though.

    5) Passed all 3 CFA exams, shall be awarded the certification upon completion of the required years of relevant work experience.

    6) To leverage my MBA and new skills to grow in the organization I currently work on, the largest in the country, partly state-owned, so important for the economy that a crisis it got into recently has by itself shed a few decimal points from the whole country GPD growth numbers, and, later on, use it to lauch a political career.

  • Mari T

    Hello Linda Abraham,

    Could you, please, let me know which B-school MS in finance is an appropriate fit for me.
    I am 23 and finishing university this year, BBA
    1) Given a medal at Physical-mathematical school for being a distinguished Schoolgirl;
    2) GPA 3.65;
    During my studies was given a chance to study one semester at UNYP, finished studies with excellence;
    3) GMAT score 720 (93 percentile);
    4) Manager and Founder of a learning Center with GGI Group collaboration;

    Courses taught: Finance, Accounting and different software, mostly used by small and medium companies in Georgia;
    5) A year working experience in financial department at one of the leading Georgian banks;
    6) Switched the working place to another bank, a member of one of the Leading Russian Groups; Same field, better position;
    7) ACCA Qualifications – F1,F2,F3,F7;
    8) Volunteering in NGOs and implementing variety of art projects; some of the them became an annual festival in Georgia;
    9) Former vocalist of the musical band;

    Thank You!

    • Mari T

      Please answer @LindaAbraham:disqus
      Thanks in advance

    • http://www.accepted.com Linda Abraham

      Mari,

      Look into MIT Sloan, Berkeley Haas, Chicago, Columbia.

      Best,
      Linda

      • Mari T

        So glad to hear :)
        Thanks a lot again

  • Charles Borland

    Hi, Linda – thanks in advance for your feedback!

    1) I am a full-time actor (no other job) based in NY (Leading, guest-starring and recurring roles in over 20 television shows and films, such as House of Cards, Homeland, Blue Bloods, Premium Rush, L&O, etc., and I have appeared in over a dozen plays on Broadway, off-Broadway, and regionally (Ex: Shakespeare in the Park, Roundabout, MTC, Kennedy Center, etc.). I am also currently working on two entrepreneurial ventures that straddle the tech and storytelling sectors.

    2) 710 GMAT 92% (48 quant)

    3) 2001 Juilliard Drama graduate (BFA): 3.061 GPA. (This is almost meaningless, however. Prior to 2010 Juilliard didn’t have GPA’s and has never administered class rankings. Also, the drama division does not grade above a B, so my GPA is actually highly competitive within the strict parameters set by the drama division.) I have also completed three courses for college credit from both Harvard and UC Berkeley to supplement my rather weak academic and quant backgrounds, receiving grades of A, A, & A-.

    4) Since 2011, I have volunteered as a Team Leader for NY Cares, where I currently tutor SAT math in tandem with Kaplan Prep. Prior to this year, I also created a reading comprehension program via theater at PS 261 K in Brooklyn as a Team Leader for NY Cares.

    5) No special certifications (unless you count being a theatrical “fight instructor” in England – which I don’t).

    6) I am attempting to pole vault from the creative side of the entertainment industry to the business side by leveraging my existing strengths (creative) and combining those strengths with an MBA. While attending school, I would continue working on my entrepreneurial ventures, but am also very interested in business development and/or content development at a leading non-linear content company such as Netflix or tech company that has its eyes set on content development.

    7) I am interested in Columbia’s J-Term, am 43 years old (this must be borderline too old, but I believe the J-Term skews older), and have also already applied to NYU’s part-time program, which provides lower cost and more flexibility.

    Thank you!

    • http://www.accepted.com Linda Abraham

      Charles,

      Columbia is a stretch for you. You certainly have a chance, but frankly your profile is highly unusual and very difficult to assess. Give it a try.

      But also consider back-ups. Perhaps CBS EMBA , UCLA eMBA or FEMBA.

      Best,
      Linda

      • Charles Borland

        Ha! I know it’s a tough assessment! I’ve already made contacts at CBS and one of the collaborators in the business I’m creating is a CBS and School of the Arts professor. Plus, one letter of rec is from a CBS alum. It’s all debits and credits I guess. Hopefully, my application tips more towards the credit side. Thanks again for the feedback. I appreciate it.

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  • Charan

    1) Worked as a Systems Analyst Intern in India. Three years of experience at a global fortune 500 company in the US(Indiana) by the time of joining MBA as a Business Analyst working on Enterprise Resource Planning implementation project. Working on several global assignments from time to time (though not traveling). Promoted once. – 3.5 years – too little experience?
    2) GMAT 700 (Q 49 – 79% V36 – 82%) – Retaking the GMAT to get a 740+ score ( please advise taking the expected score into consideration).
    3) Master’s – University of Florida – School of Business (Information Systems and Operations Management) (GPA – 3.24); Undergrad – Electrical and Electronics Engineering Kakatiya Univeristy, India – GPA (67%) – low grades significant effect? Master’s – will it help or deter my chances?

    4) Keyboard(piano) player – performed multiple times at undergrad level, amateur golfer, several leadership roles through undergrad and master’s and currently in job, volunteering during part time actively and helping some organizations with business cases, etc.,
    5) None – would that be a problem?

    6) Post MBA – product management for tech industry – again ( because this might not be consistent with my past experience, will it be a problem and hinder my chances?)
    Please advise on my prospects and some of the other schools I should consider applying

    • http://www.accepted.com Linda Abraham

      EVen assuming a 740, Columbia is a stretch. Your undergrad and grad GPA are low for Columbia. Unless you have some really impressive experience I recommend you consider other programs like UT Austin, UW Foster, UCLA, Duke, and Cornell Johnson, and UNC.

      Best,
      Linda Abraham

      • Srinivasa Charan Giddu

        Linda,
        Thank you so much for your response. I really appreciate the feedback. I kind of imagined Columbia would be a stretch. My target schools are Stern, Yale, Duke and Darden. Please let me know how my chances would be with those schools.

        Thanks,
        Charan

      • Charan

        Linda,
        Thank you so much for your response. I really appreciate
        the feedback. I kind of imagined Columbia would be a stretch. My target schools are Stern, Yale, Duke and Darden. Please let me know how my chances would be with those schools.

        Thanks,
        Charan

        • http://www.accepted.com Linda Abraham

          I think you’re aiming a little too high. I suggest you choose at most 2 from CBS, Stern, Yale, and Duke and then apply to maybe 4 others from Darden and the schools I suggested.

          Best,
          Linda

          • Charan

            Linda,
            Is it down to my low grades? What aspect of my profile do you think can be improved in order to compensate for that? I was really hoping that my specialized Master’s from a Business school was going to help me. If that is not the case, do you think waiting one more year and getting more experience would make any difference to the situation – because I am fairly confident of getting onto some great global projects at work in the next 12 months.

            Thanks,

            Charan

  • mbadude

    Hi Linda

    Below are the details of my profile.

    1. 2 years as Supply chain Manager in TATA Motors Limited. 2 years as a Program Manager in the same company. Have worked on key projects and saving the company worth 200 -300 Million USD. Part of company’s Talent pool and have received many leadership awards. Got short marketing experience where I have consulted CEOs of a couple of leading TATA Companies to enhance customer acquisition.

    2. GMAT 720- Q50(88%), V38(85%), IR 8, AWA 6
    3. Jadavpur University….Production Engineer…….2011……GPA – 8.70/10
    4. Extra curricular –
    COllege- Assistant General SEcretary – Students’ Union
    Post Graduation – Secretary in an NGO.
    5. CFA-APpear in June 2016/SIx SIgma Green Belt- Appearing In december 2015.
    6. Post MBA goal- Leverage on operations background to join as an operations consultant in a good management consulting firm.
    WHat are my chances at CBS, DUKE, EMORY, DARDEN, UNC??

  • Akinyemi

    1. 1.5 years as a transmission Engineer for
    Huawei (Second largest telecommunication provider ) in Nigeria. 1.5 years as Technical Process & Quality
    Manager at AT&T Wireless in Dallas Tx.

    2. 328 GRE ; Q 168 (95%) V160(84%)

    3. Undergrad at Ladoke Akintola University of
    Tech OYO, Nigeria (3.7/5.0) , Electrical Engineering , Graduate at Texas
    A&M University , Kingsville TX (4.0/4.0) , Electrical Engineering.

    4. Soccer assistant coach for my church team,
    working with Marriot hotel serving food to orphanage originations around Dallas area and provide web infrastructure to small scale organization in Nigeria.

    5. PMP(project management professional ) , CCNP(Certified Cisco
    Networking Professional )

    6. Management Consulting with focus on Organizational
    Transformation (people, technology & systems)

    • http://www.accepted.com Linda Abraham

      You have a competitive profile for Columbia. also consider Kellogg, Haas, MIT, and Vanderbilt.

      Best,
      Linda

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  • magoosta32

    Hi Linda,

    I was hoping to get your perspective on my profile.
    I’ll be taking the GMAT again to hopefully push my score above 700 next
    month, and am planning to apply this year ED/EA/Rd 1 to CBS (top choice,
    father/aunt/uncle went there, lots of friends have been/currently going
    there, and girlfriend’s father teaches there occasionally), NYU and
    Tuck, and then second round to Yale and Cornell if needed. My profile is
    as follows:

    1) Work Experience: 5yrs working in NYC at a premier
    bulge bracket bank in three different roles: mortgage originations for
    2.5yrs (promoted from analyst to associate after two years and
    trained/mentored 2 analysts), lending specialist for 1.5yrs, private
    equity/hedge fund structuring and product development for 1yr (current
    position).

    2) GMAT: 670 (60-70% Quant, 80-90% Verbal) – taking again in a month, targeting 720, hoping to settle for at least 700

    3)
    Education: went to premier boarding school then graduated from a Top 20
    liberal arts college in the Northeast (not Williams/Amherst, but second
    tier, comparable to Haverford, Davidson, etc), History major (very
    difficult), 3.0 cumulative GPA weighed down by 2.5 avg of first two
    years at school. I pledged a fraternity freshman year which impacted
    studies, but eventually became Vice President of said fraternity. My
    average GPA was 3.5 for my last two years and I was on Dean’s List for
    the final 3 semesters. A Tale of Two Cities…do you recommend I use the
    supplemental essay to address this weakness?

    4) 5yrs involvement
    with my firm’s volunteer group doing various volunteer events and am
    co-chair of the Drives Committee. I also volunteer for a local food
    rescue organization and have active involvement in growing the business
    (we’ve expanded from 1 to 7 cities over the past year). Am also
    partnering with a friend to scale a food business, the products of which
    are sold from local farmers markets and popup tents.

    5) Certifications: none (aside from securities licenses)

    6)
    Post-MBA: business development at a FinTech startup, with particular
    focus on marketplace lending. Am currently interviewing and networking
    in the space and hoping to secure a job before i even apply to school to
    get experience and because there’s no guarantee i even get in to a
    school so why wait? Thoughts on positioning if i do/don’t get a new job
    by application time?

    * I don’t plan on getting a recommendation
    from my current manager despite being in role for ~1yr because my prior
    two managers have had more experience with me and can speak more fully
    about my candidacy. More importantly, given that i am currently
    interviewing for startups, i don’t want to engage my current manager for
    a recommendation and then if i get a job before applying and jump ship
    then i risk having a poor recommendation. Do you have any thoughts on
    this as well?

    Thanks again, and I look forward to hearing back!

    Best,
    Magoosta

    • http://www.accepted.com Linda Abraham

      Magoosta,

      Your work experience and community service are solid. Clearly the academic stats are your weak points. Assuming you get that 720 and that much of the improvement comes on the quant score, I would say that NYU, CBS and Tuck are stretches, although the legacy factor, upward grade trend, and work experience could push you over at CBS.

      I think you are wise to apply R1/ED etc. to these programs With an increased GMAT, you are competitive at your R2 schools. So hopefully you make it R1, but if not you are being more realistic R2. If you are willing to consider left coast, look into UCLA.

      Best,

      • magoosta32

        Thank you very much for the reply, Linda. Two quick follow ups: should I address grade weakness in supplemental essay? do i have a legitimate reason for not getting a recommendation from my current manager, and should my rationale also go into the supplemental essay? i don’t want to raise a flag if it’s not necessarily a big deal.

        • http://www.accepted.com Linda Abraham

          Magoosta32,

          You should address the GPA in the additional info sections.

          Regarding the reason you chose not to ask your current supervisor for a rec, that depends on the school, but in most cases just a succinct to-the-point statement would be a good idea. Look at the recommendation instructions.

          • magoosta32

            Thanks Linda, I greatly appreciate the advice.

  • Andres del Cos

    Hello Linda,

    I just found out this article.

    • http://www.accepted.com Linda Abraham

      Adelcos,

      While CBS, Tuck, and Kellogg would love your international background, the international nature of your work experience and education (not to mention multi-lingual abilities), I’m not sure those elements would be enough to overcome the GMAT, which at 670 is still significantly below the average for your target schools.

      Nonetheless you certainly have a chance. Give these schools a try but also apply to program where you would be more in the ballpark. Conisder UT Austin, UNC, Yale, Duke, and Cornell Johnson.

  • Grant Ransom

    1. Fund Sales at Private Equity/Credit Firm for 3 years. Top performer with great recs

    2. 750 (98%)
    3. BA in Economics at Princeton University. 2.9 GPA. Graduated in 2011.
    4. College: Varsity Football, 2 Year Starter, Unity Council Member, Cottage Club Member
    Post College: Group Organizer for Parkinson’s Unity Events, Board Member of Youths Represents, a Non-Profit helping youth affected by early arrests

    5)
    6) In my current job, i sell a fund to financial advisors where we lend to private businesses. I would like to move over to deal side and CBS would provide me the opportunity to learn more about these business and industries.

    • http://www.accepted.com Linda Abraham

      Grant Ransom,

      That GPA hurts. Any extenuating circumstances other than the varsity football? Everything else is competitive. The question: Will CBS overlook the GPA in light of the positives. I don’t know. The only way to find out is to apply. I’m not optimistic, but it is possible. Also apply to Booth, Yale, NYU Stern, LBS.

      • Grant Ransom

        Hi Linda,

        Thank you very much for your feedback. It is extremely helpful.

        You’re right, the GPA is likely not up to snuff compared to most CBS candidates. However, i am hoping that admissions may overlook this and instead focus on being a full time athlete with time consuming activities while attending a top university. Also of note, my GPA was above 3.0 my entire tenure until a poor, controversial thesis grade knocked it down at the very end. Let me know you’re thoughts.

        Thanks again!

        • http://www.accepted.com Linda Abraham

          Grant,

          I can’t really have any thoughts on the controversial grade because I don’t know the nature of the controversy or what that grade was.

          I do know that a dip in GPA at the end is not good.

          Linda

  • Daniella

    Hi Linda,

    Please review my profile. I´m thinking of applying to CBS J-term.

    1) 1year in Public Relations Firm in NYC, 1.5yrs in supermarket chain in trade
    marketing in Costa Rica, 6 months hospitality company (marketing coordinator)
    in Costa Rica.
    2) GMAT 700 – 710 target score (taking it in August)
    3) NYU, GPA 3.623, B.S. in Food Studies, Business Studies
    minor.
    4) Tennis, working out (concerned with health and well-being),
    blogging in personal blog. Organize fundraising
    event for children´s orphan in Costa Rica.
    5) N/A
    6) Marketing in one of NYC´s top marketing firms (USHG, Denihan,
    Batali & Bastianich).

    • http://www.accepted.com Linda Abraham

      Daniella,

      If you get your target score, you have a competitive profile for CBS, but also apply to other programs. If you want to stay in NYC, NYU Stern is an obvious option. If not, consider Kellogg, Duke, Ross, Yale, and Tuck .

  • Sai

    Hi Linda,

    Okay I’m looking to apply this year. I do not have stellar academics but I do have sound reasoning for why I want to pursue an MBA. MY GMAT is 680. Yea I know and I’m an Indian female too. Not an IITian and not working for any blue chip firms. I graduated in 2013 as an Electronics major from a top rated state school.

    I actually work for a grassroot org as a HR manager, a role I created for myself. I love working with youth and have special interest in women and youth empowerment. My ground level experience and cultural stipulations have strongly shaped my need for an MBA. I have a burning desire to chart a path in social enterprise and create a platform that merges all the above. I started volunteering right out of college and my decision to pursue was quite organic.

    My % is 72.5 and I have extensive experience volunteering for different causes.

    What do you think?

    • http://www.accepted.com Linda Abraham

      I think your chances at CBS are very slim, but it is not the only program on the planet that support your goals.

      Have you considered Wash U, Georgetown, Darden, or Vanderbilt?

      • Sai

        Thanks Linda. Those are some of the programs I’m looking at as well. Apart from Yale and UCLA, would the others also be high reach programs for me?

        • http://www.accepted.com Linda Abraham

          Sai,

          Other than the fact that you are less experienced than the norm, your stats would be competitive at these programs.

          Maybe Darden is a bit of a stretch, but they are all reasonable for you.

  • rostove

    Dear Linda

    1) 1.5 yrs as FX trader in Shanghai and 2 yrs sell side equity research in Taiwan (promoted once)
    2) GMAT 740, 97%
    3) Dep. of International Business, National Taiwan University, 2010. GPA 3.7/4
    4) One year service as officer in Navy. Funded a board game and publish it. Softball player and won several regional rewards.
    5) CFA Level III passed, expected to be chart holder in Dec.
    6) Top fund manager in China region.
    Thanks a lot for your help

  • Achu

    Hi Linda,

    I’m working as an Analyst/Consultant role in a corporate function in one of the top 3 IT consultancy companies in India. I have a total work-ex of 3 years. Role responsibilities includes change management of internal platforms and initiatives, and business process modelling and solutioning. Through the change management intiatives, I’ve managed multiple CFT’s to work towards a goal and in the BPM aspect, I’ve worked on re-imagination/digitisation of existing organizational processes and development of the solutions, by leading multiple teams of 10-15 associates over 1.5 years.
    Have led multiple organisational feedback initiatives as well, and their inputs formed a significant portion of the corporate business planning of the past two years.

    My Acads:
    *Bachelors in Computer Science with ~69% (This is an absolute percentage. Class topper has around 78% and University topper has around 82%, If I use WES GPA conversion chart for India, my GPA, in US GPA scale, will be around 3.3)
    *MBA with ~7.1/10 GPA.
    *In addition, I’m pursuing CFA, currently a Level II Candidate.

    Total professional work-ex is 3 years, which is entirely gained after the first MBA(2012)

    Extra Info:
    * Experience in running a startup web/mobile application development firm with a peak of 30+ firms as clientele (during my Bachelors and Masters). The startup and few responsibilities ( Technical & Cultural event organiser for two years, Led the core Media&Communication and Web CMS team) in the college possibly affected a middle semester in my Undergrad performance.
    *Now guiding two firms (one of which took over the client base of my startup as I decided to take up a professional workex) as an external consultant on both technical and business aspects.
    *Have organized multiple turtle walks, outreach programmes (middle/lower school student teaching) w/ aid from the current organization’s HR functions.

    My GMAT is 740 97%ile – Q49 78%ile – V41 94%ile – IR8 92%ile.

    I’m aiming for a second MBA to shift my career profile as I’m looking at a target career profile in a financial services firm.
    Since my previous MBA was an analytics focussed one rather than a finance based program, I want to realign and get exposure in the relevant area now, geographically and education wise.

    Will it be a stretch if I apply for Booth?. My long list of schools as of now includes Booth/CBS/Tepper/Stern. Looking forward to your suggestions. Thank you.

    I’ve asked the same query in Booth 2015 Essay page, did not realise that it is an old page till i read the entire thread. Kindly ignore that post.

    • http://www.accepted.com Linda Abraham

      Achu,

      Ok. I will ignore the Booth post. That’s easy. :-)

      I do think your undergrad GPA and prior MBA are negatives. Are they surmountable hurdles? You can only find out by applying. You do have a chance at Booth, Columbia, etc. and should apply if they appeal to you. But don’t count on them. Also consider Yale, Cornell, and Georgetown. You have a competitive profile for Tepper and probably NYU Stern.

      For all programs, you will need to be more specific about why you want an MBA given that you already have one. What do you want to do (not study) that you can’t do with your current MBA and will be able to do with a second MBA?

      If you’d like help with your application, please let me know.

      • Achu

        Hi Linda,

        Thanks for giving a really helpful reply. :).

        The reason for the second MBA is to shift my career from the current role to an IB/PE related role. It is feasible to do that transition in India with the current MBA as I might have to sacrifice with an transition into related roles such as a FI/Credit Analyst or as a Functional Analyst. This is due to lack of the proper orientation in terms of the exposure and experience which I had after the initial MBA (Engineering graduate with 0 experience with an MBA), and the current Work-ex..

        A second MBA will help me realign to my dream career, not through the education alone but in terms of exposure as well. Will it be a hindrance for a +ve ad-com decision if I honestly explain this over the essays?.

        • Achu

          Sorry. Made a couple of typos when i slashed down the content. What I meant was that it is not feasible to do the transition with the Engg. background and 0 workex in the exact area where I want to move into.

          +I would really grow as a person from the global exposure I would gain from the campus and alum as well.

          • http://www.accepted.com Linda Abraham

            If you are specific in your reasons they will give you serious consideration, but “global exposure” is something very general. You can get it in lots of ways and lots places.

            Linda

  • jtares

    Hi Linda,

    Would you mind reviewing my profile? I know my GPA and low GMAT are likely going to hold me back from CBS. Would like your input for other universities in the US top 15 as well. I’m a 29 year old Canadian (Ethnicity is Chinese)

    1) 5.5 years with a major European oil company (Market cap 250B) and 1.5 years with a major American oil company (Market cap 70B). Roles starting off as a junior engineer and now act a project manager. 2 direct reports within the company but currently manage third party engineering companies with staffs of 50+ reports to complete projects upwards of $200 million. All previous history has related to engineering design for gas plants and project management.

    2) GMAT – 650 (Q: 58%) (V:86%) – Can’t remember the exact numbers but it was around these.

    3) College: University of British Columbia (Canada); Mechanical Engineering, 2008. GPA 76% – I think this translates to a 3.1

    4) Volunteer with habitat for humanity, drop in center (Non exec-positions)

    5) Professional Engineer, Project Management Professional, Steam Certificate (Trade ticket)

    6) Transition to strategic consulting

    • http://www.accepted.com Linda Abraham

      jtares,

      Your experience sounds great but those academic stats are going to hurt you at CBS and similar programs. Would you consider retaking the GMAT (which you would need to do anyways if you seriously want to get into strat consulting)?

      Linda

      • jtares

        Hi Linda, thanks for the reply! I will probaby end up re-taking the GMAT; looking for a score around 710. Was wondering what options I would have if I did and did not re-take it though? Would Michigan, NYU or UCLA be options?

  • agamemnonas

    Hello, Linda. I just came across your website and it’s really something! Thanks for all the tips.

    Below is my profile for evaluation. I’ll be a Brazilian 29 yo white latino at the time of the application. Besides Portuguese, I speak English and Spanish fluently, French in an advanced level and I’m currently studying Russian by myself, as an intelectual challenge, in which I currently have an intermediate level.

    1) Internship at Unilever in brand management (5 months); Internship in a small private equity firm as a financial analyst, making valuations and presentations for investors and management (4 months); Full-time consultant at Mckinsey, in a fellowship joint-program with a large retail chain aimed at forming people for strategic positions at the company (4 months); Full-time financial analyst at top 3 bank in Brazil (6 months); Full-time project management analyst, working as the main responsible for financial planning and control in a US$200+ infrastructure project in Brazil’s largest company (3 years already, ongoing).

    2) GMAT: 760

    3) Business Administration, Universidade de São Paulo (USP), graduated in june 2010, grade 62%. There’s no GPA conversion, but it’s below the 50th percentile of the class, probably my biggest weakness without much to say in order to explain it. I just wasn’t as serious a student as I am now. Could my GMAT and CFA performances and my language skills compensate for it? I don’t come from a privileged background, so besides 2 years of paid english classes when I was young, I learned all the rest by myself.

    4) Started pursuing a second degree in Law at a top 3 Brazilian university on the field, being approved in a selection with more than 50 candidates per vacancy. Working in the foundation of a new political party, with activities on several work groups, such as the development of the organizational structure and funding. No significant leadership experience though.

    5) Passed all 3 CFA exams, shall be awarded the certification upon completion of the required years of relevant work experience.

    6) To leverage my MBA and new skills to grow in the organization I currently work on, the largest in the country, partly state-owned, so important for the economy that a crisis it got into recently has by itself shed a few decimal points from the whole country’s GPD growth numbers, and, later on, use my experience and connections to lauch a political career.

    In the long run, what I really want to do is to work in government. If you could evaluate my profile for Harvard Kennedy School’s public policy master program, I would be very glad.

    Thank you!

  • http://www.accepted.com Linda Abraham

    agamemnonas ,

    Thanks for the feedback.

    I’m less familiar with HKS than HBS, but my sense is pretty much the same as yours. Your GMAT and CFA are strong. Your experience is competitive. your language skills are a plus. Your grades are weak. It will boil down to whether HKS wants to overlook your undergraduate grades.

    The same is true of Columbia or any top MBA program. It’s possible they will so please proceed.

  • agamemnonas

    Thanks very much, Linda. I haven’t even thought about applying until recently due to my low grades as an undergraduate, thinking that I would be solemnly ignored no matter what I did to try to compensate for it. The CFA, although not really appropriate to the activity I do now, was in great part an effort to build an alternative curriculum to show, but I did it half-heartedly, not really thinking it would be of any help.

    I know it’s an uphill battle for me and that my chances are slim, but your words make me feel a little more confortable, a little less ashamed of trying – I even felt ridiculous just thinking about it, imagine that! As there’s no downside in trying (besides the not-so-lows financial costs, but then again, I’m thrifty with other things so not to be on these), I think I’ll do it.

    Really, thanks Linda.