This Columbia MBA Application tip post is one of a series of posts providing MBA application and essay advice for applicants to top MBA programs around the world. Check out the entire 2012 MBA Application Tips series for more valuable MBA essay advice.
Columbia’s instructions and question are in black below; my comments and tips are in blue:?
In addition to learning about your professional aspirations, the Admissions Committee hopes to gain an understanding of your interests, values and motivations through these essays. How you answer these essays is at your discretion, there are no right or wrong answers and we encourage you to answer each question thoughtfully.
Dual Degree applicants: Please address the following questions within your response to Essay 1: How will the Dual Degree enhance your post-MBA and long-term professional goals?
Reapplicants: If you have applied to Columbia Business School within the past year, you are required to answer the “What is your post-MBA professional goal? ” question and submit the reapplication essay. If your last application was more than one year ago, you must answer Essays 1, 2 and 3.
What is your post-MBA professional goal? (200 Characters)
Note the character limit. This response must be short and sweet. What do you want to do professionally in which industry? You may want to provide a geographic location if you have one and it is important to your MBA goal.
Warning: This question is not asking about intended area of study while in business school or a non-professional goal.
Considering your post-MBA and long term professional goals, why are you pursuing an MBA at this point in your career? Additionally, why is Columbia Business School a good fit for you? (Maximum 750 words)
This question is slightly different from last year’s #1, which was “What are your short-term and long-term post-MBA goals? How will Columbia Business School help you achieve these goals?” Since you will have stated your post-MBA professional goal in the previous answer, you can use this question to explain why you want to pursue the degree now. What experiences convinced you that you need the education provided at Columbia?
CBS is looking for fit and thought here. How will Columbia’s program — not its reputation or ranking — help you achieve your goals? Which of Columbia’s strengths and assets are necessary for you to achieve your goals and fill in the gaps that motivate you to pursue an MBA now?
Describe a life experience that has shaped you. The goal of this essay is to get a sense of who you are, rather than what you have achieved professionally. (Maximum 500 words)
Do you have any defining moments? What was a seminal experience in your development and maturation? What happened? What was the impact upon you? What do you do differently as a result? This is an excellent place to provide a glimpse into the non-professional side of you.
Essay 3 (Select and answer one of the below)
Option A: The annual A. Lorne Weil Outrageous Business Plan Competition is a student initiative managed and run by the Columbia Entrepreneurs Organization (CEO). The competition encourages Columbia MBA students to explore creative entrepreneurial ideas that are sufficiently ambitious in scope and scale to be considered “outrageous.” Students explore these ideas while learning firsthand what goes into the development and presentation of a solid business proposal.
Develop your own “outrageous” business idea. In essay form, compose your “elevator pitch.” (Maximum 250 words)
Option B: Columbia deeply values its vibrant student community, the building of which begins at orientation when admitted students are assigned to clusters of 65 to 70 fellow students who take most of the first-year core classes together. During the first weeks of school, each cluster selects a Cluster Chair. Further strengthening the student community are the nearly 100 active student organizations at Columbia Business School, ranging from cultural to professional to community service-oriented. Leadership positions within the cluster and/or clubs offer hands-on management and networking opportunities for students as they interact with fellow students, administrators, faculty members, alumni, and practitioners.
You are running for either Cluster Chair or a club leadership position of your choosing. Compose your campaign speech. (Maximum 250 words)
Option C: Founded nearly three decades ago, the Executives in Residence Program at Columbia Business School integrates senior executives into the life of the School. Current executives in residence include more than a dozen experts in areas ranging from media and investment banking to private equity and management. A hallmark of the program is one-on-one counseling sessions in which executives advise students about their prospective career choices.
Select one of the current executives in residence with whom you would like to meet during your time at Columbia. Explain your selection and tell us how you would best utilize your half hour one-on-one session. (Maximum 250 words)
Choose the option that will be easiest for you to answer and that will add the most value and insight to what you have already written. It will probably be related to your goal. Columbia wants to again see that you have given real thought to what you will do and how you will use the opportunities at Columbia Business School. What will you contribute?
And be succinct. These essays have 250-word limits.
Is there any further information that you wish to provide to the Admissions Committee? Please use this space to provide an explanation of any areas of concern in your academic record or your personal history. (Maximum 500 words)
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; they 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.
How have you enhanced your candidacy since your previous application? Please detail your progress since you last applied and reiterate your short-term and long-term goals. Explain how the tools of the Columbia MBA will help you to meet your goals and how you plan to participate in the Columbia community. (Maximum of 750 words.) This essay should be inserted into the text box designated “Essay 1.”
This question gives clear instructions as to what Columbia is interested in. Your answer, like all MBA reapplicant essays, should focus on how you have improved yourself since you last applied. Why are you a better candidate this year than last year? And don’t forget to answer the Columbia community part of the question.
Early Decision: October 5, 2011
Merit Fellowship Consideration: January 4, 2012
Regular Decision: April 11, 2012
October 5, 2011