This set of executive MBA essays requires succinct, targeted expression; insightful self-reflection; ability to synthesize multiple aspects of your experience and knowledge; and organizational responsiveness. The questions not only present different topics, but also warrant some variation in tone – you could view the essays as an ongoing conversation with the adcom. In such conversation your tone would naturally be different when you articulate your goals and when you discuss a personal experience. Hence, write with sensitivity to the nuance of each question – an opportunity to let different qualities, skills, and talents shine – while creating a coherent overall portrait with the essays.
Short Answer Question
What is your post-MBA professional goal? (200 characters maximum)
Give the facts, straight. If you do so, you will have room to include key specifics, e.g., function and position, industry and type of company – and possibly even to weave in a phrase reflecting your vision for these goals.
A. Why are you pursuing an MBA at this point in your career, and how do you plan to achieve your immediate and long term post-MBA professional goals? (Maximum 500 words)
B. Please view this video, entitled Community at Columbia. Diverse, tight-knit clusters and carefully selected learning teams are defining features of the first year at Columbia Business School. Along with more than 100 student organizations and countless events each semester, the cluster system helps to create a supportive and devoted lifelong community. Describe why you are interested in becoming a part of the Columbia community. (Maximum 250 words)
Part A allows you to present a short, logical story with “at this point” as the pivot point. A simple, straightforward structure that should work for many: brief intro paragraph with an engaging tidbit (a quote, an engaging anecdote, a few compelling facts – something to capture the reader’s interest); then succinct discussion of career focusing selectively on aspects or experiences relevant to development of your goals (skills gained, markets explored, impacts seen, etc.); then the present—why this is the right time for your MBA; and finally elaboration of goals. In Part B, you can mention the academics vis-à-vis your goals, but focus more on why the Columbia community is valuable to you, citing the learning structures, extracurricular opportunities, NYC resources, etc. It’s better to address two or three things insightfully rather than list off ten reasons or ten clubs.
Describe a personal experience and how it has influenced who you are today. This essay should have a personal rather than a professional focus. (Maximum 500 words)
This essay question indirectly relates to part B in the above question – both indicate the adcom’s interest in knowing you as an individual beyond your resume and career interests. With only 500 words, take a straightforward approach. Describe a key formative experience in your life and show – by example and anecdote – how it has shaped you subsequently. In selecting a topic, don’t worry that your experience might not be unique – in fact it probably won’t be, in its broad manifestation, such as a move to a new country, a family transition, or discovery of a deep interest or passion. Regardless of the broad topic, your essay will be unique if you personalize your story with detail, anecdote, and your own perceptions, responses. Also, in weighing potential topics, think strategically: which one will showcase something fresh and relevant about you and your candidacy?
An optional fourth essay will allow you to discuss any issues that do not fall within the purview of the required essays.
This question invites you to present new material that will enhance your application, as well as to explain anything that needs explaining (e.g., gap in employment, choice of recommender if not using a direct supervisor, etc.). As far as non-necessary points, keep in mind that if you are making the adcom read more than is required, there should be a clear value to the information you’re sharing. Finally, keep it short.
EMBA Application Deadlines
January 2013 entry, regular decision: October 31, 2012
May 2013 entry, regular decision: February 13, 2013
August 2013 entry, early decision: March 6, 2013; regular decision: June 5, 2013
By Cindy Tokumitsu, co-author of The EMBA Edge, and author of the free special report, “Ace the EMBA.” Cindy has advised hundreds of successful applicants in her last thirteen years with Accepted. She can help you assess your strengths and weaknesses and develop a winning admissions strategy.