UPDATE: The tips for Columbia’s 2010 MBA application are now available online. Please post questions or comments to the new post.
App Review Begins Notification Deadline
Early Decision 08/13/08 W/In 10 Weeks 10/08/08
International 01/07/09 W/In 12 Weeks 03/04/09
US Citizens* 01/07/09 W/In 12 Weeks 04/15/09
* & Permanent Residents
** Applicants who wish to be considered for a merit-based fellowship must submit a complete application by January 7, 2009. Fellowship recipients for the September class are announced between January and May.
On BW Forum’s “Ask Columbia Business School Admissions” thread, Columbia GSB’s AdCom representative advises that this year’s questions are the same as those on the J-Term 2009 application, which has three required question as opposed to last September’s four.
My comments are in red.
The following essay questions are part of the application to Columbia Business School. 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 answers and we encourage you to answer each question thoughtfully and honestly.
1) What are your short-term and long-term post-MBA goals? How will Columbia Business School help you achieve these goals? (Recommended 750 word limit):
This is a forward-looking goals question. While you shouldn’t ignore the factors that contributed to the development of your goals, the bulk of the essay should be about the future. What do you want to do immediately after completing your MBA? 5 years later? How will Columbia’s program help you achieve your goals? Which of Columbia’s strengths and programs are critical to your success? And be specific!
2) Master Classes are the epitome of bridging the gap between theory and practice at Columbia Business School. View link below. Please provide an example from your own life in which practical experience taught you more than theory alone. (Recommended 500 word limit) :
View with Real Player: http://merlin.gsb.columbia.edu:8080/ramgen/video1/faculty/MasterClass-promo.rm
View via Google: http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=-4698876883776961370&hl=en .
I also recommend you read the section of CBS’ web site about Columbia’s Masters Classes.
To me, the masters classes are CBS’s attempt to integrate the various business functions and add a real general management element to a program that tended to keep those business silos distinct.. To respond to the question you need to bring an example from your life when you applied theory successfully. Ideally, you would want to use an example where you used management principles to guide your team, office, company, or club in solving a problem or completing a project.
3) Please provide an example of a team failure of which you’ve been a part. If given a second chance, what would you do differently? (Recommended 500 word limit) :
When have you been part of a team that came in last. Or that came in second when it should have come in first? Or that failed to close the deal? Or did finish the project, but over budget and late so that your firm lost the client?
And more importantly, what have you learned from the experience? How would you attempt to change the outcome if you had the chance? When would you seize the initiative? When would you encourage others? When would you sit quietly and let someone with complementary strengths take center stage.
While the particular incident you choose should complement other elements of your essay and ideally discuss some interest, activity, or experience not discussed in other essays, the key part of this question is the second one.
For more assistance, please see:
- Admissions Tip from Dr. Pausch ‘s Last Lecture (Part 2)
- Flaws Make You Real
- Personal Statement Tip: Our Response Defines Us
- Personal Statement Tip: Failure Questions
(Optional) 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.) :
Obviously you could use this optional essay question to address a weakness in your application, but in my mind, it 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.