One of the most important things to keep in mind is brevity. While no one is going to be counting individual words, the short word count guideline is a clear indicator that you should work on clarity of thought with all of your answers. Cornell interviews every applicant to its program, so if you are concerned that the essay format doesn’t give you space for your answers, rest assured you will have the opportunity to discuss them further in the interview.
Question 1: In a concise statement, tell us why you are seeking an MBA. Specifically, what are your short and long-term career goals? And how will an MBA earned through an Executive MBA program at Cornell University help you achieve your goals? (400 words max)
You first want to identify why you feel you need an MBA, linking your past/current career experience with your short and long term goals and what about an MBA degree will allow you to achieve them. Then you need to relay “Why Cornell?” and “Why EMBA?” For the former, be convincing about the reasons Cornell is the best choice for you, and show you have done your homework – “location” and “reputation” won’t cut it. The admissions committee wants to know what you anticipate the program will be like, what you will get out of it, how the program fits with your career vision, and what the entire experience means to you as a person. For the latter, by making the choice to apply to an Executive MBA program, you are of course signaling you will keep your job while going to school. Indicate why that format is the best fit.
Question 2: Briefly describe your leadership style. Include two examples of situations that helped you develop your style. One example should be a positive situation that helped to shape or reaffirm it. The other example should be of a situation with an unsuccessful outcome that led you to change or redefine that style. (400 words max)
This essay wants you to showcase that you are a thoughtful leader who can build upon strengths and also learn from mistakes. The examples you use don’t need to be high impact (though they certainly can be if they are relevant), but rather ones where there were clear takeaways from the experiences that you implemented moving forward. This essay encourages you to show humility, arguably an important characteristic for a successful leader, so don’t shy away from the opportunity to show that with the unsuccessful situation.
Question 3: Cornell Executive MBA students are expected to be supportive and effective members of a learning team. Describe your philosophy regarding teamwork. Specifically, how do you define success in a team? (250 words max)
The Cornell EMBA program values team players. Throughout the program students are placed in rotating teams, with the goal of supporting each other with the coursework as well as developing and completing group projects. They want individuals who are willing, ready and able to collaborate with the rest of their cohort. Discuss how your philosophy and definition of team success fit with that model.
Optional Essay: What else would you like us to know? Please use this statement to address potential concerns such as gaps in employment or prior academic difficulties. You can also use this statement to highlight any achievements or significant life events that are not included elsewhere in the application. (250 words max)
If there are flaws in your application, they will be noticed. It’s much easier to address them upfront than in an interview situation. Be as honest as you can possibly be. Keep in mind the admissions committee members are human, too, and they have flaws as well! If you opt to share additional accomplishments, make sure they truly do add to your application and the type of student you will be, so that the additional information comes across as pertinent information rather than just bragging.
The Class of 2018 application is open and applications are accepted on a rolling basis.
• For the Executive MBA Americas, priority will be given to applications received before May 6, 2016.
• For the Executive MBA Metro New York, priority will be given to applications received before June 10, 2016.
Applications will be accepted after these dates only if space is available.
We encourage all applicants to apply early to ensure a seat in the class and to allow ample time to prepare for the start of the program.
Jen Weld worked as an admissions consultant and Former Asst. Dir. of Admissions at Cornell’s EMBA program (4 years) prior to joining Accepted. She has an additional 10 years of experience in higher ed and corporate marketing.