Columbia MBA Essay Analysis

The article below is from last year, here’s a link to Columbia MBA essay questions for 2015-2016.


Here is my analysis of the Columbia MBA application questions for the January 2015 and August 2015 intakes. They are very similar to those on last year’s application, with only a small change in essay number 2, and a reduced character count for the short-answer questions.

 Short-Answer Question:What is your immediate post-MBA professional goal? (75 characters maximum)

Analysis: The Columbia MBA Admissions team has asked the same question in past cycles, but this is a shorter version, as in past years the length of the answer was 200 characters and last year it was 100. Don’t go crazy with this question; this should just be a summary of your career goals after graduation from CBS’s program.  I also recommend skipping this question until you’re done with the rest of the application.  After finalizing Essay One, read this question again and write an answer that is in line with the rest of the application. You want your essays to be consistent with each other, but you don’t want to simply repeat the same text.

Essay 1:Given your individual background and goals, why are you pursuing a Columbia MBA at this time? (Maximum 500 words)

Analysis: This is the classic “Why MBA, Why Now” question. Notice the various sub-sections and be sure to answer all of them: pay attention to the emphasis on “at this time.” Also, aspiring MBA students often interpret “individual background” as an invitation to explain at length their professional life and accomplishments since graduation; please don’t make this error. A much more effective structure would be to evaluate your career progression and focus on your reasons for attending CBS now as opposed to in a few years. Also, don´t spend too many words here on why you want to study at Columbia – you will have 250 words in Essay Two to discuss this idea.

Essay 2: Please view the video below: The Center  How will you take advantage of being “at the very center of business”? (Maximum 250 words)

Last year, the phrasing of the question was different but had the same meaning – “Columbia Business School is located in the heart of the world’s business capital – Manhattan. How do you anticipate that New York City will impact your experience at Columbia?”

.Honestly, I’m not sure why CBS Admissions kept this question – isn’t there something for everybody in NYC?  To get the most out of this difficult essay, you’ll have to find some special characteristics of Columbia and NYC that work together, some opportunities that are available only there (and not, let’s say, in Chicago or Boston).

Essay 3:What will the people in your Cluster be pleasantly surprised to learn about you? (Maximum 250 words)

This is the same question from last year, and honestly the best part of the application to Columbia Business School. It is a fun essay that will make you feel good about your application to Columbia MBA.

The Columbia Admissions team added “pleasantly” before the word “surprised” last year, to make sure people don’t share horror stories or sob stories that will make the reader feel sorry for the applicant. The challenge for you is to add NEW information that will be relevant to the MBA application and make you a stronger candidate. It could be about a hobby, a language you’ve learned, a trip you took–almost anything.

Let me help you with your essays for the Columbia MBA program. Email to schedule your initial consultation or submit your email in the box below and I will contact you.

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