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Columbia CBS Essay Tips

Columbia MBA 2017-2018 Essays Columbia seeks very focused and driven candidates and this is reflected in their essays. You need to be really clear what you want to do post-MBA and how does a CBS MBA fits with your goals.

Columbia Short Answer Question

What is your immediate post-MBA professional goal? (51 characters maximum)  

Columbia Short Answer Question Tips

Columbia has been constantly reducing the word limit on this one. Last year the limit was 75 characters and this year with 51 characters, you are forced to be think clearly and write concisely. Be laser focused in your goal as well as your expression. With this answer you are setting tone for the longer and more meatier Essay 1 so make sure the two tie in well together.

Some of the example from CBS site include:

“Work in business development for a media company.”

“Join a strategy consulting firm.”

“Launch a data-management start-up.”

Columbia Essay 1

Through your resume and recommendations, we have a clear sense of your professional path to date. What are your career goals going forward, and how will the Columbia MBA help you achieve them? (100-750 words)

Columbia Essay 1 Tips

This is a repeat of last years question but with an option for an extra 250 words!

A usual approach to structure a goal essay is to talk about your background and then build on your career vision. However, as rightly pointed by CBS, they can refer most of the information about your background in other aspects of your application. Keep this essay entirely about your future and why CBS MBA.

One suitable approach would be to paint your career vision and then show them why you want that and how you are capable and ready now to take the next step in your career. If you are planning to change your industry or function or geography- clearly address that too.

When talking about why Columbia, please go as granular as you can. It could be about the curriculum, the campus experience, the culture, the programs- make sure that whatever reasons you mention for pursuing CBS must nicely tie-in with your career goals. Remember at all times, you are convincing adcom that CBS is your means to reach your career goals.

Need help with your CBS MBA essays?

Click here to contact us >>

Columbia Essay 2.

The full-time MBA experience includes academics, recruiting, and networking. What are your personal priorities and how do you anticipate allocating your time at Columbia Business School? (250 words)

Columbia Essay 2 Tips

A new question this year gives you an opportunity to think about this very important question. CBS is known to recruit focused applicants who know what they want. The same approach and attitude is reflected in their question.

Quite like the essay 2 in 2016 and 2017, for this essay too, you must conduct thorough research about what all opportunities CBS offers you and how will be taking advantage of its offerings.

A good approach is to think about this essay as a continuation of Essay1. You have described your career goals, now pick a few of the aspects of CBS program and clearly articulate how they connect tightly with your aspirations. You would need to go deep, reflect and be very specific to your own context.

To truly understand the details of CBS experience we reconnect connecting with current students and alums. Talk to them and learn about their how they utilized the opportunities and managed their priorities. If you can get insights from the insiders and incorporate them in your thoughts, that will bring unique depth to your answer and will truly make you stand out.

Go for it!

Columbia Essay 3 & Tips

Please select and answer one of the following essay questions: (250 words)
a. Please tell us what you feel most passionate about in life.
Nearly all B-schools look for a cultural fit and this set of questions is CBS' attempt to understand your personality and motivations in life to discover that fit. Take this opportunity to show your authentic self while keeping it professional.

 b. If you were given a free day and could spend it anywhere, in any way you choose, what would you do
Though it might seem a rather light question for a b-school application, don't take it lightly. Give it a good thought because what you choose to talk about will reveal (and should reveal) your deeper self- even if it is an hobby, an interest, a long-held plan, anything! Make it interesting, memorable and stand out.

Go for it!

Need help with your CBS MBA essays?

Click here to contact us >>

Columbia Optional Essay

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)

Columbia Optional Essay Tips

You can utilize this space if you have to address a possible weakness in your application OR if you want to highlight your strengths that you could not effectively capture in other essays, resume and other parts of application.

Do not submit a Columbia optional essay as an addendum to any of your essays. Do not submit your optional essay because you feel that the quality of your earlier essays is improvable – in that case simply redouble your efforts in those essays and leave the optional essay alone.

Some of the possible weaknesses that you can address: lack of recommendation letter from current direct supervisor, low GPA, GMAT scores, any gaps in your resume or any other factor which you think needs to be explained or else might be construed against you. Comment on your shortcomings with intelligence, perspective and credibility: giving vague excuses or blaming others for your failures will be counter-productive. Explain the issues clearly and maintain greater focus on the corrective actions taken.

Feel free to use this this essay to highlight exceptional aspects of your candidature that could not be accommodated in the other Columbia essays. Since this essay does not have to be limited to a single theme or event, disparate yet impressive info points can be quoted

Note that you will be also judged on how you manage the freedom to utilize this optional space, so at times not writing this essay might be the best thing you can for your application!

Columbia Reapplicant Essay

How have you enhanced your candidacy since your previous application? Please detail your progress since you last applied, and address how you plan to achieve your post-MBA and long-term professional goals. (Maximum 500 words)

Need help with your CBS MBA essays?

Click here to contact us >>

Reapplicant Essay Tips

Writing the Columbia reapplicant essay is a two-step process.

Step 1: Discover and annihilate all weaknesses/errors in your earlier application.

Step 2: Demonstrate that you are a far better candidate than you were 12 months back.

The first step is difficult to comment on. Paraphrasing Tolstoy "Successful mba essays are all alike, every dinged essay package is screwed up in it's own way". Not quite true but you could have gone wrong in a million ways and without a look at the essays I wouldn't have a clue. Still, some common errors are: A weak goal, inconsistencies within/across the essays/recos, a strong goal which is unfortunately unsubstantiated elsewhere in the application, essays that are good individually but do not make a strong case as they lack an underlying theme, very few or canned "Why Columbia" points, little or no non-work activities across the essays. It is also possible that your essays are pretty good but you got the timing/profile/scores/recos wrong.

Step 2 is to convince the CBS admissions committee that this new Version 2.00 of you is better, brighter, worthier.

> Think: Jot down EVERY improvement you have made in EVERY aspect of your life. This will help you build an initial image of the Version 2.0 applicant. The one year period for the Columbia reapplication leaves little time for massive profile upgrades, but give it your best shot.

> Work: Through your experiences and achievements since you last applied to Columbia illustrate how you can contribute better to CBS, gain more from it and are in a better position to achieve your short/long term goals. Been promoted? Got awards? Won new assignments? Mention 'em all.

Need help with your CBS MBA essays?

Click here to contact us >>

> Goals: Make a stronger case for your goals by specifying why/how you have greater skills, experience, perspective etc. to make your dreams come true - long term and short term. Preferably stick with the goal/s given last year; in case your goals are different, you better have good reasons as you will definitely have to put it down in the essay.

> Columbia: While "Explain how the tools of the Columbia MBA will help you to meet your goals" are no longer part of the essay prompt, how CBS - SPECIFICALLY CBS - will help you reach your goals is an essential part of the reapplicant essay. Detail aspects of Columbia's learning, faculty, program, location, alumni, students etc. that will aid the achievement of your goals. If you did a GREAT job of this part of the essay last year, add to it with mentions of how your enhanced knowledge/experience make the program EVEN MORE fitting for you.

> Word Limits: Shorter by 250 words this year, the 500 word limit is a definite challenge in the Columbia reapplication essay. Resist the urge to write mammoth essays far beyond the word limit. Bad idea. Stick to 500 words.

> APPLY EARLY: Just in case I was not shouting loud enough - unless you can achieve something magical in those extra 4-5 months APPLY EARLY for the EARLY DECISION.

Essays and tips archives from past years

   

Columbia MBA Application Essays and Tips 2015-2016

Columbia MBA Application Essays and Tips 2014-2015

Columbia MBA Application Essays and Tips 2013-2014

Columbia MBA Application Essays and Tips 2011-2012

   

Columbia MBA Essays and Tips 2015-2016, 2016-2017, 201

Columbia Short Answer Question

What is your immediate post-MBA professional goal? (50 characters maximum)  

Columbia Short Answer Question Tips

Columbia has been constantly reducing the word limit on this one. Last year the limit was 75 characters and this year with 50 characters, you are forced to be think clearly and write concisely. Be laser focused in your goal as well as your expression. With this answer you are setting tone for the longer and more meatier Essay 1 so make sure the two tie in well together.

Some of the example from CBS site include:

“Work in business development for a media company.”

“Join a strategy consulting firm.”

“Launch a data-management start-up.”

Columbia Essay 1

Through your resume and recommendations, we have a clear sense of your professional path to date. What are your career goals going forward, and how will the Columbia MBA help you achieve them? (Maximum 500 words)

Columbia Essay 1 Tips

A usual approach to structure a goal essay is to talk about your background and then build on your career vision. However, as rightly pointed by CBS, they can refer most of the information about your background in other aspects of your application. Keep this essay entirely about your future and why CBS MBA.

One suitable approach would be to paint your career vision and then show them why you want that and how you are capable and ready now to take the next step in your career. If you are planning to change your industry or function or geography- clearly address that too.

When talking about why Columbia, please go as granular as you can. It could be about the curriculum, the campus experience, the culture, the programs- make sure that whatever reasons you mention for pursuing CBS must nicely tie-in with your career goals. Remember at all times, you are convincing adcom that CBS is your means to reach your career goals.

Columbia Essay 2.

Columbia Business School’s location enables us to bridge theory and practice in multiple ways: through Master Classes, internships, the New York Immersion Seminars, and, most importantly, through a combination of distinguished research faculty and accomplished practitioners. How will you take advantage of being “at the very center of business”? (Maximum 250 words)

Columbia Essay 2 Tips

You are expected to do thorough research to make a compelling argument how you will indeed make use of all that CBS offers you. Also, note that CBS expects you to be proactive in taking advantage of its offerings, so build you tone accordingly.

A good approach is to think about this essay as a continuation of Essay1. You have described your career goals, now pick a few of the aspects of CBS program and clearly articulate how they connect tightly with your aspirations. It would be very easy but mostly futile to write in generic terms and in similar sounding ideas that you get from the website. So go deep, reflect and be very specific to your own context.

One of the best ways to understand how CBS benefits will truly work out for you is to connect with current students and alums. Talk to them and learn how they were enriched by and leveraged being at the ‘center of business’. If you can get insights from the insiders and incorporate them in your thoughts, that will bring unique depth to your answer and will truly make you stand out.

Go for it!

Columbia Essay 3. CBS Matters, a key element of the School’s culture, allows the people in your Cluster to learn more about you on a personal level. What will your Clustermates be pleasantly surprised to learn about you? (Maximum 250 words)

Columbia Essay 3 Tips

An intriguing and effective way to know your on a deeper level and assess your fit with CBS culture. What is it about your background, interests, hobbies that would surprise them and give them a glimpses into you? Surprise will arise from a some kind of unexpected discovery, so think about what is unusual in your background. Choose something which presents you in a positive light, which highlights your strengths and also potentially positions you as a good fit with Columbia. Ideally write about a quality, trait or achievement that has not been covered in the other essays.

There is a fine balance in revealing a rather personal and sensitive information and avoiding revealing too much information that could be construed inappropriate for professional context. Maintain that balance.

Columbia MBA Essays and Tips 2014-2015

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.

Columbia Short Answer Question

What is your post-MBA professional goal? (75 characters maximum)

Columbia Short Answer Question Tips

Columbia has been constantly reducing the word limit on this one. Given the word limit, you don't have the liberty to be unfocussed and vague. So do your research, think clearly and write concisely.

Remember to mention both function and industry and if you can, give a brief description of the context. Examples from the Columbia site are: 'After my MBA I want to join a consulting firm specializing in renewable energy and power companies.' 'I hope to work in business development for a media company that is expanding its reach in Asia.' 'My goal is to work for an investment firm that focuses on community development projects.'

With this answer you are setting tone for the longer and more meatier Essay 1 so make sure the two tie in well together.

Columbia Essay 1

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

Columbia Essay 1 Tips

Columbia is giving you a great template to think about all your goal essays!

You will need to show a journey from your past to present to future passing through CBS MBA.

This questions has three parts so make sure you answer all of them. 1. Why MBA?. 2. Why Columbia? 3. Why now? The best approach would be to use your post-MBA goals to anchor your story and tie in all the three parts together. It would be wise to address the answers to first two questions together instead of making a long case for MBA and a smaller one for Columbia. Emphatically and clearly state your reasons for pursuing a CBS MBA.

You can take many different approaches to answer this question. You could start showing your past experiences and take the reader through your career progression and where you want to go in future tying in Columbia MBA intricately along the way. Or you can paint your career vision to begin with and then show them why you want that and how you are capable and ready now to take the next step in your career. If you are planning to change your industry or function or geography- clearly address that too.

When talking about why Columbia, please go as granular as you can. It could be about the curriculum, the campus experience, the culture, the programs- make sure that whatever reasons you mention for pursuing CBS must nicely tie in with your career goals. Remember at all times, you are convincing adcom that CBS is your means to reach your career goals.

Your reasons for ‘why now’ could be personal or professional or financial reasons. Maybe it is your readiness to relocate to NY now, or perhaps you have learnt a lot from your current job and now ready to take the next step, or that you have saved enough moolah to fund your expensive CBS education without taking student loans. Or it could be that you have done lots of research on business schools and have found that CBS is your top choice and you feel ready to take the leap. What you consider a right time for a logical next step speaks about your judgment and preparedness so think through this part carefully.

Columbia Essay 2.

Please view the video The Center. How will you take advantage of being at the very center of business? (Maximum 250 words)

Columbia Essay 2 Tips

CBS has put a lot of thought into telling you what all you can gain from a Columbia MBA, now it is up to you to show them how being at the center of Opportunity, Knowledge, Access, Convergence, Community, Entrepreneurship and

Global impact will enrich you and take you closer to your career goals.

Note that this year’s video essay’s scope is much bigger than last year’s. This essay is not only about New York city location, but about a very unique and powerful environment Columbia Business School offers you. A huge part of that is related to being in NYC, but that is not the primary focus. Another change is that CBS expects you to be proactive in taking advantage of its offerings, so build a tone accordingly.

A good approach is to think about this essay as a continuation of Essay1. You have shown them your career goals, now pick a few of the benefits mentioned in video (or beyond) and clearly articulate how they connect tightly with your aspirations. It would be very easy but mostly futile to write in generic terms and in similar sounding ideas that you get from video and website. So be focused and very specific.

One of the best way to understand how CBS benefits will truly work out for you is to connect with current students and alums. Talk to them and learn how they were enriched by and leveraged being at the ‘center of business’. If you can get insights from the insiders and incorporate them in your thoughts, that will bring unique depth to your answer and will truly make you standout.

Columbia Essay 3

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

Columbia Essay 3 Tips

If you are not yet aware, learn about Columbia's cluster system.

An engaging answer to this question will make you stand out and spark adcom’s further interest in your profile. What is it about your background, interests, hobbies that would surprise them and give them a glimpses into you? Surprise will arise from a some kind of unexpected discovery, so think about what is unusual in your background.

Choose something which presents you in a positive light, which highlights your strengths and also potentially positions you as a good fit with Columbia. Ideally write about a quality, trait or achievement that has not been covered in the other essays.

Not sure which one of your exciting surprises to share? Talk to us

Columbia Optional Essay

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)

Columbia Optional Essay Tips

You can utilize this space if you have to address a possible weakness in your application OR if you want to highlight your strengths that you could not effectively capture in other essays, resume and other parts of application.

Do not submit a Columbia optional essay as an addendum to any of your essays. Do not submit your optional essay because you feel that the quality of your earlier essays is improvable – in that case simply redouble your efforts in those essays and leave the optional essay alone.

Some of the possible weaknesses that you can address: lack of recommendation letter from current direct supervisor, low GPA, GMAT scores, any gaps in your resume or any other factor which you think needs to be explained or else might be construed against you. Comment on your shortcomings with intelligence, perspective and credibility: giving vague excuses or blaming others for your failures will be counter-productive. Explain the issues clearly and maintain greater focus on the corrective actions taken.

Feel free to use this this essay to highlight exceptional aspects of your candidature that could not be accommodated in the other Columbia essays. Since this essay does not have to be limited to a single theme or event, disparate yet impressive info points can be quoted

Note that you will be also judged on how you manage the freedom to utilize this optional space, so at times not writing this essay might be the best thing you can for your application!

Columbia Reapplicant Essay

How have you enhanced your candidacy since your previous application? Please detail your progress since you last applied, and address how you plan to achieve your post-MBA and long-term professional goals. (Maximum 500 words)

Reapplicant Essay Tips
Writing the Columbia reapplicant essay is a two-step process.

Step 1: Discover and annihilate all weaknesses/errors in your earlier application.

Step 2: Demonstrate that you are a far better candidate than you were 12 months back.

The first step is difficult to comment on. Paraphrasing Tolstoy "Successful mba essays are all alike, every dinged essay package is screwed up in it's own way". Not quite true but you could have gone wrong in a million ways and without a look at the essays I wouldn't have a clue. Still, some common errors are: A weak goal, inconsistencies within/across the essays/recos, a strong goal which is unfortunately unsubstantiated elsewhere in the application, essays that are good individually but do not make a strong case as they lack an underlying theme, very few or canned "Why Columbia" points, little or no non-work activities across the essays. It is also possible that your essays are pretty good but you got the timing/profile/scores/recos wrong.

Step 2 is to convince the CBS admissions committee that this new Version 2.00 of you is better, brighter, worthier.

> Think: Jot down EVERY improvement you have made in EVERY aspect of your life. This will help you build an initial image of the Version 2.0 applicant. The one year period for the Columbia reapplication leaves little time for massive profile upgrades, but give it your best shot.

> Work: Through your experiences and achievements since you last applied to Columbia illustrate how you can contribute better to CBS, gain more from it and are in a better position to achieve your short/long term goals. Been promoted? Got awards? Won new assignments? Mention 'em all.

> Goals: Make a stronger case for your goals by specifying why/how you have greater skills, experience, perspective etc. to make your dreams come true - long term and short term. Preferably stick with the goal/s given last year; in case your goals are different, you better have good reasons as you will definitely have to put it down in the essay.

> Columbia: While "Explain how the tools of the Columbia MBA will help you to meet your goals" are no longer part of the essay prompt, how CBS - SPECIFICALLY CBS - will help you reach your goals is an essential part of the reapplicant essay. Detail aspects of Columbia's learning, faculty, program, location, alumni, students etc. that will aid the achievement of your goals. If you did a GREAT job of this part of the essay last year, add to it with mentions of how your enhanced knowledge/experience make the program EVEN MORE fitting for you.

> Word Limits: Shorter by 250 words this year, the 500 word limit is a definite challenge in the Columbia reapplication essay. Resist the urge to write mammoth essays far beyond the word limit. Bad idea. Stick to 500 words.

> APPLY EARLY: Just in case I was not shouting loud enough - unless you can achieve something magical in those extra 4-5 months APPLY EARLY for the EARLY DECISION.
Go for it!

Columbia MBA Application Essays and Tips 2013-2014

The Columbia essay package has been further shortened but retains most of its structure - a super short goals question, a video-viewing exercise essay and a cluster-related/personal question. The opening tiny goals essay - even SHORTER this time - is an instant classic, and a role model for how to approach the goals essay. The Goal-Why-CBS question seems simple but needs the greatest attention. The New York oriented essay should ideally have been part of the goals essay while the forced combination of a Columbia Cluster and a personal "surprise" should have been untwined.

Columbia Short Answer Question

What is your post-MBA professional goal? (100 characters maximum)

Columbia Short Answer Question Tips

EVEN shorter than last time's 200 character limit, this extreme conciseness is an excellent method to extract a clear, concise answer from the applicant. This tiny (~20 words) essay shows the way forward for other b-schools and ALL applicants). Think clearly, write concisely, be focused.

Write a brief, direct, credible response with concentrated focus on your short term post-CBS goal. Write this essay in tandem with Columbia's first essay, to avoid contradiction and to ensure connectivity.

Examples from the Columbia site are: 'After my MBA I want to join a consulting firm specializing in renewable energy and power companies.' 'I hope to work in business development for a media company that is expanding its reach in Asia.' 'My goal is to work for an investment firm that focuses on community development projects.'

Go for it!

Columbia Essay 1

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

Columbia Essay 1 Tips

This is a straightforward career Goals and "Why CBS" essay that invites you to paint a picture of how your past, present and future fit together. It is very similar to last year's "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?" and to the first part of the 2011-2012 prompt "Considering your post-MBA and long term professional goals, why you are pursuing an MBA at this point in your career?".

This forward-looking goals question allows you to briefly present your career progression, your personal background and use it to convincingly illustrate that you have the vision, skill-set and commitment to achieve your stated post-MBA goals. Be realistic, visionary and focused while detailing your post-Columbia career goals and show what motivates you to succeed in your goal. Exhibit passion for the industry and/or role of your choice. Add specific (preferably unique) information to enhance the credibility and authenticity of your application and to help differentiate your candidature.

Underline how the Columbia MBA will help you achieve your goals by highlighting Columbia's strengths/programs that are critical to your success? Go beyond cutting and pasting info from the CBS website, and personalize your answer as much as possible. Be specific while linking your career goals with Columbia's MBA program, alumni, students, faculty, special programs, clubs etc. Researching the school, speaking with students and alumni and explaining your fit with Columbia effectively in this essay can make a huge difference to your candidacy.

Why "at this time" seeks to know why NOW, rather than later (or earlier). Try to persuasively explain how in terms of maturity, exposure, opportunity and learning this is the ideal time for you to pursue the Columbia MBA. Apart from taking the obvious path of finding links with the MBA and your career, this is also a chance to demonstrate how maturely, differently and clearly you envision your career and/or the larger business landscape.

Go for it!

Columbia Essay 2

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? Please view the videos New York City - limitless possibilities and New York City - fast paced and adaptable. (Maximum 250 words)

Columbia Essay 2 Tips

Videos: For the past couple of years Columbia has made viewing its promotional videos a mandatory part of its application process. While an unwelcome move, the video are short and even useless - so take a look at them. Researching and forming rough responses for essay questions 1 through 3 before you view the videos might help increase the uniqueness of your response.

New York City is one of the key USPs that Columbia offers an applicant. The focus of this question is to ensure that each applicant understands it - and expresses it from their individual perspective.

As always this MBA application essay too is about YOU. So use each New York "impact" to highlight a specific aspect of your candidature: be it goals or interests. Illustrate how each of the New York City offerings will enhance you professionally and personally. If possible, past achievements can be briefly linked with the New York aspects you are highlighting.

It is far too easy to write generic responses to this essay: the key to success will be to address PRECISE aspects of your goals/interests and demonstrate how YOU will SPECIFICALLY find Columbia's New York location an answer to your dreams.

Ensure than this content supports and enhances Essay 1.

Go for it!

Columbia Essay 3

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

Columbia Essay 3 Tips

Demonstrate differentiation.

Show uniqueness.

Write about a quality, trait or achievement that has not been covered in the other essays. Hobbies, interests or social activities that highlight qualities like leadership, initiative, creativity, innovation, teamwork, courage etc. that make you a strong Columbia applicant could be chosen. While the limited space forbids rambling stories, one or two succinct anecdotes would help the cause.

Learn about Columbia's cluster system and maybe even view last year's application video on the Columbia community, to understand how can contribute to Columbia's diverse learning teams. While your theme need not be directly linked to the Cluster system, a quality/interest that will aid and augment the effectiveness of your Cluster is welcome.

Go for it!

Columbia Optional Essay

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)

Columbia Optional Essay Tips

Attempt the Columbia optional essay only if you feel that it will improve the factual and material strength of your application.

Do not submit a Columbia optional essay as an addendum to any of your essays. Do not submit your optional essay because you feel that the quality of your earlier essays is improvable – in that case simply redouble your efforts in those essays and leave the optional essay alone.

Use the Columbia optional essay to explain shortfalls in your application which you feel are truly detrimental to your candidature. Areas of underperformance (academic or professional or GMAT) or events which stick out such as gaps in your resumes or a previous MBA or academic disciplinary actions are some potential points. Comment on your shortcomings with intelligence, perspective and credibility: giving vague excuses or blaming others for your failures will be counter-productive. Explain the issues clearly and maintain greater focus on the corrective actions taken. For example, if you had a disciplinary issue in college, spend more space demonstrating what you learned from the experience and how you have been a better person/ student/ citizen ever since.

Feel free to use this this essay to highlight exceptional aspects of your candidature that could not be accommodated in the other Columbia essays. Since this essay does not have to be limited to a single theme or event, disparate yet impressive info points can be quoted.

If you are certain that this new essay is a robust constructive addition to your candidacy...

...Go for it!

Columbia Reapplicant Essay

(Applicants who are reapplying within 12 months of a previous application for admission are required to write only a single reapplicant essay.)

How have you enhanced your candidacy since your previous application? Please detail your progress since you last applied, and address how you plan to achieve your post-MBA and long-term professional goals. (Maximum 500 words)

Columbia Reapplicant Essay Tips

Writing the Columbia reapplicant essay is a two-step process.

Step 1: Discover and annihilate all weaknesses/errors in your earlier application.

Step 2: Demonstrate that you are a far better candidate than you were 12 months back.

The first step is difficult to comment on. Paraphrasing Tolstoy "Successful mba essays are all alike, every dinged essay package is screwed up in it's own way". Not quite true but you could have gone wrong in a million ways and without a look at the essays I wouldn't have a clue. Still, some common errors are: A weak goal, inconsistencies within/across the essays/recos, a strong goal which is unfortunately unsubstantiated elsewhere in the application, essays that are good individually but do not make a strong case as they lack an underlying theme, very few or canned "Why Columbia" points, little or no non-work activities across the essays. It is also possible that your essays are pretty good but you got the timing/profile/scores/recos wrong.

Step 2 is to convince the CBS admissions committee that this new Version 2.00 of you is better, brighter, worthier.

> Think: Jot down EVERY improvement you have made in EVERY aspect of your life. This will help you build an initial image of the Version 2.0 applicant. The one year period for the Columbia reapplication leaves little time for massive profile upgrades, but give it your best shot.

> Work: Through your experiences and achievements since you last applied to Columbia illustrate how you can contribute better to CBS, gain more from it and are in a better position to achieve your short/long term goals. Been promoted? Got awards? Won new assignments? Mention 'em all.

> Goals: Make a stronger case for your goals by specifying why/how you have greater skills, experience, perspective etc. to make your dreams come true - long term and short term. Preferably stick with the goal/s given last year; in case your goals are different, you better have good reasons as you will definitely have to put it down in the essay.

> Columbia: While "Explain how the tools of the Columbia MBA will help you to meet your goals" are no longer part of the essay prompt, how CBS - SPECIFICALLY CBS - will help you reach your goals is an essential part of the reapplicant essay. Detail aspects of Columbia's learning, faculty, program, location, alumni, students etc. that will aid the achievement of your goals. If you did a GREAT job of this part of the essay last year, add to it with mentions of how your enhanced knowledge/experience make the program EVEN MORE fitting for you.

> Word Limits: Shorter by 250 words this year, the 500 word limit is a definite challenge in the Columbia reapplication essay. Resist the urge to write mammoth essays far beyond the word limit. Bad idea. Stick to 500 words.

> APPLY EARLY: Just in case I was not shouting loud enough - unless you can achieve something magical in those extra 4-5 months APPLY EARLY for the EARLY DECISION.
Go for it!

Columbia MBA Application Essays and Tips 2011-2012

The Columbia essay package has seen a welcome expansion this year. Overall the three essays, and the minuscule short answer, offer wide latitude to express your candidature from both professional and personal perspectives. While the second question is clearer than earlier in its focus on the personal, the new choice questions, though overlong, offer greater flexibility.

Columbia Short Answer Question

What is your post-MBA professional goal? (200 characters maximum)

Columbia Short Answer Question Tips

This tiny essay (~35 words) is as clear (and short!) a goals essay as one can expect.

Give a concise, direct, credible response with focus on your short term post-CBS goal. Write this essay in tandem with Columbia's first essay, to avoid contradiction and ensure connectivity.

Examples from the Columbia site follow. “After my MBA I want to build my expertise in the energy sector and learn more about strategy and decision making by joining a consulting firm specializing in renewable energy and power companies.” “After my MBA I hope to work in business development for a media company that is expanding its market share in Asia.” “My short term goal is to work with an investment firm that utilizes public private partnerships to invest in community development projects.”

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Columbia Essay 1

Considering your post-MBA and long term professional goals, why you are pursuing an MBA at this point in your career? Additionally, why is Columbia Business School a good fit for you? (Maximum 750 words)

Columbia Essay 1 Tips

This is a straightforward career goals and "why CBS" essay that invites you to paint a picture of how the YOU, your dreams and Columbia are intricately and fittingly enmeshed.

While this is a forward-looking goals question and your past is not asked for, briefly presenting your career progression and using your past to quickly illustrate that you have the vision, skill-set and commitment to achieve your goals might be useful. However, the bulk of the essay should be about your future. Be realistic, visionary and focused while detailing your Post-Columbia mid-term and long-term career goals. Exhibit passion for the industry and the functional role of your choice. Add specific (even unique) information to enhance the credibility and authenticity of your application and to help differentiate your candidature.

Why "an MBA at this point" seeks to know why NOW, rather than later (or earlier). Try to persuasively write how in terms of maturity, exposure, opportunity and learning this is the ideal time for pursuing your MBA. Apart from taking the obvious path of finding links with the MBA and your career, this is also a chance to demonstrate how maturely, differently and clearly you can see your career and/or the business landscape.

"Why  is Columbia Business School a good fit for you" has to dealt with application, research and intelligence. How will Columbia's program help you achieve your goals? Which of Columbia's strengths and programs are critical to your success? Please go beyond cutting/pasting info gleaned from the CBS website, and personalize your answer as much as possible. Be specific while linking your career goals with Columbia's MBA programme, alumni, students, faculty, special programs, clubs etc. Put to use all the research you have done on Columbia and state specifics about skills and knowledge that you hope to pick up at CBS. Researching the school, speaking with students and alumni and explaining your fit with Columbia effectively in this essay can make a huge difference to your candidacy.

Perhaps if you can convincingly accomplish all of the above, you may have got it made.

Go for it!

Columbia Essay 2

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)

Columbia Essay 3 Tips

Often in the hectic race to complete long, time-consuming MBA applications, we miss the best of what we can contribute to our candidature and our essays, and exactly the kind of stuff that the admissions committee awaits with bated breath - a true moment of insight into a lurking beauty within oneself. This, the most personal of the Columbia essays, is one such occasion.

Choose an instance that is personal and enduringly life changing, and explain how it effected you and made you the person you are today. Look back at your life to identify crucial milestones to uncover the basic theme for the essay. The choices you made at each stage of your life will be essential guides to supporting this theme and ensuring that the theme is credible. Look back on important personal and professional situations and try to analyze what decisions you made, why you succeeded or failed, how you thought and acted. This exercise, extremely difficult if done right, will pay rich dividends across your entire MBA application process, not just this one essay.

There are umpteen approaches to this essay - choose the one that suits you best. You can structure this essay as sections devoted to your key beliefs/passions or as an introduction plus life story essay or an anecdotes driven development and success story. Whichever route you take, the essay should be a personal, credible and passionate portrayal of YOU.

Unlike the other essays we could go farther back in time to explore occasions of epiphany.

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Columbia Essay 3

Select and answer one of the below questions:

Columbia Essay 3a

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)

Columbia Essay 3a Tips

This is an exciting question - and deserves a thrilling, entrepreneurial response.

Columbia Business School considers the entrepreneurial mindset to be integral to its success. So start at the CBS site's essential introduction to A. Lorne Weil Outrageous Business Plan Competition. Please do not misinterpret "outrageous" as crazy, bizarre or outlandish; what is sought is "ambitious in scope and scale", visionary in impact and forward looking in conception.

The creative process of discovering opportunities and defining business solutions to come up with a winning business plan might be helped by research on new ideas or by tapping your entrepreneurial dreams. A look at past competition winners could act a guideline to begin the thought process. It is imperative that the basic value proposition be visionary and "outrageous" in scope. The relative brevity of the essay makes it even more critical to get the fundamental idea right since other aspects of the business plan which could be winning factors in an actual business pitch (such as Financial Plan, Operational Model, Marketing Plan) might have less value here. Apart from a dazzling value proposition, further information on the product/service, the market, revenue model, and scalability of operations is welcome.

This is your opportunity to demonstrate your entrepreneurial spirit, your innovation and your ability to think big. The CBS entrepreneurship page says that entrepreneurship "is about identifying, valuing, and capturing opportunities." Capture this one!

The decision about choosing this essay should obviously be made after giving some thought to the other choices. If you are entrepreneurial and/or have a great idea this might be a good choice.

Go for it!

Columbia Essay 3b

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)

Columbia Essay 3b Tips

Whichever CBS choice question you choose the place to start would be the basic research on the Columbia website. Learn about Columbia's cluster system, the Graduate Business Association and understand how it works. Check out the student organizations and the over 100 groups at Columbia.

Having learned enough about the group/cluster, choose one that fits your interests, passions and skill set. While your leadership approach and seriousness about Columbia (judged through how good your knowledge/research is) are why this essay is asked, the choice of the club/cluster is important since your interest in that sector might need to be demonstrated in the rest of the application and/or in the interview. Research well; several of the clubs have dedicated websites or web pages - use them. In the course of talks that you might have with alumni/students talk about the club/cluster as well.

Next, evolve a vision and devise a strategy that illustrates how effective and differentiated your leadership is. Lay out your manifesto and prepare a campaign speech that sells you as an effective, intelligent  leader and includes your vision, your eligibility, your skills, your past exposure and research/knowledge.

Try to display leadership, vision, learning/research skills and a clear understanding of CBS through this short essay. A willingness to identify specific areas and actions that will make a definable difference to the Columbia community will be hugely appreciated.

The decision about choosing this essay should obviously be made after giving some thought to the other choices. If you want to display your leadership vision and/or your deep knowledge about Columbia this might be a good choice.

Go for it!

Columbia Essay 3c

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)

Columbia Essay 3c Tips

Yes, once again the first thing you do is research. Study Columbia's Executives in Residence Program and do a little background research on each of the Resident Executives.

Given the multitude of choices, the decision making process about who to choose would be crucial. And this choice would depend on the theme you choose for this essay.

The theme that obviously suggests itself for the half hour session and the essay would be your post-MBA goals. Talking to a business leader in an industry or function you want to succeed in might be extremely productive. You are accountable for how well you use the half hour in essay-world -  his (just the one lady that I could see in the executives in residence list) time, his experience, his knowledge, his network, his insights etc.

However, you can certainly go beyond the obvious - and look beyond the apparent goal theme. No limits! Whichever path you take, please remember that this essay is still about you: the essay has to reveal your personality, showcase your passion, your approach to seeking knowledge, your method of relationship building and/or any other skill/quality that you feel this essay should highlight. If you have the right theme feel free to showcase

The decision to choose this essay should obviously be made after giving some thought to the other choices. At first glance this seems the least attractive of the three essays - especially if there is a further focus on the goals (presumably having written enough about it earlier in the application). But if you can present a new perspective through this essay, go right ahead!

Go for it!

Columbia Optional Essay

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)

Columbia Optional Essay Tips

As usual an optional essay requires effort even if you don’t write it. The main question in any optional essay is to decide whether you need to write it at all.

Attempt the Columbia optional essay only if you feel that it will improve the factual and material strength of your application. Do not submit a Columbia optional essay as an addendum to any of your essays. Do not submit your optional essay because you feel that the quality of your earlier essays is improvable – in that case simply redouble your efforts in those essays and leave the optional essay alone.

Use the Columbia optional essay to explain shortfalls in your application which you feel are truly detrimental to your candidature. Areas of underperformance (academic or professional or GMAT) or events which stick out such as gaps in your resumes or a previous MBA or academic disciplinary actions are possible reasons why you attempt this optional essay. Comment on your shortcomings with intelligence, perspective and credibility: giving vague excuses or blaming xyz for failures will be completely counter-productive. Explain the issue clearly and maintain greater focus on the correction for the issue. For example, if you had a disciplinary issue in college, spend most of the space demonstrating what you learned from the experience and how you have been a better person/ student/ citizen ever since.

Feel free to use this this essay to highlight exceptional aspects of your candidature that could not be accommodated in the other Columbia essays. Since this essay does not have to be limited to a single theme or event, disparate yet impressive info points can be quoted.

If you are certain that this new essay is a robust constructive addition to your candidacy, start working on it!

Go for it!

Columbia Reapplicant Essay

(Applicants who are reapplying within 12 months of a previous application for admission are required to write only a single reapplicant essay.) 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 750 words)

Columbia Reapplicant Essay Tips

Writing the Columbia reapplicant essay is a two-step process.

First, discover and annihilate all weaknesses/errors in your earlier application.

Second, demonstrate that you are a far better candidate than you were 12 months back.

Step 1 is difficult to comment on. Paraphrasing Tolstoy "Successful mba essays are all alike, every dinged essay package is screwed up in it's own way". Not quite true but you could have gone wrong in a million ways and without a look at the essays I wouldn't have a clue. Still, some common errors are: A weak goal, inconsistencies within/across the essays/recos, a strong goal unsubstantiated by anything anywhere else in the application, essays that are good individually but do not make a strong case as they lack an underlying theme, very few or canned "Why Columbia" points, little or no non-work activities across the essays.

It is also possible that your essays are pretty good but you got the timing/profile/scores/recos wrong. Try to take stock.

Step 2 is to convince the CBS admissions committee that this new Version 2.00 of you is better, brighter, worthier, sexier.

> Think: Jot down EVERY improvement you have made in EVERY aspect of your life. This will help you build an initial image of the Version 2.00 applicant. The one year period for the Columbia reapplication leaves little time for massive profile upgrades – but give this your best shot.

> Work: Through your experiences and achievements since you last applied to Columbia illustrate how you can contribute better to CBS, gain more from it and are in a better position to achieve your short/long term goals. Been promoted? Got awards? Won new assignments? Mention 'em all.

> Goals: Make a stronger case for your goals by specifying why/how you have greater skills, experience, perspective etc. to make your dreams come true - long term and short term. Preferably stick with the goal/s given last year; in case you wanna change them you better have good reasons 'cos you will definitely have to put it down in the essay.

> Columbia: How will CBS - SPECIFICALLY CBS - help you reach your goals? What are the aspects of learning, faculty, program, location, alumni, students etc. that you will find only at Columbia and that will aid the achievement of your goals? If you did a GREAT job of this part of the essay last year, add to it with mentions of how your enhanced knowledge/experience make the program EVEN MORE fitting for you.

> Columbia Community: "how (do) you plan to participate in the Columbia community" is not explicitly a part of the main essay pack. But a good essay response would have answered it directly (in Essays 1 and 3) and indirectly (in essay 2 and probably the optional essay). Try to include your outside-of-work passions/activities/hobbies and specify how you will participate in the varied student activities at Columbia - some research might be called for here. Try to focus on areas where your inputs have been high in the last 12 months. And yes, keep it short!

> Word Limits: One challenge in the Columbia reapplication is that you get to submit only this one 750 words essay. Perhaps for that reason many Columbia reapplicants seem to write mammoth essays far beyond the 750 words limit. Bad idea. Stick to 750 words.

and FINALLY

> APPLY EARLY: Just in case I wasn't shouting loud enough - unless you can achieve something magical in those extra 4-5 months APPLY EARLY for the EARLY DECISION.

Go for it!

           
           
 

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