We’ve invited mbaMission to share their Business School Essays Analyses as they’re released for the 2013-2014 application season. Here is their first analysis, for Columbia Business School.
Introductory Note: Typically, Harvard Business School launches the MBA application season and then other business schools quickly follow suit. Earlier this week, HBS admissions director, Dee Leopold, announced that HBS would be releasing its essays during the final week of May. Meanwhile, Columbia Business School’s Admissions Director, Amanda Carlson, sent a message that she waits for no one. CBS officially released its essay questions today – you will find the questions and our analysis below.
This year, Columbia Business School (CBS) continues a trend that has developed over the past three seasons, once again reducing the number of words applicants can use to tell their story. Last year, CBS allowed applicants 200 characters with which to respond to its short-answer question and 1,250 words total for its three essays—not much room to showcase one’s strongest attributes and set oneself apart from the pack. Now, CBS candidates have a mere 100 characters for the short-answer question and 1,000 words for the three essays.
Unfortunately, this reduced word count does not make your task as an applicant any easier—especially when you have only one essay (Essay 3) in which to discuss something outside the professional/academic realm and reveal your more personal side. Hopefully, our essay analysis can help you strategize…
Do not pretend to be anything you are not. Reveal honest, ambitious goals that are also realistic.
These two sentences are 98 characters long. You can now see just how brief you need to be with CBS’s short-answer question. Yet you must still demonstrate that you can convey a point within such strict limits. So, we are sticking with the advice in our example. Do not misguidedly believe that admissions officers have a preference for specific professions or industries—they do not. Think about what you truly want to do with your career and state it directly. Then, be sure that the rest of your application provides evidence that this goal connects to your existing skills and profound interests, making your professed goal achievable and lending credibility to your statement here. If you can do this in 100 characters—and remember that we are talking about characters, not words—you will have answered this question quite well.
Essay 1: Given your individual background, why are you pursuing a Columbia MBA at this time? (Maximum 500 words)
Because the CBS admissions committee is asking “why” you have chosen to pursue an MBA, you can justifiably delve into your professional career and explain how you identified your need for this particular advanced degree. However, take care not to overwhelm the admissions committee with an unnecessary level of detail about your career history. We cannot emphasize this strongly enough—the admissions committee does not want a recap of your entire resume—moreover, such detail would use up valuable word count. Approximately 100–150 words on your past should be enough to provide appropriate context.