Essay Tips: Columbia Business School

Columbia University

 Columbia has released its 2013 application essays. It has changed the format somewhat, but the changes are more evolutionary than revolutionary.


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

Note the character limit. This response must be short and sweet. What do you want to do professionally in which industry immediately after earning your MBA? You may want to provide a geographic location if you have one and it is important to your MBA goal. The word immediate is added this year. 

Warning: This question is not asking about intended area of study while in business school or a non-professional goal.


1 A. 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? (Maximum 500 words)

Since you will have stated your immediate post-MBA professional goal in the previous answer, you can use this essay to expand on it. Where do you see yourself headed long-term? Why is now the right time for you to pursue the degree? What experiences convinced you that you need an MBA? And if there are any influential aspects of Columbia’s program that you will not mention in 1B, you may to mention them here as part of the answer to how you intend to pursue your post-MBA goals. Finally, please note that CBS is asking only about professional goals in this question.

1 B. Please view this video, entitled Community at Columbia. Diverse, tight-knit clusters and carefully selected learning teams are defining features of the first year at Columbia Business School. Along with more than 100 student organizations and countless events each semester, the cluster system helps to create a supportive and devoted lifelong community. Describe why you are interested in becoming a part of the Columbia community. (Maximum 250 words)

CBS is looking for fit and thought in this new question. This is all about “Why Columbia?” Why do these distinctive elements of Columbia’s community — the clusters, learning teams, and active on-campus life — appeal to you?  Which of those 100+ organizations and myriad events do you want to participate in? Tie that interest to the professional goals you elucidated in 1A.

2. Describe a personal experience and how it has influenced who you are today. This essay should have a personal rather than a professional focus. (Maximum 500 words)

Do you have any defining moments? What was a seminal experience in your development and maturation? What happened? What was the impact upon you? What do you do differently as a result? This essay should provide a glimpse into the non-professional side of you.

Optional. An optional fourth essay will allow you to discuss any issues that do not fall within the purview of the required essays.

Clearly you can use this optional essay question to address a weakness in your profile or qualifications, but in my mind, this question 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.

Don’t use this essay as a grand finale or wrap up. And definitely don’t use it to rehash your reasons for wanting to attend Columbia; those reasons should be perfectly clear from the required 1A and 1B. If you decide to respond to this essay, use it to educate the reader about another talent, interest, or commitment of yours. As always try to show leadership and impact. In short, give them more reasons to admit you.

By Linda Abraham, founder and president of and author of MBA Admission for Smarties. If you would like professional guidance with your Columbia MBA application, please consider Accepted’s Columbia Business School MBA Packages or our MBA essay editing.

*This blog post originally appeared on Accepted Admissions Consulting Blog.


Early Decision (Aug 2013 Entry) October 3, 2012 1:59 p.m. EST
Merit Fellowship Consideration January 9, 2013 1:59 p.m. EST
Regular Decision(Aug 2013 Entry) April 10, 2013 1:59 p.m. EST 
January 2013 Entry October 3, 2012 1:59 p.m. EST


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