Tuesday Tips – Columbia Business School January Program Essay Tips

The Columbia Business School January program is a unique opportunity within top US MBA programs. The accelerated program will give you the experience of a full time MBA without the 24 months away from your career. Because you forgo the summer internship required of most 2-year programs, you can complete the January program in just 16 months.

Career changers will have a difficult time without an internship, so the J-term is best if you have a job lined up immediately after school, or know that you can find a full time position with your network. As the website outlines, the January program is ideal if you are an entrepreneur, will be joining the family business or can return to your employer or industry.

The January program essays are similar to that of the full time Columbia Business School MBA program, yet your additional task is to demonstrate that an accelerated program is the right fit for you. As with all MBA applications, setting your application strategy and refining your career goals will be key.

Columbia Business School Essay 1
What are your short-term and long-term post-MBA goals? How will Columbia Business School help you achieve these goals? (Recommended 750 word limit)

This question is fairly straightforward and consistent with other typical goals essays. The wrinkle to Columbia Business School’s J-term question is that it focuses on your goals, rather than your background or career experience, and that you will want to demonstrate that not only is Columbia Business School the best school for you, but that the accelerated program is a perfect fit for your career goals.

As you describe your short and long-term goals, make sure there is a clear trajectory from what you plan to do immediately after graduation (short-term) to where you want to ultimately take your career (long-term). Columbia Business School should be the natural link between your current situation and the goals you have for your career. While you want to concentrate primarily on your future plans, you may need to set up your goals with some context from your current career.

Because the January intake does not provide the opportunity for an internship, you will need to clearly demonstrate why your goals are achievable without the summer work experience.

Columbia Business School Essay 2
Master Classes are the epitome of bridging the gap between theory and practice at Columbia Business School. (View link below) Please provide an example from your own life in which practical experience taught you more than theory alone. (Recommended 500 word limit)

View the Master Class video.

This question is an ideal place to discuss a work challenge that taught you a lesson about experience vs. theory. Many Columbia Business School applicants have a hard time choosing a topic for this question because theory is so closely associated with school or academics. Think a little outside the typical definition and think about some of the theories you might operate within at work, and how you have expanded that knowledge through real life experience.

Perusing the website may also lead to ideas of your experiences that fit the master class model. Showing some familiarity with the master class program is certainly advisable here, and should be integrated organically with the example wherever possible.

Columbia Business School Essay 3
Please provide an example of a team failure of which you’ve been a part. If given a second chance, what would you do differently? (Recommended 500 word limit)

Failures are a great way to demonstrate your maturity and ability to learn from mistakes. A team failure takes the question into the realm of leadership and teamwork as well. It’s a good idea to choose an example where you had a real impact on the failure, blaming someone else on the team for the failure is not as helpful and demonstrates little about you.

Outline the example clearly and concisely, with clear descriptions of your part and the part of other members of the team. Identify where you think the failure originated, what you learned from it, and describe what you think would have corrected the failure. An ideal optimistic ending for an essay like this is a subsequent success that is related, but at the very least the essay needs to demonstrate that you learned and grew from the experience.

Columbia Business School 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.)

If there are any areas of concern, this is the correct place to address them. Strike an upbeat tone here and avoid excuses. Explain your issue clearly and focus most of the essay on the correction for the issue. For example, if you had a disciplinary issue in college, spend most of the issue demonstrating that you learned from the experience and have been an ideal citizen ever since.

If you do not have a weakness to address here, it’s an ideal opportunity to provide any information that you were unable to work into the other three essays. If you have an unusual background, hobby or extracurricular experience, this may be an opportunity to provide that information to the adcomm.

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