Tuesday Tips – Columbia Business School Essay Tips

Columbia Business School seeks “intellectually driven people from diverse educational, economic, social, cultural and geographic backgrounds” for the class of 2012. Taking this short set of essays and communicating your achievements, leadership skills and team orientation will be important to gaining admission.

As one of the most international MBA programs in the top tier, Columbia Business School is interested in candidates who can demonstrate a global perspective and strong communication skills, including foreign language skills. If you have international work experience, an international background or the ability to speak another language, those aspects of your profile should be highlighted. As always, your goals should be a natural extension of your background and demonstrate the need for an MBA, and specifically the need for an MBA from Columbia Business School.

School research and a candid assessment of your own strengths and weaknesses are a strong basis to succeed with this set of essays.

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 career goals essays. While the essay is very forward looking and focused on your future goals, communicating about the future effectively will require some examination of your past. This question gives you the permission to approach your past strategically ”“ rather than outlining every career move you have made, you can highlight those work experiences that are directly related to your goals and desire for an MBA from Columbia Business School.
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.
“Why Columbia Business School” is a crucial part of this question, and will require specific knowledge of the program and why it is a good fit. Columbia Business School has become a leader in international business, social enterprise, and entrepreneurship along with its traditional strength in finance in recent years. Understanding the unique opportunities available at Columbia Business School will be an asset to effectively answering this question.

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. Your theory could be school related, which would be the most straight forward way to approach the question. Did you learn a theory in finance class and then build on the theory will working in investment banking?
If you don’t have an obvious example, think a little outside the typical definition. What are some of the theories you might operate within at work, and how have you have expanded that knowledge through real life experience? The best answers will describe the theory succinctly and then demonstrate exactly what you learned through practice: how did it expand your worldview? Did this intersection of theory and practice build your analytical skills?
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 under difficult circumstances. A team failure takes the question into the realm of leadership and teamwork as well, allowing you a chance to demonstrate how you work within group dynamics and lead as part of a team.
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 may reflect poorly on you, and demonstrates little about your ability to learn and mature.
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 based on the lessons learned, 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 admissions committee.

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