Tag Archives: Columbia

Tuesday Tips: Columbia Business School Fall 2016 MBA Application Essay Tips

Columbia Business School is highly concerned about fit and your knowledge of the program. New York City is another aspect of the school that pervades its culture and defines some of the unique opportunities of …

Columbia Essay TipsColumbia Business School is highly concerned about fit and your knowledge of the program. New York City is another aspect of the school that pervades its culture and defines some of the unique opportunities of the program. Thorough school research is crucial to your preparation for this application. Before you get started with this set of essays it will be helpful to brainstorm your career objectives, strengths and weaknesses, and to review the personal elements you will want to discuss.

Stumped by the Columbia essays? Contact Stacy Blackman Consulting to learn how we can help.

Short Answer Question:
What is your immediate post-MBA professional goal? (50 characters maximum)

This is a simple question, but may require you to condense your career goals into one clear career vision statement. Columbia presents several examples on their website, all of which have some unique aspect. Rather than a generic statement like: “Work in finance” the goal is to infuse some specificity. Something like: “Work in real estate finance within a private equity firm” tells the admissions committee far more about your interests and goals. Note that the limited character count is intended to get you to the point quickly and that all of the examples Columbia has provided are concise and lack any elaboration.

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)

Remember that this essay has two purposes: demonstrate that you know why you are interested in Columbia, and showcase why you are an excellent fit for the program. Both goals should be kept in mind as you answer the question.

This question is entirely future focused and specifically asks you to get away from a recitation of your resume. Spend the majority of the space describing your career goals and what you envision you will learn and experience at Columbia to help you achieve your goals. As you talk about your future you may need to refer to your past career and personal experiences. As you consider what to say make sure you are citing only relevant examples from your career. Think about the experiences you can describe that were truly pivotal and can support your future goals.

For example, perhaps you want to be a general manager of a company or division, and right now you have been working primarily in marketing. You might spend your time at Columbia learning about finance and strategy, being part of consulting projects and interning at a start up to round out your experience and start on your general management path. Make sure your goals are both achievable and aspirational and that you have specifics about Columbia to support your assertion that it is the right place for you.

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)

As you decide how to approach this question make sure that your individual goals for learning and career are impacting how you answer. You should consider the industry you plan to enter, and either the key adjunct professors from that industry at Columbia or the access to major companies from that industry in New York City. Consider your personal interests and how you might pursue them in the diversity of such an international city, and also the ways that Columbia’s alumni network can provide opportunities within the metropolitan area.

A mix of personal and professional interests may be covered in this topic, and you may want to emphasize either one of those angles depending on the answers you present to the other core questions.

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)

If you watch the linked video, you’ll see that CBS Matters is a part of the Columbia cluster experience that centers around a personal presentation. This essay is entirely about your life story and how you will be perceived by your peers at Columbia. If you did not cover anything personal in the prior two essays this is your opportunity to stand out from the pack of other applicants.

This essay is somewhat about what matters most to you, and what you would share if asked who you really are. Dig deep into your passions and background and find the aspects that resonate emotionally with you and seem to convey a truth about who you really are. If you are stumped by this essay prompt you may want to ask friends, family members or colleagues what they view as interesting and unique about you.

Once you have ideas about how to approach this question make sure that you are describing something about yourself that will be interesting both to your peers and to the admissions committee. Something that is a passion point for you and that demonstrates a bit more about your background and motivations will likely be interesting both your clustermates and the admissions committee.

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

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 essay 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 showcase your unique profile.

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Tuesday Tips: Columbia Business School MBA Essay Tips

Columbia’s updated essay questions are consistent with last year, with a new video about Columbia and New York City as a defining feature. As usual, Columbia is highly concerned about fit and your knowledge of …

Columbia’s updated essay questions are consistent with last year, with a new video about Columbia and New York City as a defining feature. As usual, Columbia is highly concerned about fit and your knowledge of the program. Before you get started with this set of essays it will be helpful to brainstorm your career objectives, strengths and weaknesses, and to make sure you have done as much school research as possible.

Short Answer Question: What is your immediate post-MBA professional goal? (75 characters maximum)

This is a simple question, but may require you to condense your career goals into one clear career vision statement. Columbia presents several examples on their website, all of which have some unique aspect. Rather than a generic statement like: “I plan to work in finance after Columbia” the goal is to infuse some individuality. Something like: “After my MBA I plan to pursue a career in real estate finance within a private equity firm” tells the admissions committee far more about your interests and goals.

Essay 1: Given your individual background and goals, why are you pursuing a Columbia MBA at this time? (Maximum 500 words)

Remember that this essay has two purposes: demonstrate that you know why you are interested in Columbia, and showcase why you are an excellent fit for the program. Both goals should be kept in mind as you answer the question.

Columbia has traditionally asked a similar question to determine why you are pursuing an MBA and why Columbia is the right program for you. It is likely that part of your answer to this question deals with your future career goals. When you think about your future plans it will add credibility to describe how you tend to approach goals in general. Are you determined despite obstacles? How have you demonstrated your persistence in your career thus far? This essay is not a recitation of your resume and should focus only on relevant examples from your career, but often the best indicator of future performance is the past, and therefore examples can support your position that your goals are achievable with a Columbia MBA.

The question is open ended enough to allow you to describe other details about your background. If you have a unique path to the MBA this is the place to describe it. If your cultural or family background is interesting and relevant to your application examples featuring details about your experiences could also be appropriate in response to this question.

Essay 2: Please view the video below: The Center
How will you take advantage of being “at the very center of business”? (Maximum 250 words)

The video Columbia asks applicants to watch can give you a few clues about the selling points that Columbia Business School sees in their New York City location. Leading edge research, access to heads of companies, and the major industries of New York City are all mentioned in the video. Watch carefully and determine what resonates most for you.

As you decide how to approach this question make sure that your individual goals for learning and career are impacting how you answer. You should consider the industry you plan to enter, and either the key adjunct professors from that industry at Columbia or the access to major companies from that industry in New York City. Consider your personal interests and how you might pursue them in the diversity of such an international city, and also the ways that Columbia’s alumni network can provide opportunities within the metropolitan area.

A mix of personal and professional interests may be covered in this topic, and you may want to emphasize either one of those angles depending on the answers you present to the other core questions.

Essay 3: What will the people in your Cluster be pleasantly surprised to learn about you? (Maximum 250 words)

If you did not cover anything personal in the prior two essays this is your opportunity to stand out from the pack of other applicants. If you are stumped by this essay prompt you may want to ask friends, family members or colleagues what they view as an interesting and unique fact about you.

Once you have ideas about how to approach this question make sure that you are describing something about yourself that will be interesting both to your peers and to the admissions committee. Facts about your prior work experience, any international experiences or travel, or extracurriculars that are a strong passion for you are all both potentially interesting to the people in your Cluster and the Columbia Business School admissions committee.

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

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 essay 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 showcase your unique profile.

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Columbia Business School MBA Application Essay Tips 2013

Columbia Business School has posted the essay questions for this fall’s application. Columbia has updated several questions with an increased focus on New York City as a defining feature. As usual, Columbia is highly concerned …

Columbia Business School has posted the essay questions for this fall’s application. Columbia has updated several questions with an increased focus on New York City as a defining feature. As usual, Columbia is highly concerned about fit and your knowledge of the program. Before you get started with this set of essays it will be helpful to brainstorm your career objectives, strengths and weaknesses, and to make sure you have done as much school research as possible.

Short Answer Question: What is your immediate post-MBA professional goal? (100 characters maximum)

This is a simple question, but may require you to condense your career goals into one clear career vision statement. Columbia presents several examples on their website, all of which have some unique aspect. Rather than a generic statement like: “I plan to work in finance after Columbia” the goal is to infuse some individuality. Something like: “After my MBA I plan to pursue a career in real estate finance within a private equity firm” tells the admissions committee far more about your interests and goals.

Essay 1: Given your individual background, why are you pursuing a Columbia MBA at this time? (Maximum 500 words)

Remember that this essay has two purposes: demonstrate that you know why you are interested in Columbia, and showcase why you are an excellent fit for the program. Both goals should be kept in mind as you answer the question.

Columbia has traditionally asked a similar question to determine why you are pursuing an MBA and why Columbia is the right program for you. It is likely that part of your answer to this question deals with your future career goals. When you think about your future plans it will add credibility to describe how you tend to approach goals in general. Are you determined despite obstacles? How have you demonstrated your persistence in your career thus far? This essay is not a recitation of your resume and should focus only on relevant examples from your career, but often the best indicator of future performance is the past, and therefore examples can support your position that your goals are achievable with a Columbia MBA.

The question is open ended enough to allow you to describe other details about your background. If you have a unique path to the MBA this is the place to describe it. If your cultural or family background is interesting and relevant to your application examples featuring details about your experiences could also be appropriate in response to this question.

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? (Maximum 250 words)

The two videos Columbia asks applicants to watch can give you a few clues about the selling points that Columbia Business School sees in their New York City location. Everything from galleries and food to access to professionals in finance is referenced and could be included in your personalized response to this question.

As you decide how to approach this question make sure that your individual goals for learning and career are impacting how you answer. You should consider the industry you plan to enter, and either the key adjunct professors from that industry at Columbia or the access to major companies from that industry in New York City. Consider your personal interests and how you might pursue them in the diversity of such an international city, and also the ways that Columbia’s alumni network can provide opportunities within the metropolitan area.

A mix of personal and professional interests may be covered in this topic, and you may want to emphasize either one of those angles depending on the answers you present to the other core questions.

Essay 3: What will the people in your Cluster be pleasantly surprised to learn about you? (Maximum 250 words)

If you did not cover anything personal in the prior two essays this is your opportunity to stand out from the pack of other applicants. If you are stumped by this essay prompt you may want to ask friends, family members or colleagues what they view as an interesting and unique fact about you.

Once you have ideas about how to approach this question make sure that you are describing something about yourself that will be interesting both to your peers and to the admissions committee. Facts about your prior work experience, any international experiences or travel, or extracurriculars that are a strong passion for you are all both potentially interesting to the people in your Cluster and the Columbia Business School admissions committee.

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

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 essay 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 showcase your unique profile.

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Tuesday Tips: Columbia Business School Essay Tips

Columbia Business School has posted the essay questions for the class of 2015 application. Columbia has significantly reduced the number of questions asked this year, but continues to seek customized information on your interest in …

Columbia Business School has posted the essay questions for the class of 2015 application. Columbia has significantly reduced the number of questions asked this year, but continues to seek customized information on your interest in the school. Before you get started with this set of essays it will be helpful to brainstorm your career objectives, strengths and weaknesses, and to make sure you have done as much school research as possible.

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

This question simply asks what your immediate post-MBA goal is. You should state your short-term goal briefly in this question and explain your longer term career goals in the next section.

Essay 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)
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)

Remember that this essay has two purposes: demonstrate that you know why you are interested in Columbia, and showcase why you are an excellent fit for the program. Both goals should be kept in mind as you answer the question.

Columbia has traditionally asked a similar question to determine why you are pursuing an MBA and why Columbia is the right program for you. This year the question asks how you plan to achieve your goals as well as what you want to achieve and why MBA. When you think about your future plans it will add credibility to describe how you tend to approach goals in general. Are you determined despite obstacles? How have you demonstrated your persistence in your career thus far? This essay is not a recitation of your resume and should focus only on relevant examples from your career, but often the best indicator of future performance is the past, and therefore examples can support your position that your goals are achievable with a Columbia MBA.

The second part of this question specifically focuses on culture at Columbia. While many applicants cite the location in NYC as a key attraction to the school, Columbia would like to know what you are seeking on campus that is the right fit for you. Along with viewing the video, conducting personal research by networking with co-workers, friends and family who may know someone at Columbia is a great way to experience the culture first hand. As you comment upon the aspects of Columbia’s culture that most interest you, make sure you provide examples from your own life to support that interest. For example, if you were highly involved in student government in your undergrad program perhaps you can cite a similar opportunity at Columbia you will pursue.

Essay 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)

While the first essay focuses on your professional path and why you want an MBA from Columbia, this essay is specifically seeking more insight into who you are outside of your professional focus.

If you are having trouble brainstorming a formative experience, think about what you have spent time on outside of work. Do you focus on volunteering? Family or friends? Work backwards from what is most important to you outside of your career and evaluate what experience led you to spend your time in this way.

Ideally this topic gets at your core values and what motivates you in your personal and professional life. While this absolutely should be a personal reflection, consider experiences that may be most relevant to an MBA program. For example, you may have spent time caring for a sick family member, which is clearly a personal experience, yet it taught you how to advocate for someone else’s needs and prioritize your time between your responsibilities and the needs of others. Ideally you are able to communicate what you value through this question and also how you approach learning from experience.

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

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 essay 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 showcase your unique profile.

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SBC Scoop: Prescription for a Low GPA

We’ve explored the issue of a low GMAT and provided tips for building a quant profile. Another very common weakness among our clients is the low undergrad GPA. Before we get into Spencer’s story I …

We’ve explored the issue of a low GMAT and provided tips for building a quant profile. Another very common weakness among our clients is the low undergrad GPA. Before we get into Spencer’s story I do want to point out that a 3.5 or better GPA during undergrad isn’t considered low for the purposes of most MBA applications. Make sure you look at the mean GPA for admitted students at your target programs to determine if you have an issue to overcome in that area.

Spencer came to us for assistance with his applications to Columbia, HBS and Wharton. He had a successful track record as part of a business development team at a healthcare company and great leadership opportunities outside of work on a non-profit board. Spencer had achieved a very strong GMAT score of 740, evenly balanced between his verbal and quant sections. The main issue with Spencer’s application was a GPA of 2.9 from Boston University.

Spencer had studied Economics and achieved B’s and a few A’s in those classes that related to his major, but he had several low grades in classes outside his major. Some of them were classes that didn’t appear particularly difficult. When we discussed his GPA in detail, Spencer revealed that he just didn’t have the motivation to achieve in certain classes. He was passionate about Economics and did well in a few other classes that tapped into his interests, but he wasn’t able to muster enthusiasm for his communication and Literature classes and his grades reflected it. There was no extenuating circumstances that impacted Spencer’s GPA, he just lacked the maturity to work hard on even the classes he disliked while in undergrad.

The difficulty with a low GPA is that it’s solidly in the past. As an MBA applicant you can’t do anything to change your undergrad GPA. When MBA programs look at academic records like the GMAT and GPA there’s a question of aptitude (can this applicant do the work?) and a question of application (will this applicant work hard?). In Spencer’s case it was clear he had the aptitude. Unfortunately it was not clear that he would dedicate himself to his MBA coursework. We took on that question and did two things to ensure that Spencer would showcase his ability to apply himself:

1. Spencer took a set of pre-MBA courses at a local university (similar to this NYU program) and achieved A’s in those classes. In this case, Spencer took three courses and didn’t worry too much about how quant oriented they were (quant was a strength in his application). Other applicants will want to think strategically about the courses.

2. Spencer took on the question of his low GPA directly in his optional essays. He made no excuses (there were none to make!) and admitted that he had lacked the maturity to see the big picture during undergrad and had only worked hard in classes that were intellectually interesting for him. He demonstrated clear evidence that he had since developed that maturity: he was a high achiever at work, he had taken a set of pre-MBA classes and achieved A’s, and he was prepared to dedicate himself to his MBA studies.

Spencer’s approach netted strong results for him. He was admitted Early Decision to Columbia and decided to attend.

To read more SBC Case Studies, click HERE.

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SBC Scoop: Selecting the Right Set of Schools

The initial questions we tackle with clients are how many schools and which schools – to apply to.  I am a big believer in the portfolio theory when it comes to MBA applications:  Apply to …

The initial questions we tackle with clients are how many schools and which schools – to apply to.  I am a big believer in the portfolio theory when it comes to MBA applications:  Apply to a reasonable number of schools (somewhere around 4) and make sure they vary in competitiveness.  Of course, they should all be schools you would be excited to attend, but you may include some super reach, dream schools as well as some that are a safer fit.  At the end of the day, all you need is one admit, so spread some risk around.  You never know what a given application pool looks like in a given year at a given school.  There are factors outside of your control, and you need to plan.

This week’s case study focuses on Cynthia, whose experience highlights the importance of appropriate school selection as a first step in your process.   Cynthia was a solid, if not outstanding, candidate and we felt confident that she should be able to secure admission at one or more schools.  She had a 3.2 GPA, 700 GMAT and three years of experience in marketing at a large technology company.  Her extra-curriculars were weak and we spent a lot of time brainstorming areas of passion to highlight for her, so that she could really come alive and stand out.

Cynthia desperately wanted to end up in New York or California, and she was determined to attend a top 15 school.  When she came to us, she had her heart set on Stern at NYU, as she felt it was a good fit for her credentials and the location was obviously right for her.  In fact, she wanted to apply to Stern and only one other west coast school (either UCLA Anderson or UC Berkeley Haas).  We encouraged her to apply to more than two schools.  Many people found her results surprising:

Stern – deny
Columbia – admit
Haas – waitlist/admit
Anderson – waitlist/deny
HBS – waitlist/deny
Stanford – deny
Tuck – waitlist (removed from waitlist)

Cynthia’s first decision was from Stern and that obviously left her very discouraged.  It did, however, encourage her to add additional schools to her list, some even more competitive than Stern.  Ultimately, Cynthia’s results were phenomenal, and things turned out even better than she had hoped.  However, it was a long and rocky, emotional road, spanning a full 12 months.  Her journey highlighted the fact that “all you need is one”, but casting your net a bit wider can help you to get that one (or two) admits.

To read more SBC Case Studies, click HERE.

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