Tuesday Tips: Cornell MBA Application Tips for 2023-2024

Cornell MBA application

Are you targeting Cornell University’s Johnson Graduate School of Management? The Cornell MBA application is now live, so it’s time to tackle those MBA essays. Cornell Johnson is a flexible MBA program within an Ivy League campus. The school offers multiple full-time options, including a one-year MBA, specialized executive programs, and the Cornell Tech MBA in Ithaca and NYC.

Whatever your goals and background, Cornell has a program that can help you achieve them. Johnson also works to integrate the MBA experience into the larger Cornell community and leverage coursework at the other top-ranked graduate programs to provide more opportunities to Johnson students.

When approaching the Cornell MBA application essay and goal statement, set your strategy before you start working. Then, identify the program at Cornell in which you are most interested. Do some comprehensive school research. That means researching the faculty, coursework, and career opportunities. Also, examine your background and goals to see what is most important to explain as part of your story.

Make sure to inject a layer of personal background and experiences—what makes you truly unique. Finally, make sure you have solid academics, work experience, and extracurriculars.

These can be covered in your Cornell MBA essays, resume, or recommendations. If you identify any holes in your profile or story, take the time to fill them before starting your application. You can explain anything necessary in the optional essay.

Curious about your chances of getting into a top B-school? Contact us to talk strategy with a free 15-minute advising session with an SBC Principal Consultant. 

Cornell MBA Application Essays and Tips

Goals Statement

Immediately post-MBA, my goal is to work as a(n) ____[Role]____ at ___[Company]___within___[Industry]___.
Targeted Job Role:
Target Job Company:
In 5 – 10 years post-MBA, my goal is to work as a(n) ____[Role]____ at ___[Company]___within___[Industry]___.
Targeted Job Role:
Target Job Company:
How has your experience prepared and encouraged you to pursue these goals?

This short answer question is a quick way to cover the relevant career goals questions for your Cornell MBA application. Make sure that your answers are clear and are consistent with your recommenders.

Once you have identified your industry, company, and role in both the short- and long-term, you can briefly answer how your past experiences have led you to your goals. Then, think about the pivotal moments in your career and how they have prepared you for the next step or have helped you to realize your passions.

Finally, pick a very brief example to cover here. In addition, you can use your resume and recommendations to showcase any other skills you need to accomplish your goals. You can explain more about your accomplishments and leadership in the Impact Essay.

Impact Essay

At Cornell, our students and alumni share a desire to positively impact the organizations and communities they serve. Taking into consideration your background, how do you intend to make a meaningful impact on an elite MBA community? (350 words maximum)

As the Cornell Johnson admissions committee says, “This essay is designed to explore the intersection of engagement and community culture. Whether during the program or following graduation, our students and alumni share a desire to positively impact the organizations and communities they serve.” When you consider your MBA experience, how do you plan to be an active part of the community?

The first step to answering this question is, once again, to do your research. The admissions team at Johnson suggests connecting with current students using the community search tool. Another way to find a personal connection is to reach out to friends, family, and work colleagues to see if anyone knows a current or future member of the Johnson community.

As you prepare for conversations to learn more about Cornell Johnson, think about programs, extracurricular activities, and the informal ways students might interact. Johnson offers groups for interests ranging from cooking to ice hockey and has professional clubs for every possible career path.

Those formal groups, or connecting in a classroom or party, might be ways you make connections at Johnson. Showing that you know the school well is essential for a successful Cornell MBA application. Once you have identified opportunities to contribute to campus life at Johnson, you should support your story with evidence from your past experiences.

For example, maybe you want to bring new speakers to the Johnson Marketing Association because you have contributed to your young professionals group at work. Explain that you have successfully organized events featuring prominent speakers for a large group of people and can bring that skill to impact your peers at Johnson.

Cornell MBA application

Optional Essay (Required for Reapplicants)

You may use this essay to call attention to items needing clarification and to add additional details to any aspects of your application that do not accurately reflect your potential for success at Johnson (350 words maximum).

If you are reapplying for admission, please use this essay to indicate how you have strengthened your application and candidacy since the last time you applied for admission. Please also review our Admissions Policy for additional information about re-applying (350 words maximum).

This essay allows for either an explanation of any weaknesses in your application or additional information. Your issue could be a poor GPA or GMAT. Or you might have concerns with your undergraduate record. Possibly you were unable to provide a recommendation from a current supervisor. If any of those issues exist, this is the place to give the background.

Briefly describe the situation and what may have contributed to the issue (illness, family difficulties, etc.). Make sure you don’t editorialize—facts only. Focus the balance of your essay on looking forward. What have you done in the recent past to demonstrate your skills and intelligence?

For re-applicants, this is the place to explain what you have done since your last application. Make sure to strengthen your case for admission. If you have a new GMAT score or took classes in calculus or statistics, you have a solid case for improved academics. A promotion could signal career development and leadership.

Even if you don’t have a clear-cut update to describe, you can use this space to explain how you have improved your career goals or fit with Cornell.


To talk to Stacy Blackman Consulting about your Cornell MBA essays, don’t hesitate to contact us!  We offer multiple services to meet your MBA application needs, from our All-In Partnership to hourly help reviewing your MBA resume.  Contact SBC today for a free 15-minute advising session to talk strategy with a Principal SBC consultant. Meanwhile, here’s a snapshot of the caliber of expertise on our SBC team

If you have an interview coming up, you will want to review SBC’s interview prep services. The key to interview success is practice and we provide you with all the tools you need to do just that.

  • Leverage our video platform to practice, view yourself and improve
  • Work with our experts for live rehearsal and feedback
  • Download a guide for lists of practice questions, tips on how to prep and overviews of interview formats
  • Experience a real group interview before your big day

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