Tuesday Tips – Columbia Business School Essays

Columbia Business School has changed the essay questions this year, resulting in a leaner set of questions that will require you to think deeply about what you need to communicate and strategize effectively. The three required questions focus on some of the factors that are important to Columbia Business School.

As mentioned on the website, Columbia Business School is seeking strong candidates with demonstrated academic and professional accomplishments, along with “demonstrated, strong leadership; and the ability to work in teams.” Columbia Business School’s students are diverse and international, and Columbia Business School seeks students who have the “potential to become successful global leaders.”

Columbia Business School Application Essay Questions:

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 is similar to the standard career goals essay and the tips we have provided for Wharton and Kellogg will be helpful here too. Columbia Business School does not ask about the past, so it is important to be future focused on this essay. Make sure to clearly outline your goals, and talk about the past when you specifically need to discuss what has led you to be passionate about the career path you have chosen.

In addition, it’s very important to spend significant time and effort on the second part of the question about Columbia Business School as a integral part of your goals. Researching the school, speaking with students and alumni and explaining your fit with Columbia Business School effectively in this essay can make a huge difference to your candidacy.  A great way to learn more about Columbia Business School, the school blog is a great resource.

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)

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It will definitely be important to be familiar with Columbia Business School’s master classes, which are projects done with second year students who work with a company on a real world problem. For this essay, it will be important to think about an example of a time when you bridged the gap between theory and reality in a practical, work situation. Demonstrate your ability to apply theory, and show how you were able to function in a practical, dynamic situation, even if the outcome was not as expected. Columbia Business School appreciates experience, and this is a great place for you to highlight some of your unique practical experiences.

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)

This is similar to the classic mistake essay, yet rather than focusing on your own individual failure, you are asked to think about a team that failed. This is a great opportunity to demonstrate your skills as both a leader and team member. The tricky part is to avoid blaming anyone on the team while explaining what went wrong.

The way to approach this question is to analyze what went wrong in the team failure, and what you learned. Briefly outline the situation, discuss the failure and then discuss how you would apply the lessons learned if you were given a second chance. Be as specific as possible about where the situation broke down, as well as what you would do differently. To take the question a bit further, it would be ideal to have a real life example of a time you actually did apply the lesson you learned through this failure.

It would be appropriate to choose either a work or extracurricular example for this question, depending on how you answered the rest of the required questions.

4. (Optional) Is there any further information that you wish to provide to the Columbia Business School Admissions Committee? (Please us this space to provide an explanation of any areas of concern in your academic record or your personal history.)

This essay is meant as an opportunity to explain anything that may be a concern to the admissions committee. When discussing a low GPA, for example, make sure to offer clear explanations without embellishment or excuses. The best evidence that you are now an ideal candidate for Columbia Business School is your demonstrated achievements since. Highlight any classes taken since, quantitative work projects, and any other academically relevant successes.


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To see our Columbia School Essay Guide for MBA Applications, click here.


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