Tuesday Tips: Columbia MBA Essay Tips for 2021-2022

Columbia MBA

Columbia Business School has released the application and essay questions for students beginning the MBA program in 2022. These Columbia MBA essay questions have been updated since last year and include a new optional question.

Columbia is a fast-paced program in a fast-paced city. The kind of MBA student who is a good fit for Columbia and its setting in New York City will be those who plan to take full advantage of the unique opportunities offered by that environment. Another aspect is having the academic background to handle the rigor of Columbia.

What is the admissions team looking for in Columbia MBA applicants?

One of SBC’s former CBS Admissions Officers shared, “With CBS, it really is a holistic approach, but the fit is VERY important.  They want to know why CBS- that is a big part of their culture. They want to know you’re going to fit in.”

Columbia is looking for students who have big plans for their lives, MBA or not. Therefore, plan to brainstorm your career objectives, strengths, and weaknesses. Also, think about your overall life dreams before you start working on this application.

Columbia has flexible options for admission, from full-time MBA programs to a January entry without a summer internship. In addition, Columbia has an excellent executive MBA program. Columbia also offers an early decision option for candidates committed to Columbia. Note that Columbia has up-to-date COVID information on the admissions website.

The Columbia admissions cycle is rolling, so the earlier you submit your application, the sooner you will hear back. We recommend you try to submit your application as early as possible while maintaining high quality.

Columbia MBA

Feeling stumped by the Columbia MBA essays? Contact Stacy Blackman Consulting to learn how we can help with MBA admissions consulting.

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

Examples of possible responses:

“Work in business development for a media company.”
“Join a strategy consulting firm.”
“Launch a data management start-up.”

This is a deceptively simple question. It requires you to condense your career goals into a short career vision statement. As part of the question, Columbia provides a few examples, which are concise and to the point.

If your goal is to work at an investment bank after graduation, you could always just say: “Work in finance.” To add a bit more detail, consider adding a little more color. Something like: “Work in real estate finance for a private equity firm” tells the admissions committee far more about your interests and goals than just “work in finance.” It also sets the tone for the first essay.

Columbia MBA Essay 1

Through your resume and recommendations, we have a clear sense of your professional path to date. What are your career goals over the next 3-5 years and what, in your imagination, would be your long-term dream job? (500 words)

This question asks about your short- and long-term goals. The word “imagination” indicates aspirational dreams, not just practical plans. We find that those who seek a top-tier MBA at a school like Columbia have Big Ideas. Also, the program will expose you to people and opportunities that will expand your horizons. Think about your true passions, and feel free to explore your biggest dreams.

As you talk about your future, you may need to refer to your past career and experiences. Also, think about the pivotal moments you can describe. In addition, use examples that support your future goals. In conclusion, your goals should have a logical progression, but you should show how you plan to adapt.

columbia mba essay tipsFor example, perhaps you want to be a general manager of a company or division. But right now, you have been working primarily in marketing. Subsequently, you might take classes in finance and strategy and take part in consulting projects while interning at a start-up. All of these will provide experience for your general management path.

Most importantly, Columbia wants to know who you are and how you are different from other applicants. Don’t try to be an ideal applicant. Instead, reveal your genuine personality, motivations, and goals.

You might mix personal and professional interests to answer this prompt. In addition, you could focus on either of those angles, depending on the topics of your other essays. Finally, specifics will help you set yourself apart with this essay.

Know yourself and know the school. And, as you address this question, make sure to tailor your answer to your individual goals for learning and career. Also, keep in mind Columbia’s academic and professional opportunities.

Columbia MBA Essays 2 and 3

Please respond to two (2) of the three (3) essay questions listed below:

The Phillips Pathway for Inclusive Leadership (PPIL) is a new co-curricular program designed to ensure that every CBS student develops the skills to become an ethical and inclusive leader. Through PPIL, students attend programming focused on give essential diversity, equity, and inclusion skills: Creating an Inclusive Environment, Mitigating Bias, Communicating Across Identities, Addressing Systemic Inequity, and Managing Difficult Conversations. Tell us about a time you were challenged around one of these five skills. Describe the situation, the actions you took, and the outcome. (250 words)

Why do you feel Columbia Business School is a good fit for you? (250 words)

Tell us about your favorite book, movie, or song and why it resonates with you. (250 words)

This year, Columbia asks applicants to answer two out of three prompts. Like the essays in past years, this one asks you to get personal.

The first essay choice focuses on diversity, equity, and inclusion. DEI is an important focus for businesses today. To answer this question, you will use an example of a time that you used one of the skills described. Ideally, you were in a situation where you could use some interpersonal skills. If you demonstrated a positive impact on your organization, even better. And, your experience should demonstrate a knowledge of your own biases and identity.

The second choice is a general question around fit. Therefore, school research will help answer this question. Consider what you know about yourself and the Columbia community. Make sure you can show that you will benefit the community. Think about the unique skills and experiences you will share. Columbia wants to meet students who have a strong desire to attend their program. Therefore, if you choose this question, show your passion for the school.

Passion is Essential for Columbia MBA Applicants

The third essay choice is personal. Choose based on your tastes, and consider what information you are sharing. For example, if you are a reader, you may pick a favorite childhood book. What do you remember about the story, and did it kindle your reading passion?

In contrast, a movie might have spurred emotions. What was memorable about the film, and how did it make you feel? You may associate a specific song with a meaningful relationship. How did the song impact your life?

Whichever art medium you choose, it should reveal more about you as a person. Make sure you use specific examples that help the reader understand how you think and feel. Finally, your essay should provide an understanding of your personality and motivations.

Optional Essay

Is there any further information that you wish to provide the Admissions Committee? If so, use this space to provide an explanation of any areas of concern in your academic record or your personal history. This does not need to be a formal essay. You may submit bullet points. (maximum 500 words)

Note that this question is entirely optional. You do not need to answer if there is nothing more to communicate.

If you do choose to write an optional essay, keep it brief. Focus only on specific areas of concern. For example, you may need to address a lack of demonstrated quantitative abilities or the lack of a recommendation from a current supervisor. Or, you might have gaps in work experience or low grades. Remember, it is best to explain the issue briefly and then show how you have addressed it. Finally, conclude by explaining why it should not concern the admissions committee in terms of your abilities.

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