While the MBA deadlines for Columbia Business School have remained rather consistent from the last admissions cycle to this one, the essays have undergone a partial makeover, as the third question has been completely changed.

But, before you tackle the CBS application, be sure to put a good deal of time and effort into researching the university. Read up on everything you can find about Columbia’s MBA, the school and its NYC location. Join webinars, attend events and, if possible, stop by the campus. Once you’ve done all that, reach out to alumni and network around them. All of this information gathering will greatly improve the quality of your essays and any contact with the admissions team.


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

Examples of possible responses:

“Work in business development for a media company.”

“Join a strategy consulting firm.”

“Launch a data-management start-up.”

While you can’t write an essay here, you’re still expected to sell your future career in 50 characters or less. That’s a tall order. Keep in mind that Columbia is requesting your immediate post-MBA goal, implying that the objective has to be—based on past professional experiences and future education—realizable. Don’t worry, you’ll have room in the upcoming essays to discuss your more fanciful career objectives.

Admittedly, most applicants have more than one potential post-MBA goal. If you fall into that group and are unsure of which to mention, try to the pick the one that’s most likely to occur. If your objective is a bit too generic, try to identify what sort of specificity you can add to it to make it more tangible.

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)

Columbia University offers a dynamic MBA that looks for competitive and innovative candidates. What they’re trying to gauge in this question is both your sensibility (can you understand what your skills and profile are likely to lead to in 3-5 years?) and your desire for achievement (what is the potential value and impact of your “long-term dream?”).

As you’re selecting your goals, keep in mind that they should form some kind of continuum with your past and near-future experiences. That doesn’t mean that you can’t dream big (CBS is filled with some of the most creative and daring minds), but rather that you have to illustrate how the skill set you’ve already started developing will make that big dream become a reality.

In order to bolster your arguments, it might be good to mention relevant examples from your life that clearly benefit your future objectives. However, it’s best if those instances are not present in other parts of your application and if they are not overly long.

Essay 2: Why do you feel Columbia Business School is a good fit for you? (250 words)

If you’ve done your research, there might be a lot of factors influencing your choice, however, with only 250 words at your disposal, you’ll need to be very direct in highlighting what benefits CBS will bring to you.

While there are various ways to approach the essay, one of the most practical and positive ones is by working backward from your post-MBA objectives. What will you need to achieve them? Is there knowledge, particular skills, or network connections that you’re currently lacking? Is access to the NYC market important for you? There are many questions that might be relevant in your case, so be sure to dig deep as you try to identify what’s necessary to accomplish your post-degree goals.

Once you have a series of requirements, you’ll need to match it up to what Columbia University offers. This is the moment where your initial research, school visits, and alumni outreach should pay off. By now, you should have a powerful understanding of the program structure, courses offered, professors, alumni network, company links, student organizations, and much, much more. After you’ve connected those resources to your future needs, you should choose those among them that are the most crucial and impactful.

Essay 3: Tell us about your favorite book, movie or song and why it resonates with you.  (250 words)

Here we have our new essay topic. At first sight, questions like this one throw a lot of applicants off because they seem so far divided from anything to do with business. However, they get at an important part of the process: fit. Columbia is trying to figure out if you come across in an MBA/CBS type of manner as a storyteller. In other words, can you charmingly engage the reader about your interests?

I’d recommend that before you jump into the essay, you start by making a list of books, movies and songs that you’re either passionate about or that actually impacted your life. Don’t worry about including elements in the list that are popular or cheesy—while uniqueness might be ideal, the vital part of the question isn’t what you choose but why. Once you’ve got your list, select an element that has changed or aided you somehow, or, even better, helped you have a positive effect on others. That way, for instance, when you’re talking about your favorite pop song, you’ll be able to weave in a story of motivating your team to go beyond their limits with it.

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)

This space should only be used to explain any irregularities to the admissions committee. If you do have any particular profile issues (lack of a direct supervisor recommendation, poor university grades, gaps in job experience, etc.), it’s to your benefit to keep your answer short. However, don’t leave this space blank, if you believe something in your profile comes across negatively. If you don’t deal with it here, admissions will most likely assume the worst cause was the reason.

When dealing with something that is or appears to be problematic, it’s often best to illustrate how you’ve completely resolved the issue. For instance, if you received poor grades during your university studies, explaining to Columbia Business School how you’ve since taken university-level courses that you’ve excelled at is a strong argument for having permanently solved the problem.

To get into the MBA program at Columbia, you’ll need a strong strategy to back you up, so be sure to take advantage of the opportunity to connect with our CBS experts. Also, if you’re searching for more information on the technical requirements of the application, you can visit the official site.

Published On: September 1st, 2020 / Categories: Columbia, Essay, MBA / Tags: , , /