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Columbia Class of 2021 Essay Analysis

June 12, 2018

Although the first essay question remained the same from the previous application cycle, the second and third prompts have been changed.

2018/19 essay questions

Goal: What is your immediate post-MBA professional goal? (50 characters)

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)

Essay 2: How will you take advantage of being “at the very center of business”? Please watch this short video featuring Dean Glenn Hubbard (250 words)

Essay 3: Please provide an example of a team failure of which you have been a part. If given a second chance, what would you have done differently. (250 words)

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)

2018/19 essay question analysis

Essay 1

Again this year, Columbia is asking for both your short-term and long-term plans. Offer context for your motivations (what is the first time you realized this was your goal? How did you feel when you realized what you want to fix is “broken”?), as well as what from your background makes you the best person to pursue this goal. Also, make sure you’re connecting how your short-term plans relate to your long-term objectives. For example, if you want to start a business, and then become a public servant, explain how starting the business will help you be a better public servant.

Although the question doesn’t specifically ask it, be sure to include references to how Columbia would help you on the path to achieving your dream job. You don’t need too much time spent on this, but 1-2 examples woven into your storytelling will help.

Finally, every year, people are tempted to recount their past career as part of this question. Resist the urge! Talking about your professional path eats up A LOT of words, typically without answering the question directly.

Essay 2

This essay is similar to “Why [our school]” questions from other schools, but is deliberately worded this way to prompt you to discuss leveraging the whole region, rather than a single school. Successful candidates answer the question in a way that weaves in their personal background and story, rather than a generic endorsement of New York City or Columbia that any applicant can write.

Examples include discussing organizations in the city that you will reach out to and build relationships with, other regional schools to collaborate with, and even proximity to other parts of the world to deepen relationships with. There are many different directions you can take this topic, so take extra time to think about this one. 

Essay 3

The natural inclination when responding to this question is to choose examples of failure that aren’t too big, or don’t highlight too many of your weaknesses. If you have a good story along those lines, by all means use it. However, emotionally raw examples of failures, setbacks, and challenges (even non-work ones) have an opportunity to stand out to the reader, especially in explaining what you would have done differently. Whatever example you choose, ensure the failure was due to something you could control, as the key to this essay is highlighting lessons learned from your past mistakes. Another key aspect of this prompt is to ensure that the example of failure you choose to write about is a team failure (instead of just an individual one).

Optional essay

The optional question is available for you to explain any additional information that you may not have had the space to clarify in other parts of your application.

2018/19 deadlines

Early Decision: Application deadline: October 3, 2018 at 11:59pm ET

Merit Fellowship Deadline: Application deadline: January 4, 2019 at 11:59pm ET

Final Decision: Application deadline: April 10, 2019 at 11:59pm ET

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