How to Nail the CBS 2019-20 Essay Prompts

Like many of us, Columbia Business School just wants to be loved. For a successful candidate that means making it clear to CBS that it is your first (and possibly only) choice for business school, and that you possess the leadership qualities to succeed.

If this is you – and you want the best chance of being accepted – then applying Early Decision (ED) is the way to go. But remember that this decision is binding and that, upon acceptance, you will need to commit and withdraw any other applications. If CBS is not your first choice, then apply rolling admissions. But use good judgment, applying the day after the ED deadline signals that your application was ready to go, but that CBS is not your first choice. Keep in mind that admissions committee evaluates applications in the order they are received. ED applicants typically hear back in ~4-6 weeks. So, if you submit your CBS ED application just after July 4th, you could be celebrating your seat in the class of 2022 on Labor Day!

Let’s delve into each essay:

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

This VERY SHORT statement (remember 50 characters, not words!).  Make it as specific as possible, provide an example of a position you may want, an industry you want to join, or a company that is ideal for you.  Whatever you say here should tie into Essay 1.

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)

Start out with what the longer-term goal is – just a very brief description.

Then offer some simple context/backstory: as the prompt states, you shouldn’t rehash your professional path, but it is good to offer just a few key points so that the goals make sense without repeating what is on other pieces of your application.  Next, describe your 3-5-year career goals – and how, after completing the CBS MBA, this role will prepare you for the long-term dream job. Consider offering a specific job title and even an example of a company or organization you aspire to work for.  This will help the admissions committee really connect with your goal.

Finally, delve more deeply into the long-term goal – think big, think creatively, think outside the box.  Here, it’s not as essential to give a job title, but rather what sort of impact you hope to make.  Give examples of how and why this might be important – to a community, to a company or organization or somewhere else. Finish with how the CBS MBA specifically will be essential for meeting these goals.  You can mention certain classes, professors or organizations that are unique to CBS that would be beneficial to you. Be sure not to overlap with the next essay though, as you want to mention new information in each essay.

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

Your answer to this essay should get across that the CBS MBA is THE business program for you. The reasons you give for why you want to attend Columbia should be tied to unique aspects of the school itself, like the fact that the school’s position in New York City provides unparallel business resources, and to specific interests that you have, like a specific desire to get involved in the Lang Center for Entrepreneurship. It’s not enough to just generally list characteristics of the school, you should also tie these aspects into what you want to gain or provide during your time in the program. Prior to writing, you should do significant research into what CBS has to offer, from classes, extracurriculars, professors and networking opportunities.

Essay #3: Who is a leader you admire, and why? (250 words)

This question is significantly different from the prior year’s prompt and focuses on Columbia’s desire to grow leaders from its MBA program. Through asking who is a leader you admire, CBS is looking to explore what your idea of leadership is and what characteristics you think a leader must possess to be effective. The response to this essay will also provide Columbia an inside look into the type of leader you will be yourself because we often admire people we would like to be like. To that end, this essay should ultimately reflect the kind of leader you hope to become. This includes expressing the scope of leadership of the chosen person, whether widespread or local, the target audience of the leader and the specific intra and inter personality traits of the leader that you admire.



Author: Stratus Admissions
Stratus is a premier admissions counseling firm committed to helping clients achieve their dreams of going to business school, law school and graduate school. Stratus has served thousands of clients from over fifty countries. Our team of expert counselors are graduates of Harvard, Stanford, Columbia, Duke, MIT, and other top universities. Stratus counselors are passionate about coaching young professionals on their application journeys. Many of our counselors have direct admissions experience from these top rated schools or served as alumni or student admissions interviewers.
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