Columbia MBA Admission Essays 


Four mandatory essays and one optional essay

Columbia MBA Admission Essays

The essays are of average importance in the admission process in comparison to the other elements of the file: all the same, you mustn't neglect them if you want to keep every chance possible of getting accepted. Through the essays, the Admissions Committee is looking above all to understand the applicant's character, as well as to gauge his or her ability to express and organize his or her ideas.

A Few Tips For Writing Strong Essays

 Some essay topics appear on all business school applications, while others tough upon the same themes but with a different approach. The Directors of Admissions are perfectly aware that a person applying to different schools will inevitably be tempted to reuse the same essays for several applications. For a student who proceeds in this way, the main risk is of reducing the impact of the essays if the Admissions Committee decides that they are too general or worse, if they don't precisely answer the question being asked. It is therefor highly important to craft appropriate responses for each program you apply to; this will also help you display your motivation.

Each essay should reveal a new aspect of the applicant's personality or path. Before jumping into the writing, it is essential to have an organized vision of the content of the essays and to have thought about the overall approach for each one: the ideas to be developed, the style to adopt, the structure, etc. In this way, the body of the essays will constitute a homogeneous and cohesive test. 

Finally, it is recommended to have your essays re-read by at least two different people. They should critique the content as much as the form.

To summarize,  here is a brief list of tips before setting out to write your essay:

On the content:

  • Carefully answer the question being asked.
  • Understand the meaning of your sentences and the words that you use. The essay writing process is also an exercise in communication in which you should persuade the reader.
  • Don't be repetitive. Each sentence should contribute a new element to the elaboration of your ideas.
  • Choose topics that tough your personally.
  • Give concrete examples rather than general affirmations.
  • Be sincere. The Admissions Committee quickly picks up on false situations in the text.

On the form:

  • Express yourself in a positive manner: state what you have done and not what you haven't.
  • Use transitions between paragraphs.
  • Opt for short sentences and a clear and concise style.
  • To avoid being unclear, favor the active voice rather than the passive voice.

What Columbia is Looking For in Your Essays

Essay topics have remained the same for the past three years. Applicants must write four essays and have the option of writing an additional one. Essays 1 through 3 are mandatory; you can choose between number 4a and 4b.

1) What are your career goals? How will an MBA help you achieve these goals? Why are you applying to Columbia Business School?

2) In reviewing the last five years, describe one or two accomplishments in which you demonstrated leadership.

3) Discuss a non-academic personal failure. In what way were you disappointed in yourself? What did you learn from the experience?

4a) Discuss your involvement in a community or extracurricular organization. Include an explanation of how you became involved in the organization, and how you help (ed) the organization meet its goals?

4b) Columbia Business School is a diverse environment. Please discuss a life experience of yours that shows how you will contribute to the class.

(Optional) is there additional information that you wish to provide the Committee?

The essay provide supplementary information which allow the Admissions Committee to better judge whether a candidate possesses the qualities to succeed at Columbia and beyond. The principal qualities being looked for are, in order of importance:  a sense of leadership and initiative, motivation,  the ability to adapt, and an open mind.