Columbia MBA essay 2023 – Analysis and Tips

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The application and essay questions for the 2023 MBA program at Columbia Business School have been made available. The questions are similar to those from previous years, however, they have been revised to emphasize career objectives and fit.

Columbia University offers a fast-paced program in a fast-paced city. MBA students who aim to take full use of the unique resources given by Columbia and its surroundings in New York City will be a strong fit for the program. Another consideration is having the academic credentials to endure the rigors of Columbia.

Columbia MBA essay analysis and tips

Columbia Business School (CBS) asks its applicants to write a 50-word “short answer” about their goals and three essays that aren’t too long. 

The first essay question from CBS is about candidates’ long-term career goals, just like the goal statement, but in much more depth (at 500 words). 

The second essay asks applicants to explain why they want an MBA from CBS.

The third essay asks candidates to talk about a favorite book, movie, or song. 

Read on for our full analysis of the questions for the Columbia MBA program in 2023.

Columbia MBA essays

Applicants must complete one short answer question and three essays.

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.”

Essay 1

Through your resume and recommendation, we have a clear sense of your professional path to date. What are your career goals over the next three to five years and what is your long-term dream job? (500 words)

Essay 2 

We believe Columbia Business School is a special place. CBS proudly fosters a collaborative learning environment through curricular experiences like our clusters and learning teams, co-curricular initiatives like the Phillips Pathway for Inclusive Leadership, which aims to equip students with the skills and strategies necessary to lead in an inclusive and ethical manner, and career mentorship opportunities like our Executives-in-Residence program.

Why do you feel Columbia Business School is a good fit for you academically, culturally, and professionally? (300 words)

Essay 3

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

Optional Essay

If you wish to provide further information or additional context around your application to the Admissions Committee, please upload a brief explanation of any areas of concern in your academic record or personal history. This does not need to be a formal essay. You may submit bullet points. (Maximum 500 Words)

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.”

The important point to note here is that there is an upper limit of 50 characters and not words. The space between words will also be counted towards this limit.

Therefore, get straight to the point and answer this question with the job and industry. Don’t even waste the character limit for words like ‘I want to.’

So think about what you really want to do with your career in the near future and say it out loud. Don’t forget that the rest of your application needs to show that your stated goal fits with your current skills and deep interests, especially after you’ve gotten your MBA. This will show that your stated goal is attainable and give your claim more weight. If you can do this in 50 characters (not words! ), you will have done what the school wants you to do and answered their question well.

Essay 1

Through your resume and recommendation, we have a clear sense of your professional path to date. What are your career goals over the next three to five years and what is your long-term dream job? (500 words)

As with any goals essay, it’s critical to bear in mind that this is not a theatrical retelling of your resume. However, you should include a few lines of background information to enable the reader subsequently comprehend that you have the abilities and drive required to achieve your objectives.

In short, make sure that your comments build on what the admissions committee can find in your recommendations or resume, rather than repeating it. 

This question asks about your short- and long-term goals. In contrast to long-term goals, short-term goals might be more specific. The admissions committee expects you to have a general idea of what you want to achieve in the future, but they don’t require the same amount of detail as they do for the immediate post-MBA aspirations. Columbia wants to know that you have a clear idea of where an MBA from Columbia can take you.

For example, maybe you want to run a company or division as its general manager. But for the most part, you have been working in marketing right now. After that, you could take classes in finance and strategy and do consulting projects while working as an intern at a start-up. All of these will help you get the required experience on your way to becoming a general manager.

Also, the part about a “dream job” really stands out. In light of this, your long-term goals should be ambitious, since top programs want to accept people who will change the world. Still, they should be based on your short-term goals, your MBA, and your career so far.

Remember, Columbia wants to know who you are and what makes you different from everyone else who has applied. Don’t try to be the perfect candidate. Instead, show your real personality, goals, and what drives you.

To learn more about what Columbia Business School is looking for and how to make your application stand out, get in touch with us at contactus@admitexpert.com

Essay 2

We believe Columbia Business School is a special place. CBS proudly fosters a collaborative learning environment through curricular experiences like our clusters and learning teams, co-curricular initiatives like the Phillips Pathway for Inclusive Leadership, which aims to equip students with the skills and strategies necessary to lead in an inclusive and ethical manner, and career mentorship opportunities like our Executives-in-Residence program. Why do you feel Columbia Business School is a good fit for you academically, culturally, and professionally? (300 words)

This essay question wants you to say why CBS is the best place to help you reach your goals. It’s a great chance to show that you’ve done your research and are really interested in going to Columbia. 

In the prompt, the admissions committee mentions three major parts of the CBS program and gives links to more information about them. This is a good place to start (or, ideally, continue) your research, even if you don’t think any of the three immediately applies to you. 

In your essay, you need to show a clear plan of action and show how CBS’s services fit directly with your interests, personality, and needs. 

Note that the “academically, culturally, and professionally” part of the prompt does not have a “and/or” option. This means that you must make sure to talk about all three things in your essay, and you should do so thoroughly and about equally. 

This will show the admissions committee that you are a good fit for and excited about the whole CBS MBA experience, not just a few key resources or parts.

Even though it isn’t directly in the essay prompt (like it was in years past), you should still explain not only why Columbia’s campus life and leadership culture are right for you, but also why you want to get your MBA in New York City, since NYC is such a big part of the Columbia experience. 

Do you want to impress Columbia’s Adcom?

At Admit Expert, we have helped hundreds of students get into top MBA programs around the world. We would be happy to help you too.
Schedule a free call with us today to learn more about our services and how we can help you achieve your goals.

Essay 3

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

This question shows that the Columbia adcom wants to learn more about you on a personal level. You can talk about a book, movie, or song of your choice, but the most important part of your answer is to show how self-aware you are by explaining in just 250 words why you connect with the content. 

A favorite childhood book, for example, could be a good choice if you’re a reader. Did the story inspire you to become a lifelong reader?

Movies, on the other hand, may have evoked strong feelings. Take a moment to reflect on your favorite parts of the film and how they made you feel. You may have a strong connection to certain music because of a personal connection. The song had a profound effect on my life.

It doesn’t matter what kind of art medium you choose; it should reflect who you are as a person. Use concrete examples to demonstrate your thoughts and feelings to the reader. Finally, your essay should give an insight into your character and motivations.

While essay 1 demonstrates the professional path you wish to pursue in life, essay 3 might provide extra insight into the type of person and company leader you aspire to be. 

You should therefore dare to get personal and avoid getting stuck attempting to choose the ideal, most spectacular work of art, whether it be an indisputable classic, political satire, or a spiritual saga. The WHY behind your choice, how it speaks to you, and its impact or influence on you is far more crucial in this situation.

Optional Essay

If you wish to provide further information or additional context around your application to the Admissions Committee, please upload a brief explanation of any areas of concern in your academic record or personal history. This does not need to be a formal essay. You may submit bullet points. (Maximum 500 Words)

The admissions committee makes it pretty clear that you need to talk about any problems with your application, such as gaps in employment, bad grades, etc. 

In these situations, applicants should keep their answers short and to the point, explaining what happened without making excuses and bringing up mitigating factors in a humble way. 

Still, it’s possible that there are other parts of your background that would be relevant but aren’t covered anywhere else in your application, like an upcoming promotion or a part of your identity that isn’t covered by the program’s data forms. 

Even though applicants should try to show everything about themselves in the required parts of the application, there is still some room for short exceptions.

Let us help you get into Columbia Business School

We will help you write essays that portray your unique strengths and experiences in the most favorable light so that your application shines above the rest. We have helped hundreds of students get into top US business schools. Let us help you too.

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