2023-2024 Cornell Johnson MBA Essay Analysis and Tips



An international orientation and an emphasis on teamwork are hallmarks of Cornell Johnson’s small, amicable community and amiable culture. The business school seeks students who will have a lasting impact on the program both during their time in school and after they have graduated. The admissions committee is looking for leadership, collaborative skills, the capacity to evaluate challenges, and excellent interpersonal skills.

If this sounds like the kind of environment in which you would feel completely at home, the first thing you’ll need to do is demonstrate that you have what it takes by effectively answering the essay questions that Cornell asks for admission.

Cornell Johnson MBA essay analysis and tips

In this article, we’ll look at the Cornell Johnson essay prompts for the 2023 intake and present their analysis to help you write essays that impress the Berkeley Haas MBA admissions committee.

Cornell MBA essay for 2023 intake

Short essay tips

Goals Statement:

Use this short-answer section to succinctly share your short- and long-term goals. If you’re invited to interview, you will have the opportunity to elaborate on your statement further, and you should be prepared to connect your prior experience with your future aspirations.

A statement of your goals will begin a conversation that will last throughout the admissions process and guide your steps during the MBA program and experience. To the best of your understanding today, please share your short and long term goals by completing the following sentences and answering the enclosed short answer question (350 words maximum):

Immediately post-MBA, my goal is to work as a(n) [Role] at [Company] within [Industry].

Targeted Job Role:

Target Job Company:


In 5–10 years post-MBA, my goal is to work as a(n) [Role] at [Company] within [Industry].

Targeted Job Role:

Target Job Company:


The first part of this question can be answered without any difficulty. The admissions committee wants to know both the short-term and long-term goals you have for yourself, as well as whether or not you are able to outline a specific plan. Be specific. Your comments should be succinct and clear at all times.

For the text boxes, be concise and to the point. Inform them precisely of your intentions.

You have slightly more space for the larger essay, but not much!

Therefore, we recommend that you do not recapitulate your goals in this essay, unless you need them to transition between the two parts I believe this essay should have: your previous experience and what motivates you to pursue the goals you’ve stated (to answer the question, you must demonstrate how you have prepared and what has encouraged you to pursue your goals).

First, let’s discuss your preparation. Remember that objectives without context frequently lack clarity and impact. You may wish to include one or more brief stories or anecdotes to provide context.

Don’t list everything you’ve ever done (we already have your resume!) However, carefully create a summary of your career path that demonstrates you have acquired appropriate skills and expertise.

Second, explain why you are so enthusiastic about your personal ambitions. Though you may be seeking an MBA to earn more money or add a touch of prominence to your résumé, the admissions committee does not find these objectives fascinating. Rather, discuss your passions.

Provide examples of two or three formative events (professional and maybe personal) and elaborate on how these experiences have influenced your career choices. This is a retrospective essay that requires you to explain prior events; hence, you should not discuss how Johnson will prepare you for your future career.

You may opt to conclude with a single statement describing how your ambitions connect with Cornell Johnson’s mission, but avoid turning this into a “Why Cornell” essay.

Do you want to impress the Cornell Johnson 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.

Impact Essay

This essay is designed to explore the intersection of engagement and community culture. Our students and alumni share a desire to positively impact the organizations and communities they serve. To help you explore your potential for impact, we encourage you to engage with our students, alumni, faculty, and professional staff before submitting your application. You may choose to connect with them via email or phone or in person during one of our on-campus or off-campus events. As you seek their input and insight, please be respectful of their time and prepare a few discussion points or questions in advance.

At Cornell, our students and alumni share a desire to positively impact the organizations and communities they serve. Taking into consideration your background, how do you intend to make a meaningful impact on an elite MBA community? (350 words maximum)

This question is about the future, which is different from the short-answer question. Cornell Johnson is looking for people who can start right away and make the most of their time on campus. 

Even though the prompt asks how you will interact with and change the community, you can connect your goals to the things you plan to do on campus if you choose your examples carefully. 

This essay is your chance to show that you’ve learned as much as you can about the program. The school wants you to reach out to people in the community, and when you do, don’t just give a long list of the students and alumni you talked to. 

If you mention a student or alum in your essay, be sure to explain how they influenced your decision to apply to Johnson and/or what you learned about the program from them. Look for information that isn’t on the school’s website or in blogs. 

Think about how you will interact with your classmates in and out of class, both as a student and after you graduate.

Give a very brief summary of how you have helped an organization in the past, whether it was a professional group or a group of people in your neighborhood. 

Even though this is an essay about the future, you should talk about your past experiences to show how you plan to make a bigger difference at Cornell Johnson.

In other words, the best answers to this essay question don’t just talk about the change you want to make at Cornell Johnson and beyond. Instead, they talk about how your background and past changes have prepared you to make this change in the future.

To show that you will be an active member of the Ithaca community and your future career, you will need to show how you have been an active member of other communities in the past. Use this essay to show how much you know about Cornell and how you plan to become a part of it.

Optional Essay (required for reapplicants)

You may use this essay to call attention to items needing clarification and to add additional details to any aspects of your application that do not accurately reflect your potential for success at Johnson (350 words maximum). 

If you are not a repeat applicant, Johnson’s optional essay prompt gives you the chance to answer any questions an admissions officer might still have about your application, such as a low grade or GPA, a low GMAT or GRE score, or a gap in your work experience. 

Still, it is broad enough to let you highlight or explain something that, if left out, would make your application less than perfect. 

We don’t want you to just fill this space because you’re afraid that not doing so will hurt you in some way. 

Even if you’re tempted, this is not the place to use a good essay you wrote for another school or tell a few stories you couldn’t include anywhere else in your application. 

Keep in mind that if you send in an optional essay, you’re giving the people in charge of admissions more work to do, so don’t be too wordy or give more information than is really needed. 

You need to make sure that the admissions committee’s extra time and effort are really worth it, so write a very short piece to explain your troublesome issue or the most important thing about your profile that you haven’t mentioned anywhere else.

Do you want to impress the Cornell Johnson 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.

Reapplicant essay

If you are reapplying for admission, please use this essay to indicate how you have strengthened your application since the last time you applied for admission. Please also review our Application Guide for additional information about reapplying. (350 words maximum)

If you have already applied to Cornell Johnson before, this essay should be pretty easy for you. Whether you have improved your grades, gotten a promotion, started a new and exciting project, gotten more involved in your community, or taken on a personal challenge, the key to success with this essay is showing a clear path to success. 

The school wants to know that you have been working hard to improve yourself and your profile and that you have taken advantage of opportunities to do so in the past year because you need a Cornell Johnson MBA. 

Each candidate’s answer to this essay question will be very different because each person has different needs and life experiences. We are more than happy to help you with this very personal essay one-on-one to make sure that your hard work over the past year is shown in the best possible light.

Let us help you get into Cornell Johnson

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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