columbiaColumbia Business School (CBS) is part of Columbia University’s campus in the Morningside Heights neighborhood of New York City. Columbia MBA students enjoy the school’s location in New York City, one of the US’s primary financial centers.  They also receive especially strong training in finance, based in part on such customized, practical programs as the rigorous Value Investing Program for second-year students.

Established in 1916, Columbia Business School is one of six Ivy League business schools in the USA. It offers two tracks for MBA students. The traditional fall term accommodates approximately 550 students, while the January term “J-Term” takes approximately 200 students. Students entering in the fall are divided into eight clusters of approximately 65 students that first year core classes together. J-Term students are broken into three clusters. The J-Term is aimed at students who want an accelerated 18-month program who usually plan to return to their previous job, are company sponsored, and will not pursue a summer internship because they take classes during the summer.Being among the most selective of top business schools, Columbia admitted 18% of the applicant in the past intake  However, the admission ratio for Indian applicants is close to 5%.

Here, IMS helps you crack the code for creating a successful Columbia Business School application for the 2018 intake:

Goal: What is your immediate post-MBA professional goal? (51 characters)

This question will require you to condense your career goals into one clear career vision statement. Bear in mind that the question has a character limit and not a word limit. You need to save up on space because 51 characters will normally translate to around nine or ten words. The Columbia MBA application website provides an indicator of the kind of responses expected by the school, by including succinct examples such as:

  • Work in business development for a media company.
  • Join a strategy consulting firm.
  • Launch a data-management start-up.

Whatever your immediate post-MBA professional goal be, focus on specificity. Note that the limited character count is intended to get you to the point quickly . Also, bear in mind that your answer to the goal question directly impacts your answer for Essay #1, wherein you are asked to trace out your career progression.

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? (100- 500 words)

This question takes off from where you leave your goal statement. Columbia makes it clear that your answer to this question does not need to include a recitation of your resume. Instead, you need to use this space to explain how your immediate post-MBA professional goal will translate into a tangible career progression over the next 3-5 years.  You need to describe the majority of the space describing the milestones you envision for yourself and what you will learn along the way.

The  question asks you to imagine your long-term dream job. This gives you the freedom to create a long-term career vision that is completely different from your short-term and mid-term career. Bear in mind, that imagining your long-term career vision does not mean imagining a life completely different from the one you are leading right now. The success of your long-term career vision will depend on the skill-set you pick up throughout your career – so it’s a good idea to synchronize the two.


Essay #2: The full-time MBA experience includes academics, recruiting and networking. What are your personal priorities and how do you anticipate allocating your time at Columbia Business School? (250 Words)

With this question, Columbia wants to make sure you know exactly what you are going to business school for. Very often students in their eagerness to impress the admissions committee rattle off a laundry list of core courses and electives they want to take. They also try to showcase how pedagogy and learning methodology followed at their target school is a best fit with their personality. Most times, this attempt at showcasing a fit does not extend beyond quoting directly from the website! So with this essay question, Columbia knocks clumsy attempts out of the park. The admissions committee wants you to understand that the MBA experience extends beyond the classroom. Networking and recruiting are important aspects of the MBA experience. So, to understand how these fit into the Columbia MBA experience, you need to understand how recruiting is conducted at Columbia.

The CBS Career Management Center equips MBA students with many resources to get employment after business school. Students get one-on-one advising sessions or attend workshops, clinics, seminars and panels organized by the center. Representatives of corporations are also brought to campus to give presentations on their firms, take part in panel discussions and recruit CBS students for post-MBA roles. At least 400 firms are represented each year by recruiters. On-campus interviews for full-time time positions begin in October, while those for summer internships begin in January.

The newly established Columbia Career Network also connects students with alumni mentors who have shared interests and hosts. This happens both on- and off-campus events to engage alumni with current CBS students.

Ideally as a student at CBS, you need to strike a balance in between all these aspects, to make the most of your Columbia MBA experience. Having said that, what you choose to devote maximum time to depends on your personal strengths and priorities. Candidates applying for the J-Term for instance might choose to focus more on academics and network as compared to recruitment activities.

Essay #3: Please select and answer one of the following essay questions: (250 words)

a: Please tell us what you feel most passionate about in life.

This question takes a leaf from the Stanford ‘What matters most to you’ essay and leaves out the why. You need to use this space to talk about what is the one thing that makes you tick. It could be a hobby, an idea, a  school of thought, a feeling, your family,or anything that you feel most about. Of course, mentioning what you are most passionate about is not enough. You need to showcase how committed you are to this passion and the steps you have taken thus far to nurture your passion.

b: If you were given a free day and could spend it anywhere, in any way you choose, what would you do?

CBS lets you take a flight of fancy with this essay. This is your space to spread your wings, so as to say. If you choose to answer this prompt, be imaginative here. Where would you like to go? What is your dream destination? What would you do there? Of course, nothing in a business school application is as simple as saying you’d like to laze on a beach in the Caribbean. The location you choose, and what you choose to do there will give the admissions committee an insight into your hobbies and interests. Hence make sure you think this essay prompt through carefully. You don’t want to create a ‘made for’ answer, but at the same time, make sure that the choice of place and activities showcases your strengths, diversity and global perspective.

Optional Essay: Is there any further information that you wish to provide the Admissions Committee? If so, please use this space to provide an explanation of any areas of concern in your academic record or your personal history. You may submit bullet points. (Maximum 500 words)

The essay prompt very clearly states that you should use this prompt to explain any areas of concern in your academic record or your personal history. If you don’t have such issues, don’t write an answer for this question. If you do explain clearly and without making excuses what the reasons behind a drop in academic performance/concern in your personal history are. Explain the steps you have taken to mitigate these concerns. For a drop in grades – this could involve taking remedial classes, taking online classes and clearing exams. For concerns in your personal history explain how since that incident you have emerged a better, stronger person.

We hope our essay tips for Columbia set you on the way to crafting your Columbia application! IMS’s Center for International Education has successfully helped students secure admits to Columbia, year on year and we are happy to help you at every step of the way.

Stay tuned to this blog for more!


Leave a Comment

© 2014 GMAT Blog, inc. All rights reserved.


Social Media