Columbia MBA Essays and Application 2013-2014: Analysis and Tips

Posted By SWatts on May 26, 2013 | 0 comments

From Dr. Shel (Shelly Watts), President, MBA,


Columbia MBA Essays and Application 2013-2014: Analysis and Tips


The 2013-2014 Columbia MBA admission essays have been released, along with the application. See this link:

Below, we provide some analysis about what is new in this year’s application and tips for how to provide great responses to Columbia’s MBA essays.


Short Question About Career Goals on Application Form

Once again this year, Columbia has added a place for a short response on its application form where you must provide a concise summary of your immediate, post-MBA professional goal. Here is the question as it appears on the online application:

What is your immediate post-MBA professional goal? Required by all applicants. 100 characters.

The things that are distinct about this question this year include:

1. The space you have to articulate your immediate goal has been cut in half compared to the past two years: you have 100 characters instead of 200 characters in which to respond. Please note, that is characters, not words. One hundred characters translates into approximately 18-25 words, so you must keep your response on-point.
2. The question asks for your immediate professional goal, not your long-term goal. (When this short response was introduced two years ago, it did not specify short-term or long-term goal.)
3. The question asks you to comment about your post-MBA goal.

While in the ideal world you would present a very distinctive goal here, 100 characters does not provide much room for that. Just make sure to try to respond with an answer that seems achievable based on your background and the Columbia curriculum. Make sure to focus on the post-MBA goal; thus, you should not be talking about your goals while in business school. Even if you have equally well-defined, non-professional post-MBA goals in mind, this is not the place to share them. You can find a way to weave a reference to well-defined, non-professional post-MBA goals into your essay content, should you desire to do so.


GMAT Score

Once again this year, Columbia does not ask that you report all of your GMAT scores, nor does it ask for you to report the most recent three GMAT scores. For those of you who have a lower score that you would prefer the school not see when determining whether or not to admit you, you should jump for joy. The school is only asking you to report one score, and obviously you will choose your highest valid score. You also need to report how many times you have taken the GMAT, but your lowest score does not need to be a part of your online application.



The Columbia full-time online application indicates on the resume page that you should “provide a current resume or CV of 1 to 2 pages.”

For candidates who have a large number of meaningful extracurricular activities to elaborate on, or who have a long length of work experience, you should consider providing a resume longer than one page so that you can highlight your excellent credentials and experience in an ideal amount of detail.


Section for Describing Extracurricular Activities

The application appears to provide ample space for you to elaborate on key extracurricular activities. Be sure to use this space wisely, providing a solid amount of information about your leadership in the community and other extracurricular activities in ways that will be attractive to Columbia.


Columbia MBA Essay Questions 2013-2014

This year, the essay questions are as follows:

Essay 1. Given your individual background, why are you pursuing a Columbia MBA at this time? (500 words)

Essay 2. Columbia Business School is located in the heart of the world’s business capital – Manhattan. How do you anticipate that New York City will impact your experience at Columbia? (250 words)

Essay 3. What will the people in your Cluster be pleasantly surprised to learn about you? (250 words)

Optional Essay. Is there any further information that you wish to provide the Admissions Committee? Please use this space to provide an explanation of any areas of concern in your academic record or your personal history. (Maximum 500 words)

This year, you have a total of 1500 words to provide a case for your admission to Columbia Business School. This is a good amount of content (a typical MBA essay set allows a maximum of 1600-2100 words in the admission essays).

Notably, these questions do not explicitly ask you about your long-term goal. But, you can (and in many cases, you probably should) explicitly mention this in response to Question #1. Columbia also removed its question from last year, which asked you to elaborate on a personal experience that influenced you. If you have a notable personal experience you would like the school to know about, you can write about that in the Optional Essay.

Given the nature of the four available MBA essay questions, you should think carefully about which credentials and experiences you most want the admissions committee to consider in depth and that should help you identify responses for your essays.

We at MBA will soon provide in another blog tips for how to answer the Columbia essays excellently, as well as how you should think about responding to the Optional Essay.

Best wishes,
Dr. Shel (Shelly Watts)
President, MBA

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