Demonstrating fit can be explicit - ie. "this is why I am a good fit because of X, Y or Z" - or implicit - that is, by virtue of how you describe what you will bring to the program and what specific initiatives you will get involved with.
The elementary approach is to say I need CBS because of 1, 2 and 3. The better approach is to say "this is what I bring to the table" - things that you know the school "needs", the types of things that keep the adcom up at night.
Also, you don't need to compare the program to any other MBA program - that's just rude. Lol. Hear me out ...
So let's play "what's the scenario" for a second. Imagine this - it's like being on a first date. And on that first date, you would never bring a pie chart or Venn diagram (describing how well you fit) and how you data-mined your date's Facebook account to get a robust data set. The guy/girl would never take you seriously and would probably be freaked the F out. Additionally, you would never say that he/she was better looking than the last person you went out on a date with. Right?
You'll never get any (where) with that approach.
Rather, you just play it cool and even though you have data-mined the shit out of your date's FB account, you don't let on and thus, you don't take a data dump.
Instead, you are going to do this -
When you two young pre-MBA lovers start to order, you recommend the Chianti and an appetizer of Fava beans. Your date comments on how much he/she loves Chianti and Fava beans. But you knew that already. And you play it cool ... by not letting on.
The conversation wanders into the indie music scene. You're as recent a fan of the Decemberists, as your date is a real long-time fan. You talk about how you loved N'Sync when they were "underground." You ask your date if she loves Phil Collins, and he/she does. Oh the irony. In fact, you open your jean jacket to reveal the "vintage" Genesis World Tour '78 t-shirt
you picked up at Urban Outfitters - your date's favorite store.
You with me so far Cha-chi? Good.
Then you get into a convo about your favorite movies - you quote Silence of the Lambs and American Psycho - in some unpredictable twist of fate, those happen to be your date's favorite movies. You? You play it cool, because you knew that already - now didn't you?
Your date starts to warm up fast to you (about the time it takes to read a 500 word essay) because - "no one has ever made your date feel this way" and your date "really feels like he/she has known you longer than it took to peruse your Adult Friend Finder profile." By the time you two finish your tiramisu dessert, you are practically soul mates. Jackpot.
So kommitted, you never had to hit your date over the head with an axe or a Venn diagram. You never had to compare them to the other dates you've had. You didn't have to say I like you because your are a) crazy, b) sexy, c) cool. You didn't have to ask "how the date was going?" Instead hombre, you played it Gerardo Mejía - rico suave
It's late at night ... But I hope you got what I was trying to say. Feather it in, don't use brute force to get your point across - especially when telling CBS why they are the one and only. And don't waste your time telling them why the other schools suck. Just focus on the task at hand.
Also, I don't want to force your hand, but this post really deserves Kudos .... Just sayin'.
Thanks a lot for the reply - really helpful.
A quick follow-up though. I see your points about:
1) Writing why I need an MBA in general.
2) Writing how I'd contribute to Columbia.
But don't I need to mention the exact reasons why Columbia is a great fit for me instead of any other MBA?
Thanks for reaching out to me again. As far as I can tell - given your rather concise descriptions - is that neither path was really the right way. They are kinda of right, but also kinda wrong - which pretty much renders an essay with either approach ineffective as well.
CBS 1A - think of this essay as a funnel. Start with goals first - long and then short. Then a short paragraph that serves as a transition. This transition paragraph addresses how you know now is the right time for the MBA degree and the gaps in your current knowledge (gaps preventing you from reaching your goals), then into a quick
analysis/description of what you will get out of the MBA degree (how it will address these gaps.)
Overall - it helps to think about this essay (1A) as the what I get out of an MBA in general.
CBS 1B - This essay (1B) is all about what you bring to CBS
as opposed to what you take. The approach is to align yourself with the Cluster format in paragraph 1 of the essay (first portion of the essay) and then talk about how you will help bring something tangible to your classmates (through the cluster system and in general the team learning environment at CBS). It's okay to propose something here based on your past. So if you started a small org or club in the past, or if you are involved as an alumnus with your undergrad - you could propose a similar initiative at CBS (if one does not exist). This requires knowing what CBS is "self-conscious" about. Really, it requires you to know why CBS would even ask you a question about this. Basically, they feel as if their student culture is lacking, as well as engagement with alums. So this is why they want to know how you will help build a more cohesive culture. They believe that this all starts with people who fit in well with the cluster system. Get it? To really drive this essay home, you have to do some HW and figure out what other elements keeps CBS admins and adcom members up at night ...
To revise your approach (at a high level):
A) Talk about goals, and why MBA - and you better make sure you can get this job.
B) Talk about how you fit into the cluster system, and how you will work to improve the CBS culture ... It's okay to be creative here and propose something.
Here is what Columbia asked last year as part of essay 1:
A. Why are you pursuing an MBA at this point in your career, and how do you plan to achieve your immediate and long term post-MBA professional goals? (Maximum 500 words)
B. Please view this video, entitled Community at Columbia. Diverse, tight-knit clusters and carefully selected learning teams are defining features of the first year at Columbia Business School.
Along with more than 100 student organizations and countless events each semester, the cluster system helps to create a supportive and devoted lifelong community. Describe why you are interested in becoming a part of the Columbia community.
The way I structured my essay is:
A) Talk exclusively about why I'm pursuing an MBA (no mention of Columbia)
B) Answer why Columbia, with a third of the essay dedicated to Columbia's community.
Is this the correct way to approach this?
The second way I could've approached is:
A) Talk about why MBA and why Columbia
B) Talk exclusively about why I like Columbia's culture.
Will you be able to throw light on what the best way is?
Thanks in advance.
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