Columbia January 2010 Accelerated MBA Program: Essay Tips and Deadlines

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Columbia's 2010 J-Term Deadlines

Columbia will review applications for its accelerated program between April 20, 2009 and October 7, 2009. It promises a response in eight weeks.

Columbia's January 2010 Accelerated MBA Essay Questions and Tips

(My comments are in red.)

The following essay questions are part of the application to Columbia Business School:

In addition to learning about your professional aspirations, the Admissions Committee hopes to gain an understanding of your interests, values and motivations through these essays. How you answer these essays is at your discretion, there are no right answers and we encourage you to answer each question thoughtfully.

Dual Degree applicants: Please address the following questions within your response to Essay 1: How will the Dual Degree enhance your short-term or long-term goals?

Reapplicants: If you have applied to Columbia Business School within the past year, you are required to submit only the reapplication essay. If your last application was more than one year ago, you must answer essays 1, 2, and 3.

Essay 1
What are your short-term and long-term post-MBA goals? How will Columbia Business School help you achieve these goals? (Recommended 750 word limit)

This is a forward-looking goals question. While you shouldn't ignore the factors that contributed to the development of your goals, the bulk of the essay should be about the future. What do you want to do immediately after completing your MBA? 5 years later? How will Columbia's program help you achieve your goals? Which of Columbia's strengths and programs are critical to your success? And be specific!

Also, since this is the J-term application, it should be very clear from your response to this question that your goals don't require a summer internship and that you are not changing careers. For example, you intend to return to your current employer, go into a family business, or return to your own business.

When the readers finish reading your essay, they should be convinced that you need an MBA from Columbia's Accelerated program to pursue your goals.

Essay 2
Master Classes are the epitome of bridging the gap between theory and practice at Columbia Business School. (View link below) Please provide an example from your own life in which practical experience taught you more than theory alone. (Recommended 500 word limit)

View with Real Player:

I also recommend you read the section of CBS' web site about Columbia's Masters Classes.

To me the masters classes are CBS's attempt to integrate the various business functions and provide a real general management element to a program that tended to keep those silos distinct. To respond to the question you need to bring an example from your life when you applied theory successfully. Ideally, you would want to use an example where you used management principles to guide your team, office, company, or club in solving a problem or completing a project.

Essay 3
Please provide an example of a team failure of which you've been a part. If given a second chance, what would you do differently? (Recommended 500 word limit)

When have you been part of a team that came in last? Or that came in second when it should have come in first? Or that failed to close the deal? Or did finish the project, but over budget and late so that your firm lost the client?

And more importantly, what have you learned from the experience? How would you attempt to change the outcome if you had the chance? When would you seize the initiative? When would you encourage others? When would you sit quietly and let someone with more appropriate strengths take center stage.

While the particular incident you choose should complement other elements of your essay and ideally discuss some interest, activity, or experience not discussed in other essays, the key part of this question is the second one.

For more assistance, please see:

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

Obviously you could use this optional essay question to address a weakness in your application, but in my mind, it is also open-ended enough to allow you to discuss a diversity element in your personal background or simply some unique area of interest or "your greatest passions in life," an element CBS had requested in previous years but dropped in Fall 09's application. Also, tucking a weakness explanation somewhere else would allow you to end the application with a strength and not a flaw.

**Reapplication Essay
How have you enhanced your candidacy since your previous application? Please detail your progress since you last applied and reiterate your short-term and long-term goals. Explain how the tools of the Columbia MBA will help you to meet your goals and how you plan to participate in the Columbia community . (Recommended 750 word limit).

This question gives clear instructions as to what Columbia is interested in. Your answer, like all reapplications, should focus on how you have improved yourself. What has changed in you that makes you a better candidate this year than last year?  And don't forget to answer the Columbia community part of the question. It tends to be overlooked.

If you would like help with your Columbia MBA application, please consider's MBA essay editing and admissions consulting or a Columbia Comprehensive Package.

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