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Columbia's Essay 2 - Practical Experience - I'm stumped!!

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Columbia's Essay 2 - Practical Experience - I'm stumped!! [#permalink]

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New post 31 Aug 2008, 04:39
Hey Guys -

Is any one else stumped by Columbia's second essay question? What kind of experiences are you guys writing about?

I'm at a total loss regarding this one. I wish there was a sample or two to look at so that I could get a start :)

Essay question:

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.

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Re: Columbia's Essay 2 - Practical Experience - I'm stumped!! [#permalink]

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New post 31 Aug 2008, 06:42
Just off the top of my head: Can you think of any job-related project you worked on where you education told you "X" would be the outcome, but after completing the project "Y" was the outcome?

In other words, the theory you were taught did not predict the resulting outcome?

RF
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Re: Columbia's Essay 2 - Practical Experience - I'm stumped!! [#permalink]

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New post 31 Aug 2008, 11:14
refurb wrote:
Just off the top of my head: Can you think of any job-related project you worked on where you education told you "X" would be the outcome, but after completing the project "Y" was the outcome?

In other words, the theory you were taught did not predict the resulting outcome?

RF


Hey RF - thanks for the idea. Unfortunately, I am unable to think of any such job-related project. Wow! I feel blank.

Obviously other people are not in the same boat as I am...

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Re: Columbia's Essay 2 - Practical Experience - I'm stumped!! [#permalink]

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New post 31 Aug 2008, 13:19
GK_Gmat wrote:
refurb wrote:
Just off the top of my head: Can you think of any job-related project you worked on where you education told you "X" would be the outcome, but after completing the project "Y" was the outcome?

In other words, the theory you were taught did not predict the resulting outcome?

RF


Hey RF - thanks for the idea. Unfortunately, I am unable to think of any such job-related project. Wow! I feel blank.

Obviously other people are not in the same boat as I am...


OK another approach:

Can you think of a time when your theoretical training told you solving a problem was easy, but when you tried to apply it you found out there were more variables than you first thought? I think b-schools like this kinda of approach because it shows maturity. A lot of people come out of school thinking they know it all but when it comes to solving an actual problem, they realize it isn't as easy.

It can be as simple as working within a team to achieve a goal, but interpersonal issues made it more difficult (a team member was lazy or bossy, etc). Often people don't take into account the logistics of solving a problem.

RF
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Re: Columbia's Essay 2 - Practical Experience - I'm stumped!! [#permalink]

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New post 01 Sep 2008, 00:26
refurb wrote:
GK_Gmat wrote:
refurb wrote:
Just off the top of my head: Can you think of any job-related project you worked on where you education told you "X" would be the outcome, but after completing the project "Y" was the outcome?

In other words, the theory you were taught did not predict the resulting outcome?

RF


Hey RF - thanks for the idea. Unfortunately, I am unable to think of any such job-related project. Wow! I feel blank.

Obviously other people are not in the same boat as I am...


OK another approach:

Can you think of a time when your theoretical training told you solving a problem was easy, but when you tried to apply it you found out there were more variables than you first thought? I think b-schools like this kinda of approach because it shows maturity. A lot of people come out of school thinking they know it all but when it comes to solving an actual problem, they realize it isn't as easy.

It can be as simple as working within a team to achieve a goal, but interpersonal issues made it more difficult (a team member was lazy or bossy, etc). Often people don't take into account the logistics of solving a problem.

RF


Hey RF - Some great ideas there. Thanks a bunch! I think I can work with the interpersonal issues that you mention.

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Re: Columbia's Essay 2 - Practical Experience - I'm stumped!! [#permalink]

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New post 01 Sep 2008, 10:18
Would anyone care to share some of the situations they thought about/used for this question? Feel free to PM me.
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Re: Columbia's Essay 2 - Practical Experience - I'm stumped!! [#permalink]

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New post 01 Sep 2008, 12:31
I have a clue..it goes like..sometimes when there is a will there is a way..so paper analysis will tell you that things wont work..but LUCK was on your side..

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Re: Columbia's Essay 2 - Practical Experience - I'm stumped!! [#permalink]

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New post 01 Sep 2008, 14:00
would it work to write how practice taught you that solving a particular problem was far more difficult than theory led you to believe?

so this isn't really a contrast, i'm not saying theory predicted X while practice predicted Y...i'm more saying that, simply, practice made me realize how large a gap there sometimes can be between theory and practice.

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Re: Columbia's Essay 2 - Practical Experience - I'm stumped!! [#permalink]

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New post 01 Sep 2008, 14:14
young_gun wrote:
would it work to write how practice taught you that solving a particular problem was far more difficult than theory led you to believe?

so this isn't really a contrast, i'm not saying theory predicted X while practice predicted Y...i'm more saying that, simply, practice made me realize how large a gap there sometimes can be between theory and practice.


Ya, that should work. Whatever example you use, see to it that u dont make theory sound meaningless. My essay uses theory as a stepping stone to practice.
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Re: Columbia's Essay 2 - Practical Experience - I'm stumped!! [#permalink]

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New post 01 Sep 2008, 16:12
nadtrans wrote:
My essay uses theory as a stepping stone to practice.


I think that's what they looking for.

Understanding that theory alone can't solve problems is a sign of maturity. It ones of those thinks you learn through experience. Even solving the simplest problems can be difficult due the inherent difficulty in translating theory into practice.

It's like people that say "If you don't like you're job, just find another one!". Saying stuff like that diminishes the finer points in actually finding another job (education, contacts, job market, etc).

RF
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Re: Columbia's Essay 2 - Practical Experience - I'm stumped!! [#permalink]

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New post 01 Sep 2008, 16:46
refurb wrote:
nadtrans wrote:
My essay uses theory as a stepping stone to practice.


I think that's what they looking for.

Understanding that theory alone can't solve problems is a sign of maturity. It ones of those thinks you learn through experience. Even solving the simplest problems can be difficult due the inherent difficulty in translating theory into practice.

It's like people that say "If you don't like you're job, just find another one!". Saying stuff like that diminishes the finer points in actually finding another job (education, contacts, job market, etc).

RF


Thats wht I thought. Will let u know if it pays off. i.e if i get an admit!
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Re: Columbia's Essay 2 - Practical Experience - I'm stumped!! [#permalink]

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New post 01 Sep 2008, 17:23
RF, so would you say that writing about an experience that demonstrated a large gap between practice and theory is not totally sufficient for this essay?
from the experience, the only thing i learned that there was indeed a large gap...but maybe the essay wants more than this?

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Re: Columbia's Essay 2 - Practical Experience - I'm stumped!! [#permalink]

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New post 01 Sep 2008, 17:52
young_gun wrote:
RF, so would you say that writing about an experience that demonstrated a large gap between practice and theory is not totally sufficient for this essay?
from the experience, the only thing i learned that there was indeed a large gap...but maybe the essay wants more than this?


I am not RF, but I guess RF will agree with me when I say that writing about a large gap is not a good essay topic. By doing that, u r lessening the impact of theory and you should not be doing that considering the bigger picture.
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Re: Columbia's Essay 2 - Practical Experience - I'm stumped!! [#permalink]

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New post 02 Sep 2008, 06:51
Haha, young_gun, you stole my avatar! :lol:

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Re: Columbia's Essay 2 - Practical Experience - I'm stumped!! [#permalink]

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New post 02 Sep 2008, 10:56
young_gun wrote:
RF, so would you say that writing about an experience that demonstrated a large gap between practice and theory is not totally sufficient for this essay?
from the experience, the only thing i learned that there was indeed a large gap...but maybe the essay wants more than this?


That's one of the traps I keep falling into when I write my essays. I think of a great story, get it down and go "yeah! they'll love that!".

But remember, the story is not what is important (although it can make for an interesting read), it's what YOU got out of it. The stuff the adcoms want is stuff about YOU.

Read the question again:

"Please provide an example from your own life in which practical experience taught you more than theory alone."

The "taught you" is the important part. In fact it's the key a to great essay.

Going back to the interpersonal example. You could break down your essay like this:

1. Describe the task (keep it short) and talk about the theory of solving it.
2. Talk about the obstacle of interpersonal difficulties.
3. Talk about another, similar task where you used what you learned in 2 to prevent/overcome an interpersonal obstacle. (be detailed here).

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Re: Columbia's Essay 2 - Practical Experience - I'm stumped!! [#permalink]

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New post 02 Sep 2008, 11:19
I'm sure you guys have seen this already, but here are the clear admit tips. They usually have the best essay tips.

In this new essay, Columbia asks applicants to share a story about a time reality subverted expectations. “Theory” here refers to one’s thoughts and preparation going into an experience, while the “practice” translates to how an event or project actually played out. This essay calls for a focused discussion of a single situation; professional experiences are certainly relevant, though volunteer or other extracurricular stories could be equally fitting. Given the school’s focus on experiential learning, it will be important that applicants demonstrate an appreciation for the sorts of lessons learned and insights gained from hands-on involvement, so it is important to select an example in which one is an active participant rather than an observer. Finally, while it seems quite possible to fulfill the question’s requirements without watching the associated video, it’s probably prudent to make reference to Columbia’s Master Classes and one or two of the selling points mentioned in the clip, perhaps in the essay’s concluding comments.

They seem to think (as do I) that you should focus on a current event only. Rather than writing on one experience, saying what you learned then writing about a second experience where you applied that lesson. You also need to clearly know what the theory was going in to the experience and then how the practice differed from that and what it taught you.

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Re: Columbia's Essay 2 - Practical Experience - I'm stumped!! [#permalink]

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New post 02 Sep 2008, 11:21
And here are Stacy Blackmans tips (another top consultant):

It will definitely be important to be familiar with Columbia’s master classes, which are projects done with second year students who work with a company on a real world problem. For this essay, it will be important to think about an example of a time when you bridged the gap between theory and reality in a practical, work situation. Demonstrate your ability to apply theory, and show how you were able to function in a practical, dynamic situation, even if the outcome was not as expected. Columbia appreciates experience, and this is a great place for you to highlight some of your unique practical experiences

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Re: Columbia's Essay 2 - Practical Experience - I'm stumped!! [#permalink]

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New post 02 Sep 2008, 14:47
Another admission consultant: http://adam-markus.blogspot.com/2008/07/columbia-business-school-september-term.html

Quote:
At first glance, some might find this essay question difficult, but actually it is rather simple:
1. Pick an experience in your own life where you learned more from practice than theory.
2. State what the theory was.
3. Show how practice was a better teacher.
4. Describe what you learned.
5. Describe the outcome. This is not stated, but the proof of practice is in the result.
6. Keep in mind that you do not need to talk about the video or the Master Classes when answering this question. It is, of course, worth mentioning the Master Classes in Essay 1. You can view the Master Class Course Descriptions on the Columbia website.

Given that essay three is about team failure, I suggest you select an accomplishment for essay two and not a team story. It might be personal or professional. Obviously it should only be academic if the point is to show how you had to go beyond theory. Many applicants will probably write on a professional accomplishment story where they had to think and act outside of the box. This is quite a reasonable choice. Some applicants might write on something personal and it is possible for this topic to work but if that is the case, then you should be sure that what you learned and what the story reveals about you are both very significant.

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Re: Columbia's Essay 2 - Practical Experience - I'm stumped!!   [#permalink] 02 Sep 2008, 14:47
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