CBS MBA Essays : Sample Essays & Essay Writing Tips

If you’re a student looking to study abroad, specifically aiming for a coveted spot in the Columbia Business School (CBS) MBA program, you’re in the right place. Today, we’re diving into the heart of the CBS application process – the essays. These aren’t just any essays; they are a window into your aspirations, capabilities, and fit for one of the world’s most prestigious business schools.

The essays for the CBS MBA program are a critical component of your application. They offer you a unique opportunity to present yourself beyond grades and test scores. In this guide, we’ll walk through each essay prompt, providing insights and tips to help you craft compelling narratives that resonate with the admissions committee.

Why Focus on Essays?

Columbia Business School, located in the epicenter of business – New York City, seeks candidates who not only have clear career goals but also bring diverse perspectives and leadership potential. Your essays are the perfect platform to showcase these qualities. They are more than just written responses; they represent your ambition, personality, and vision.

UNDERSTANDING CBS’S APPROACH

At CBS, the emphasis is on understanding your career trajectory, your leadership experiences, and your reasons for choosing CBS. As you write, remember that every word counts. The admissions committee at CBS looks for clarity of thought, depth of insight, and the ability to communicate effectively.

Now, let’s embark on this journey to make your CBS MBA essays stand out!

ESSAY ANALYSIS AND STRATEGIES

ESSAY 1: CAREER GOALS AND LONG-TERM ASPIRATIONS

UNDERSTANDING THE PROMPT

In this essay, CBS wants to delve into your career goals over the next 3-5 years and your long-term dream job. But there’s a twist – they’re interested in your future, not your past.

Key Points to Cover:

  • Medium and Long-term Goals: Outline your career objectives post-MBA, focusing on the 3-5 year timeframe. It’s important to connect these goals to your first post-MBA job, offering a clear trajectory of how you envision your career unfolding.
  • Feasibility and Aspiration: While CBS encourages you to dream big, ensure your goals are grounded in reality. Showcase how your aspirations align with your experiences and the skills you aim to gain from an MBA at CBS.

WRITING TIPS:

  • Be Specific: Vague goals don’t cut it. Be as specific as possible about the industry, role, and the kind of impact you want to make.
  • Connect the Dots: Demonstrate how your past experiences, CBS’s MBA program, and your future aspirations are interconnected.

ESSAY 2: INCLUSIVE LEADERSHIP AND THE PPIL INITIATIVE

DECODING THE PROMPT

This essay revolves around the Phillips Pathway for Inclusive Leadership (PPIL), a unique aspect of the CBS curriculum. You’re asked to describe a situation where you utilized inclusive leadership skills.

Key Components to Address:

  • Understanding PPIL: Before diving into writing, familiarize yourself with the PPIL initiative and its five inclusive leadership skills: Mitigating Bias and Prejudice, Managing Intercultural Dialogue, Addressing Systemic Inequity, Understanding Identity and Perspective Taking, and Creating an Inclusive Environment.
  • Personal Experience: Reflect on a situation where you demonstrated one or more of these skills. It could be in a professional setting, a community project, or any other relevant context.

CRAFTING YOUR RESPONSE:

  • Storytelling Framework: Use a clear storytelling framework, such as the SOAR model (Situation, Obstacle, Action, Result), to structure your response.
  • Depth Over Breadth: Given the word limit, it’s better to go deep into one or two skills rather than trying to cover all five. Describe the situation, the actions you took, the outcome, and, importantly, your learning from the experience.

III. ESSAY 3: WHY CBS?

UNPACKING THE PROMPT

In this essay, Columbia Business School invites you to articulate why it’s the ideal place for your MBA journey. This question is more than just academic; it’s about fit – culturally, academically, and professionally.

Key Aspects to Focus On:

  1. Academic Fit: Dive deep into CBS’s curriculum. Highlight specific courses, professors, and unique programs that align with your career goals. For example, if you’re interested in finance, you might mention CBS’s renowned finance faculty and its location in the financial capital of the world.
  2. Cultural Fit: Reflect on CBS’s community culture. Mention clubs, events, and other aspects of student life that resonate with your personality and interests. This is where your personal story comes into play – how you see yourself contributing to and benefiting from the CBS community.
  3. Professional Fit: Emphasize how CBS’s network, career services, and other resources like the Executives-in-Residence program align with your professional aspirations. Don’t forget to mention the strategic advantage of being in New York City and how you plan to leverage this for your career.

WRITING STRATEGY:

  • Be Specific and Research-Driven: Generalities won’t work here. Back up your fit with CBS through detailed research. Mention specific elements of the program and how they align with your goals.
  • Personal Narrative: Connect your background, experiences, and aspirations to what CBS offers. This is not just about what CBS can do for you, but also what you can bring to CBS.

OPTIONAL ESSAY: ADDRESSING CONCERNS

This optional essay is your chance to address any potential red flags in your application (like gaps in employment or lower than average test scores).

Key Points to Remember:

  • Use Only If Necessary: This essay should be used to address specific concerns in your profile. If there’s nothing significant to explain, it’s better not to write this essay.
  • Be Concise and Direct: If you do write this essay, be straightforward. Provide a clear explanation, focus on the facts, and if applicable, mention any steps you’ve taken to address these issues.

CRAFTING YOUR RESPONSE:

  • Contextualize: Briefly explain the situation. Whether it was a gap in your education or a low GPA in a particular semester, provide context.
  • Positive Spin: Focus on how you’ve overcome these challenges or what you’ve learned from them.
  • Future Outlook: Assure the admissions committee that these issues won’t hinder your success in the MBA program.

WRITING TIPS FOR CRAFTING COMPELLING ESSAYS

Now that we’ve delved into the specific essays, let’s focus on some general tips to elevate your writing and make your application to CBS stand out.

UNDERSTANDING THE CORE CONCEPTS

Before you start writing, ensure you have a firm grasp of the key concepts CBS values, like diversity, equity, and inclusion. These aren’t just buzzwords; they’re pillars of the CBS community. Understanding these concepts will not only help you write better essays but also show the admissions committee that you align with their values.

STRUCTURING YOUR ESSAYS

The structure of your essays can make a significant difference. A well-organized essay with a clear narrative makes it easier for the admissions committee to follow your thoughts and understand your story.

  • Use a Storytelling Framework: Employ frameworks like the SOAR model (Situation, Obstacle, Action, Result) to structure your responses, especially for behavioral essays like the PPIL essay.
  • Clarity and Coherence: Ensure each paragraph transitions smoothly to the next, and each essay builds upon the previous one to create a cohesive picture of your candidacy.

HIGHLIGHTING PERSONAL EXPERIENCES AND VALUES

Personal experiences and values are what differentiate you from other candidates. When discussing personal experiences:

  • Be Authentic: Share genuine stories that reflect your personality, values, and motivations.
  • Reflect on Learnings: Don’t just describe what happened; reflect on what you learned from the experience and how it shaped your perspective.

LEVERAGING CBS’S LOCATION AND OPPORTUNITIES

CBS’s location in New York City is a unique aspect of its MBA program. When writing about why CBS is the right fit for you:

  • Highlight New York City: Discuss how being in the heart of the business world will benefit your career and how you plan to take advantage of the city’s resources.
  • Connect with CBS’s Network: Mention how you plan to engage with CBS’s vast network of alumni, industry leaders, and professionals.

Conclusion

Writing your CBS MBA essays can be a daunting task, but it’s also an exciting opportunity to showcase your strengths, aspirations, and fit for the program. Remember, your essays are a critical part of your application and can be the deciding factor in your admission. So, take your time, reflect deeply, and write authentically. Start early, and don’t hesitate to seek feedback.

CBS is looking for leaders who are not only academically capable but also bring diverse perspectives and experiences to the table. Through your essays, you have the chance to prove that you are one of these leaders.

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