Stacy Blackman Columbia Essay Tips

UCLA Anderson School of Management is located in a desirable location in Los Angeles with alumni highly represented in the region. While entertainment and real estate are still dominant industries in Los Angeles, technology and entrepreneurship have become more and more important to the region. Anderson’s faculty, alumni and students are thought leaders in business and promoting collaboration and innovation.

We have helped countless applicants achieve their UCLA Anderson dreams. Contact us to learn how Stacy Blackman Consulting can help you.


FIRST-TIME APPLICANTS (REQUIRED ESSAY):

Describe your short-term and long-term career goals. How can the UCLA Anderson experience add value to your professional development? (500 words maximum)

As you evaluate your career goals, consider your career thus far and how you would like to develop it. When you think about any long-term goals you have for your career, why is an MBA the right next step? And why would Anderson be the right place to gain the education and network you need? Your career goals should be examined through the filter of Anderson’s values and how you plan to use those values in your post-Anderson life.

When structuring this essay consider telling one or two pivotal stories to illuminate who you are. UCLA is looking to understand how you are different from other applicants and how you have determined your goals. Consider the turning points or moments that triggered reflection for you.

Have you experienced a significant personal setback? What is your family background? Have you lived outside your home country? When did you face a turning point or make a big decision about your career? What were some of your proudest accomplishments? What moments have called upon your need to collaborate, lead or innovate?

When describing your career goals, briefly explain what you plan to do immediately after graduation, and then what you want to accomplish over the long-term with your career. A career path that focuses on demonstrated passions and interests throughout your life is going to be most compelling as you write this essay and each section should bridge seamlessly into the next.

Short-answer question:Describe how you would contribute to the UCLA Anderson community. (250 words maximum)

Last year the Admissions Committee provided an excellent guide to approach the essays. The blog talks about what UCLA looks for in candidates: “At UCLA Anderson, we are a community defined by three core qualities — we share success, think fearlessly and drive change — so the Admissions Committee is looking for these same qualities in prospective applicants.”

To learn how you fit into Anderson, the school recommends connecting with current students and visiting campus. UCLA suggests citing specific classes, professors and programs in this essay. On your personal engagement with Anderson, it will be helpful to include the social and extracurricular aspects that attract you to the close-knit experience. Be specific as you discuss the clubs and conferences that are unique to the UCLA MBA. The other important component to this question is to address how you will contribute to the community. What skills and perspective will you bring to share with your class? Do you see clubs or activities on campus that you can impact in a positive way? Having specific ideas based on your school research will be invaluable to answer this question.

OPTIONAL QUESTION:
The following question is optional and can be submitted by either first time applicants or reapplicants. No preference is given in the evaluation process to applicants who submit a response to the optional question.
Optional Question: Are there any extenuating circumstances in your profile about which the Admissions Committee should be aware? Please use your best judgment. (250 words maximum)

Note that Anderson specifically asks you not to write this essay unless you need it. Do not use it as a place to continue making the case from the required essay. If you do need to use this essay to explain gaps in work experience, a low grade, or lack of a current recommender, focus on explanations rather than excuses.

Clearly explain the situation, and if it is a situation from the past, explain why you have changed. Providing evidence that you will not repeat the actions in question will help to solidify your answer.

REAPPLICANTS:
Applicants who applied for the MBA program in the previous two years. Reapplicant essay: Please describe your career progress since you last applied and ways in which you have enhanced your candidacy. Include updates on short-term and long-term career goals, as well as your continued interest in UCLA Anderson. (750 words maximum)

If you are a recent re-applicant to Anderson this essay gives you the opportunity to highlight improvements since your last application. This essay focuses on updates to your career progress and any updates to your career goals since your last application, but you have room to add other “ways in which you have enhanced your candidacy.” If you have an improved GMAT score, academic updates or extracurricular activities since your last application it would be useful to update the admissions committee.

What if you didn’t start a new job, earn a promotion, or advance in a linear way along your career path since your last application? If your resume remains basically the same, consider any new projects or accomplishments at work you can highlight. Demonstrating significant thought about your career path and increased introspection can also be progress, so updating your career goals thoughtfully is equally important to this application.

This entry was posted in Application Tips, UCLA Anderson Advice and tagged Anderson MBA, application advice, essay advice, Fall 2018 MBA Essay Tips, mba essay tips, MBA Essays, UCLA Anderson School of Management, UCLA MBA.
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2017-18 Columbia Business School MBA Essay Tips

byMBA Prep School on July 21st, 2017

The 2017-2018 Columbia MBA application is live, and it’s time to start writing your Columbia Business School essays!

Why now, you ask? Well, CBS has a rolling admissions process, and applications are reviewed in the order in which they are received, so gaining admission becomes more competitive over time as spots in the class gradually fill up. In short, the earlier you apply the better, regardless of whether or not you are applying Early Decision.

Read on to learn how to write a strong CBS essay, how to avoid common mistakes, and how to set yourself apart from the thousands of other top MBA applicants who set their sights on Columbia. Without any further ado, here are my best Columbia MBA essay tips!

Short Answer Question:

What is your immediate post-MBA professional goal? (50 characters maximum)

For Columbia’s short answer question, note that the maximum length for your response is 50 characters, not 50 words. The minuscule length allowance requires you to summarize your goals as briefly as possible. In addition to being concise, you will want to be specific. “Become an entrepreneur” is too broad, whereas, “Create a luxury hospitality group” gives the admissions officers a good sense of your career interests and the path you plan to follow. Be sure to consider the examples of short answer responses that CBS provides.

Your response to the short answer question should align with the first part of your answer to the Columbia career goals essay (essay 1), which I discuss below.

Essay 1:

Through your resume and recommendations, we have a clear sense of your professional path to date. What are your career goals over the next 3-5 years and what, in your imagination, would be your long-term dream job? (500 words)

I like to think of the first sentence of this essay prompt as a plea. The CBS AdCom is begging you not to repeat what they already know about your professional background from the other parts of your application; there is no need to cover the same information about your background here.

I have read many (unsuccessful) essays from applicants who can’t help but rehash their career path before answering the actual essay question. Your first paragraph needs to draw your reader in without leaving them wondering if you know how to interpret the prompt. I strongly encourage you to provide a direct answer to the “What are your career goals … ?” question within your first (or second) paragraph. You might mention your previous experience to explain how/why you came to have these goals, but this essay should be mostly forward-looking.

Your career goals should be as authentic as they are realistic. Because Columbia wants to admit students who will be successful in obtaining jobs after earning their MBAs, the admissions committee will review your career goals to see if your goal is a plausible leap from what you’re doing now (with Columbia Business School as the launchpad). While writing about your goals, provide specific examples of companies you hope to join and the position you hope to hold post-MBA. If you are aiming for a significant career switch, consider including some interim milestones along the path to your long-term goal to show the admissions committee that you are self-aware and that you have a viable plan for making your stretch goal achievable.

With the mention of “imagination” and “dream job,” Columbia is giving you permission to deviate from “safe” paths. Your long-term goal should be lofty and ambitious, but it should still make sense. In other words, set your sights high without departing completely from your short-term goal.

Also, don’t feel pressured to say you want to save the world. Columbia certainly appreciates a socially conscious mindset; however, you will not be dinged for wanting to be successful in a more traditional business field or industry.

Despite the word “Columbia” being absent from the school’s career goals essay prompt this year, you should still briefly mention how the Columbia MBA would help you achieve your goals in your essay. Work Columbia details in thoughtfully and avoid a laundry list of classes and clubs. The laundry list approach (squeezing in as many class and club names as possible without elaborating on them) reads as hurried and automatic, whereas choosing one or two CBS features reads as carefully considered and genuine. You might mention, for example, that the CBS “Healthcare Investment and Entrepreneurship” course will be critical to helping you achieve your post-MBA goal of joining a healthcare startup.

Essay 2:

The full-time MBA experience includes academics, recruiting, and networking. What are your personal priorities and how do you anticipate allocating your time at Columbia Business School? (250 words)

Columbia MBA Essay 2 gives you the opportunity to demonstrate your knowledge of and enthusiasm for Columbia. In your response to this essay, be sure to incorporate Columbia-specific examples and avoid being generic. A candidate who writes that they are interested in Columbia’s international offerings and in joining the school’s women’s organization is not as appealing as one who says they want to help organize a Chazen study tour and take on a leadership role in CWiB.

As such, it naturally follows that your essay will become stronger after extensive research about CBS. Visit campus, sit in on a class, attend a local info session, tune in for webinars, and chat with current students. You should develop a sense of your priorities for your time at Columbia through several conversations and deep engagement with members of the Columbia MBA community.

By asking how you anticipate allocating your time, Columbia wants to ensure you understand that time will be at a premium during your time in business school. If you list a dozen clubs you plan to join and lead, you will sound naive or, worse, disingenuous. You won’t succeed with this essay simply by cramming in sound bites and lists from the Columbia website. Be thoughtful in your choices, show that you’ve done your homework, and try to strike a realistic balance between academic, professional, and social opportunities.

Essay 3:

Please select and answer one of the following essay questions: (250 words)

a. Please tell us what you feel most passionate about in life.
b. If you were given a free day and could spend it anywhere, in any way you choose, what would you do?

Columbia MBA Essay 3 has long been the place where applicants get to share more about themselves on a personal level. Resist the temptation to write more about your job here; instead, use this space to provide new information and shed light on another dimension of your life, personality, and interests. Columbia wants to admit people who are not only academically capable and professionally accomplished, but also interesting and fun—people who have the passion and flair to enliven the business school community.

In terms of choosing whether to write essay “a” or essay “b,” neither essay is an objectively better choice—it all depends on your content. Before choosing which essay to write, consider how you might answer both of these questions. If you have a great deal of detail about what you feel most passionate about and examples to provide to show your passion, essay “a” can be a good choice. If you struggle to narrow down a passion but can come up with an interesting way you’d spend a free day, essay “b” is the better choice.

a. Please tell us what you feel most passionate about in life.

Whatever your passion—be it eating pizza or ending world hunger—strengthen your essay by using specific examples and showing why this passion is meaningful to you. The Columbia AdCom does not appreciate bragging or arrogance. For example, if you want to write about your volunteer work, be sure to let the AdCom know why you are involved with a particular organization and how it has impacted you, instead of only highlighting how you have made a difference.

Keep in mind that running, cooking, and travel tend to be very popular topics in business school essays; you might consider making another choice. If you are going to write about one of those topics, be sure you do so in a way that’s interesting and demonstrates why that passion is personally meaningful.

b. If you were given a free day and could spend it anywhere, in any way you choose, what would you do?

You can take this question in any number of directions. Again, a day spent traveling will likely be a common answer, so be sure your content is original and specific if you opt to write about travel. This essay has room for (appropriate) humor and levity, and if you have humble plans for catching up on sleep or walking your dog, make sure your personality leaps off the page. If you would spend your free day hanging out with your family, that’s fine too—as long as you back that up with a compelling, interesting narrative. Remember, the Columbia MBA program wants to admit applicants their classmates will enjoy having around—so use this essay to show off the best side of yourself.

Optional Essay:

Is there any further information that you wish to provide the Admissions Committee? If so, use this space to provide an explanation of any areas of concern in your academic record or your personal history. This does not need to be a formal essay. You may submit bullet points. (Maximum 500 Words)

You would be wise to use the optional essay if you have additional information to provide around an employment gap, a poor grade in college, an upcoming GMAT test date, or another weak spot in your candidacy. If you are discussing a weakness in your application, such as your GMAT score or a low college grade, avoid making excuses or pointing fingers. The AdCom would much rather see someone with low grades take responsibility for partying too much than blame an unfair professor. You may suggest that the nature of your work is better evidence of your quantitative ability than your GMAT score, for example, but be sure to maintain a tone of maturity and accountability. Do not criticize the test or say that you are simply too busy with work to devote time to studying.

Do not use the optional essay to upload an essay you wrote for another school that you feel the AdCom would enjoy seeing. Word count should be kept low in the optional essay, and, as stated in the application, even bullet points are fine; there is no need for a cohesive essay.

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