July 28th, 2009
CBS has released its essays and…. nothing has changed. Our analysis of their essays follows:
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) : *
Because Personal Statements are similar from one application to the next, we have produced the “MBA Mission Personal Statement Guide.” We offer this guide to candidates free of charge, via our online store. Please feel free to download your copy today.
For additional information on the Columbia Business School experience, please consult the MBA Mission Insider’s Guide series.
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: http://merlin.gsb.columbia.edu:8080/ramgen/video1/faculty/MasterClass-promo.rm
View via Google: http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=-4698876883776961370&hl=en
CBS asks the reader to go online and learn about a facet of the Columbia experience, the Master Class, that is gaining prominence in its curriculum. While the video itself is entertaining and educational, it is only tangentially related to the core question, which requires you to describe a time when practice trumped theory. Candidates should resist the temptation to fawn on CBS and laud the Master Class and should instead focus on providing an example of such a case.An obvious starting point for candidates is to consider times when they have learned something theoretically. However, you need not only think of times when you were in a college classroom or some sort of corporate training event. You should expand your concept of theory to include all times when you were presented with or considered ideas. Indeed, a commentator on TV or the fellow who owns the breakfast shop that you frequent (not to forget your own times of reflection and imagination) can all present valid theories that you have actually put into practice.
You should certainly show that you were/are open to ideas and that you are willing to test them. However, it is the process of testing that you, like CBS, should emphasize. So, if the first part of your essay is an explanation of how you were captivated by an idea, the second part should be the testing and learning. Clearly, we need to understand a contrast between these two phases in order to validate the argument that CBS presents. In this essay question, CBS does not explicitly ask for your key learnings, but it is appropriate for you to offer them nonetheless. By reflecting on your experience, you will emphasize the power of practice, in teaching/learning enduring lessons.
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) :
The crucial word in this essay question is “team.” Indeed, this is not a question about an individual failure. So, you should not attempt to stretch an essay about an individual failure to fit this question. You should, instead, attempt to identify a time when a team did not achieve its desired results (it will be important to “show” this time through a narrative structure) and analyze how and where the breakdown occurred, generally being diplomatic about assessing responsibility and sharing some of the “blame” yourself.
It is important to note that a team failure does not need to be the story of a chaotic breakdown with people throwing chairs at each other. A failure can occur due to a passive approach to a problem – for example, the team does not understand its responsibilities and those senior to the team are not empowering the team to make choices. Regardless of the nature of the failure itself, it will be important for you to show that you have a nuanced understanding of the dynamics and that you are able to reflect and present a compelling theory (yes, theory!) for how you would have otherwise approached this situation.