Cornell University (Johnson) Essay Analysis, 2008-2009

 1) Describe your greatest professional achievement and how you were able to add value to your organization. (400 word limit)

This question is very straightforward, with only the most minor wrinkle: be sure that you offer an accomplishment that shows that you added value to your organization. Virtually all accomplishments can be said to have added value in some capacity, but nonetheless, you must remain cognizant of the second half of the question. As you consider your response, you should be sure to create a narrative structure that will engage the reader. Many writers will end the mystery quite quickly and state their accomplishment in the first sentence. After that, what point is there to the rest of the essay? Readers of our Monday Morning Essay Tips will know that this is a very easy way to disengage the reader. So, be careful to tell the story of how you achieved what you did in fact achieve, not just that you achieved something special. There is indeed a difference.  

2) What career do you plan to pursue upon completion of an MBA degree and why? How will the Johnson School help you achieve this goal? (400 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.  

3) You are the author for the book of Your Life Story. Please write the Table of Contents for the book. (400 word limit)

This essay question follows in the unique and creative model of NYU’s essay three, UCLA’s audio file and Chicago’s Powerpoint presentation, but for some reason, candidates seem hung up on what they perceive to be its rigid structure. So, we recommend that before you even put your hands on the keyboard, you head to your local bookstore and leaf through various fiction and nonfiction texts, as well as magazines. There, you may just find some inspiration through which you will arrive at your own unique approach, and you may also find a way to break free of the confines of the rigid table of contents to add crucial information.

We would like to make it clear to candidates that they need not order their chapters chronologically and that they need not deal with their finite lives to date. Candidates may have interesting family histories or strong visions for the future and may incorporate these elements in their tables of contents to give an even greater sense of self. Candidates may organize their tables thematically, break their hypothetical books into parts and more. As the cliché goes, the only limit is your imagination.

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