Cornell University (Johnson) Essay Analysis, 2010–2011

1. Describe your greatest professional achievement and how you added value to your organization. (400-word limit)

This question is very straightforward, with only the most minor wrinkle: be sure that you discuss 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 for this essay, you must be sure to specifically address the second half of Cornell’s question and explain how your achievement benefitted others. As you consider your response, you should work to create a narrative structure that will engage your reader. Many candidates rush to end the mystery quickly and state their accomplishment in the very first sentence of their essay. After that, what point is there to the rest of the essay? Readers of our Monday Morning Essay Tips will already know that this is a very easy way to lose your reader’s interest. So, take care to really tell the story of how you achieved what you did in fact achieve, rather than just offering that you accomplished 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 mbaMission Personal Statement Guide,which helps applicants write this style of essay for any school. 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) Note: Approach this essay with your unique style. We value creativity and authenticity.

This essay question follows the unique and creative model of NYU Stern’s essay three, UCLA Anderson’s audio/video file and Chicago Booth’s blank pages presentation, but for some reason, candidates are often confounded by what they perceive to be the essay’s rigid structure. We recommend that before you even put your hands on the keyboard or pick up a pen, 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 that will lead you to your own unique approach and help you break free of the confines of the rigid table of contents format—allowing you to add crucial information that will set you apart from other candidates.

We would like to stress to candidates that they need not order their chapters chronologically, nor must they cover their entire lives to date. Applicants may have interesting family histories or strong visions for the future, and incorporating these kinds of elements into their table of contents can give an even greater sense of their personality. Other possible options include organizing the table of contents thematically and breaking down the hypothetical book into parts/sections. As the cliché goes, the only limit is your imagination.

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