Cornell University (Johnson) Essay Analysis, 2011–2012

1. What career do you plan to pursue upon completion of an MBA degree and why? (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.

2. What legacy would you hope to leave as a Johnson graduate? (200-word limit)

Another distinct question from Cornell’s admissions committee! Perhaps the school is using these questions to filter candidates, trying to identify those who are dedicated enough to take the time and effort to write unique content?

The key word in this essay is clearly “legacy,” but take care not to become confused by this term and assume that the school is asking about the contribution you expect to make during your two years in Ithaca. Instead of “contribution,” think more along the lines of “permanent impact,” whether as a student or an alumnus/alumna. So, for example, rather than explaining how you will participate in a specific activity or club, describe how that activity or club will be different after your time at Cornell. Or, rather than detailing the nature of the unique contributions you could make in class, discuss—as humbly as possible, of course—the lasting impact you would have on your peers. Another option would be to describe how you plan to maintain your connection to the school after you graduate and what this enduring relationship will mean for the MBA program. What is important here is that you truly comprehend what you have to offer and then reveal exactly how you intend to make that contribution—this will inevitably require that you have a clear understanding of the Cornell experience. So, before you elaborate on how you intend to influence the school’s marketing club or establish a course on a subject that is dear to your heart, ensure that your plans are within the realm of possibility.

3. You are the author for the book of Your Life Story.  Please write the table of contents for the book.  Note: Approach this essay with your unique style.  We value creativity and authenticity. (400-word limit)

This essay question follows the unique and creative model of NYU Stern’s essay three and Chicago Booth’s 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 a wide range of magazines. There, you may find some inspiration that will lead you to your own unique approach, helping you break free of the confines of the rigid table-of-contents format and allowing you to add crucial information that will set you apart from other candidates.

We would like to stress that candidates do not need to 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 convey 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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