September 15, 2022

Columbia Business School Essay Tips: Essay 3 & Optional Essay

Columbia Business School’s first application deadline is coming up. Last week we shared Admitify’s guidance on Essays 1 and 2. Today we’d like to share our guidance on Essay 3 and the Optional Essay.


Essay 3: Tell us about your favorite book, movie or song and why it resonates with you. (250 words)


Admitify Guidance

I recommend avoiding clichéd or professionally focused books like Warren Buffet’s biography and cliched movies (‘Wolf of Wall Street’) or songs (e.g., Lady Gaga?). IMO choosing a book shows greater ‘depth’ than a movie or song but more important than projecting depth is that the ‘cultural product’ really matter a ton to you and really capture who you are or what your values/goals are. I recommend using only half the essay at the most to describe this the book, movie or song. Devote the rest of the space to showing why this cultural product matters to you and sharing a specific anecdote or two from your personal life (ideally personal because the other Columbia essays cover your professional life) that connects directly with the book, movie or song. Columbia’s Essay 3 changes almost every year, but it has consistently been the essay where you can get personal and share who you are. So I would lean toward personal and self-disclosing/revealing content here.


Optional Essay: If you wish to provide further information or additional context around your application to the Admissions Committee, please upload a brief explanation of any areas of concern in your academic record or personal history. This does not need to be a formal essay. You may submit bullet points. (Maximum 500 words)


Admitify Guidance

Columbia is not restricting you to only extenuating circumstance (grades, GMAT, etc.) discussions here, but they are limiting you somewhat to ‘areas of concern.’ But many things – such as your age, leadership or extracurriculars – could be framed as areas of concern. Feel free to discuss multiple areas of concern but separate them into separate paragraphs with headers/titles.


Check back each week for more essay tips, and contact us now to speak with one of our expert coaches for help on your essays!