May 26, 2023

Columbia Business School Essay Tips for 2023-2024: Short Answer + Essay 1

Columbia Business School has announced the 2023-24 application essays! The J-term application deadline is September 23rd, and the August 2024 entry deadline will be released later this summer. In the meantime, here is Admitify’s guidance on the Short Answer Question and Essay 1.


Short Answer Question: What is your immediate post-MBA professional goal? (50 characters maximum)


Examples of possible responses:

  • “Work in business development for a media company.”

  • “Join a strategy consulting firm.”

  • “Launch a data-management start-up.”


Admitify Guidance

Find a way to include as much specificity and differentiation as possible in the goal statement given the character limit. Don’t just settle for a lazy/short/generic goal statement like ‘management consulting at M/B/B’.


Essay 1: Through your resume and recommendation, we have a clear sense of your professional path to date. What are your career goals over the next three to five years and what is your long-term dream job? (500 words)


Admitify Guidance

Columbia is unusual in that it separates its goals essay from its Why Our School? Essay. That means you potentially have 500 words to describe your goals, which is quite a lot of space. However, we don’t recommend that you use the entire essay to walk the reader through a blow-by-blow timeline of your post-MBA career. Do state your long-term ‘dream’ goals at the beginning of the essay, being as concrete/specific as possible: job titles, org names, Plan A and Plan B—Columbia loves to learn what applicants’ backup plans are). These are your rosiest-scenario career outcomes, your bliss, your career’s ‘end game’ and lasting legacy. When did this dream job first crystallize for you and why? How have you due-diligenced this goal – has your career thus far intersected with it any way? Have you had informational interviews or networked with people who are already living your dream job? If your dream job is off the beaten path, can you share any market-research type date to help the reader understand the scale of the opportunity or how the niche works? Now double back and explain how your three-to-five-year post-MBA goal will give you the skills and exposures to position you to achieve the long-term dream goal. The short-term goals you described in the Short Answer Question above is just the telegraphed summary of this three-to-five-year. Don’t verbatim repeat your Short Answer response here: provide 1-2 additive details to flesh out the Short Answer response and definitely share your short-term Plan B.) If the leap from your three-to-five-year goal to your dream job is too vast, feel free to share a medium-term goal and describe how it gives you the skills/assets to bridge the two ends of your post-MBA career. You may well find that even doing all of the above leaves you with unused word count. If so, consider using the leftover space to (a) share a pre-MBA accomplishment that helped you identify your post-MBA goal (Columbia doesn’t give you many opportunities to share career achievements, so here’s your chance—as long as it’s truly relevant to helping you uncover your goals) and/or (b) add an anecdote to the beginning of your essay that dramatizes or illustrates why your goals matter to you personally. Very few schools allow applicants to truly flesh out their post-MBA goals. Columbia does, so do it right.


Check back next week for more tips on Columbia’s Essays 2 & 3 and the Optional Essay. If you’re planning to apply for J-term or August entry, contact us now and speak with one of our expert coaches for help on your CBS application!