As of yesterday, Columbia’s 2018-2019 application is available, and it’s notable that CBS is debuting two new essay questions (three are required).
CBS’s new #3 essay question piques our interest:
“Please provide an example of a team failure of which you have been a part. If given a second chance, what would you do differently? (250 words).”
The trend among essay questions over the last several years has skewed toward behavioral, with programs posing essay questions requiring candidates to demonstrate substantial self-reflection. But another trend is a desire to mitigate the misperception that programs are seeking perfection or the perfect candidate.
This sentiment was expressed elegantly last year by Conrad Chua, head of MBA admissions at Cambridge Judge at the CentreCourt MBA Festival in London:
“We really like to see where students have failed and bounced back from it. And that’s becoming quite difficult to see because a lot of the younger generation really seem to have this drive towards being perfect. I think the key thing is we want to see how you’ve bounced back from failure because when you’re on the MBA it’s going to be tough.”
In its new essay prompt on the subject of failure, Columbia invites you to consider the circumstances and pivot points that shaped you into an ever-wiser human being, and in particular, the challenges you’ve faced and overcome along the way. What’s most compelling to the admissions committee on the topic of failure is what you’ve learned from your experience, whether you’ve had to face your fears, and whether you’ve demonstrated the grit and persistence to bounce back and forge ahead with new awareness.
It’s somewhat counterintuitive that the best candidates often have the most awful and memorable failure stories. As INSEAD’s former Director of MBA Admissions, I’ve reviewed hundreds of attempts to answer the question of failure (INSEAD asks applicants to “describe a situation where you failed” and how the experience, along with the achievement you’re most proud of, impacted your relationship on others).
As my colleague Matt Symonds quips, this type of essay should really be titled, “What I learned after I drove my car into a tree.” The failure essay prompt is a hard one. You want to choose something meaningful enough to discuss that has some depth to it, but without dwelling on the negative or painting yourself in an unredeemable light. You also do not want to choose something that has no impact. Being a perfectionist is not a failure for example, nor is your lamentable average GMAT score. It’s certainly a fine line what you choose to discuss in this essay, but the point is to demonstrate how you’ve grown from the experience.
Here’s what Columbia is asking for in its application essays for this year:
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.”
Through your resume and recommendations, we have a clear sense of your professional path to date. What are your career goals over the next 3-5 years and what, in your imagination, would be your long-term dream job? (500 words)
How will you take advantage of being “at the very center of business”? Click photo. (250 words)
Please provide an example of a team failure of which you have been a part. If given a second chance, what would you do differently? (250 words)
Is there any further information that you wish to provide the Admissions Committee? If so, use this space to provide an explanation of any areas of concern in your academic record or your personal history. This does not need to be a formal essay. You may submit bullet points. (Maximum 500 Words)
MBA ADMISSIONS DEADLINES
First Round Deadlines for the 2018/2019 admissions season
|September 5, 2018 – R1||Harvard Business School||TBD|
|January 3, 2019 – R2||Harvard Business School||TBD|
|October 3, 2018 – early action||Columbia Business School||TBD|
|January 4, 2019 – rolling admissions||Columbia Business School||TBD|
|April 10, 2019 – final deadline||Columbia Business School||TBD|
|September 18, 2018 – R1||Wharton||December 13, 2019|
|January 3, 2019 – R2||Wharton||January 3, 2019|
|April 2, 2019 – R3||Wharton||May 9, 2019|
Deadlines for the 2018/2019 admissions season: European Schools
|Sept 19, 2018 – R1 (Sept. 2019 intake)||INSEAD||November 23, 2018|
|November 14, 2018 – R2||INSEAD||January 25, 2019|
|January 9, 2019 – R3||INSEAD||March 15, 2019|
|March 6, 2019 – R4||INSEAD||May 10, 2019|
|May 1, 2018 (rolling)||HEC Paris||June 8, 2018|
|June 1, 2018||HEC Paris||July 6, 2018|
|July 1, 2018||HEC Paris||July 27, 2018|
|August 15, 2018||HEC Paris||September 21, 2018|
|September 15, 2018||HEC Paris||October 19, 2018|
|October 15, 2018||HEC Paris||November 16, 2018|
|November 15, 2018||HEC Paris||December 14, 2018|
So far, HBS, Columbia and Wharton are the first of the M7 to debut their 2019 admissions deadlines, but stay tuned to Fortuna Admissions for updates as more are announced in the coming weeks. For the most essential facts and stats on each program, check out Fortuna’s Business School Profiles.