Cornell Essay Analysis : 2013-14

Essay #1 : “Who you are”
We continue to ask the “chapter headings” essay because we really enjoy reading it and get great information about you that we cannot get anywhere else in the process, even the interview.

You are the author for the book of Your Life Story. In 300 words or less please write the table of contents for the book. Note: approach this essay with your unique style. We value creativity and authenticity.

This question has been a mandatory one for many years. Last year it had become an optional essay, but this application cycle, it is back there as a must-answer question. The only change is its word limit, which has been dropped from 400 to 300 words. From our experience of working with applicants on this essay, we can vouch this is an interesting one! Our suggestion to you is to spend half a day at the bookstore or in your own home library (for the avid readers). Go through the table of contents of several books – observe what you read there. What does the table of content (ToC) tell you about the book? Do you feel like reading the book after looking at its ToC? Irrespective of that, to gain brownie points with the admissions team, you have to ensure that your ToC gets them interested in your profile for certain. Our approach to this essay would be to first draw up a list of all the important things about you or in your life, and then select the most pertinent ones from there. Your ToC can focus upon any aspect about your life- it does not have to be a chronological account from your birth up to now. It is entirely up to you about which periods of your life you want to highlight – the formative years/ adolescence/ adult life/ life after MBA or all of them. Just remember the cardinal rule – this is a b-school essay, so what you tell the adcom should be relevant to your candidacy. Cornell is famously known for its collaborative environment, so when you are writing your ToC, be sure to take a step back and think, “will my classmates be interested in knowing this part of me?”

Essay #2 “Who you turn out to be”
Instructions: Please answer the following three questions in abbreviated format. (Keep each answer in 150 words or less)

When did you decide that business school was the next step for you? (Was this an epiphany or an evolutionary process? What was the catalyst that caused you to consider this next step?)

This question aims to understand your key motivations for wanting b-school education. What led you to believe that your aims and objectives will require an MBA? Do you feel limited in the impact that you are able to create on your organization? Do you want to gain a larger business perspective than your current functional role has allowed you to get? Do you want to change your industry and do something different from what you have been doing for the past 3 years? Are you just looking forward to a faster career growth? Or do you have a business idea which you want to whet at business school? These are some catalysts that can guide you towards b-school – you may have completely different reasons, which is fine. Just be honest in your answer – though mentioning something as light as a ‘salary increase’ will not go down very well with the admissions committee. This is better considered as an obvious but hidden benefit. Applicants who are going to write that their decision to do an MBA was based on one single event (epiphany) should not sound like they haven’t given the decision too much of a thought. One strong incidence could have given you the inkling for an MBA, but the eventual decision has to be a well thought and analyzed one.

Johnson values people that make things happen for themselves. Give an example of how you have initiated this for yourself.

Cornell likes people that are self driven and motivated and they want their candidates to bring the same quality to the b-school. Please talk of a time when you initiated some event or activity in your personal or professional sphere. This is a brief essay so we advise you to zoom past the situation in lesser words, and talk more about the actions you undertook to initiate that something. What was the end result- how did you make your impact on the situation?

Please describe your immediate post MBA career goals.

We have discussed this many times before, so we will just keep it brief here. You have already covered some ground about why an MBA is important for you in the first part of these short essays, now talk about what you intend to do post MBA from Cornell for upto 3-5 years after that. Make a mention of the roles, responsibilities besides 1-2 names of possible company you are likely to join.

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