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Cornell Mba Essay Review

How To Get Into Cornell University’s

SC Johnson College of Business

Learn How

So you want to go to Johnson? Prove it! That’s the mentality espoused by the MBA Admissions Committee at this small, tight-knit school. And here are five ways to make your application essays stand out.
1. It’s about the prep

At Cornell, we value students who create impact. Please indicate the opportunities for impact that you have identified through engagement with our community and describe how these interactions have influenced your decision to apply to Johnson. Please limit your response to 500 words or fewer.

To write a successful “Impact Essay,” you have to do your research; reach out to a few club officers of professional or shared interest groups at Cornell that are relevant to your background or goals. Identify ways you can get involved and feel free to name drop your contacts in the essay. Touch base with alumni. Determine the volunteering or mentorship opportunities of which you will take advantage. Participate in virtual or in-person information sessions. What are the strengths that you will bring to those groups and how will you use your strengths to support your peers, members of the broader Ithaca community, and future generations of Cornellians?

2. Start at the beginning

You are the author of your Life Story. Please create the Table of Contents for the book in the space provided or upload it as an attachment. We value creativity and authenticity and encourage you to approach this essay with your unique style. Alternative submission formats may include a slide presentation, links to pre-existing media (personal website, digital portfolio, YouTube etc.), as well as visually enhanced written submissions.

This is Johnson’s signature essay, and the prompt usually stumps applicants. Taking the time to think through an approach is key to a powerful “Table of Contents” essay. Brainstorm your accomplishments but don’t shy away from times of adversity. Including one or two challenges demonstrates your resilience and work ethic. Pick a theme that makes sense and frame each chapter title using the vocabulary of that theme. If you’re a banker, maybe it’s the stages of a deal; if you’re a chef, you can discuss the steps of putting together a meal. Whatever you choose, stay on topic and make sure to end with the last chapter taking you to Johnson.

3. Approach with caution

Complete this essay if you would like to add additional details regarding your candidacy. For instance, if you believe one or more aspects of your application (e.g., undergraduate record or test scores) do not accurately reflect your potential for success at Johnson.

The optional essay is the right place to explain flaws in your application. Whether you have a lower than average GMAT, a poor undergraduate performance, or limited work experience, take this opportunity to outline specific, measureable steps you have taken to mitigate those circumstances. Be judicious in your use of this essay as it underscores your shortcomings. See this optional essay article for more information.

4. One more time

If you are reapplying for admission, please use this essay to indicate how you have strengthened your application since the last time you applied. Please limit your response to 500 words or fewer.

If you are re-applying to Johnson, this essay is critical – you MUST explain why you are more prepared in this application cycle to actively participate in a Johnson education than you were the last time around. Have you reflected on where you fell short? What have you done to strengthen your candidacy? For more information about re-applying, see this article.

5. Let your personality shine

The essays are one of the few parts of the application where you can highlight your personality. For example, if you used to be a summer volunteer firefighter, use an anecdote from your experience and write colorfully about it. Remember that admissions officers will be reading thousands of essays so use this space to highlight what makes you – you! It goes without saying that proper grammar and spelling are essential and mistakes distract from your message, so proofread and get second and third opinions on the wording.

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Topics: MBA Admissions Insights, MBA Application Tips, School Specific Articles, Your Top Schools | Tags: Samuel Curtis Johnson Graduate School of Management


Cornell University’sJohnson Graduate School of Management is a flexible MBA program housed within an Ivy League campus. Cornell Johnson offers multiple full-time options, including a one-year MBA, executive programs and a tech-focused program. Whatever your goals and background Cornell has a program that can help you achieve your goals. In terms of culture, Cornell has a close-knit community, which is facilitated by a small class size. Cornell also has a dedicated office of diversity and inclusion, which shows dedication to a diverse community.

When approaching this set of Cornell essays it will be useful to set your application strategy before you start working. Identify the program you are most interested in and do substantial school research. Then examine your background and goals to see what is most important to explain as part of your story.

Next, add the layer of personal background and experiences – consider what makes you truly unique. Finally, make sure you have solid academics, work experience and extracurriculars covered in your essays, resume or recommendations. If you identify any holes in your profile or story, take the time to fill them prior to starting your application and explain anything necessary in the optional essay.

GOALS STATEMENT
Use this short answer question to succinctly share your short and long term goals. If invited to interview, you will have the opportunity to elaborate further and should be prepared to connect your prior experience with your future aspirations.

A statement of your goals will begin a conversation that will last throughout admissions process and guide your steps during the MBA program and experience. To the best of your understanding today, please share your short and long term goals by completing the following sentences:

Immediately post-MBA, my goal is to work as a(n) ____[Role]____ at ___[Company]___within___[Industry]___.
Targeted Job Role:
Target Job Company:
Industry:
In 5 – 10 years post-MBA, my goal is to work as a(n) ____[Role]____ at ___[Company]___within___[Industry]___.
Targeted Job Role:
Target Job Company:
Industry:

This short answer question is succinct and covers most of the relevant career goals questions an MBA program would have. Make sure that your answers are logical in the context of your overall application and are mirrored by your recommenders. Your resume should show any transferable skills you may need to accomplish your goals, and you can get more into how Johnson will assist your aspirations in the essays below.

CREATING IMPACT
At Cornell we value, students who create impact. Please indicate the opportunities for impact that you’ve identified through engagement with our community and describe how what you learned has influenced your decision to apply to Johnson. Please limit your submission to 500 words or fewer.

The Cornell Johnson admissions committee advises you to use this “to explore the intersection of engagement and community culture. Whether during the program or following graduation, our students and alumni share a desire to positively impact the organizations and communities they serve.

To help you explore your potential for impact, we encourage you to engage with our students, alumni, faculty, and professional staff. You may choose to connect with them via email or phone or in person during one of our on campus or off campus events. As you seek their input and insight, please be respectful of their time and prepare a few discussion points or questions in advance.”

The first step in answering this question is to do your research. Ideally you will have an opportunity to either visit Johnson or to attend an admissions event in your city, or, as Johnson suggests, connect via phone or email. Another way to find a personal connection is to reach out friends, family and work colleagues to see if anyone knows a current or future member of the Johnson community.

As you prepare for conversations to learn more about Cornell Johnson, think about programs, extracurricular activities and the informal ways that students might interact. Johnson offers groups for interests ranging from cooking to ice hockey, and has professional clubs for every possible career path. Those formal groups or connecting in a classroom or party may be ways you make connections at Johnson.

Once you have identified opportunities for you to contribute to campus life at Johnson, ideally you support your story with evidence from your past experiences. For example, if you want to bring new speakers to the Johnson Marketing Association because you have contributed to your young professionals group at work, explain that you have successfully organized events featuring major speakers for a large group of people and can bring that skill to create impact for your peers at Johnson.

TABLE OF CONTENTS
You are the author of your Life Story. Please create the table of contents for the book in the space provided or upload it as an attachment. We value creativity and authenticity and encourage you to approach this essay with your unique style.

Alternative submission formats may include a slide presentation, links to pre-existing media (personal website, digital portfolio, YouTube, etc.), as well as visually enhanced written submissions.
Maximum file size is 5 MB.

If you choose to submit a written Table of Contents, please limit your submission to 500 words or fewer. Multimedia submissions should be under 5 minutes.

This essay is an opportunity to show the admissions committee who you are on a personal level. Think about highlighting areas you may not have been able to touch in the previous essays, and demonstrate your unique personal attributes or community involvement.

If you have a consistent theme of involvement in a charity or activity this is the perfect opportunity to demonstrate why you became involved and what you have done over the years.

When structuring the story, think of this essay as a way to communicate a narrative theme of your life to the admissions committee. What are the key moments that are meaningful to you? Were there pivotal experiences with your friends, family, hobbies or interests that led you to become the person you are today?

This essay can be delivered in any of the media specified above (slide presentation, website, digital portfolio, YouTube) and you should tailor the format you use to the message you want to send. Though a creative format can impress the admissions committee, substance is always the most important part of the essay.

Make sure you are highlighting unique, individual qualities that will make the case for admission to Cornell and supplementing with other media when it makes sense to the story.

OPTIONAL ESSAY
This essay is required for applicants seeking re-admission and should call attention to the steps taken to strengthen one’s candidacy. Candidates may also use the optional essay to call attention to items needing clarification or to address any gaps in experience.

This optional essay allows for either an explanation of any weaknesses in your application or additional information that may bolster your application. If you have a poor GPA or GMAT, concerns with your undergraduate record, or were unable to provide a recommendation from a current supervisor, this is the place to offer explanations, not excuses.

Quickly describe the situation and what may have contributed to the issue (illness, family difficulties, etc.) without editorializing. Focus the balance of your essay on looking forward: what have you done in the recent past to demonstrate your skills and intelligence?

If you are a re-applicant this is the ideal place to explain what you have done since your last application to strengthen your case for admission. If you have a new GMAT score or took classes in calculus or statistics you have a solid case for improved academics. A promotion could signal career development and leadership.

Even if you don’t have a clear-cut or quantitative update to describe you can use this space to explain how you have improved your thinking, career goals, or fit with Cornell.

Stuck on the Johnson Cornell essay questions? Contact Stacy Blackman Consulting to learn how we can help.

This entry was posted in Application Tips, Cornell Advice and tagged Cornell, Cornell Johnson, Cornell Johnson School, Cornell MBA, Cornell MBA essay tips, Cornell University, Fall 2018 MBA Essay Tips, MBA application, MBA application advice, mba essay tips.
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