Cornell Changes Direction of MBA Application Essays

Legacy? Forget about it.

At least, Cornell University’s Johnson Graduate School of Management seems to think so. The school yesterday (June 22) announced its new set of essay questions and application deadlines for the 2012-2013 admissions cycle and got rid of last year’s question asking what legacy would you hope to leave as a Johnson graduate?

Instead, Johnson changed up a number of its questions and giving MBA applications a menu of three options for the third and final required essay. The school also increased the word limit by 100 words to 1,100 this year from 1,000 last year.

“We changed the direction of our questions this year to better understand your career choices and, of course, who you are,” wrote Christine Sneva, director of admissions, in a blog post. “We enjoy reading about your own introspections and look forward to getting to know you.”

Part I:  Career Choice Essay (300 word maximum) 

How would you characterize your career since college?

“This is not your job description or complete history of your work since graduating (we already ask for that in the online portion and can see this on your resume),” explains Sneva. “You need to choose the most important elements that show your initiative, contribution, leadership and results achieved.”

Part II:  Career Goal Essay (400 word maximum) 

Tell us about your short and long term career goals.

Please show you have a clear direction for your goal post-MBA,” writes Sneva. “Good essays will emphasize what an applicant wants to do while at Johnson and how you will use this experience to accomplish your goal.”

Part III:  Character Essay (400 word maximum for chosen question), please choose one of the following to write about: 

A. You are the author for the book of Your Life Story.  Please write the table of contents for the book.  Note: Approach this essay with your unique style.  We value creativity and authenticity.

B. Describe a situation taken from your personal or professional life where you failed and tell us what you learned.

C. What does diversity mean to you and how will you contribute to the diversity of our community at Johnson? 

The 2012-2013 application will go live at the beginning of July. Sneva said the admissions committee will start reading applications as soon as they are submitted.

Application Round




Round 1 Wed. Oct. 17 Wed. Dec. 19 Wed. Jan. 30
Round 2 Wed. Nov. 28 Wed. Feb. 20 Wed. March 27
Round 3 Wed. Jan. 30 Wed. April 3 Wed. April 17


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