Stanford GSB | Mr. Startup Founder
GMAT 700, GPA 3.12
Stanford GSB | Mr. SpaceX
GMAT 740, GPA 3.65
Wharton | Mr. Data Dude
GMAT 750, GPA 4.0
UCLA Anderson | Ms. Triathlete
GMAT 720, GPA 2.8
Kellogg | Mr. MBB Private Equity
GMAT TBD (target 720+), GPA 4.0
Harvard | Mr. MedTech Startup
GMAT 740, GPA 3.80
INSEAD | Mr. Media Startup
GMAT 710, GPA 3.65
Yale | Mr. Yale Hopeful
GMAT 750, GPA 2.9
MIT Sloan | Mr. MBB Transformation
GMAT 760, GPA 3.46
Wharton | Mr. Swing Big
GRE N/A, GPA 3.1
Harvard | Mr. CPG Product Manager
GMAT 720, GPA 3.5
MIT Sloan | Mr. Latino Insurance
GMAT 730, GPA 8.5 / 10
Stanford GSB | Mr. Tesla Intern
GMAT 720, GPA 3.9
Stanford GSB | Mr. Supply Chain Data Scientist
GMAT 730, GPA 3.9
Stanford GSB | Mr. Global Consultant
GMAT 770, GPA 80% (top 10% of class)
Stanford GSB | Mr. MBB/FinTech
GMAT 760, GPA 3.7
Stanford GSB | Mr. Digital Indonesia
GMAT 760, GPA 3.7
Stanford GSB | Mr. Equal Opportunity
GMAT 760, GPA 4.0
Stanford GSB | Mr. MBB to PM
GRE 338, GPA 4.0
Stanford GSB | Mr. LGBT Social Impact
GRE 326, GPA 3.79
Stanford GSB | Mr. Nuclear Vet
GMAT 770, GPA 3.86
Stanford GSB | Mr. Oilfield Trekker
GMAT 720, GPA 7.99/10
Kellogg | Mr. Big 4 Financial Consultant
GMAT 740, GPA 3.94
Stanford GSB | Mr. Mountaineer
GRE 327, GPA 2.96
Harvard | Mr. Tech Start-Up
GMAT 720, GPA 3.52
Rice Jones | Mr. Simple Manufacturer
GRE 320, GPA 3.95
Columbia | Mr. MD/MBA
GMAT 670, GPA 3.77

Columbia Business School 2019-2020 MBA Deadlines

Columbia Business School. Courtesy photo


For essay No. 3 that asks applicants to name a leader they admire and why, Hamou has the following commentary: “I like how this essay prompt goes a bit deeper than last year’s essay 3 (the “describe a failure” essay). Last year, CBS asked applicants to show how they behave in a tricky situation and what they learned from it, while this year, they are asking them essentially what their values are, more along the vein of Stanford’s essay A, “what matters most to you?”. To me, it doesn’t really matter who the applicant names as the leader they admire– it can be a direct manager or the CEO of their company, someone from their volunteer work or personal life, or even someone they’ve never met. My guess is a lot of candidates will get stuck trying to pick the perfect, most impressive leader.

“However, what is much more important here is WHY the applicant has selected this person, which qualities they see in them that inspire them, and how this may have impacted the candidate’s own leadership style. This essay is where an applicant can really display who they are under the surface. While essay 1 shows the professional path they want to take in life, essay 3 can add the additional depth of the type of person, and leader, they want to be.”

For CBS’ short answer question, Hamou tells candidates to focus less on the job title they want to obtain, and more about what they envision doing in the role. “For example, rather than ‘work for a consulting firm as a project manager,’ they should say something more like ‘develop innovative strategies as a healthcare consultant,'” she says. “I think CBS wants to see that an applicant knows what they want to do and have a general understanding of that role and that they understand the paths that would be available to them coming out of CBS. So the goal should be specific and also aligned with the opportunities that CBS would give them access to.”


“Take some time to introspect and understand why you want to get your MBA and then let the admissions committee clearly know that. Talk to some current students and alumni, as well as visit the school to understand what CBS truly offers. Try to attend a class, participate in one of our Thursday night Socials, and sit in on a CBS Matters presentation to understand our school’s culture and ethos. All of this will help you understand if CBS is where you want to be and will help you submit an honest and passionate application.”Rahul Goyal, Class of 2019

“Every MBA program wants to know why that program makes sense for you, right now, and Columbia is no different. Recognize that there is no magic formula for getting in, but the closest thing to it is thinking critically and introspectively about what you’re looking to contribute to the community at CBS and about what kind of person you’d like to be when you emerge from the experience two years later.”Briana Saddler, Class of 2019

“Be open and honest about why you want to come to CBS. Admissions (and students) can see through generic answers or passive interest. Make sure your desire to be a part of our community comes through in your application (specifically your essays). Visit if you can!”Ashley Allen, Class of 2019

“Be your authentic self. When preparing your essays, reflect on what matters to you and let the admissions committee know. There is no stronger voice than one with passion and conviction.”Joe Lynch, Class of 2019


About The Author

John A. Byrne is the founder and editor-in-chief of C-Change Media, publishers of Poets&Quants and four other higher education websites. He has authored or co-authored more than ten books, including two New York Times bestsellers. John is the former executive editor of Businessweek, editor-in-chief of Businessweek. com, editor-in-chief of Fast Company, and the creator of the first regularly published rankings of business schools. As the co-founder of CentreCourt MBA Festivals, he hopes to meet you at the next MBA event in-person or online.