Cornell Johnson Application Essays For Harvard

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Cornell / Johnson MBA Essay Topic Analysis 2017-2018

Following up on the release of the Cornell University / Johnson MBA essay prompts for 2017-2018, we wanted to offer some pointers to applicants who are targeting the Class of 2020. While the program has retained its creative Table of Contents essay, it has once again dispensed with the standard career goals essay and instead honed in on a candidate’s interest in Johnson and ability to create impact.


2017-2018 Cornell Johnson MBA Essay Topic Analysis

Goals Statement

Per the instructions provided by the admissions committee, applicants would be wise to mirror the direct and concise nature of the examples provided.

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:

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:

Example of Completed Statement:

Short Term Goal: Immediately post-MBA my goal is to work as a(n) Consultant at Accenture within Media and Technology.

Long Term Goal: In 5-10 years post-MBA my goal is to work as a(n) Founder and President within Nonprofit.

Let’s take a closer look at each of this year’s Johnson MBA essays:

Cornell / Johnson Essay 1

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.

Given the adcom’s basis of engaging the school community, applicants will be expected to be fairly concrete in their comments about how they’ve had contact with Johnson alumni, faculty, staff or current students, and, in turn, how this informed the decision to apply. Based on these interactions, applicants may want to begin by thinking about an element or two of the Johnson community with which they find the greatest resonance, and should also consider which are already evident in their activities and accomplishments to date. In fact, one to two examples (100-150 words total) that illustrate their skills and potential to make a positive impact should be woven in to selected means of contributing. Consider this in light of the idea that past behavior supports future success.

Of course, the majority of this response should center on the applicant’s planned activities and impact as a Johnson MBA student. It would be wise to discuss their behavior outside of the classroom and identifying specific student organizations in which they might take a leadership role. Candidates should note that speaking convincingly about their ability to make a positive difference will likely require some informed sense of the areas of opportunity and need on campus. Conversations with students and alumni (as well as reading the Clear Admit School Guide to the S.C. Johnson Graduate School of Management) will be very important in producing the most effective essay possible. Finally, space permitting, it would be nice to suggest how you would continue to make an impact beyond the Johnson MBA, likely through one’s career goals. The sense of community through Johnson does not end on graduation day, and the adcom—given its longstanding history of asking about career goals—may wish to understand the long-term impact a candidate envisions.

The Cornell / Johnson Table of Contents Essay

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. Please limit multimedia submissions to under 5 minutes.

Appearing again on the Johnson application, this unusual prompt calls for a high-level and non-narrative overview of an applicant’s life to date. Internalizing the hint about what the adcom values, applicants should understand that while the structure for this essay is somewhat set, there’s still a good deal of room for strategy and creativity: candidates are free to decide which eras or events to highlight, how to title each chapter, and so on. Though relying on a list format might be a viable approach, candidates will likely get more mileage out of this essay by structuring information in sentences or a series of sub-sections under broad chapter headings, offering a description of that “chapter” in your life and drawing out the important themes of the story. Regardless of the format you choose, make sure that it allows you to provide an authentic representation of yourself, introducing humor, personality, and even vulnerability where appropriate.

As for the content of this response, the admissions committee is likely looking for a sense of each candidate’s background, as well as his or her trajectory and growth over time. Touch on those events and accomplishments that are most meaningful and important to you, highlighting the ones that have shaped your personal development. Keeping in mind that this is a b-school application, you will want to share information that is relevant to your current work and your future objectives (without too much repetition of points raised in your other essay).

That said, dedicating the entirety of the table of contents to professional pursuits may not be advantageous or allow candidates to provide well-rounded pictures of who they are. Because the adcom asks candidates to take a lifespan view as they complete this task, comments about the lasting impact of one’s upbringing and early formative experiences are appropriate here. It would also make sense to include important community involvements, the development of important hobbies, and illuminating travel experiences. Overall, you want to make sure to highlight the unique aspects of your personality and candidacy, as doing so will allow you to stand out from others in the applicant pool.

While some applicants with a robust (and admissions-appropriate) online presence might choose to link to an external site in the course of their responses, it’s impossible to know how much time the adcom will actually devote to perusing a blog or YouTube channel. Candidates should therefore submit a fully formed essay in addition to linking to this additional content.

Meanwhile, the “visually-enhanced written submission” option provides an excellent opportunity to develop a memorable response that shows the adcom more about one’s background and interests than would be possible with a strictly text-based response. We therefore strongly recommend that applicants include photos, graphics, or other design elements in their responses to really put their unique stamp on this essay. Applicants might consider including an image with each chapter or section heading, and might even use font choice and color to develop an overall look and feel for the document that is consistent with their personal brands and main themes of their b-school application. Taking the time to develop an aesthetically pleasing presentation for this Table of Contents will also underscore your interest in Johnson’s program by demonstrating a willingness to put time and effort into your application.

Cornell / Johnson Optional Essay

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.

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.
Given the breadth of Johnson’s Table of Contents essay, it seems unlikely that there’s a high point of one’s candidacy that wouldn’t fit into that response. For first-time applicants, this optional essay should therefore likely be reserved for addressing potential liabilities in one’s application. Such discussions should be direct and to the point, providing an explanation and pointing to mitigating factors without being defensive or making excuses. While there are 500 words allotted for this response, applicants using this essay to address an issue in their application will likely use only a fraction of this space.

Meanwhile, reapplicants would probably be wise to use the full 500 words provided to detail the steps they have taken to become a stronger applicant and learn more about the Cornell MBA program since their last application. Candidates in this situation should comment on how they have spent the past year, taking particular care to highlight improved quantitative records, new professional skills and responsibilities, progress toward their ultimate career goals, and/or increased community involvement.

Clear Admit Resources
Thanks for reading our analysis of this year’s Johnson MBA essay topics! As you work on your Cornell MBA essays and application, we encourage you to consider all of Clear Admit’s Cornell / Johnson offerings:

Posted in: Admissions Tips, Essay Topic Analysis, Essays

Schools: Cornell / Johnson


Chad Losee, Harvard Business School’s director of MBA admissions and financial aid, took to his blog this week to preview the following MBA application deadlines and essay question for the 2017-18 admissions season.

Round 1

Application due: September 6, 2017
Decision released: TBA

Round 2

Application due: January 3, 2018
Decision released: TBA

Round 3/2+2

Application due: Early April 2018
Decision released: TBA

Harvard Business School strongly encourages international applicants to apply in rounds one or two to allow sufficient time for visa processing, as well as additional time to work on English fluency.

All applications are due at 12 noon EST on the day of the deadline. If submitted after 12 noon, applications will be considered in the following round.

Essay Question

The essay question will remain the same as last year: As we review your application, what more would you like us to know as we consider your candidacy for the Harvard Business School MBA Program? (no word count limit)

In the past, the HBS admissions team has suggested that applicants watch this video about the Case Method before beginning to write. Note that there is no word limit for this question, but as always, the team stresses that the goal is not to overthink, overcraft, and overwrite. Just answer the question in clear language that anyone outside of your industry would understand.

Applicants will have to answer a written reflection within 24 hours of their interview with an admissions staffer. The new application will go live in early June. For more information, please visit the HBS admissions website.

Image credit: Michael A. Herzog (CC BY-ND 2.0)

This entry was posted in School News and tagged Fall 2018 MBA Application Deadlines, Fall 2018 MBA essays, Harvard Business School, HBS, HBS MBA.
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