Many moons ago we got this very nice request for a free essay review: Hi Essaysnark, I’d like to get your feedback on my essay 1A for Columbia. I understand that you are backed up with requests and will manage my expectations accordingly. I bought the Snarkguide to Columbia & HBS – they have been…
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Hi Snark; big fan of the blahg and have bought 3 of your guides (including columbia).
Something I find interesting here is that the candidate may have discussed professional experiences, but doesn’t seem focused on conveying personality. Instead they have listed out aspects of columbia that appeal to them, without layering on insane amounts of depth. Basically stating what they hope to gain from a course or extracurricular, and moving on to the next.
Is this (laying out 5+ aspects of Columbia that appeal to you) the best way in your opinion, or is it better to focus on 1-2 aspects of Columbia and use 200-300 words on those? Ie: if you choose to talk about the healthcare professionals club, should you spend 100-150 words discussing the utility of this in your career? Or just flit and say something like “As a XYZ focusing on PQR industry, I look forward to the ABC and EFG this club will bring to me.” (not that exact sentence, but something equally high level)
Now obviously, the fact that so much of the essay has been redacted may mean that the applicant did in fact only discuss the 3 aspects of Columbia alluded to above and went into depth, in which case, I’m clearly off base.
Hey Kaiser – thanks for the question, and the kind words re: our little blahg.
There’s definitely not one “best way” to do this stuff. It’s very possible to have a compelling Columbia essay 1 that only has a handful of aspects about the school. Remember that Columbia essay 2 lets you go into other angles too, so these two assets should be considered holistically, as a suite.
To your specific essay 1 question: A knee-jerk reaction is that “200-300 words” talking about “1-2 aspects of Columbia” might be excessive in a 500-word essay (300 words definitely would be). However, it’s also not effective to simply list 5+ things without any explanation. You do want to make it personal, in terms of YOUR goals and why those things matter to YOU. So you’re thinking about it the right way. Sometimes we see essays that are just a laundry list of stuff that the school has – courses, clubs, whatever – which makes it look like the person scraped the website. Unless you talk about why those things matter to you, it’s hardly worth mentioning them. Reading a website and parroting back what the school is marketing about itself is hardly an effective strategy.
And that’s not what this person had done. You’re right, it’s hard to get the full effect when so much is redacted, but it’s closer to what you seem to be wanting to do, than not.
The more important thing which you didn’t focus on in your question: The goals. Those need to be sufficiently described, plus we need to get a sense of how you’re ready to pursue them.
This essay is not one where you need to be worrying about “personality.” Focus on the facts: what you have done, what you plan to do, why you need Columbia to do it. They should be getting plenty of personality from essay 3.