Columbia, Columbia, Columbia.
What is up with you and brevity?
It’s a value we can respect (even if we’re no good at being brief in our posts here), and certainly we’ve appreciated the focus that you’ve pushed on your applicants, in designing your essay questions the way you do.
However we just have to ask you:
What is UP with this short-answer goals question thing?
It made perfect sense for so long.
But now, this year, we’re just bewildered. It’s lost its purpose.
Something like five years ago you introduced this great little question, separate from the essays, asking your applicants to state specifically what they want to do when they graduate with a Columbia MBA.
Originally you allowed 200 characters to answer.
Wow! 200 characters! How liberal and loose that seems by today’s standards.
Because now, after struggling with a 75-character limit last year, we see that you’ve whacked this thing down to a mere 50 characters.
It’s just enough to say “Consulting” or “Investment banking.” Hardly anything more.
No room for color or texture. No opportunity to offer any detail whatsoever.
We don’t quite get the point anymore.
The other changes you made to your essays are great. Definitely helpful. Making sure your candidates are paying attention to the right things in what they might tell you about their interest in your program. We applaud those.
But going from an already-challenging 75 characters, down to an outright ridiculous 50?
We’re not feeling it, Columbia.
Why not just slap a dropdown in the app and ask people to choose from a predefined list of what they intend to pursue?
Oh wait, you have that, too.
What’s the point of this question now, Columbia Business School?
If you’re thinking about applying to Columbia, we offer all sorts of helpful advice in our Columbia MBA Application Guide – now fully updated for the 2015 essay questions!
Here's what others have said about this:
I went to a CBS information session where the Dean of Admissions gave the story behind this question. He said that they were getting too many long-winded essays that never really explicitly stated what the applicants wanted to do. So he came up with this question, which he initially wanted to have a really short word limit. However, the rest of the admissions committee balked at such a short word limit, so they compromised (I guess at 200 words). Over the years he’s been pushing the admissions committee to whittle it down. I guess he finally got it to where he wants it.
Yes, we know the history, and totally understand where Columbia was originally coming from with it. The problem is that it’s never been an essay – it originally had 200 **characters** which was reasonable enough, but now it’s down to 50.
That is, 50 characters.
Just as an example, this sentence is 50 characters.
Oh wait, no – that was actually 51 characters when you include the punctuation.
This question has lost its purpose in the Columbia app. You can’t say anything of value in 50 characters beyond the very basics of industry and/or function (if you can even fit that in – people had trouble enough last year at 75 characters), and it’s redundant to the other questions they ask in the app that are populated through dropdowns.