There is no formula to writing essays.
Yes, a good essay for Columbia question 1 will have certain components, and in our Columbia Essay Guide we even map out an ideal structure. But that doesn’t mean it’s a formula.
You cannot take one essay and tweak a few ingredients and have it work as well for some other school.
There tend to be some opportunities for re-use, and once you’ve learned the skills of strong essay presentation then you will certainly be applying those to other essays you draft.
But there is no plug-and-play when it comes to good essay construction.
What we mean by that is: You cannot have a template for “why I want to go to School X” where you list out one finance course and the fintech club and name one rockstar professor and have that serve the purpose of convincing your admissions reader why you want to go there.
This dovetails with what we’ve said before — which sounds so obvious when we write it this way, but why would we need to offer warnings against it if BSers didn’t do this all the time? You need to understand what you’re saying in your essays.
We also invite you to read through this post that was originally directed more to those who are at the end of the whole cycle and are trying to decide which school of their many acceptances to matriculate at — but should be very relevant and hopefully helpful to you who are at the beginning of the process: Bschool is what you make of it.
There are lots of dos and don’ts (if you’re coming around here, seems like mostly “don’ts”) with writing good essays and we end up saying “Don’t do this…” a lot. Because we see BSers do that all the time and it does not make for an essay that will stand out. Or at least, it won’t stand out for all the right reasons. There’s plenty of ways to muff things up — but plenty of ways to shine, too! We get all NegativeNancy on you-all sometimes because there are so many holes to step in. But keep working at it, read up and learn from others’ mistakes, and you too will eventually produce essays that turn into winners. We know it!
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