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August 17, 2019

Cornell Johnson Graduate School Of Management MBA Impact Essay

Cornell Johnson MBA Impact Essay

At Cornell, our students and alumni share a desire to positively impact the organizations and communities they serve. How do you intend to make an impact during the next several years of your education and/or career? (350 words maximum)

This essay is designed to explore the intersection of engagement and community culture. Whether during the program or following graduation, our students and alumni share a desire to positively impact the organizations and communities they serve. To help you explore your potential for impact, we encourage you to engage with our students, alumni, faculty, and professional staff. You may choose to connect with them via email or phone or in person during one of our on campus or off campus events. As you seek their input and insight, please be respectful of their time and prepare a few discussion points or questions in advance.

Johnson is looking to kick a little bit of ass. Maybe they’re niggled by being ranked lower than they believe they deserve. Maybe it’s simply a mission to RISE UP for its own sake. Regardless, it’s clear that the way they wanna do that is by screening for your SPIRIT DRAGON score with respect to Johnson specifically. The thinking being… the more you’re utterly DEVOTED to Johnson, and only Johnson, the more likely you’ll dig your heels in, and energize the guy next to you, and the gal across the way, and through cohort cohesion, and passion, the likelihood for future success, and stronger “word of mouth” for top talent to “also that for themselves” … goes up.

Your mission here, like it or not, is to demonstrate (not argue)… demonstrate that you’ve come to the CONCLUSION that the best version of your future self passes through the Johnson MBA, and you’ve come to that conclusion over the course of some serious research which includes some level of contact with folks who are at Johnson presently, or alums in some capacity. We prove that conviction by showing that your values align with Cornell’s stated values—i.e., that you have a clear plan for how to make an impact at Cornell and beyond.

To be clear, this isn’t a test on whose “case for impact” is most compelling. This is a test for whose “case for impact is compelling enough that we know this kid is going to kick ass?” See the difference? You’re not going to win points by selling them on a CAUSE or IDEA, and proving that “compelling impact with respect to that cause” is a good thing. No. You’re going to win points by the way you talk about your plan, by proving just how thoughtful you are ABOUT impact, and how SMART you are about your plan for impact, and how DEDICATED YOU ARE TO SEEING IT THROUGH. The plan isn’t nearly as important as the thought process you reveal while discussing it.

Keep in mind: no one is going to follow up on whether you deliver on this plan. They don’t give a rat’s ass if you stick to the goals you lay out here—if they did, they would lock you into a certain major/concentration and track your progress. It’s not about your plan, or the societal problem you hope to solve (though both of those thing should be rock solid, of course)—the real magic is when the adcom realizes “this kid, based on the way he talks about impact, clearly GETS it, GETS what it takes to get it done, and is going to succeed.”

Why does it matter to understand it this way rather than the other way? ‘Cuz now you’ll focus less on selling them on the importance of the “idea” or “concept” or “problem” and focus instead on YOUR dedication to getting it done, and on the logic behind your solution.

Here’s an example structure:

  • Establish where it is you wanna make an impact and why. Cool trick: imagine two kinds of success: (a) “good enough success, major win, great job” and then (b) “all of that, plus……. IMPACT that goes above and beyond, elevates an organization, provides a mechanism for LASTING/CONTINUED success, etc.” What’s the difference? That’s where we need to focus. Give us a sense of BOTH of those (possible in two paragraphs) and why you’re so committed to the latter. Where and why did you decide that THAT was your bar for success?
  • Then, briefly, tell us how you’re gonna do it, and why those things will have the intended outcome. Get specific. Finally, close with a line that captures your passion and reminds the adcom of how you think about impact.
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August 17, 2019

Cornell Johnson MBA Park Fellowship Essay

What is your greatest example of leadership and what personal qualities helped you succeed in that role? Please limit your submission to 500 words or fewer.

The Roy H. Park Leadership Fellows Program is a two-year full tuition fellowship award for Two-Year MBA candidates in Ithaca who have demonstrated outstanding leadership potential and who are committed to making an impact within their communities. Each year it is awarded to up to 25 incoming students, with the expectation that they will participate in additional leadership and personal development activities outside of our regular curriculum, serve in leadership roles within the school, and complete a public service project by the time they graduate. The Park Fellowship is only available to U.S. citizens applying for the Two-Year MBA program.

Honestly, this seems like it might require something special, but at the end of the day, for those who qualify (U.S. citizens, etc.), this is just about being as convincing as you can that you not only (1) have OODLES of leadership experience emanating from every pore in your background, and (2) OODLES of leadership plans in life AND during the MBA program (both on campus and OUTSIDE the program, engagement with the community, etc.), but also (3) that you have a particular affinity for Cornell… because of this opportunity.

Now, the trick is, all of that needs to be the vapor that comes off of an essay that deals with “none of that directly.” Instead, your task is to convey these ideas THROUGH your recounting of the “greatest” leadership example in your past, and what PERSONAL qualities of yours led to your success. But –– while you’re doing that –– you will also be HINTING AT the fact that your reason for telling this story isn’t to impress on the merits of that specific leadership tale or achievement. Rather, the story’s power is what it IMPLIES about how dedicated you are to leveraging those skills, and your impulses, toward OTHER, FUTURE… stuff. It has to be clear what the value of this story will be to future applications of that leadership DNA.

Don’t go too deep into it, perhaps just devote a few sentences toward the end to give the reader a sense that you’re not just proud of this achievement for what it was, but for what it implies. Give us that sense. What does this hint at about your future? Where does it go from here? Thinking about it in this way SHOULD help you frame your story in ways that highlight “scalable” leadership traits.


Read more and explore each step of the Cornell Johnson application process here

You can also read through our team’s analysis of the rest of Johnson’s application essays.

August 17, 2019

Cornell Johnson MBA Back Of Your Resume Essay

The front page of your resume has given us a sense of your professional experience and accomplishments as well as your academic summary and extracurricular involvement. If the back page reflects “the rest of your story,” please help us get to know you better by sharing ONE example of a life experience, achievement, or passion that will give us a sense of who you are as a potential community member.

This essay is an opportunity to present yourself as an individual. We encourage you to think about your proudest accomplishments, interests and passions, and personal highlights that will help us to get to know you as a person and potential community member. 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 essay, please limit your submission to 500 words or fewer. Multimedia submissions should be under 5 minutes.

Let’s see what this Cornell Johnson essay question is really asking. First of all, let’s get one thing straight: this “back page of the resume” will never (and should never) COMPENSATE for a weak front page. You may be the coolest cat in town, but if your “front page” is a “B-” then none of it matters. The front page must kick considerable ass. Here’s the thing though… for every ONE seat available at Cornell, there are SEVERAL folks out there with killer “front pages.” And so, one way to think about it, is that maybe those killer front pages all cancel each other out. {Or at least, use that as a CONCEIT for a second.} Your task is to introduce a NEW layer here that will PROPEL you ahead of the guys and gals next to you, who have the same level of “front page.”

What kinds of things will do that?

Well for starters, it can’t be boring. If it seems like you didn’t fully embrace the open-endedness of this, and instead, went for yet another “front page” bullet that you could flesh out, it is likely to work AGAINST you. In fact, one of our favorite “tricks” is to imagine a few other candidates who have MATCHING resumes. This shouldn’t be that hard to pick because there’s a very good chance it’s ACTUALLY TRUE, ha! Picture someone with the exact same GMAT, same GPA, same work experiences (and even if not the same work experiences, the same SKILLS SETS from two different paths), same achievements, same level… everything. Absolutely everything. Clones. If there’s a task that needs doing, any ONE of you could do it. At least, imagine it that way. Imagine there are FIVE OF YOU. And the admissions dean has some kind of BUSINESS challenge they need to solve: whether it’s a leader they need, a problem solver, a visionary, a whatever. Now imagine that ALL FIVE OF YOU could theoretically do it, and do it well.

Great, so the admissions deans could have his problem solved by any of you five… but would he WANT to have YOU be the one? What is it about you that makes you more APPEALING than the next guy? Why are you more interesting? Why are you cooler? Why are you preferable in any way? This is a challenge, to make us SMILE after learning something about you. Or be WOWED after learning something about your past, your experiences, your influences, your interests, your whatever. Or surprised. Anything that elicits a reaction of: hunh, I kinda WANT this guy on campus based on this story.

Another way to think about it: imagine five guys with the exact same resume, skills, all that stuff, same as before. Now tell us something about you (that we weren’t able to glean from the front page) that all of a sudden makes YOUR version a bit more interesting. So, let’s say you achieved a score of “10” and another guy achieved a score of “10.” But let’s say he grew up a rich kid with access to everything imaginable, and let’s say YOU grew up poor, lost your arm in a horrible farming accident, found a way to support your family after your parents died unexpectedly at a premature age, and still managed to get that “same” “10.” Not so “same” all of a sudden! If your story here ALTERS the very nature of your “front page,” that’s another way to propel you ahead of the competition.

These approaches may lead to two different kinds of stories, and either can work. There are of course other ways to skin it, but at the very least, these two should get you thinking in the right direction. It’s open-ended enough that the proper execution of a version that’s not mentioned here can absolutely work. The trick of it all is that it has to make sense that you’re telling it to us, whatever it is. It has to move the needle somehow. Whatever we learn about you MUST elevate your candidacy ON ACCOUNT OF THIS STORY. If not, it’s probably not a good enough idea. Keep hacking away until you find something that your application would be weak… WITHOUT.

August 17, 2019

Cornell Johnson MBA Goals Statement

Use this short answer question to succinctly share your short and long-term goals. If invited to interview, you will have the opportunity to elaborate further and should be prepared to connect your prior experience with your future aspirations.

“Connect your prior experience with your future aspirations.” It’s as though this was written by a former Admissionado client. (Was it, Cornell? We salute you either way, and couldn’t have said it better ourselves!)

A statement of your goals will begin a conversation that will last throughout the 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 and answering the enclosed short answer question (250 words maximum):

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:

How has your experience prepared and encouraged you to pursue these goals?

Now it’s getting a little creepy. It’s one thing to be our fan, Cornell, but now you’re making us BLUSH. We kid, but what the minds at Cornell have done this year is to almost force-feed PRECISION into your answers, and steer you away from veering off into the “woops how’d I get here” abyss. This first “just fill in exactly what we tell you to fill in” section is the equivalent of the lawyer in a courtroom drama interrupting a loquacious witness with “please just answer with a simple ‘yes or no.'” Translation: “that’s all we need to know at this time.”

Fill out the top section, exactly as they ask. Don’t elaborate, nuts and bolts folks. For the 250-word follow-up, they’re FOCUSING you again. So, follow their lead, and commit your response to proving the following TWO things:

  1. That your background (key career experience to-date) has made you CREDIBLE in whatever it is you’re pursuing. That is, your prior experiences provide a logical basis to assume success in achieving your future goals. It’s all about “where in your background can we see that you’ve learned/earned/developed/mastered the necessary skills?”
  2. That your prior experiences COMPELLED you toward these goals. It’s one thing to have mastery in something—that convinces us you can THEORETICALLY succeed. But, do you even WANT to? Cuz if you don’t, none of it matters. It’s like the dancing frog from the WB. Is that too old a reference? Must be. Damnit. The point is, the second KEY component to all this is proof that your engine is revved, that you plan to devote your career to this stuff, with or without Cornell, with or without an MBA, with or without… anything that could stand in your way. Convince us you want it. Show us when you went from either NOT being passionate about this thing to SUPER passionate. Or the time you almost lost heart, but episode X breathed NEW LIFE into your commitment. Or the things that simply INSPIRED you and fortified your resolve in an additive kinda way along your journey. It’s always helpful to consider all of this in terms of “where is my passion today, where was it X years ago, and assuming my passion is STRONGER today than before, when and how did that happen?” Try to pin the evolution to some key moments, even if it’s been gradual.

Two paragraphs here, you can even split em cleanly into:

  • Paragraph 1 = Here’s why I’m credible with respect to my goals, proof that I CAN succeed at em.
  • Paragraph 2 = Here’s why I WANT to.

One last tip. Try to frame the “want” in terms of something more root-level than mere success at the specific idea you talk about in your ST and LT goals. The assumption is you might change your idea, so it’s useful to see what makes you tick on a level that encompasses these specific goals, but also speaks to a broader aspiration. For example, if someone is passionate about “improving healthcare in rural India,” and their current plan to start a health tech startup falls through, there are still a lot of ways they can succeed (product management at an established company, investing in health startups, etc.).

One way to test that, imagine yourself navigating through the Johnson MBA program and … changing industries altogether, and pursuing an entirely different track. Reread your “how have your experiences motivated you to achieve your goals” response… it should still mostly hold up. (Neat, right?)

[Cornell, we’re warning you, if that shows up in next year’s essays…]


Read more and explore each step of the Cornell Johnson application process here

You can also read through our team’s analysis of the rest of Johnson’s application essays.

August 17, 2019

Cornell Johnson MBA Optional Essay

You may use this essay to call attention to items needing clarification and to add additional details to any aspects of your application that do not accurately reflect your potential for success at Johnson (500 words maximum).

If you are reapplying for admission, please use this essay to indicate how you have strengthened your application and candidacy since the last time you applied for admission. Please also review our Admissions Policy for additional information about re-applying (500 words maximum).

Reapplicant Essay

This is a call for updates on short-term and long-term career goals. It’s important to keep in mind when addressing this piece that it’s not just about the matter-of-fact update itself… we also need to assess the IMPROVEMENT you’ve pulled off.

In other words, one year later, your career plan has to become sharper or more plausible, or more exciting in some way. We need to understand HOW. And WHY. That’s the key: a crystal clear explanation of how your candidacy has improved and what it means given your (new and improved) reasons for getting an MBA.


Read more and explore each step of the Cornell Johnson application process here

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