Columbia Business School MBA Application, Essay #3

Columbia has left the majority of its MBA application the same as the past application cycle. Over the last few years, their third essay has served as an ice breaker type of question to learn more about the applicant and their interests. This year, the third essay includes a new prompt.

Tell us about your favorite book, movie, or song and why it resonates with you? (250 words)

When preparing for this essay, it is a good idea to think about what else you want to share within your application. I actually think that it is easier to first identify two or three potential ideas that you could share and then work backwards to choose a book, movie, or song that fits to the essay. Presumably you can find inspiration from many sources and selecting the source of inspiration as a second step should still feel natural. The book, movie, or song that you write about is a means to an end and is not meant to be the focus of the essay.

At this point, you will have already told the admissions committee about your goals, professional accomplishments, and the research that you had done into Columbia’s MBA program. This essay is an opportunity to share something that will round out what you are sharing within the application. Here are some ideas about what could be relevant for this essay.

  • An experience that had a profound impact on you or that sparked a change/shift in direction in your life.

  • A unique interest of yours that you might actively share with your classmates.

  • The reason that you have been inspired to participate in some extracurricular activity where you have been able to make an impact.

  • A personal achievement or milestone that was important to you.

  • Something personal that you hope to achieve in the future.

When writing this short essay, I recommend referring to a scene from a movie, a quote from a book, a line from a song, or an overarching theme from a book, movie, or song. Given the length of a book or movie, it is important to remain focused and to briefly share the source of your inspiration. Then you can shift the focus of the essay right back to you and your experiences in order to guarantee that you will have enough words to share information about yourself. I would also remember to be specific in what you are sharing. It is best to not cover too much here and to instead tell a compelling story with this essay.


Rona Aydin is the founder of Oriel Admissions. She has collaborated closely with hundreds of candidates on their applications to the top MBA programs including Columbia Business School. Oriel Admissions is a boutique admissions consulting company that provides personalized services to its clients. If you would like to learn more about how Rona can assist you in applying to business school, please contact Rona at rona@orieladmissions.com.

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