Cornell Johnson MBA Application Essay Analysis 2021

October 5th, 2017

| Last Updated on February 5, 2021
Cornell Johnson MBA Application Essay Analysis 2020-2021

Are you looking to apply for an MBA at Cornell University’s Johnson Graduate School of Management in the United States? If you are, then you have come to the right place to know more about the application process and the Cornell MBA essays for 2020-2021.

Before we get into the Cornell MBA essays for the academic year and the deadlines, let us give you an overview of their MBA program and the business school:

1. The first thing you need to know about the business school is that it is an Ivy League institute. The fact that there are only a handful of Ivy League colleges in the world, puts a ‘Premium’ on the brand name. If an institute belongs to the Ivy League category, it has to have certain qualities.

2. Another interesting fact about Cornell is that they have a very small class size. The approximate number of students in an MBA class is 282 which is even less than Tuck School of Business and Yale School of Management, which already have made a small class size claim.

Compared to the 800 and 900 students class size that Harvard and Wharton have, Cornell, Tuck and Yale have really small class sizes.

Now, what is the significance of this factor?

The smaller the class size the larger bond. Every student gets to bond with their fellow classmates. This might not be the case when the batch size is large.

3. Another highlight of the B-school is its location. Cornell is located in New York. If you study at Cornell, you get to easily access the headquarters of many companies compared to graduates from other B-schools. Especially in a large country like the US, it is great if you can study in a city like New York given the proximity to industries and jobs.

4. At Cornell Johnson, they have the Immersion Learning Program. They believe that students cannot learn anything in isolation but that they need to learn it in conjunction with other functions. They understand that it has to be learned in the real world where theories will have to stand the test of execution.

5. Cornell also has a good international exchange program. They have more than 30 partner schools across 22 countries. So, if you are really looking at an international experience but don’t want to get stuck in the US but want an opportunity to travel, then Cornell MBA is ideal for you.

For more information on the IIM-B EPGP program, you can visit our Top MBA Program page here.

Coming to Cornell’s application checklist, here’s what you will need when you are applying for the MBA program at the business school:

Cornell MBA Application Checklist

GMAT/GRE Scores: Like the rest of the B-schools abroad, you need to submit your test scores for your application. The average GMAT score is around 695 which is slightly on the lower side. And the average GRE score is 321. If you are an international student, we would suggest that you get a GMAT score in the 720-730 range and a GRE score of 330+. This will put you in the safe zone.

IELTS/TOEFL: A lot of B-schools will state that if you have a transcript that says that the official language used to teach was English, you don’t need to take the IELTS or TOEFL. But B-schools like MIT and UC Berkeley are very rigid when it comes to ticking these boxes. So, it is best if you check out Cornell Johnson’s website yourself and see if you need to take the IELTS or TOEFL.

Transcripts: Your transcripts will include a sheet with all your semester marks. This will help them verify your undergraduate degree score.

Letters of recommendation: You need to submit one letter of recommendation mandatorily. They also say that you can submit a second letter of recommendation for review. We would suggest that you submit two letters of recommendation. It is always better if you can have more words to support you.

Application fee: The application fee at Cornell is at par with a lot of other top B-schools. It is about $200. There have been instances when they have really liked certain candidate profiles and have waived off the application fee.


There are slight changes in the essay questions. But more or less, they are the same when compared to last year.

Essay Question 1

Goal statement prompt

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:

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?

Word limit: 350 words

They are not expecting to hear anything from you that is set in stone. They believe that if you are going to invest in a one-year MBA or a two-year MBA program, you need to have clarity and a vision of where you are headed.

If you don’t have that clarity or vision, chances are that you may not be able to utilize the MBA program as well as you need to.

You may have seen the Master Chef episodes in which the contestants are given 60 minutes to prepare a dish, right? It is very important that the contestants spend the first few minutes figuring out what they need from the pantry.

Now, think of your career as that dish. Your MBA program is a way for you to pause and pick the right ingredients or the right tools for you to progress in your career.

When you are answering this essay question, remember that you need to answer it only based on what you think about your goals today. They want you to commit to your short-term and long-term goals here.

They know that you might find it difficult to communicate all this in 350 words. And that’s why they have given you statements to complete. This will help you share with them the exact points that you want to convey.

‘In 5–10 years post-MBA, my goal is to work as a(n) [Role] at [Company] within [Industry].’

All you need to tell them here is your targeted job role, the company that you wish to get into, and the industry of your interest.

Let us give you an example.

Say you want to play the role of a consultant. In this scenario, you will become an engagement manager in 5-10 years, let’s say, at McKinsey within the automobile sector.

With this, they will get to know if you have thought of where you see yourself in the 5-10 years, if you have a dream company and if you are interested in a specific industry.

Here’s another example for you:

Let’s say that you want to be a group product manager at Google in the hi-tech industry.

With this one sentence, you have given them clarity on your goals and by now, they know what you exactly want to know and where you see yourself at in a few years’ time.

So, when you write down this sentence in your application essay, make sure that you write about the role that you wish to get into, your dream company, and the industry.

The best way for you to learn is by going on LinkedIn. Try to see if you can find someone who graduated from Cornell in 2015 and before and see where they are in terms of their career.

Have a believable goal. Don’t stretch it too much.

You need to utilize the 350 words to answer the question, ‘How has your experience prepared and encouraged you to pursue these goals?’.

You can wish to get into any role. But what are the transferable skills that you have?

You need to give the AdCom. at Cornell, a reason to believe that you are best suited for those roles that you have stated.

There must be something in your past, it could be your experience or the skillsets that you have acquired, that proves that you are fit for those roles.

In the case of the consultant who wishes to get into the automobile industry, they could state that they have worked in the automobile industry for the past five years or so. If they have worked for a company in the same industry, they could mention that as well. They can say that because of this industry experience they know what it takes to get into the specific role.

To answer this essay question, we would suggest that you pick three components from your past which suggest that you are suited for the role you aspire to get into.

You could pick one example of domain knowledge.

You should also try to pick a personal aspect. Not everything is about the domain and the industry.

The third component could be something that you read, a course that you took, or even a project that you completed. You can pick anything else that will give the AdCom. more understanding about you.

This is how you can go about your first Cornell MBA essay.

Essay Question 2

Impact essay prompt

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?

Word Limit: 350 words

If you look at the previous essay, it was a lot about your experience. It was mostly about what you did.

Now they are looking at what you want to do. It is in terms of your future.

In this essay, you can probably talk about three things that you can pursue in the future.

Given the question, you will have at least one point on what you will do at the B-school.

What we would suggest is that you pick two points that you can do at the B-school and one thing that you can do after that.

When you are picking something that you would do at the B-school, you should pick something that is aligned with your goal.

One thing you should completely avoid doing is just going to the B-school website and copy-pasting what’s there in your essay.

You need to invest time and figure out what you can write in this essay. You can even talk to alums and other people who are acquainted with the B-school to find relevant points for this essay.

You should figure out how you can leverage your expertise in a domain and apply it to the B-school. In that way, you will be contributing to your classmates and B-schools with your experience.

The second that you could do is to pick something that is very personal.

Let us give you an example here:
If you are someone who is into doing yoga and you find peace in doing something every day, you can say that you wish to start a yoga club at the B-school.

You can say that you want your classmates to have a healthy body and a mind, which can be achieved by practicing yoga every day.

The third point could be a cause or a larger life goal. It could be something that you wish to explore.

It need not be something that is limited to the B-school. It could be something that you wish to pursue on an ongoing basis.

Here’s how you can find it:

Think of anything that you would have done even if you did not join the B-school.

Maybe you love pets and you want to do something along those lines. Maybe you want to do something along those lines.

So, talk about how you think that is a cause that deeply concerns you.

We have had people talk about other causes like ethics in technology. They were concerned about ethics when it comes to building and using technology. They wanted to make a contribution in that area.

It could also be a hobby. If you like playing the guitar, that could be it.

If music is your skill, how do you think you can leverage that to make an impact.

So, you will have three stories to include in this essay.

Make sure that you have a good introduction and conclusion in your essay. 🙂

Essay Question 3

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.

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 350 words or fewer. Multimedia submissions should be under 3 minutes.

Please limit multimedia submissions to under 3 minutes

With your resume, they are already aware of your professional background. They now want to know more about you. They are looking for something that will make them want to meet you.

There are two things that you need to focus on:

1. The story that you need to pick
2. How you convey it.

We will explain in detail how you can approach this Cornell MBA essay.

They have just asked for one example of a life experience, achievement, or passion.

What we would suggest you do is to try to think of something that you have done over a sustained period of time.

We say this because they have just asked for that one example. In that case, the experience alone will not be sufficient. You will have to tell them what went behind it for them to get a better sense.

There is really no right way to approach this essay. But we will give you three examples to get you thinking.

The first example is of someone who created a three-minute-long video clip.

In this video, he told his life story and his journey.

He was very good at video creation. So, he went ahead and created a video template and then a storyboard.

Let us say that you are a public speaker.

In that case, you might want to tell them about the time when you addressed 1000 spectators.

This is your final state.

But here’s something you need to remember.

The idea is not just to state facts. The idea is to tell them what made you a speaker. How you overcame the challenges. How you got more opportunities.

You need to be able to convey to them the kind of impact you have on people.

But all this has to be conveyed within three minutes.

The second example is of someone who wanted to create a poster. You could do that too.

You don’t need to just stick to creating a video. As long as you can make the poster look visually appealing, you can always go ahead and submit it.

And if you are someone who wishes to write an essay, you can use 350 words to convey the same.

The only point here is that however well you write, a written document will not be able to stand against a creative, visually appealing format.

Our suggestion is that you go with the video or the poster format.

But if you still want to write 350 words and convey the story, you could go ahead. But you need to be creative.

This essay is really different from the other two. So, you need to be a lot more creative and imaginative.

That’s all. 🙂

Optional/Re-Applicants 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 (350 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

Word limit: 350 words

If you are applying for the first time and you have a point to make, you should definitely utilize this essay.

Otherwise, we would suggest that you avoid writing this.

Let’s say you have a low GPA, you can utilize this essay to explain the reason behind it. Otherwise, they wouldn’t know.

So, aspirants who are applying for the first time should ideally use this essay to explain any gaps in their academics or career. If there is nothing, you can leave it.

The essay is for re-applicants too.

As they have mentioned, tell them what has changed from the last time you applied.

Make that story interesting.

Cornell Johnson MBA Application Deadlines 2020-2021

Application deadlines for Cornell Johnson MBA class of 2021-22 are:

Rounds Application Deadlines
Round 1 Oct 8, 2020
Round 2 Jan 5, 2021
Round 3 Apr 8, 2021

Want to know more about the MBA Application Deadlines for Top B-Schools? Here’s the entire list of top B-Schools along with their deadlines – MBA Application Deadlines 2020-2021

We do hope you are ready to attempt Cornell Johnson’s MBA application essays. Remember to maintain a structure and keep your answers to the point. Your structured essays will ensure that you always hold the attention of your readers.

For any help regarding drafting and reviewing your essays, we are here to help you always. All you have to do is click the image below and talk to our experts.