Columbia Business School Only Wants 200-Character Application Essays

Forget about hiring an essay coach. The trend is short and sweet.

Earlier this summer the University of Iowa's Tippie School of Management made headlines by ditching the traditional essay in favor of allowing would-be students to use Twitter to write a 140-character application. Now Columbia Business School is following suit by asking applicants, "What is your post-M.B.A. professional goal?" and limiting responses to just 200-characters—not words, characters.

Are admissions officers tired of reading long-winded, here's-why-I'm-awesome-and-you-should-admit-me essays? Maybe. The Common Application, which is used by over 400 colleges and universities for undergraduate admissions, decided in June to cap essays at 500 words. With the previously unlimited essay length, admissions officers simply didn't have time to read them all.

Another probable factor is that since so many business-school applicants, especially to a top-tier school like Columbia, are already pretty accomplished, they're including links to personal websites and digital portfolios with their applications. Admissions officers can learn more about a potential student from those than they can from several hundred words co-written by an essay coach.

And with such a small amount of space allotted, Columbia applicants need to be incredibly focused about what they plan to do with their degree. Given the time and financial investment to earn an M.B.A, that's probably a good thing.

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