This post has been marked as OLD. EssaySnark's advice and strategies for winning MBA applications don't change from year to year, but some of the school-specific admissions policies, essay questions, or other information covered in this article may be outdated.
Columbia Business School’s application deadlines are the confusingest of the confusing.
They have two different intakes and rolling admissions and this Early Decision thingy and whatever. And that’s just for the standard F/T MBA. Then they’ve got like five different flavors of EMBA, all with different dates too.
The worst of the confusing though is the fact that their Regular Decision deadline is in April.
“Whoa, that gives me plenty of time!” we hear you think, a sudden burst of Columbia inspiration hitting your bloodstream.
Or maybe you smashed together a whole bunch of apps in these first two weeks of January and now you’re on a deadline high, looking around, seeking another target to apply your newfound application dedication towards.
Hold up big fella.
1. If you’re just now thinking about deadlines and considering Columbia, then that tells us you’re getting started waaaaay late. Which means we have little hope for you. You’re rushing things, you’re panicked, you’re riding an artificial I’m going to bschool! euphoria and you don’t know what you’re doing. You’re cutting corners, or your clueless. This is not the way to get into Columbia (or any other top school).
2. Or, if you’re just now considering Columbia because all your other schools have said no then you need to step back and assess the reasons why. Columbia is not an easy nut to crack, particularly with a Regular Decision app…. and even more so if you’re coming to the game now.
We have so many cautionary tales for you — we hear about so many BSers just like you who went before, desperate folks who crammed together some last-minute apps in the January timeframe… and came up with nothing. Basically, they did exactly what you’re doing now, and it Did Not Work Out. Yes, they often are able to turn it around the next time through… but oh wouldn’t it be so much lovelier to not go through the gummi-worm stage?
Here’s the deal on Columbia:
1. Their process is rolling. This means they evaluate applications in the order they’re received, and they’re filling the class as they find qualified candidates.
2. The application has been open since May. People have been applying all the way along. They started reviewing the Regular Decision candidates in December — and they’ve already been admitting a good number of them. Between Early Decision and the already-admitted Regular Decision peeps, they could be moving towards like half the class already accepted.
3. The bulk of Columbia’s Regular Decision apps come in right around the January 4th fellowship deadline (which you’ve obviously already missed). If you apply now, you’ll be sitting in the queue behind a whole slew of other candidates (others who had their act together ‘cuz they submitted in time for some possible $$$). They won’t even start to look at your app until they work through all those others.
What do these points add up to?
If you haven’t yet gotten that Columbia app in, you’d best make it happen like SOON or you really should not bother.
Let’s say that again: If you’re serious about Columbia, you need to get your application in *now* – with their rolling admissions process, anyone applying after mid-to-end-January is at a serious disadvantage and has a very low chance.
We’ve seen absolutely amazing candidates who applied to Columbia in like February, and got waitlisted and then rejected – but they were admitted immediately when they reapplied in the early round the next season. This tells us that the reason they were rejected originally was simply because the class was full. There was no more space.
So once more with feeling:
If you’re serious about Columbia, GET YOUR APPLICATION IN IMMEDIATELY.
If you can’t pull this off — if you’re not able to submit a solid application within the next 10 days or so — you should just wait till next season.
That “10 days” advice is arbitrary. If you can submit on like February 5th, maybe you’re fine. Or maybe even February 15th could work out. Or maybe not. Who knows, EssaySnark is not sitting in the Columbia admissions office, we don’t have any inside info — all we have are patterns of what we’ve seen in many past seasons. Columbia has been doing rolling admissions forever, and this is pretty much always how it patterns out.
Not sure if this will register for you but we’ll say it again: It is always easier to get into Columbia through the Early Decision process. That deadline is in October (they already filled probably a third of the class from those candidates.) And even though it feels like a world away, believe it or not, if you hold off on applying now, you would be able to submit your ED app for next season in about six months. As we just said, they open their application for the next season in May. It’s likely that they might change their questions — EssaySnark is guessing that their current essay 3 will go away, however essays 1 and 2 are likely to be similar — regardless, you’d need to spend some time in crafting up some quality answers to whatever the questions are at that point. If you apply in the June/July timeframe, you will almost certainly have an answer back by September.
Yes, this would mean delaying your bschool ambitions for a full year — you’d be starting school in Fall 2013 if you go this route. But you could also have a much easier time getting in if you do. If you flail an application together now for the current-season Fall 2012 start, then we’re not holding our breath that you’ll be successful anyway.
And as we’ve cautioned against for ages, it is WAY easier getting in to a top school as a “fresh” applicant than as a reapplicant. (Though, there is a valid exception: If you’re considering one of the flavors of EMBA that Columbia offers, you should go for it — all this freak-out stuff about timing is specific to the full-time MBA — Columbia EMBA Saturday-Only has a deadline on February 8th and you’re not “too late” to apply to that.)
So. Considering an app to Columbia now? OK fine — do it now and you may have a chance. Or, step back from the edge and let the voice of EssaySnark reason speak to you, and take a calm, cool, rational approach, and perhaps you’ll avoid some heartbreak and gummi worms.
Want more insights into Columbia with detailed information on how Early Decision works and when you should apply and even more important, how to put together a good application? Check out the SnarkStrategies Guide for Columbia and other top schools to get the lowdown on app strategies for each!