The potential for awesome titles for posts on this subject seems to be endless. Talk about turning the tables, eh? All the BSers in the world are collectively saying to Columbia, How do you like me now? Getting rejected sucks. There’s some admissions officers out there who now know what that feels like.
To continue our drag-them-through-the-mud discussion of why Columbia may have ended up with admissions egg on their face: Part III. (If you missed them: Part I: Columbia no longer a favorite? and Part II: Why Columbia got schooled.)
Another area that changed a couple years back was that Columbia admissions became sneaky.
At least, that was our impression.
Here’s where we came up with this opinion:
- Used to be, Columbia would promise to return a decision on your application within 8-10 weeks of submitting. They stated it on their website; it was a commitment to the candidate — and they came through on it. Then, about two years ago, they started changing the language. It morphed over time, the way they communicated the response commitment. First they hedged it; then they walked it back. Now they say that they have an “8 to 12 week goal” to return a decision to you – but that this may be extended by the interview process. But wait – everyone who’s ever accepted to Columbia must go through the interview. So what are they saying – that they promise to tell you “no” within 8 to 12 weeks? Otherwise it might take longer? What the h3ll – HBS releases candidates after just ONE MONTH. (And yes, we know that the Columbia website says that interviews are not required for admission – but we also have ever only heard of exactly ONE person in all our years of doing this who didn’t get interviewed before admission to Columbia, and that was an extreme circumstance where they were accepted off the waitlist at the very last minute before classes began. Sorry folks, interviews are de facto required at Columbia, not sure why they are pretending that they’re not.) So Columbia used to give you their word of 8-10 weeks from app to decision. Their word today isn’t what it used to be.
- For over a year, the most popular post on the EssaySnark blahg was this: Columbia’s new Early Decision process (is lame). We have always loved Columbia’s Early Decision option – but when we heard about that switch-up in the process, we thought it was lousy. It seems like a pretty applicant-unfriendly thing to do, to put an Early Decision person into this “deferred decision” limbo – sure, it might be nicer than rejecting them outright, but the whole rationale – that they wanted to see if something better was gonna come along with the Regular Decision apps — well, it just leaves a bad taste in this here ‘Snark’s mouth.
- Last year we heard of Columbia re-interviewingpeople. You go through the standard interview, you’re waiting to hear back, which is totally the hardest part of the entire thing – and then you find out they need to interview you again. Talk about nerve-wracking. They certainly don’t tell you upfront that it could happen; they just spring it on people, and with no explanation. Can you say freak-out? Yeah, this is where ulcers get created. It’s not something that would affect app volumes but it’s lame nonetheless.The reason this happens? It’s because Columbia’s alumni interview process is a total crapshoot.
- Mostly you get a great, enthusiastic, nice person doing your Columbia interview – but every now and then you get an incompetent or outright mean alum, in which case the BSer doesn’t have a fair shot. The interviewer doesn’t like you, you’re hosed. Not much you can do in that situation – if you complain about the interview to admissions, do you think the adcom is going to be on your side or the alum’s? Kind of a jam.
- Or, the alum interviewer just does a crappy job of writing up the interview, and then the adcom calls the candidate up – sometimes in the middle of the day, on your cell phone, with no warning, just BOOM it’s “Hi I’m so-and-so from Columbia Business School” and you’re like floored and unexpecting it and flustered… and they either ask you a bunch of questions on the spot, or they want you to do another interview. If you know in advance that you have to do two interviews, like how INSEAD does it (good system BTW), then this is no problem. When they spring it on you – particularly with a random out-of-the-blue phone call when you’re unprepared – that just seems unfair.
- The other unfair thing they have pulled on candidates is covered in this post. It’s a classic bait-and-switch, and it’s directly tied into the overexpansion of their EMBA program that we discussed two days ago. If you apply to the F/T MBA program, you should not be put on the spot asking if you’d consider the EMBA instead – these are different products. It’s like the lame-ass story we heard about how some AT&T stores told all those lined up for the new iPhone 5 on the day it came out that they could have the 16-GB white model, when most people wanted the 32-GB black one. In both cases, the customer is being offered at least a different product – and many might argue, an inferior one. And from how these stories were related to us, the way Columbia presents the choice makes it seem like they’re not going to accept you into the F/T program if you say you don’t want the EMBA. Sucky.
All this boils down to one fact: LACK OF TRANSPARENCY. The Columbia admissions people seem to change the rules whenever they like, and at least in the past two years, those rule-changes have all been in favor of THEM, not the applicant.
And in case you didn’t notice: The majority of those idiosyncratic admissions policies we discussed yesterday were biased against international candidates: the GPA conversion thing, the TOEFL rule, the lack of loan options.
It’s like they didn’t want to get applications from non-North American candidates.
Which is funny, since Columbia has long been a school that’s had a higher mix of international students than most. It’s been a point of distinction for them for like decades. They have SIPA (School of International and Public Affairs or something). They’re in NYC for goodness sake.
How a school treats its candidates has a way of getting around. There’s this thing called the Internet now, see, and social media, and all those forums and Twitter… and lots of blogs, and a blahg, and… People talk.
Maybe Columbia needs to pay closer attention to its market.
We’re just sayin’.