This post covers information from a long-ago application season. Some of the policies discussed here may still be in effect at Columbia, but most are not. Please review current school requirements carefully.
To continue our dissection and theorization from yesterday of the 19% drop in Columbia apps…
We posited that Columbia’s sins may be due to some hubris. And maybe that sense of entitlement crept into the school’s admissions policies – policies which, interestingly enough, have been largely loosened up this year.
Case in point: Up to last year’s admissions season, the following idiosyncractic rules were in effect in admissions at Columbia Business School:
- They would accept the GRE – but only if you’d never taken the GMAT. If you took both, you needed to only use your GMAT score in your CBS app. Other schools would accept them interchangeably, without this strict insistence on GMAT. Not Columbia.
- GMAT scores were valid for 5 years and they needed to be good at the time of matriculation (that is, when you actually start school). For other schools, GMAT scores are also good for 5 years – but they only need to be good at time of application.
- If your prior education was in a country where English was not the official language, then Columbia said you had to take the TOEFL. Other adcoms would waive a TOEFL requirement (if they had them at all) based on getting a degree from a school where English was the language of instruction. Berkeley and UCLA still have more strict TOEFL requirements but we understand those are due to University of California policies.
If you’re interested, you can see last year’s Columbia application FAQ (2011-2012) laying out these policies here.
This year, likely in response to their crash in app volumes, Columbia has loosened these requirements. Now they’re more in line with their peer schools. Good.
However, Columbia still has an admissions policy that is applicant-unfriendly
and which they seem unwilling to change: [UPDATE 10/1/12: COLUMBIA HAS NOW CHANGED IT! SEE HERE ] They make international candidates convert their own GPAs. [NOT ANYMORE!] If your transcript shows that you graduated with an 86.4%, for example, you need to figure out how to depict that in the American 4.0 system. Columbia gives very minimal guidance on how grades should be converted (we actually think their conversion charts are off, frankly). Not only that: They tell you that if you make a mistake, that alone is reason to reject you.
No other school forces the candidate to convert GPAs. Why does Columbia do this? It causes so much stress. It’s doubtful that someone will decide to skip a Columbia app over it, but it’s unfair to BSers. The adcom knows academia, don’t they? They have oodles of data on previous candidates and how their scores and rankings and whatever should be interpreted.
Why can’t they use what should already be their own expertise?
Don’t like it. [KUDOS TO COLUMBIA FOR MAKING THIS CHANGE.]
And the most applicant-unfriendly policy of all if you’re applying from overseas:
Columbia doesn’t have a guaranteed loan for international students. They’re not the only bschool that doesn’t so we’re not going to fault them too much on this, but it’s something they may want to look into if they want to encourage more candidates. [Update: AS OF LATE SUMMER 2014, COLUMBIA **FINALLY** HAS A NO-SUBSCRIBER LOAN OPTION. But this post was written in 2012. That’s a very long time.]
Believe it or not, we still have more to say on this. Till tomorrow…