UPDATE 4PM MONDAY
Thank you, Columbia, for updating your website!
Original post below.
Columbia has just two essays this year…. Or do they???
This is a school that’s known for sending mixed messages. We already ranted about them more than enough for one admissions season but this inconsistency in their APPLICATION INSTRUCTIONS needs to be called out.
Their website listing out their application requirements says this at the top of the essay section:
Applicants must complete one short answer question and two essays.
Then they proceed to list out an Essay 1 and an Essay 2.
Of course, Essay 1 has two sections – an A and a B – but lots of schools do that, breaking the prompt into two to make sure that applicants see the importance of each and explicitly answer both parts.
That means it’s one essay.
They just said at the top that there are two essays. So that means this one – Essay 1, Part A and Part B – and Essay 2.
See, Columbia Business School? We can COUNT! Pretty good, huh, for a lowly admissions consultant!!
One Essay ah ah ah Two Essays ah ah ah! says The Count. (Count Chocula was always our favorite cereal but can you get that anywhere anymore? Nope!)
We keep reading and… It says at that bottom of that section, under the Optional Essay instructions:
fourththird essay will allow you to discuss any issues that do not fall within the purview of the required essays.
[Update from EssaySnark 11/12/12: They edited the website – all is right in the world again!
And note to BSers: This is purely anecdotal but they seem to want Essay 1a and 1b to be written out separately even though they’re submitted in one file. Unlikely you’d get penalized for doing it either way but it’s always nice to be able to give the adcom what they want!!]
Say wha’? FOURTH essay? Waitaminit Columbia… We had Essay 1… that’s one. And Essay 2… that’s two. And then here you’re describing the optional essay as the “fourth one”…. WHERE IS ESSAY 3??!? Ohhhhhhhhh…. You mean for Essay 1 to be written as two separate essays???????? Do you? (We only know this because we had a BSer tell us that some admissions person told him that.) But you only allow for uploading A SINGLE FILE in the application itself. Which implies… ONE ESSAY. The norm is always one essay per document. Right? Isn’t it?
WHAT GIVES COLUMBIA? Why do you make it unnecessarily confusing for the poor BSers who want to apply to you?
It’s a rather different assignment to write ONE ESSAY WITH TWO PARTS as it is to write TWO SEPARATE ESSAYS. It’s usually easier to write it as one essay, ‘cuz then you don’t have to waste already-precious words on two intros and two conclusions. (Separately: If a BSer showed such clear and convincing evidence on their apps that they COULD NOT ADD… or were just plain sloppy… might you not be tempted to just reject them out of hand?) Granted, the essence of what a BSer says should hopefully come through just fine in either forms, one or two… but gosh darn it this process is stressful enough on those poor souls. Cut ’em some slack and be clear and consistent, wouldjya please?
(We just had to do the shout-out to the master himself!)