We almost said “versus” but that would be silly; it’s not like the schools are duking it out, Battle of the Bands style. Neither one is insecure enough to really even care much about what their local peer school is doing.
(Though we do have it on firsthand knowledge that the Stern folks were irked by the “at the heart of Manhattan” angle that Columbia was pushing last year. Thankfully CBS adjusted that marketing spin since then.)
We decided to do this post after naming Columbia and NYU to our Top 5 Favorite Business Schools list last week. We almost talked about this Columbia/NYU topic several years ago and instead at the time, offered some what-we-thought-was-helpful advice for anyone applying to NYU and NYU alone. Yeah, there was a disgruntled BSer in the comments there but honestly, we’ve never been one for spoonfeeding answers to people. Actually it seems that several of the posts we’re linking to today had disgrunted BSers… hmmm, the ‘Snark strikes again, apparently.
Anyway our position is that there ARE differences in these schools (duh) and you DO need to do your own research to figure them out.
Today’s post was inspired by the musings around Columbia and yield in the exchange in the comments on this post in early August, and even more so by some very misinformed people who some BSers are apparently listening to and forming opinions from. Which means that the BSers are misinformed.
BSer Jamie said in the comments there that “Columbia’s reputation is “degrading” among the MBA community” – really? Huh. Had not perceived that to be the case. Bigger issue, another BSer said to us privately that they’d heard that Columbia is only a feeder school to Wall Street, and they don’t want to go to finance, thus they’re applying to NYU instead.
Yes, Columbia sends a bunch of people to Wall Street every year – but so does NYU.
Columbia has been battling this image of “only finance” for decades. We’d thought that they’d been making progress, but alas, apparently not.
We were gratified to get another remark from yet another BSer who said that they are choosing Columbia because of its strength in entrepreneurship, and they even cited the very true fact that Columbia has been specializing in entrepreneurship for a long time, that it’s not just a bandwagon that they’ve recently jumped on because it’s trendy and all the schools have. Impressed by that BSer, they are doing their homework.
(BTW, these comments are from the private interactions we have with people around school selection and targets when they go through the Comprehensive Profile Review.)
You definitely need to be kicking the tires when you do your research on schools – meaning, if you can’t get to campus (which is HIGHLY recommended for both of these schools, particularly NYU) then you need to be TALKING TO PEOPLE – and not just your buddy who went to some other school. You need to be reaching out to the school communities. Current students are the best, recent alumni also good. Someone who graduated from Columbia 10+ years ago is not going to be your ideal resource, generally speaking. Even someone who went there five years ago will not have the current perspective. Columbia has changed a LOT in the past few years especially. There is a major focus on community at this place – way more than ever before. In fact, that was the key area where Columbia was deficient. They were accused of being more of a cutthroat culture, and while that term is an exaggeration for sure, it has applied at Columbia way more than it ever did at NYU.
The way these schools are alike is that they are both confident that they provide exceptional value, and neither one is paranoid about what the other is doing. As we said, these schools are not in competition with each other. We do not see NYU tossing out big bucks in scholarship offers as a way to woo someone who was also admitted to CBS. NYU does tend to be more generous in scholarship awards than Columbia has been in the past, but they don’t target those offers just to pick off someone who would otherwise head uptown.
To final answer the “What’s the difference?” question that we posed and then punted on way back when: The main difference that we perceive externally about these two schools is that Columbia is sometimes overvalued, because Columbia, and Stern is even more frequently dissed, because Not-Ivy.
People are exceptionally brand-conscious in this game, which, as you know, is our not our thing. Brand does matter, but it’s NOT THE REASON TO BE SELECTING A SCHOOL – not the first reason at least.
And this is where NYU gets overlooked by people. “It’s not Ivy League” or “It’s not the M7” (whatever THAT means) or whatever other reason that someone says they want to try for Columbia and Wharton and MIT but they never mention Stern. Happens all the time.
We’re betting that NYU actually doesn’t care too much about this. After all, given what we know of and have experienced from their culture, they don’t WANT people who are that superficial. If you don’t see the value of what they got, well…
So here’s yet another post where we sidestep the important questions of “How are they different?” and tell you to – oh no! – do your own homework.
Let the disgruntled BSers come.
PS: We do in fact go into some of these details in the respective Columbia and NYU guides – yes they cost $ – so there Akshay from 2012 – why should we give you everything for free you ungrate? yeah we waited two years to say that