Two days without posting can seem like an eternity though, so we have a whiff of inspiration to keep you OHMIGOSHTHEWAITISKILLINGME types going for another two weeks until you get the news on your Round 1 apps. This person applied to Columbia’s Early Decision cycle – as a reapplicant – and made it! So you know there’s hope for those trying again. Here’s the story, in their own words (with some great insights into the way the Columbia ED process works):
Business school was on the cards since I graduated from college. It was a matter of when, not if — when I had the highest GMAT score I could possibly get, when I had sufficient work experience, when I had a good chunk of savings etc. Because of this, getting rejected from 3 top schools the first time I applied (and wait-listed and eventually rejected from a 4th) stung pretty badly. I had 3 years of work experience in financial services at this point, a GMAT score just shy of 700 and a solid undergrad GPA. I wasn’t quite ready to give up on the business school dream. I stumbled upon the blahg and couldn’t help but roll my eyes at the candid posts. I enlisted the so-called squirrels at EssaySnark on a ding analysis of my Columbia application.
Three things resonated with me from the Post-Mortem: A general lack of sugar-coating which I appreciated (the squirrels threw acorns all over the place!), the focus on goals (both short-term and long-term) and about pitching yourself as a multi-dimensional candidate. I had made the mistake of discussing only my short-term goals and focusing predominantly on my professional experiences in my applications. I set about with a plan of action for my re-application: I was committed to applying Early Decision to Columbia, re-taking the GMAT and incorporating my volunteer experiences into my story to clarify my long-term goals. I took the time for deep introspection to better articulate my story — my recent promotion and a new role at work that put me one step closer to my post-MBA goal in Equity Research and how my volunteer experiences with a start-up had shaped my long-term goal in social enterprise. Technology was a common strand throughout, and I wanted to cover emerging technology companies as a research analyst to understand their business models and product pipelines to figure out how they could be used in the social sector.
As always, even the best-laid plans somehow pick up tendencies to go awry. I had my GMAT scheduled for the end of summer but I ended up with a lower score than I was comfortable with and had to re-take it another time in September. I ended up pushing back my application, and only submitted it a couple of days before the Early Decision deadline. I got the invitation to interview less than 2 weeks after submitting my application. It was a great feeling — I knew I was at least on the right track this time around! I took my time figuring out which of the 6 alumni would be the best person to share my story with. I picked someone who had an Equity Research background, a track record of success in financial institutions and was involved in a couple of start-ups. She was amazing on-paper and in-person! She submitted the interview report 2 days after we met and I got the call from the Admissions Office 2 days after that. It’s a little hard to believe I will not be re-taking the GMAT (slightly relieved about that!) or applying to any other schools in the January round. I’m so excited for this step professionally and personally — sharing it with those who are going through the process is much more meaningful than sharing it with anyone else, and I would be happy to help others on their journey in any way I can.
In summary, my three main take-aways from the whole process would be:
- Tell a good story about your candidacy. As an Indian citizen applying from the US, I knew some of my competition had fancier academics and higher test scores but I focused on interesting bits of work and volunteer experiences where I had genuinely made a difference around me to prove why I would be worthy of a spot in the incoming class.
- Know the school. The website and Snark Guides are a start, but really talk to friends and friends of friends who go there, alumni, professors who may be speaking at industry events and even that guy at the gym wearing a school t-shirt… This helped me talk about CBS-specific things like CBS Matters and the recent CBS Reflects gender equity study more intelligently.
- Don’t stress too much about the GMAT as long as you’re in the school’s 80% range!
Thank you to this soon-to-be-Columbia student for the great write-up! As you can see, things can move very quickly at Columbia when the pitch is done well. Clearly this person addressed the gaps and issues from the first go-round and made an impressive presentation to the adcom this season. Congratulations! Throwing some acorns your direction apparently paid off – you picked ’em up and put ’em to use! 🙂
This former BSer also happened to ask the team a “What next??” question – meaning, how to prepare for this next wild and crazy ride? We steered them to our Accepted Student’s Guide which many of you may be interested in, in just another week or so. It covers all sorts of things like the financial preparation that you need to start undertaking, like, NOW, along with advice for international students coming to the States and yes, academic prep too.
Congrats again to this Columbia-bound Success Story! You’re going to be in great company there – we know plenty of amazing applicants who have also made it in. For those of you in waiting mode… good luck!!!!!