This post was published in 2015, so any EssaySnark products or pricing referenced within may not be available under the same terms, or at all, and the schools may have changed their application policies. The planning advice should still be very relevant, whenever you come across it, though! Please doublecheck details on any EssaySnark products or school-specific application requirements before proceeding.
Continuing our Class of 2018 Application Kick-Start Series, also known as the “Yes, BSer, it’s time to get moving!” posts, let’s cover some basics today around when you can expect essay questions to begin coming out from the respective schools.
Traditionally, Harvard and Columbia are the first schools to release anything for the next admissions season. It varies from year to year as to which one actually goes first – and it’s not like they’re coordinating or anything, or even that they likely even care if the other one beats them to it or not. They both operate on their own cycles.
The important difference is that Columbia releases not just the essay questions but their entire application. This is, we believe, at least in part driven by their unique J-Term (January Start) which has a shorter admissions cycle overall compared to most schools. Columbia starts accepting applications for the J-Term (and also for the Early Decision option which we’ll touch on in a moment) in the mid to late Spring every year, which allows them to work through the apps and make good on their commitment to give BSers an answer within about eight weeks from applying. They can do this because they have rolling admissions – they actively evaluate each application on a first-come, first-served basis, rather than batching them all together and evaluating the group only after the deadline has passed, like most other schools do. The J-Term starts in (you guessed it) January, so they need to finalize that class as soon as they can. Obviously if you’re hoping to start your bschool adventure at Columbia in January, then unless you’re already in the Tri-State area, you’re going to need to plan for quitting your job and relocating and all of that, so you want to know for sure if you’ve been admitted sooner rather than later. It’s still totally possible to make it through the admissions process and be accepted if you apply to the J-Term right at the deadline (which is typically in October) however it’s in everyone’s best interest for J-Term candidates to submit much earlier than that.
Thus, Columbia opens the app and allows people to literally start submitting in this spring timeframe. Last year they did this in mid-May. Given that we’re in mid-April, then that means that this is going to happen soon.
The Columbia Early Decision application option also opens up at the same time. We have plenty of posts on how Early Decision works (hint: it’s binding!). This is the best choice when you’re certain that Columbia is where you want to be next Fall. All Columbia full-time programs use the same essay questions, J-Term, August Start Early Decision, and August Start Regular Decision. Except for the statement of commitment on the binding Early Decision option, the applications are the same. (At least, they have been in past years; we obviously haven’t seen it this year so that’s not a guaranteed statement for how it will work for you up and coming BSers.)
By the way, we go into great detail on the J-Term, as well as Early Decision versus Regular Decision, in the Columbia MBA application guide – and if you purchase the online version of that guide now, you’ll get the updated guide as soon as it’s released for the 2015-’16 season, which should be very soon after the app comes out. You wouldn’t want to actually start in on any essays yet, since that last-year guide obviously has last-year questions, but the general strategy and priorities and what Columbia looks for will not be changing whatsoever, so that can serve as a nice head start for you if Columbia is in your sights.
So that covers the basics on Columbia. We thought we’d also be able to tell you what to expect re: Harvard today, but this post morphed into a monster, so we’re cutting it in two and will cover what to expect with HBS essay question release and that of certain other programs
when we check back in with you tomorrow – now posted!
For additional guidance on planning your strategy: