Note: Just because we’re blahgging about this today is not meant as a signal that you should try submitting a Columbia full-time MBA app right now! The rolling admissions means that they’re really far along with their admits and it’s got low probability of a win at this stage of the cycle. However, the Columbia accelerated option is of perennial interest and we’ve got a blahg post from the ‘snarchives asking “Are you a good fit for the J-Term?” that tends to collect questions on it regularly, and a regular theme of those questions is exactly what we talked about in the post (and discuss in our Columbia MBA Application Guide) on whether the J-Term is a good fit for a career changer.
As with many things in MBA Applicant Land, there is no one clear answer. It’s the frustrating “it depends” kind of scenario. Whether or not the Columbia adcom might see you as a specific fit to their J-Term accelerated MBA depends on many things in your background and very importantly, what career you’re targeting for yourself post-MBA, but perhaps nothing is of greater importance than the overall pitch that you make.
One person with a similar set of profile stats and career target may be denied from the J-Term while a very similar-seeming candidate gets a win. Why the difference? It all comes down (usually) to how convincing you are in making your case for admission. While that’s certainly true everywhere, it’s especially true for this track in particular, since the adcom needs to know not just: Why Columbia, and why now, but also very directly, why the J-Term program in specific.
As we said to a BSer over on that other thread: One way to evaluate how successful you might be in an accelerated-format program like Columbia’s J-Term is to evaluate how self-directed you are, and what connections you’ll be able to pull on, and what basis you’ll have to make the case to a future employer that you’re ready to roll and can hit the ground running even though you’ll be changing careers. This is a non-trivial examination exercise and it can be superduper important! Not only does that help you make sure you’re making the right choice of MBA program, and set you up for success in the long-term requirements of pitching those companies, but it’s essential in pitching the adcoms on why you feel their program is a fit and how you intend to make it a success story.
Many schools including Columbia are becoming more flexible on certain requirements, given how the overall market for MBA applicants is softening somewhat (at least, compared to what it used to be). So you may be able to convince an adcom for an admit more easily than past BSers possibly could. Columbia used to be more rigid on who they would give serious consideration to for their J-Term option; they also were a little more inflexible on who could be admitted to one of their Executive MBA tracks which also has changed. If you’re thinking ahead for an app to one of these programs, then a great way to get a headstart on app strategy is to be doing research on exactly what career path you have in mind for yourself, how you’ll be successful in navigating your recruiting cycle, what connections you have or could make from now till starting school that might enable you to be better positioned, and all sorts of industry research and full familiarity on the opportunities available, who hires MBAs, what their recruiting cycle is like, and how you might approach those companies for employment, if they are not part of the on-campus recruiting environment at Columbia (or whatever your target school might be).
Yup, we’re assigning more research. But what else are you going to do with your time? At least then your mindless wandering across the pockets of the internet could have a strategy and purpose to it.
Questions on Columbia or one of the other accelerated tracks like Cornell or Kellogg? Lay ’em on us, we’re happy to help! Comments are open.
Another worthwhile resource to pick up might be the Columbia MBA Application Guide – yes this is the current-season edition still but it’s got gobs of good information and if you’re hot to trot for Columbia, these essentials will be unchanging in the coming admissions cycle too.