Sometime in the last month or so, this message appeared on the Columbia Business School application information page :
For those of you on a screenreader, it essentially says that application data must be accurate, that applicants need to write their own essays (but not letters of rec), that the information will be verified, and that they’ll dump you if they find out you cheated.
The sudden appearance of this block of text, positioned at the very top of the instructions page, is telling.
Clearly something happened.
This isn’t unusual, of course. Many if not most schools’ applications have you attest to the accuracy of the information and agree that all work is your own. The instructions that go out to recommenders also frequently state that the applicant is not to be involved in the crafting of the recommendation. They communicate directly what is expected.
Schools also do background checks on applicants pre-matriculation (“matriculation” just means “starting the program”).
Still, people lie, cheat, and steal, and perhaps the population of candidates interested in
getting rich quick going for an MBA (definitely not “quick” and definitely not easy either!) may have a greater proportion of people willing to blur the lines and bend the rules. That apparently is what went down in the admissions office of Columbia Business School some time in Spring 2021.
Outright fraud does happen occasionally, including blatantly (by someone who has a bachelor’s degree in ethics — no, really) , and is likely occurring way more than is actually caught.
It may seem like a victimless crime, to fudge a little here and there on an MBA app. But it’s not. You swindling your way into a good school means that an honest person is denied a spot. Maybe some people are sitting here reading that saying, “Well yeah! That’s exactly what I have in mind!” We hope that that’s not how you operate.
EssaySnark may be hopelessly old fashioned, we may be tilting at windmills, we may be shouting into the void, but we believe that ethics matter.
You will have many, many decisions to make as you progress along this journey in applying to bschool and (hopefully!) getting accepted. Those decisions affect the quality of your life — in ways large and small.
The small way (which is actually the large one) is how clear your mind is. How free is your conscience.
How proud you will be of yourself when you achieve the noble aims by noble means.
It is not easier to get in by lying. Regardless of whether it “works” or not, you must live with yourself. And how do you even know if you’re lying in the areas that the schools would care about?
Can you imagine being accepted to a school like Columbia on the basis of lies? Holding your breath through each step of the process, hoping you will not be caught?
And then the devastation when that dreaded phone call comes in, asking for more information about this such-and-such thing you reported on your app?
Not worth it.
Don’t lie because lying is bad.
But also, don’t lie because you’re good enough to get in by being honest.