DISCLAIMER: This post is not trying to tell you that you can reuse your essays from one school to another! Because really, you can’t. Even if the essay prompt is nearly exactly the same — which, this year, there’s at least one pair of schools where this is true — even when the questions are…
Some of you may have guessed what we were alluding to in yesterday’s “What’s wrong with this picture?” post, but if not, here you go.
That person sounded like they were definitely headed to Booth, right? Based on how they related the results? Did you examine where else they applied and what their outcomes were?
You may have noticed the admit to the Columbia J-Term, and wondered if we were going to comment on that. Nope, that’s not the issue. The J-Term is not binding. The potential wrinkle is that this person also applied to Duke.
The results didn’t say, but Duke has a Round 1, and an Early Action. Early Action at Duke is like Early Decision at Columbia: They are both binding.
It’s totally possible that this applicant applied in Duke Round 1 with no strings attached. But just in case there are some people considering Duke EA along with their other schools in Round 1, or Columbia ED, we’d like to talk through the options you’re looking at.
We already posted about Columbia Early Decision at the end of June, so none of this is news. We spoke there about how it’s a binding process — but we know that this seemingly obvious stance on how to navigate decisions in life is not universally shared. There are many MBA admissions consultants out there who apparently have no qualms about advising their clients to act unethically. It’s not something we will ever be able to understand. 😕
From a purely practical level though, the advice is flawed from its foundation. The idea is this: Try for Columbia Early Decision. If you get in, then that means you have a chance at a better school, because clearly you did something right!
But actually, no.
Columbia Early Decision tends to be easier to get in through – marginally so, at least, and dependent upon many factors.
So the logic being proposed is: “I’m going to try clearing an easier bar, and that means I’ll have success at the harder one!”
It’s like saying you are going to send your resume out for jobs at the Manager level, and if you get a job offer, then you’ll accept that offer, and then immediately send your resume out for jobs at the Director level, to see what happens.
These are different playing fields entirely.
Maybe the issue is, you’re thinking about it a little bit off. Maybe you’re thinking of it like running.
You run a 5K as preparation for the marathon.
Does that analogy hold?
Well, kinda. If your goal with trying for Columbia first is to learn what’s required to put a good application together, then sure. Applying to Columbia and getting accepted means you did a good job on that.
But these two separate goals — getting into Columbia, versus getting into Harvard or Stanford — they require optimization on different dimensions.
What Columbia cares about in its applicants is really not the same as what Harvard or Stanford care about.
Sure, there are overlaps.
But making it to the end of a 5k isn’t that big of a deal. Heck, OutOfShapeSnark can do it.
Making it to the end of a marathon is a whole ‘nother beast.
They’d be scooping this ‘Snark up off the course at sundown if it were us that were trying it.
The execution of a 5k and a marathon are really quite different.
If you want to get into Harvard or Stanford or wherever, then apply to Harvard or Stanford. Getting into Columbia first does not say anything about whether those other schools will work out. It just says you got into Columbia.
While we understand the thinking with this strategy, to try for Columbia ED and then use that to determine trying for other schools, and while yes, we know people do it all the time, that does not make it right.
Just because other people do it does not mean it’s okay. Do you want to be like other people?
Here’s the real problem with the Columbia/Duke “early” app as a planned first step and a H/S/W/whomever later app in the works (in case our point has escaped you):
Columbia Early Decision is binding.
You would be giving your COMMITMENT to Columbia by applying through their Early Decision process.
Your commitment is your word. It’s about honor. It’s not about the money that you would forfeit by paying a deposit and walking away from it if another school lets you in. It’s about following through on a promise that you make. You can examine the text in the Columbia application and reflect on what you would be promising to them. It may feel trivial, but in our perspective, decisions on every level matter in life.
We have many posts about this:
- “I’ll just apply to Columbia Early Decision as an insurance policy” (because obviously you’re not the first person to be thinking this way)
- Renegging on an Early Decision offer
There are actually more posts than that, in case you’re really into hearing us lecture, but those capture the gist of it.
Ethics are what let us live a noble life, one of honor and character. That’s what EssaySnark stands for, and we are always so inspired to work with others who share those values.
Oh hey wait.
Where have we heard that word before???
Oh that’s right. It’s what so many schools are saying they care about now.
And, the best part is: You don’t need to cheat in order to get in to Columbia!
If you have a solid profile, you’re going to have just as much shot at getting in through Regular Decision, if you apply at the right time and you present yourself effectively. Early Decision has been an advantage more so in highly competitive seasons. Which this season is unlikely to be (at least, not at that level). There is strategy involved, yes. There is execution required, yes. (Shameless plug: We go into all of this in our Columbia Essay Guide!!)
What could be a “weakness” for Harvard or Stanford is not even going to be noticed at Columbia — provided your essays are really strong, of course! Columbia cares a lot about the essays; the essays are very important there, regardless of which round.
This means that there isn’t much logic to the plan of trying for Columbia before trying for the others. That’s a common fallacy of a “trade-up strategy” and we just don’t see it work out that often. Admissions to each school is an independent event; the only reason that there is correlation between admits to multiple schools is based on underlying attributes in a profile, but the execution of each of those apps needs to be quite different in almost every case – and that’s ESPECIALLY true for the presentation of material for Harvard and Stanford compared to Columbia.
Someone who’s admitted to Harvard or Stanford, also being admitted to Columbia and MIT? Yes, absolutely, that’s going to happen all the time.
Someone admitted to Columbia or MIT also having a solid chance at Harvard and Stanford? No, sorry. Doesn’t work that way. Correlations fall apart when you move that direction.
Oh hey look! We cover this in multiple posts, too!
- The typical futility of aiming higher
- You got in somewhere good. Should you now try for somewhere better?
- Round 1 and your favorite school
There have been several years in a row now where admissions was all whack. The adcoms didn’t know what to expect in terms of numbers of applications, and how many would matriculate. This year is likely to have some uncertainty associated with it, but unless there’s a major shock to the economy, we do not expect it to be anything like what’s been seen previously. In other words: It looks like things are more stable. Predictable. If you want to play a risky strategy and try “trading up” then there’s no harm in trying — but having a sound Round 1 strategy in place first is really important. That’s the conservative way to do it.
Try for your most important schools early. Then if they don’t pan out, figure out why, and go at it again in Round 2 with that learning under your belt.
If you’d truly be thrilled with an admit to Columbia and wouldn’t be tempted by other schools later, then go for Columbia Early Decision. If you cannot commit to them upfront, then don’t.
It’s not necessary, and every time we compromise our values, a little shadow darkens our souls.
The other takeaway message from that results post from yesterday: This is a GREAT TIME to be reapplying to bschool! With a forecast of a softer season ahead — especially if you’re trying in Round 1 — it could totally turn into a set of happy results like this other BSer racked up. Congrats to him from last year! Maybe you’ll be in a similar wonderful (difficult!) position of having to choose between great programs in a few months.
We’re reblahgging this from the ‘snarchives since it’s an important topic!! You can see some comments below from BSers who’ve gone before, asking about their own strategies — feel free to post your own such questions too if you have them! Should you apply Early Action? (Note: Not to be confused with MIT Sloan’s…
Used to be, the answer to that was “Not really anywhere.” If you wanted to go get an MBA, many schools wouldn’t even consider an app from you until you’d accrued some work experience. Regardless of how motivated you may have been, you couldn’t apply to business school straight out of college. Well guess what? Times have changed!
Now, a bunch of MBA programs are practically falling over themselves to get undergraduates to apply.
Just this season alone, a bunch of business schools launched or expanded formalized programs where they will accept you even if you have not graduated from college yet. This gives you a guaranteed deferred admission to a future entering MBA class.
The new ones this season are being offered at:
- Columbia Business School who is calling this Deferred Enrollment (note: totally different from Columbia Early Decision, and also totally different from applying through a school’s standard admission, getting accepted, and then asking for a deferral)
- MIT Sloan MBA where it’s called Early Admission
- University of Virginia Darden who’s named it Future Year Scholars
These are tracks of admission for a specific cohort: Seniors, as well as students who are in their final year of another (non-MBA) graduate program (with certain restrictions).
What schools have had this for awhile?
- HBS 2+2 was the first track of its kind, launched over 10 years ago now
- Then came Yale Silver Scholars
- This season, Booth expanded its Booth Scholars program to allow rising seniors from any university to apply, rather than limiting it only to University of Chicago students as it had previously been.
There’s also at least one such track available at MBA programs in Europe, such as the Young Talent Path MBA track at IESE in Spain .
These new opportunities mean that graduating college students have more options than ever before if they’re motivated to aim for a top-tier business school early on and they like the idea of setting up options ahead of time. We’ve heard it said multiple times recently that a college degree is what a high school diploma used to be, and that a graduate degree is becoming an expectation as part of a typical career path, rather than a possibility or nice-to-have.
If as a college student you’re wondering about committing yourself too early, don’t worry: You’re never locking yourself in to any one specific future through these programs. If anything changes for you as you go out into the world and build your career, and when it comes time to start the MBA, you realize that maybe it’s not the right next step for you, or not at that exact time, then you don’t absolutely have to attend. There may be some deposits that are unrefundable, but you’re not sealing your future fate 100% by applying or accepting an admit to one of these programs. The schools understand that you still have a lot of Real Life to experience, and that maybe you’ll change your mind.
However, more and more college students are becoming more and more motivated to tackle their careers with a vengeance, and this is one option to consider. It can sure be nice to embark onto the first phase of your post-college career knowing how the next three to five years will play out for you! Some people really like that sense of security and enjoy putting a longer-term plan into place when they can.
You also get to avail yourself of tremendous resources from your school: You’ll be part of the student community, with all sorts of mentoring opportunities and special programming, and at some schools you’ll have access to the fellow students and alumni as you navigate your career and think through possible career paths. It can be a tremendous resource and support system, almost like a built-in ecosystem to nurture your career.
If you’re wondering how competitive these programs are, it’s harder to say, based on all these changing factors. There’s a lot more awareness of these opportunities at college campuses all over the world, which means the schools are seeing more applications. We can tell you that way back when Harvard Business School first launched its 2+2 program in 2008 or so, they got 630 applicants and admitted 106 — which was around a ~17% admit rate, which was INCREDIBLY favorable for those candidates compared to the realities of getting into HBS in their standard cycle.
Now that there are so many of these tracks available at so many different schools, it’s possible that some of them will become less competitive (maybe). It unfortunately also means that the increased awareness among college seniors will lead to way more candidates for the limited spots. Many schools may implement a waitlist for these deferred-start programs just as they have with their full-time MBA admissions — but don’t worry, if you’re on the waitlist to start at a top school in the Fall, you’re considered separately from these college-senior waitlisters. Those pools don’t mix. You won’t be competing against an experienced-admit if you’re a coming-from-college admit (and vice versa).
EssaySnark can help college seniors looking to lock in their MBA admits early — check out our MBA admissions consulting services or hit us up if you have questions! Our MBA Application Guides also may be useful, though do note that many schools have different essay questions and specific requirements for their college-senior applicants, and those are not necessarily covered in our individual school guides, which by definition focus on the standard MBA admissions process of applying to school the year that you want to begin.
We’re happy to help if you have questions! Please post them in the comments section and we’ll let you know what we can about your situation and the schools that you’re interested in.
We’re more and more impressed by the caliber of talent coming out of college these days and if you’re a go-getter who has an MBA in your sights some day, then putting the foundation for that now might be a decision that truly pays off!
Used to be, certain schools would hardly even consider an applicant without at least three-ish years of post-college work experience. Those particular schools still have a relatively high average number of years of experience for their entering classes but we’re seeing signs of cracks in the walls, where they’re now being more open to considering…
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…
Columbia Business School is as you know a great school, but they do their entire process differently, both because they don’t have rounds in the same way as other schools, and instead have rolling admissions. And this could trip an unsuspecting Brave Supplicant up. So every year around this time, we take it upon ourselves…
This post has little to do with Harvard, even though many if not most of you applicants will be Harvard-focused today. This post has everything to do with how you talk about your future post-MBA goals. The reason it has little to do with Harvard is that career goals may or may not come up…
Round 1 decisions for many top schools coming out this week. You all hope hope pray pray… and for some, huge letdown. They put you on the waitlist. “What does this mean? Am I doomed?” No. EssaySnark sees people get into the best schools off the waitlist all the time. We had two clients get…
Welp, this post was supposed to go up yesterday, so we’re sending it along today because there’s still time to apply to both of these schools! Columbia’s Early Decision and J-Term deadlines are on Wednesday (Oct. 3) and NYU Round 1 is Oct. 15.
But these are VERY different schools. Frequently MBA applicants will target pairs of cities like this, NYU and Columbia being among the most common. Just like Booth and Kellogg, or MIT and Harvard, or Stanford and Berkeley, each of the pair actually has little in common with the other beyond the fact that they’re both located in the same geography (or practically the same zip code, for MIT/HBS).
The thing that’s most different about the Columbia/NYU pairing compared to those others is that NYU is often the afterthought school. With every other school in those other pairs, applicants are gung-ho and excited by each of the names even if they know nothing in-depth about them. Because rankings. But NYU? They’re like the unwanted stepchild who’s neglected and abused; nobody thinks about them unless they’re looking to add a safety school to the mix.
But NYU is in our opinion a total Cinderella. They’re the belle of the ball — at least, they are for their Prince Charmings who discover them and appreciate them for what they are.
(OK, fairy tale metaphors don’t hold up so well in modern 2018 America and the metaphor is obviously falling apart in how we’re attempting to apply it in this. We’re gonna abandon it now before it gets us in trouble.)
Suffice it to say, we think NYU is an underappreciated gem, and for those who discover it, and understand what it offers, and decide that they’re a good fit for the place, it can be super exciting (for us and for them!) to get in. We have seen BSers choose NYU over some other very good schools in the last year or so. It’s one to look into — that is, if for your MBA you care about:
· culture and a truly collaborative community
· connections with Wall Street and all flavors of finance
· innovation being put into practice everywhere around you
· proactive entrepreneurship and deep resources to support you
“Wait – EssaySnark – are you saying that Columbia doesn’t have those things?”
No, not at all — but there’s truly a difference in how they are implemented and the overall flavor of each individual school.
The EssaySnark refrain is always “Try to visit the school if you can!” because school visits are where this can be palpably experienced. Lacking the time or resources to pull that off (especially with deadlines in, like, a week) then you need to rely on the poor substitute of researching online and, hopefully, talking to as many people as you can.
In looking on their website, we couldn’t help but notice some angles that NYU has been emphasizing recently. And this one, it’s impossible not to call out.
The main page of the NYU Stern Full-Time program looks like this:
If you’ve done even the most cursory research at all, you’re already aware that Columbia’s tagline is “at the center of business” — it used to be “at the center of Manhattan” and we were like, “Ummm…. have you seen a map lately?” Columbia has in many application seasons used that “center of business” thing as part of their essay questions that applicants must answer (and oh hey look! we have at least one post on this essay question!). Columbia’s “center of business” question is pretty tough to do well. Pro Tip: Please don’t simply parrot back what they talk about in their video! And don’t focus only on NYC in your answer. The focus needs to be on COLUMBIA and how you will leverage what they offer. As with most essay questions, it requires some reflection to understand which direction to go with it!
Back to the NYU messaging: The “Community with Heart” angle is really appropriate. It’s not really a theme or message that we’d expect to come from Columbia. This is no diss to Columbia, it’s more a reflection of NYU specifically. Maybe when Columbia’s Dean Hubbard retires and they get a new dean next summer, the Columbia brand will move in a new direction. We’ll have to see how that plays out, but for now, Columbia is much more buttoned-up and traditional and even in some respects conservative in how their culture is experienced by many people. This is what we mean when we say these two schools are so different.
The other observation we can offer is how innovative NYU has been and continues to be. This is obvious in the ever-changing requirements in their MBA application, the new MBA programs they have launched (something like three new flavors of MBA in just two years, plus the Advanced Professional Certificates which are like an MBA-lite) and innovation is also in evidence within the curriculum, course offerings and programs.
This is again where your own firsthand research is so important. Finding out which of NYU’s innovations matter to you and your future post-MBA goals is critical to understanding if they’re a fit for you — and obviously you need to talk about fit in NYU Essay 1 about your short and long-term career goals and how with the [Stern] MBA help you achieve them. (Note the [Stern] insert there; when you talk about why you want an MBA — from Stern or whichever school you’re answering that question for — tailor it to their program specifically!)
Columbia innovates, too, but it’s not something we’d call central to their brand. And that’s okay; their MBA program is exceptionally strong and they don’t have to be branching out into new areas in order for it to be wildly beneficial to you. And also just a caution: Despite what we’re doing in this post, we do not suggest writing an essay in a compare-and-contrast style. You don’t want to say “NYU is the only school that has….” or “Columbia is better than other schools because…” Instead, talk about what the school has that you care about and how you will leverage it. That’s where fabulous “why MBA” essays are born.
So Columbia and NYU? Sure, you can apply to both if you really want to get your MBA in New York. But make sure you’ve identified WHY — not just because of New York — you’re targeting each of them individually. If we were to name schools that are more like siblings, then instead of Columbia and NYU, we’d say Columbia and Wharton. But that’s a post for another day.
For NYU and Columbia, or Booth and Kellogg, or Stanford and Berkeley, or Harvard and MIT, it’s totally possible that one applicant might be similarly excited by both of the business schools in each of these pairing. But in our experience, they each tend to attract very different types for their MBA programs. That’s especially true for NYU and Columbia.
Whereas sometimes, an MBA candidate who makes it into Columbia also makes it into Wharton, because those schools are more similar than different, it’s much more rare for someone to make it into both Columbia and NYU. It does happen, but less often, which is another sign of how the schools are unique each unto themselves.
If you’re looking for some input on whether your Columbia or NYU (or Ross or Cornell or UCLA) MBA application is ready to submit, our Sanity Check can do that for you!
Good luck to all struggling through their hopefully final apps this weekend!! Round 1 is a slog and you’ve got the finish line in sight.