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.
Columbia has an essay this year that asks you to discuss a team failure, and then says: “If given a second chance, what would you do differently?” That’s basically a different form of a “lessons learned” kind of question — and as we’ve written before, “lessons learned” are difficult to handle in an MBA essay….
This essay is proving challenging for many people! Please provide an example of a team failure of which you have been a part. If given a second chance, what would you do differently? (250 words) We mention a variety of high level tips on the Columbia MBA Essays page and our Columbia SnarkStrategies Guide goes…
This was originally posted on the blahg in December 2016 — but we figured it was worth reblahgging for all you planning on trying for HBS in Round 1 this year… We heard a former Ivy League undergrad admissions person say it point blank: Too-long essays are chucked without being read. As in, they…
We’ve previously spoken of applying for an MBA along with another graduate degree and today we’ll offer additional points to consider as you’re thinking about dual-degree application strategy, including the perennial question of “Is it easier to get in?????” New programs typically do not get that much interest, so app volumes are usually lower, which…
Now that Columbia has officially released its 2018 MBA essays and application, and the essay questions are, as usual, focusing on career goals and “why Columbia?” with the second one asking about being at the center…. So given the focus on an “early” application that we often see at this time, we wanted to dig…
The estimated first-year costs for a Columbia MBA have risen by over $40,000 in under ten years.
That’s just for the first year of your MBA, which for this year’s entering class, is expected to set them back a cool $111,000 . JUST FOR THE FIRST YEAR. That’s a 50% increase from 2007, where the first-year fully loaded cost was estimated at $73,464.
That’s absolutely nuts.
A fifty percent increase?!???
We used to scoff at questions from BSers about ROI and the MBA. The MBA has long been an excellent investment, in terms of the increase of earnings you’ll get from it. But seeing this change in the published 2018-2019 estimates really gave us pause.
What business can get away with annual increases like this without customers balking?
Well, apparently businesses which have seemingly limitless demand, like business schools have seen in recent years.
Contrast that to law schools where they’re practically begging for students to attend.
Now, before we get too far into this rant, we do have to mention that it’s in your favor for a school’s cost of attendance estimates to be higher at least from one perspective: These are the figures that are used for all financial aid calculations. If you’ll be applying for a student loan, the lender will use the school’s published estimates in order to determine the highest amount that they might fund you.
If the school underestimates the actual costs you’ll incur, not just for standard school stuff like the books and fees and all that nonsense they’ll be hitting you up for, but for the price of just living in that town, then you’ll be stuck and living a much more frugal life than perhaps you expected to be.
Pro Tip: All of this is why it’s so important to be looking at these numbers NOW and evaluating your finances NOW and understanding what it will feel like to live for nine months at a time with NO INCOME.
You need to be saving today for this expense, and you need to recall what it felt like to be a student.
Double caramel macchiato with an extra shot?
Not every day, you won’t.
But coming back to this issue of inflation:
The U.S. economy has been in a period of incredibly moderate inflation — so much so, that some economists are worried. It’s not a state of the environment that we’ve seen many times before and there are all sorts of theories about what’s happening, how long it may last, and what might happen as we start to move out of it.
Moderate inflation is quite nice as a consumer. Starbucks prices stay consistently the same. You’re not surprised by the increasing bill each time you go grocery shopping.
It’s not nice for the worker, as it also means that wages have been suppressed, which is a main concern of many of those economists.
But in an era of moderate inflation, we still have seen these universities jacking up their prices every year.
Every damn year.
There’s nobody telling them they can’t. So they do.
This holds true at public and private universities alike.
At least for public universities, there’s additional pressures on the school administration in trying to rein in spending.
Here’s a quick comparison of some figures from just two schools, Tuck and Columbia, over the past four years:
Whenever we log these values in our own tracking systems, we always capture the actual tuition figure, plus any fees that the school is reporting as mandatory for all, so that’s what those first columns are reporting. Often schools have other fees that end up being mandatory for many students, such as health insurance fees, but we don’t count those since they’re not technically mandatory for each and every person. However, don’t overlook it in your own budgeting: at most schools, if you don’t prove you already have sufficient medical insurance coverage, they force you to buy into their plan.
We don’t have complete records on all schools but just for comparison purposes, UCLA Anderson — a state school — for the Class of 2020 entering this fall has an estimated first-year tuition and loan fees of only $61,302 and a total first-year cost including living expenses of $98,699. Los Angeles is a pricey city so you can expect to pay nearly as much in rent as you might in Manhattan. The difference in full-year cost is from the lower tuition charges from the school. We don’t really advocate using tuition prices as a determining factor in choosing your schools, as we do believe there still is a good ROI on the MBA even from what some would call a “lower ranked” school like UCLA (we don’t see them as “lower ranked” but we know many shrug off our recommendations to try for a place like that as below them). We do recommend looking at these important considerations now, though, and we also really want to call the schools out for this ridiculous racket of forever increasing the charges.
Another problem when you’re digging in try and make sense of these estimates is that these schools aren’t reporting their data on an apples-to-apples basis. You’ll soon notice this when, for example, you see a fairly wide variation in estimates for books at different schools. We’ve seen this range from around $900/year to more like $1,500/year. Wouldn’t you think that books would cost nearly the same at any top-tier school? It’s even worse when you see the variance in actual categories being reported.
We look at those Tuck totals, and from what they’re saying, it’s only going to cost a first-year less than $4,000 more a year to go to school in Manhattan as it will in Hanover.
That just doesn’t make any sense.
You look closer and you’re like, “What is a $15k ‘miscellaneous and health’ charge?” Like, you know the U.S. healthcare system is a mess, but it’s not gonna cost you $15k a year!!
It’s confusing. And the way the numbers are broken out is just not standardized.
Either Columbia is unfortunately keeping numbers like room and board artificially low — which is likely — or Tuck is playing sneaky with how they’re allocating things out to those categories.
But the issue is that the way they’re breaking their figures down just doesn’t let us do a natural comparison.
Another thing to keep in mind when you’re looking at these estimates: The figures for living expenses (housing, or room and board; they’re listed in different ways by different schools) are almost always only for the school year. These are not full-year estimates. Most people are off somewhere else during the summer in their internship where they’re actually earning money, so that certainly helps, but you’ll need to pay rent in whatever city you’re interning in, and those costs are not estimated in these charts. When you’re planning out your own budgets, you’ll need to keep these things in mind.
And if you like 99.9%* of other BSers want to intern in Silicon Valley then remember it’s one of the most expensive housing markets in America right now. You’ll likely end up in a roommate situation both for convenience but also because of the price. Be prepared for some sticker shock. Even those coming from Manhattan may be dismayed.
And in the Valley you’ll need a car… or maybe not “need” but it sure is convenient. If you target SF then no.
All these things will need to be considered. And of course you need to look seriously at what your earning potential will be in your planned future profession. For many people it’s still a no-brainer, and the MBA is well worth it (and the EXPERIENCES you’ll gain in bschool cannot be discounted even if you cannot put a price on them) — but we can no longer issue a blanket recommendation that the MBA will pay off financially for everyone.
*OK maybe it’s only 97.3% who want to work in tech.
We’re reblahgging this from the ancient past because the underlying idea we’re talking about here is kind of fascinating. And, we know many of you are kicking the tires on consultants! We have quite a few more posts in the category of the admissions consulting industry if you want to learn more on our perspectives on our peers and value on offer. We’ve had to issue a few warnings… errr, more than a few, actually (sigh).
Please take a moment and read through this:
It is axiomatic that outcomes will revert to the mean in a system that combines skill and luck. An extremely favorable or unfavorable single outcome is going to be followed by an outcome that has an expected value closer to the average of all results. If a system reverts quickly to the mean, you know that it has lots of luck. If a system is slow to revert to the mean, you know that a good amount of skill is contributing to the outcomes.
Read it again. (It’s academically-written, thus a little dense. But, if you’re interested in bschool, you need to get used to this type of writing!)
Here’s EssaySnark’s gross interpretation:
Endeavors that involve skill and luck, like playing poker, or getting a new job, or applying to bschool, where outcomes are independent of each other — like each hand in a poker tournament, or each decision by each bschool — can be said to involve either mostly luck, or mostly skill, based on how many outcomes are close to the average (mean).
In bschool admissions, the “average” outcome is to be rejected. Most people applying to most schools are rejected.
If in your attempts to gain admission (your “system”), of your, say, five applications, you get one interview invitation and one offer and the rest of your apps are rejected, you were lucky on that one offer. If you were more skilled in writing your apps, there would have been more variability in outcomes.
Conversely, if in your five applications, you get five interviews, leading to two offers, two waitlists, and one rejection, you can know that it was more skill in play for you.
The big problem with bschool admissions is that in many cases, you won’t know the results of your efforts until it’s too late to adjust course for subsequent attempts. In other words, you may not get the “reject” outcomes until you’ve already submitted all your applications.
This is one reason that it’s very wise to submit some applications in Round 1. Not only because you have a better chance of being admitted (we’ve covered this umpteen times before). But because you can rework your strategy and IMPROVE YOUR CHANCES with subsequent schools in Round 2 if your first applications don’t pan out.
The other important angle to consider? How much “skill” do you have in writing an application to bschool??? Do you have confidence in your ability to:
a) assess your profile against what the schools really care about
b) know what personal attributes are most important to highlight
c) understand which weaknesses are important to explain or offset
d) choose the right stories to tell to maximize those strengths and counter those weaknesses
e) choose the right details in each story to highlight
f) write it all up in a way that’s impactful without being nauseating
These are all areas that a (good) MBA admissions consultant will help you with. Beyond simply advising you on which schools to target in the first place.
A (good) MBA admissions consultant (should be able to) increase the SKILL at your disposal that will “contribute to the outcomes.”
This is not cheating. This is using a trusted advisor who is expert in the nuances and practicalities of a specialized process. Just like getting advice from a lawyer or an accountant, an admissions consultant can change the equation from mostly one of luck (odds are you will lose) to one of skill (you’ll put your best foot forward in the best way possible).
A (good) MBA admissions consultant will pay for him/herself many times over, by helping you maximize your chances for success.
(Caveat emptor of course — there’s a lot of “not-good” ones floating around the interwebs to fall victim to, and a “not-good” admissions consultant may do more harm than going it alone. So it’s tricky.)
Want to read (and re-read) that academic article on skill vs luck? It’s from a Columbia professor and it’s available here.
Also, we have at least one or two other posts on skill vs luck.
(Trigger Warning: We’re talking about ETHICS again today. If that just turns your stomach, click away now.) We’ve walked through our stance on ethics and applying in a school’s binding Early Decision round plenty o’ times before on the blahg. (Which isn’t really “our stance.” It’s more like, “This is how a person of honor…