We’re pleased to announce that we finally got the Cornell Johnson SnarkStrategies Guide updated for 2018 — and when we say “finally” we mean “FINALLY!”
It was the only guide that we didn’t update in 2017 and it was lame that we didn’t, but things get a little crazy at this time of year, and it’s not one that we’ve ever had too much demand for. So we punted on it, and even this year didn’t get to it as soon as we would’ve liked.
This is actually one of our more important strategy guides — because the Cornell MBA application is a) extensive and b) challenging! You BSers deserve to have a solid resource to help you!
And yet, we know that not terribly many Brave Supplicants will have Cornell on their short list this year.
Their admit rate is ticking up seemingly every season, and their average GMAT is ticking down.
If you’ve stopped to ponder such things, you may be wondering, “Why isn’t Cornell ranked better?”
We’re going to take a moment and offer some thoughts, and perhaps some encouragement to consider this school, if you’re a BSer of a certain type.
For starters: Did you know that Cornell is in the Ivy League?
If you’re appreciative of things like brand name and care about the quality of reputation for your school (and who doesn’t), then that’s a vote in their favor. Right?
But how come Johnson, the bschool on Cornell University’s campus, is not as well respected? If Cornell is Ivy League like, say, Columbia, how come the bschools aren’t seen as very comparable?
We fielded a question from a Brave Supplicant last year who was admitted to Cornell but was debating on whether to accept the offer or try again next season, and he asked us point blank for our opinion on brand and reputation, and whether it might affect his chances in the job search later on.
So here’s EssaySnark’s view as an industry watcher for many years:
We have mixed feelings on Cornell.
And we’re not the only ones. For many Wall Street types especially, Cornell is thought of as a second-tier school. The reasons are in our opinion due to the system of rankings. It’s a vicious cycle:
- Cornell gets fewer applications, at least in part due to their location and the climate. They’re just too far away, and it’s too cold there. More people want to go to sunnier places. Kids will put up with the snow for Harvard or Columbia or Wharton because they don’t care about anything else. Both Tuck and Johnson may never be able to break out of the respective tiers that they’re in because of these issues.
- Fewer apps obviously means that they’re not as popular, and this is a drag on their rankings.
- It also means that they often have trouble converting the best admits into students; their yield (% of accepted applicants who matriculate) is relatively low. This means that they have a relatively lower GMAT score for current students; the stronger candidates usually got in elsewhere and often end up declining the Cornell admit, which leaves a class with a relatively lower average GMAT. This lower GMAT also affects their rankings.
- Lower rankings sends a signal to the marketplace that they’re not “as good as” other schools, which then suppresses the number of apps they receive. And the cycle continues.
For the full-time program, the fact is that Cornell is one of the “easier” schools to get into. Cornell is definitely still a “top” school but they’re just not in the same class, as far as competitiveness in admissions, to Kellogg and Duke et al. They’re more like Ross and Darden – you still must have your act together and do a good job on all aspects of your app, but someone who does that will likely make it in.
Now, this also means that typically the students who end up at Cornell are very grateful they got into Cornell. They will work hard, and they’re motivated, and they are very connected to the school. One of our past clients at Cornell many years ago put forth tremendous effort in expanding relationships from Johnson to Wall Street, just as one example. The Johnson alumni tend to be quite engaged, from what we’ve seen.
Another anecdote: We’ve had students at Yale tell us that their career services sucked in terms of helping them land Wall Street/IB positions, and they lamented that the Johnson kids were running circles around them.
When you’re asking questions about whether a school is the right choice or not, then besides factors like culture which we do feel are very important, then the other priority should be, do you feel this school will enable you to land the job you want to get when you graduate? (This is especially important for the 1Y, by the way.) If you are confident that they have the right connections with employers, that Cornell grads are in the positions you are aiming for, that their placement stats for the type of role you want (in the geography you’re focusing on) are strong, then that’s what matters.
It’s dangerous to be spending too much time on the applicant forums; there are so many opinions there that are just ego-driven, focused on prestige – but honestly, that does NOT matter in the real world. The arguments such as we see in the comments section on bschool applicant sites about “your school sucks” are just ridiculous. So much of it is like sports fans who get rabid for their team. Just because someone got into one school does not mean that all other schools are crap, yet that perspective seems so pronounced so much of the time. If you’re basing your decision on what you’re reading on the forums, then just be careful.
Cornell is a solid brand. It’s true that the Man on the Street has probably not heard of Johnson, but they have definitely heard of Cornell. Cornell passes the Gramma Test with flying colors. What matters most is if the Cornell MBA has value in your target field, and/or with your employers of interest. You can definitely break into ANY employer from ANY school if you have the network and you play your cards right. We know of many Johnson grads who’ve gone to Deloitte, and yes, even some to MBB. Johnson is not seen as a “top” school at MBB but that does not mean there are never any Johnson alum at those places either. If you haven’t already, then be sure to hit up your career services people at Johnson to see how they handle these questions.
And, bottom line, the past clients who we’ve worked with who went to Cornell have been across the board NICE PEOPLE who are motivated.
There’s other things going on with Cornell that you certainly need to be aware of (shameless plug: we cover them in our Cornell Johnson MBA Application Guide) but this is a school that’s not on everybody’s radar — which in some cases actually can make it a good choice.
This is a solid Top 20 bschool — and if you get in, it’s something to be proud of! Their admit rate may be higher than Columbia’s or Yale’s but that doesn’t mean you can waltz straight into the place. They’ve also got some interesting programs going on with the Tech MBA in Manhattan and a gazillion flavors of Executive MBA, plus a residential accelerated MBA in Ithaca – so lots of options beyond the standard two-year format that most of you are trying for. And here’s a fun fact: Cornell ranked #20 on the Sierra Club’s list of Cool Schools — colleges and universities that are “green” and making sustainability a priority. So there are many, many angles to use in assessing whether a school lines up with your own priorities and values.
We very much dislike the term “safety school” but we know many put Johnson in this category. Still, it’s the right choice for a good number of applicants, and it may be worth investigating further as you move through this admissions cycle this season.
And oh yeah, if you do decide to try, you’re gonna wanna pick up that SnarkStrategies Guide for Cornell Johnson. The Johnson essay assignments are intense! There’s a lot to them, and they’ll be keeping you busy for awhile.
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