We’re not exactly advocating this as an actual strategy for selecting your MBA programs to target. But it’s something to consider! It’s certainly more practical and intelligent (yes we said it) than using rankings as the priority tool to choose where to apply. If a top MBA program has a special scholarship fund earmarked only…
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.
You may also be interested in:
We last blahgged about bschool deans and changes of leadership back in January 2015 when we talked about Geoffrey Garrett taking over at Wharton in July 2014, Matthew Slaughter taking over at Tuck in July 2015, and Scott Beardsley taking over at Darden in August 2015.
Since then, there has been another round of transitions in the top position at these schools:re
- Stanford’s embattled and scandal-weary Garth Saloner stepped aside and insider Jonathan Levin took over September 2016 (dang was it really that long ago?!)
- Michigan Ross’s dean Alison Davis-Blake resigned and they promoted from within by appointing professor Scott DeRue into the post in June 2016 (ditto the long-ago exclamation!)
- NYU’s well-regarded Peter Henry handed the reins over to Raghu Sundaram in January
- Berkeley-Haas’s beloved Rich Lyons will be stepping down in June and as far as we know, no replacement has been announced.
- Kellogg’s Dean Sally Blount has also announced she’s stepping down at the end of this academic year.
- Cornell Johnson is experiencing some turmoil. They underwent some radical transformation (for an academic institution) in 2016 where they merged three of their graduate schools under the umbrella of one. The Johnson School, where you would go if you were getting an MBA, joined with their world-renowned hospitality school and the Dyson School (economics) under a newly-named College of Business. Their Johnson School dean Soumitra Dutta took over as dean for this merged College of Business entity. But then Dean Dutta suddenly resigned at the end of January. They appointed an interim dean (Joe Thomas), but now it looks like they have promoted the Johnson School (MBA) dean (Mark Nelson) to permanently lead the merged College of Business… but we’ve honestly lost track of the plot.
So to discuss the question posed at the top of this post:
Does the dean matter?
In light of that convoluted web of Cornell confusion we just tried to summarize for you, we’ll have to say, yes it does.
But only to an extent.
We have yet to learn the circumstances around Dean Dutta’s sudden departure from the dean position at Cornell (supposedly he’s still on the faculty, but he’s never taught a class, so it sounds like a case of a golden parachute to us). We do know that the merger into the College of Business was not sold well to internal stakeholders and there were many protests and lots of dissension when it happened. We heard that the hospitality folks especially were unhappy. So as outsiders going on these two datapoints alone, all we can say is that there were issues with the way leadership has been done there. Is that enough to stop you from applying to Cornell? No, it shouldn’t be — but you DEFINITELY should travel to Ithaca and learn what you can from current students and ask direct questions of admissions folks to discover what type of impact there might be. There will still be professors showing up to teach classes and you still will be able to earn an MBA there. But innovate? No, that’s not going to happen. This place is going to be stalled out for the foreseeable future until they get their house in order…. and obviously when a school that’s supposed to be teaching you leadership demonstrates such an epic #leadershipfail then it does call some basic assumptions into question.
So that’s a cautionary tale, and we acknowledge that we don’t have all of the data, mostly because the school itself is playing very hush-hush. If we hear back from our on-the-ground sources we will update this post (or if any of you have actual knowledge of the situation — not more rumors and gossip but concrete facts — then we’d love to hear them!).
On the opposite end of the examples-of-leadership spectrum, we have a separate case:
We just learned yesterday that rockstar dean Ted Snyder will be stepping down from his leadership of Yale SOM next year. Our understanding is that he’s on sabbatical this year, so is already not on campus, and he’ll return to the deanship next year but thereafter will move back to teaching, which is what many deans do when they leave their deanship. Traditionally, deans were academics who started off as PhDs doing research and teaching classes, and eventually took on more and more administrative responsibilities in running their school before getting the top spot. Those people often are academics at heart and they may long to go back to their roots. Stepping down from the leadership position often means staying at the same institution and just moving out of the spotlight to resume a faculty role. Sometimes a dean “stepping down” means that they are resigning from the workforce entirely, or that they’re going to leave that school completely and go somewhere else, but often it means that they’re sticking around and just will no longer be the dean at their campus.
We’re going to make a wild prediction: Dean Snyder may initially take up a faculty role at the SOM but there’s a school that REALLY is overdue for some new blood in the high office and we’re going to place a bet that Ted Snyder eventually ends up at Columbia. This is total guesswork in looking at the graduate school landscape from a complete outsider’s perspective. If there were a school that could benefit from a makeover right now then Columbia is it, and if there were a dean who could do it then Ted Snyder is your man. Columbia’s Glenn Hubbard has been serving as dean since 2004 which by our count makes him the longest-serving dean at any top school. If it ain’t broke, then why fix it, but…….
So does the dean matter?
If you’re Chicago Booth in the first decade of the 21st Century, or Yale SOM in the second, the answer to that is h3ll yeah.
Ted Snyder made Booth into the school that it is (we keep waiting for current leadership to do more) and then after that, Ted Snyder worked his brand of magic again at Yale. Chicago and Yale were both excellent schools before he arrived but his tenure at each respectively made them more than excellent.
MIT and HBS are the other schools with a long-running dean. At MIT, Dean Schmittlein has been quietly creating a success story since 2008. Across the river, Nitin Nohria has been running the show since 2010. Duke’s Dean Boulding has been there since 2013 and was just reappointed to another five-year term. All of those schools seem to be doing fine (not necessarily seeing bold innovations of late from the latter two, but they’re both in good shape — no scandals!! — and no threats to their relative positions in the rankings, and MIT is doing just fine, thank you). We don’t expect big changes at any one but who knows. If Ted Snyder isn’t ready to retire yet (he’s only like 65 right now) then perhaps Harvard might try to lure him. But we doubt it. If he lands at another top bschool then we’re just wildly flapping our gums and crystal-balling that it would be at Columbia.
This has grown long. We have more to say. We will pick up with it again on the morrow (which is now posted HERE).
We love it when Brave Supplicants do their homework.
We got this question from a military candidate recently:
I noticed Stanford has a comparatively lower percentage of Veterans in its class than many of the other top schools (3% or so versus 5%). Any theories on why that is?
Well yes! In fact, we do have theories!
Today we’re going to share them with you – if you’re in that contingent of military MBA candidates.
If you have access privileges on your account to view our Military MBA content then you’ll see this material. If not: Happy Inauguration! Merry Weekend! Best wishes for 2017! Or whatever other type of good-will generating we can do for you. We’ll see you back here on Monday for a standard installment of snarkness.
Military MBA types interested in Stanford, read on.
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[end meandering and probably super boring EssaySnark blabbering about Military MBA peeps and Stanford – don’t worry, you didn’t miss anything]
As a wrap-up comment:
Trying to interpret or extrapolate anything from the Stanford dataset and class profile is not usually a very fruitful effort. Stanford admits PEOPLE not numbers. The numbers can help point you in the direction of the standards of excellence that they tend to select on – but they don’t tell the whole story.
Good luck to all who are trying for Stanford this year! From the military or any other background.
If you’re a military MBA, check out our resources and hit us up if we can help!
Narrowing down your choices of which MBA program to apply to out of the dozens and dozens of good schools is not an easy task. It’s an iterative process as you 1) learn about the schools and 2) learn about yourself. There are some common themes that Brave Supplicants often identify (beyond just ranking of…
First it was MIT announcing a new Round 3 this year (for ages and ages, MIT had only two rounds, one in the Fall and one in January).
Cornell has been all over the map with their rounds, going from four rounds through 2012, then down to three in 2013, and back to four again now but with non-standard due dates — and for the past few years, keeping a “rolling” process open to accept new applications even after their final deadline had passed.
Somewhere in there, INSEAD and NYU both went to four rounds instead of three. They claimed it was to standardize their cycle compared to other schools.
Now we hear that Duke’s application “will remain open” (their words) even though their last deadline closed ten days ago. They’ll now accept applications through April 25th.
What’s going on with these schools?
It’s common for schools to send out tickler emails to anyone who’s started an app but not yet submitted it, to nudge them along to complete the form and get themselves in the hopper. Many times you’ll get a school encouraging you to try in Round 3; they always give some type of reassurance that they’ve left seats open for Round 3 candidates. You hear this on their late-season webinars and chats and you see it in the language they send to those straggler candidates who never pulled the trigger on submitting.
Call us skeptical, but EssaySnark is doubtful that these schools are advertising these opportunities to you because they want to give you a seat in their incoming classes. All this promotion of applying in the last round would imply that there is a chance you could actually make it in. Sure, there’s a chance, but…
We’ve called adcoms out on it before, specifically HBS for sending completely contradictory messages about exactly this.
Here’s the deal, Brave Supplicant: The number of applications a school receives has an impact on their rankings.
It is in THEIR best interest to get more of you to apply – even if there isn’t any room for you.
Sure, every now and then a superlative applicant will race in the door breathlessly saying “I only just now decided that I want an MBA and I must start immediately!” and their profile is strong enough (and differentiated enough) that they deserve a spot in an already-crowded class.
Those are the EXCEPTIONS.
Duke says they’re going to accept apps through April 25th – and issue decisions on May 6th. You’re saying that you can go through the entire process, including a mandatory interview, in that period of time?! If Duke is making a good-faith offer to you to apply, then either they’re not expecting to get many applications (since the only way they can realistically process them in such a short period is if they don’t get any) – or they’re not expecting that many of those applications will be worth pursuing.
We keep seeing schools say, “There’s no risk to applying now – we’re reapplicant friendly! It won’t hurt your chances next season [even though we’re going to reject you now].” (They don’t actually state that part in brackets but that’s what they mean.) Some of them even tout their opportunity for feedback as a big benefit. “If you don’t make it in, we’ll tell you why not in the summer!”
Yeah, and you’ll pay about $200 for privilege. And just FYI, while it’s always nice to be able to speak with someone in person about your application, it’s rare that those feedback sessions ever tell you anything directly useful. Heck, EssaySnark will give you a massive report walking through the strengths and weaknesses of your profile for cheaper! (The Comprehensive Profile Review will be MUCH more detailed – and actionable – than any 20-minute conversation with any adcom will be.) Don’t get us wrong, we applaud schools that offer feedback opportunities, but when they emphasize that in conjunction with a last-round app then be realistic that that’s what you’re getting for your app fee, in most cases, rather than a real shot at admission.
If you want to throw your hat in the ring for one of these last-gasp get-in-now-the-doors-are-closing schools, then OK fine, you should do it, but PLEASE manage expectations. If this is a Top 10 school then honestly we’d be shocked to hear that there’s much room left for their respective Class of 2018. If this school is further down on the rankings, then the chances are better, but still.
If you do proceed with this app, then PLEASE don’t stop working on your profile and improving your candidacy. This will be hyperimportant should you end up empty-handed and having to submit more apps in a few months’ time (aka Round 1).
And PLEASE recognize that more likely than not, you’re going to be enriching the school by adding your app fee to their admissions department’s revenue line, and boosting up their standing in the rankings game, and more than likely, for all that trouble, all you’re going to come away with is a stomach ache due to the disappointment.
We called out a few things recently about Kellogg that have got us excited about possible changes underfoot.
Another school that popped up on our radar recently was Cornell.
Specifically, Cornell is embracing change. That alone is a very good sign. Not every change will end up being positive – as you know from your own life – but the fact that they’re EMBRACING it, and pursuing it so actively, is refreshing to see. It’s shockingly unusual, as far as many top bschools go. When bschools today talk about busting the status quo and being innovative as part of their value systems, well, academia has not traditionally been known for any of that. Bschools are typically better than many other grad schools on campus, since they tend to cater to industry much more closely (whether that’s a good thing or a bad thing is a post for another day).
The big shift going on at Cornell is that they recently announced the merger of three of their professional schools under one umbrella. The new Cornell College of Business will serve as the aegis under which you will find Cornell Johnson (business), School of Hotel Administration (hospitality), and the Dyson School of Applied Economics and Management.
Betchya didn’t know they had a separate school for econ, didjya? Makes sense to be putting these resources together under one roof.
As far as we can tell, this consolidation will not impact any current or future BSers interested in the Johnson MBA. You’ve always been able to take classes at the Hotel School as part of your business studies if you wanted to. Admissions processes will stay separate, at least that’s what they’re saying for now. This is mostly a merger of resources, and presumably there will be less overlap and duplication in certain areas. It’s also going to help them to brand and market their professional offerings a bit differently. We suspect that it may have more impact on the hotel side, but that’s just a guess. The reason we point this out, since we’re saying it is unlikely to affect many of you, is that it shows that the school is willing to act.
Having three separate schools means that there were three separate power structures – and likely, there are a lot of politics going on behind the scenes. That’s what happens when any organization is competing with itself.
It also means that the school leadership is trying to put their money where their mouth is. When a business school professes how important collaboration is to its culture, then it’s refreshing to see that they’re actually trying to implement some of that collaboration at Ground Zero of their own operation.
As much as universities like to say that they promote teamwork, academics aren’t necessarily all that good at it — especially not when they’re asked to work outside their own school. A former president of Stanford University even claims that cross-school partnerships are unworkable. For Cornell to be willing to work through the organizational resistance to such a merger (and fight the turf battles that undoubtedly arose/are arising) then that shows that they’re interested in taking on the tough decisions to improve the whole.
In addition, Cornell Johnson appears to be staking a claim in the business + tech space. The first move they made was several years ago by announcing the Johnson Tech MBA . It’s a partnership with Google and is very smartly based in New York City instead of Ithaca. They also made it a concentrated program, so you can get in, and get out fast (which is a good thing given how high the cost of living is in NYC!).
The other tech-focused change is a new emphasis on big data and analytics, and these initiatives are also in conjunction with major tech companies including LinkedIn and Twitter. There are a few other top bschools who’ve been focusing on big data for longer (notably NYU Stern and also Wharton) however as a rule, bschools are laggards. It’s not like big data is new, but it’s also not something that has been fully embraced by every MBA program.
This is not meant to be an exhaustive list of everything happening at The Johnson School, but it’s enough for us to say, “Hmmm, maybe they’re ones to watch in the future!”
As always, any firsthand reports from the field – current students, new admits, recent grads – we’d love to learn what you know and any impressions about Cornell and the changes underway there!
In choosing among the different Executive MBA programs, then we are going to toot that same horn that we so often do about rankings. Sure, the ranking and reputation of your bschool matters. Yeah yeah yeah we know that it does.
If you’re actually looking at the program and the education and the experience that you will have then we have to point out that all EMBAs are not created equally. Meaning, there are very wide variations in acceptance criteria among the EMBAs offered at the top bschools. And this does in fact affect the entire program. When it’s easier to get in somewhere, then often people end up there because they had a harder time getting in somewhere else. It’s like water; everything seeks a balance in this world. People generally go to the best business school that will take them. With EMBAs, there’s also many other factors in play and many students choose the EMBA format on purpose, but it’s also often true that the same students tried to get into some F/T programs first and struck out. This is no diss on anyone, it’s just how things work.
And, sometimes the same students tried to get into other EMBAs too, and failed to execute.
At one end of the spectrum you get Wharton’s Executive MBA , which is no joke indeed. Using the very rough instrument of GMAT as a measure:
|median GMAT||80% range|
|Wharton Philly EMBA||695||630-750|
|Wharton SF EMBA||695||610-740|
Those data are similar to the full-time student stats at a school like Cornell. Let’s compare:
|median GMAT||80% range|
|Wharton Philly EMBA||695||630-750|
|Cornell F/T MBA||700||640-740|
Pro Tip: The median GMAT score is often more favorable number for a school to report than a mean GMAT when they’ve got several especially low-scoring students in the mix, particularly when the class size is small. Wharton only has around 100-ish EMBA students in each location. Back in 2011, Wharton EMBA was reporting a mean student GMAT of 701. Dang. That’s impressive. Don’t know what it’s at these days but presumably it’s lower and that’s why they switched to reporting median scores instead. Cornell’s mean GMAT tends to hover around 692 for their 275 full-time students.
Again, these EMBA-to-full-time comparisons tell very little of the story. There is a lot more different than similar about the students at these two programs. Please don’t overinterpret from these bare facts.
Since we’re looking though, those Wharton EMBA numbers are also somewhat comparable to the class profiles at some part-time programs:
|median GMAT||80% range|
|Wharton SF EMBA||695||610-740|
|Berkeley-Haas EWMBA P/T||700||640-740|
We wanted to also show UCLA FEMBA P/T in that grid but they’re not reporting much data. They only give a range of 610-730 which seems to be the full range, not just the 80% portion, and we have no clue what mean or median scores are.
Still, if we’re looking at competitiveness and difficulty of admission, then most part-time programs are more selective and harder to crack than most EMBAs. However, Wharton’s EMBA is harder than other EMBAs to get into, and Berkeley’s P/T is harder than other P/Ts to get into.
How about comparing Wharton to Wharton?
|median GMAT||80% range|
|Wharton Philly EMBA||695||630-750|
|Wharton SF EMBA||695||610-740|
|Wharton F/T MBA||730||700-770|
Ouch. The low end of the F/T 80% range is higher than the median at the EMBAs. Just, wow. As if we needed another reminder of how tough it is to make it into Wharton full-time these days.
We actually got off on a tangent here in putting together these GMAT comparison charts.
Check in with us tomorrow for Here is some additional commentary around GMAT score in EMBA admissions.
Good luck to all you Nervous Nellies awaiting the first cut of HBS invites today! Remember, if you need a refresher on how all of this works, simply scroll back on the blahg to this point in Round 1 (early October 2015 which is currently here). We threw out some (unexpected) names of two schools…
The Cornell Strategy Guide has been fully rewritten for 2018!Not only do you get pages of advice and specific tips on how to approach the “back of the resume” creative submission (or essay, if you prefer) – but we also tell you if you can re-use what you have on hand from your MIT or […]Continue reading...