Hopefully you’ve been following along with our recapitulation of an earnest former BSer’s quandary around which school to choose following release of decisions last year. Previously they posted a very detailed pro/con list about NYU vs Ross. And here’s what we said back to them: There’s an easy summary of our take on your…
Yesterday we teased with the opening of a back-and-forth we had with a last-year Brave Supplicant who was tormenting over a decision on which great MBA program to choose. We invited them to lay out their thinking for us. Here’s what they wrote back: Hi ES, First of all, please feel free to use…
But they do happen to be schools with Round 2 deadlines in the future. Does that mean you should apply? It would be in our self-interest to say YES! APPLY! Because then we could try and sell you the need for some consulting services to increase your chances of success. But that’s pretty distasteful don’t…
Just because entrepreneurship is hot doesn’t mean everyone knows how to do it. Every single business school in the world has jumped on the entrepreneurship bandwagon. Why? Because it means $$$ — to them, not necessarily to you or any wanna-be founders. Sure, the schools love it when their students are successful and they can…
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.
We have a few more thoughts to add to our musings and wild predictions about bschool leadership from yesterday.
First off, despite what we said yesterday, the real answer to the question of “Does the dean matter?” is NO.
If you’re thinking about getting an MBA today, then whoever is the dean should not impact your decision-making (with the one outlier case of Cornell which is an odd situation right now as we discussed yesterday). The school you’re applying to is the school you will go to. It’s like deciding to visit a country based on who is the president. There are many significant reasons for why you would choose to travel somewhere and who holds the top office in that country simply does not factor in (at least, for most travelers, and to most countries, though we’re in a weird world right now you could say).
If a new dean comes in today, or at any point during your pursuit of your studies, there will be no impact on you whatsoever. There will be announcements and parties and he or she is likely to host a coffee chat or happy hour or whatever and try to get to know the students. They’ll go on a listening tour and spend lots of time huddling, and send out surveys and such. But there will be few to no changes that will impact your life or the experience of the MBA.
If a dean came in within the last two years, then it’s different. In that case, it’s no longer a “new” dean — you won’t see articles in the news about the change in leadership on campus — but you are DEFINITELY likely to experience their ideas in action in what happens to you in the course of your education. In this case, the dean does matter. You’re going to be the guinea pig who is in the experiment that they’re running for how to reinvent their school for the next era (and definitely, these schools are in the midst of transformation, whether they’re actively embracing it and becoming proactive change agents or the opposite).
We have already seen that with the “new deans” (in the last two years) at Darden most prominently, and to a slightly lesser degree at Tuck. We have appreciated the much higher visibility presence of Dean DeRue at Ross, and we’re aware of some changes that are underway there now too. Can’t say we’ve seen it at Stanford.
What we hope to see with the upcoming announcements of new appointments that are expected at Kellogg and Berkeley-Haas and also UCLA (Dean Judy Olian is also stepping down) and Cornell (?) is diversity.
As of this writing there are no female deans at any top bschools. Kellogg, Ross and UCLA all had female deans; all of those women have left or are leaving those positions. Alison Davis-Blake at Ross was replaced with a white man.
As of this writing there are no deans from underrepresented minority groups at any top bschools. NYU Stern had an African-American dean; he left and was replaced with an Indian man.
We would be SHOCKED if Berkeley-Haas did not find a woman — or possibly even an African-American or a Hispanic woman — to take over from Rich Lyons. If they replace Dean Lyons with another white man, well….. that just would not be the Berkeley that we know today. Haas has put gender issues front and center earlier than most schools and they will be under enormous pressure to make diversity a priority in their hire. We also wouldn’t be surprised if they pulled in someone from the tech industry. There’s currently a debate in academia (most prominently at bschools) whether an academic dean or a professional manager dean is ideal or appropriate, and it’s largely a function of the type of school that you’re talking about. At a public institution like Berkeley, it may make sense to have an academic take over, rather than someone from the private sector who may not understand the dynamics that go into this type of organization. Or, the opposite may be true. We’re betting that the search team at Berkeley-Haas has been speaking with people at UVA Darden to learn how their transition has gone (current dean Scott Beardsley came in from McKinsey, and UVA is a state school so there are many parallels to the UC situation). Perhaps Marissa Mayer is looking for an entirely different role, now that she’s out of Yahoo? (Though it’s unlikely that the UC system can afford a profile like that.)
There will also be pressure at UCLA to replace the female dean with another woman, or if not a female, then a minority. Ditto Kellogg. We had expected the same at NYU Stern but that’s not how it turned out (there are a number of Indian men running top schools both here and in Europe so while yes, NYU technically has a minority, it’s not exactly one adding to the diversity picture of this landscape of top schools.
So, does the current dean matter? You betcha. It lets you know where your school is at and what you might expect in the coming years of your time there. If you have a newer-appointed dean who’s still in the early stages of his or her tenure it’s more likely that there will be visible and obvious changes happening at your school. If the dean has been in his role for awhile, much less likely (with some exceptions like MIT notably). Studying the profile of the dean can give you some insights into the type of place you’ll be walking in to.
And, does it matter who a school appoints if they have a vacancy pending? You betcha. You can look to the announcement of a new appointment to understand a school’s priorities and values. Do they put their money where their mouth is? Or are they all lip-service instead?
We’ll be watching this space with interest as 2018 unfolds.
And…. it’s a wrap!
With the MIT Sloan deadline today, Round 2 has finished up, and it’s a very appropriate time for us to announce our 2017-2018 Radcom of the Year!
This is a tradition we just started in 2016 when we recognized which MBA admissions team at a top school is the most applicant-friendly in its processes, policies and procedures.
We cited at the time things like their latest Round 2 deadline, which we’re celebrating again today, and also the fact that they do not require a TOEFL for any applicants.
Well guess what?
This year, MIT Sloan wins it again!
We were determined to wipe the slate clean and evaluate all schools from a fresh perspective this year, looking for evidence of applicant-friendliness coming in hopefully new ways. While we are seeing an assortment of positives and some new(ish) developments from other schools, we have to again tout the late Round 2 deadline from Sloan that was truly a godsend for many stressed-out BSers who were cramming to get multiple apps done over the past few weeks. In addition, MIT fixed one of the biggest problems with its app requirements by going to the standardized letter of recommendation this season.
Which school gets close runner-up?
NYU also has maintained a later Round 2 deadline for practically ever, which most definitely has endeared them to the ‘Snark’s heart.
In addition, this year NYU innovated with program offerings through the introduction of accelerated specialty MBAs in tech and fashion, and a very cool option of allowing concurrent apps to two or more through one set of essays. We also dig their new EQ Endorsement requirement, though it did create some stress for some BSers and some confusion at first when some people asked a recommender to also submit the EQ endorsement (the adcom wants it from a new person). Since NYU also has a later deadline, for both Round 2 and for Round 1, we did consider giving them the big Radcom Award trophy this year instead of MIT. However, we couldn’t do it since their second essay question proved REALLY challenging for applicants who are only applying to the full-time program. Hopefully they’ll change it for the next-season app.
We also saw another small thing at MIT that bumped them solidly into the lead:
Most schls will prob do the same, but @MITSloanAdcom is only one we've seen to inform hurricane-affected applcnts they will extend deadline
— Essay Snark (@EssaySnark) September 19, 2017
That was when the 140-char limit was in effect at Twitter! Funny how we had 2 abbrev8 stuff B4
In case that wasn’t self-explanatory: The hurricanes that went through Texas and Florida last year hit right during Round 1 deadlines. MIT Sloan was the only school we saw actively communicating through social media that they would extend deadlines for anyone directly impacted. Other schools certainly were flexible with applicants too but it was MIT that seemed most visibly proactive on it, just from what we observed.
In addition, MIT continues to host monthly chats — the most frequent of any other school that we know of. They’ve also done video info sessions and lots of online sessions with students; again, other schools do these, but we don’t see they happening as often elsewhere. MIT has a new mandatory video essay in their app this year, which may seem like an onerous requirement for the applicant but it’s honestly the BEST way for you BSers to share who you are with them — way better than the real-time video questions that get recorded as part of the Kellogg and Yale apps (and counting; we expect the number of schools using that option to surely grow in the coming seasons). The real time questions are also a positive innovation, but giving BSers the opportunity to record a full uninterrupted minute on whatever they like, the way that MIT does — and re-record a couple times to make sure that they’re coming across as intended (!) — this is a kinder, gentler option that can let BSers feel more confident overall in what they have captured.
To all of you BSers who’ve just in the past 24 hours completed this process: GOOD LUCK! We’re sure you did a great job!!
To the adcom at MIT Sloan: Thanks for continuing to be The Radcom again for another year!!
From MIT Sloan:
If you’ve been talking to certain Executive MBA admissions people just recently and you’re early in the process of applying, then it’s possible that they may have suggested that you take the new Executive Assessment instead of the GMAT or the GRE.
Oooh how appealing! You don’t have to take the GMAT?!?? That sounds GREAT!
And it might be – provided you’re interested in a specific (very specific) type of MBA.
What is the Executive Assessment and how is it different?
The Executive Assessment is just as it sounds: It’s a standardized test that’s very similar to the GMAT but – just like an executive summary is a condensed version of an entire lengthy report that captures only the essence of a topic, the Executive Assessment is a much shorter version. Here’s the introduction to the Executive Assessment on mba.com . This is the breakdown of the Executive Assessment compared to the GMAT that you all know and (ahem) love.
|Integrated Reasoning||12 questions
|Analytical Writing Assessment||1 topic
Whoo-wee, only like a third of the quant questions? SIGN ME UP!
The Executive Assessment is 90 minutes long, compared to the 3-hour GMAT.
Before you get too excited there’s two very significant limitations (besides the fact that the Executive Assessment is also a bit more expensive than the GMAT, but we assume that’s not a dealbreaker for anyone):
- The Executive Assessment is only accepted by Executive MBA programs. For most of you, this will never serve as substitute for the GMAT. We’ve not heard of any “regular” MBA, whether full-time or accelerated, that has even expressed interest in accepting it, and we doubt we ever will. You’ll need to make friends with the GMAT (or GRE) if you’re interested in any of these standard (read: competitive) MBA tracks.
- As of this writing (October 2016) the Executive Assessment is only accepted by a small number of schools. It’s in limited deployment to a short list that includes Columbia EMBA, Booth EMBA, Darden EMBA, and some international programs like INSEAD and LBS – but not every EMBA adcom is taking it yet. That will undoubtedly change, however if you’re applying for an EMBA this year, then you need to be very very thoughtful before going the Exec Assmt route. (UPDATE JUNE 2017: In the US, UCLA Anderson, Berkeley-Haas and Vanderbilt now also take the EA for their EMBA programs. UPDATE AUGUST 2071: MIT Sloan Fellows now also accepts it.)
Why? Because you’re by definition limiting your options. If you take it for School X but later decide to apply to School B, then you would need to start over with the GMAT.
Say you currently live in the New York area. You’re looking around for an MBA program that allows you to stay at your job while you go to school. There are only a small handful of choices in the region.
|F/T MBA||P/T MBA||EMBA|
Admission to each of those programs entails varying degrees of difficulty based on their respective competitiveness factors. It may be very tempting to just say that Columbia is your first choice and do the Executive Assessment – and Columbia has some excellent EMBA options, including various formats which can accommodate different schedules based on how much flexibility your employer is granting you.
Columbia EMBA is not the most competitive program around but we have seen people apply there (before meeting us) and get turned away. So it’s not like you can just waltz in and expect to be accepted. That’s even more so the case for Wharton EMBA. It’s nearly as difficult to get into that program as it is for Wharton full-time. (Well, not quite, but it’s nothing like admissions to some other top schools’ EMBA tracks.)
Presumably NYU Stern will begin accepting the Executive Assessment in the future but for the current admissions season, EssaySnark’s understanding is that that’s not going to happen. If you’re applying now – in 2016 or early 2017 – then it’s a short list of EMBAs where the Executive Assessment will play .
If you’re at the start of the process of applying for an MBA and you are a fit to an executive format MBA in other ways – mostly based on your seniority and level of work experience – then double-check the schools that you’re interested in. If it’s only one school, and one program, and they’ve been pushing the Executive Assessment on you, then sure, it may be a good choice.
But if you’re just looking at Columbia EMBA because a) it’s Columbia (yeah, we know, that whole Ivy League allure) and b) it’s a part-time format that lets you keep your job and c) you’ve heard it’s easier to get in… Those are all legit reasons, but we have met more than one BSer for whom we were convinced a full-time MBA was actually a much better opportunity. If that type of BSer dives head first into the Executive Assessment without doing proper research and understanding the landscape then they will be limiting themselves to a very narrow set of options.
We’ve seen this happen before. Sometimes people start their school research by focusing on the EMBA based on doubts about their profile or because they only want to go part time, and then later realize that no, they actually are more interested in the full-time MBA. And boy that would suck if you already went through the trouble and cost of doing the Executive Assessment and can’t use it on your apps.
The EMBA admissions people at the schools that take the Executive Assessment are actively promoting this option, because it’s truly a positive for many. The GMAT is a significant hurdle for lots of candidates who are thinking about trying for an MBA, and it deters plenty of the more senior applicants especially from ever applying. Kellogg does not even require the GMAT for their EMBA applicants which is a fairly extreme position to take (basically if you have a pulse and you do a decent job on your essays you’ll be able to find a home in the Kellogg EMBA family – yes we’re exaggerating but not by much).
If you’re in the Midwest and looking at an EMBA, then you may have a bit more wriggle room in going for the Executive Assessment as your test strategy. That’s because of what we just stated:
- Kellogg EMBA does not even require the GMAT (usually)
- Neither does Michigan Ross (again, usually; sometimes they ask for it)
- Chicago Booth EMBA accepts the Executive Assessment (along with the GMAT and GRE)
So, if you take the Executive Assessment for Booth, and you’re also applying to an EMBA program that does not require the GMAT of all applicants, you may be able to use the Exec Assmt to your benefit. This is an untested theory but we are guessing that you might be able to get away with submitting your unofficial Executive Assessment report to the adcom in support of your candidacy to Kellogg or Ross EMBA, even though they’re not technically partners with the GMAC on this pilot.
Mostly what all of this boils down to is: Test your theories.
If you’re interested in the EMBA, then ask yourself: WHY? Is it based only on the flexible format? Is it because you’ve heard that it’s easier to get in? Or is it because you are truly a fit, given that you’re, uh, an executive?
Don’t choose an MBA program based only on its test requirements (or lack thereof). Do your due diligence. School fit is important – not just “can I get in?”
In the future, we’re certain that the Executive Assessment will be a better option for more people, but this year, choose wisely before committing.
As with all things in life, just because it’s easier does not mean it’s better.
Big news in this era of hypercompetitive MBA admissions: The average GMAT score for the Stern Class of 2018 has moved down to the very reasonable level of only 710. It was at 720 and 721 for the past two years, and we’re actually surprised to learn that it’s fallen so far. A 710 GMAT…
Quite some time ago a Brave Supplicant hit us up for a Comprehensive Profile Review, and in the part where we ask them to explain their choice of schools, here’s what they said about Columbia and NYU: My second choice is NYU Stern and Columbia. I feel that both the schools have a lot of…