We get the lament all the time: “There’s too many guys like me applying.” Here was our first reaction to this stated quite some awhile ago (worth reading still). We’ll offer some more today. The best advice we can give you is, don’t worry about it. What we mean by that is, don’t worry about…
“Would you tell me, please, which way I ought to go from here?”
“That depends a good deal on where you want to get to,” said the Cat.
“I don’t much care where–” said Alice.
“Then it doesn’t matter which way you go,” said the Cat.
“–so long as I get SOMEWHERE,” Alice added as an explanation.
“Oh, you’re sure to do that,” said the Cat, “if you only walk long enough.”
Lewis Carroll, Alice in Wonderland
(h/t to former Darden dean Bob Bruner for this from his commencement speech at UVA a few years back which we also discussed in the post, “Go where you will do your best work.”)
Getting into bschool takes longer than it perhaps needs to for many BSers, mostly because they’re not clear on where they want to go and why.
By “where they want to go” we don’t mean Harvard or Stanford or Wharton.
We mean, what are you trying to accomplish in life?
Yeah, that. All metaphysical ‘n sh!t.
Many people land on the idea of going to get an MBA because they feel like they’re at a dead end. They feel trapped. They don’t KNOW what to do with their life, so they decide to try for business school. They see it as a way out.
But if you don’t know where you’re going, you’re likely to end up someplace else (thank you, Yogi Berra).
The best thing you can do at the outset of your journey to MBA-land is to figure out why you want an MBA in the first place.
Not as in, “Because I hate my job and I need to do something different.”
But more like, “Because I am excited by THIS and I want to learn about THAT” — and recognize the steps required for you to get from where you are to there.
Bschool is an enabler. It’s a stepping stone. It’s not the goal in itself.
Those who require two rounds around the ferris wheel to get into business school are often the “shoot first aim later” types. The seat-of-your-pantsers who are winging it a bit. Who come in all guns a’blazing but maybe not quite sure where the bullets are headed.
A high GMAT score is not sufficient. It’s a requirement to apply but it does not guarantee you anything about how that application will turn out — and it definitely does not assure you of getting a job when you’re spit out the door later.
You need to know why you’re doing this.
Not all schools care about career goals as the most important part of an MBA pitch, but a lot of them do – and even for those that don’t use it as a primary point of assessment, it’ll still help YOU to figure out what YOU want to do and if an MBA is even the right tool to get there.
Taking some time to figure YOURSELF out, here at the outset of the process, when we’re at the early part of the season, can take you far in your journey.
Want some help with this? Our Career Goals App Accelerator will provide one-on-one feedback on your current thinking and plans for the MBA, through not one, but TWO rounds of review on your short and long term goals.
This is a follow-on to some previous GRE vs GMAT posts. In case you missed those: GMAT vs GRE strategy questions: Which to take for an MBA? “I took the GMAT. If I take the GRE now, do I still have to submit the GMAT score in my MBA app?” This question isn’t about admissions…
This was originally posted two years ago. We’re reblahgging it now because a) it’s relevant, and b) it’s timely. There’s some comments at the bottom from BSers who have long ago been admitted to Columbia and other programs. We’re inviting you to post your own comments too if there’s anything we can do to demystify the process of applying to Columbia’s MBA program or whether you’re a fit to the specific program formats and options they offer.
Mostly though we’re reblahgging this because, well, Columbia nis always the early bird. Yes indeedy, the Columbia essay questions are available. Today is our chance to tell you about a one-of-a-kind program offered at Columbia Business School. It’s the J-Term.
The J-Term, in case you’re not familiar, means
Used to be, it was a fairly strict profile type who got admitted to Columbia’s accelerated January Start MBA program. Many years ago, in a different era of admissions at Columbia, we heard an adcom person say, “Don’t apply to the J-Term if you’re a career changer. We won’t admit you.” Yes, they were that black-and-white about it.
As a broad statement, the profile that’s a potential fit to the J-Term is still the same, because it’s still a Columbia MBA, but this “no career changer” stance has softened, and as a result, some of you BSers these days may be a good fit to this track without realizing it.
The J-Term is the exact-same full-time MBA curriculum and experience as the August Start, with the only exception being that you get through it a lot faster. You skip out on the summer internship and instead take your second term core courses during that three-month period. Then you join up as a second-year student with the cohort of students who started in August just prior to you, and you graduate with them.
So basically, if you were to join the Columbia J-Term this coming January (2018), you’d be the Class of 2019 and you’d graduate with everyone who’s currently gearing up to begin their MBA this coming fall. You’d be graduating with all the rest who went through the admissions process LAST YEAR. It’s kind of like leap-frogging time, in a way.
It’s especially attractive for anyone who missed out on applying this past season (2016-’17) and/or who just couldn’t crack the MBA admissions nut and is looking to be a reapplicant in the coming season.
But it’s not just any old applicant who’s a fit to the J-Term.
It’s really only appropriate to those who don’t need that internship.
So, if you’re making a radical career jump, then it’s going to be a tough sell to convince the Columbia adcom that you can do it without the advantage of the standard internship experience. That’s really the whole point of the internship, you know: To get you ready for the big post-MBA job that you’re angling for. If you currently don’t have much to build on, in terms of industry or function experience, then it’s not going to be so easy to convince an employer to take that risk on you – especially when you’ll be competing with all the full-time MBAs who DID do the internship (both the ones at Columbia, and at every other school that the recruiter is interviewing at).
However, if you’re using the MBA to advance your existing career path, to jumpstart your advancement in your current industry – say, you’re in PE and want to go back to PE – then the J-Term is absolutely perfect for you.
If you’re already in financial services in some capacity, then we can also see a potentially viable pitch to use the J-Term to transition to another niche within financial services.
Or, if you intend to start a business through the MBA experience, voila. J-Term.
And if you’re lucky enough to be sponsored by your current employer and you will be headed back to them after graduation: J-Term.
Someone ready to join their family business after bschool: J-Term.
And finally: Any true go-getter who is a networking genius and is at the top of his or her field already, who knows how to be the mover and shaker and everyday rainmaker and has accrued some valuable research and CONNECTIONS in her intended target sector… We can see how possibly a J-Term pitch could work out for you, too. Though that one is definitely a case-by-case basis sort of thing.
We specifically wanted to offer some advice for anyone who tried for Columbia August Start last season and didn’t make it, who is now thinking that maybe the J-Term is a better fit:
If you have questions on your situation and whether this might be the program for you, feel free to leave them in the comments section, we’re happy to serve as an initial sounding board.
Columbia candidates, J-Term and otherwise, it’s time to get started!
In what is a totally understandable impulse, we frequently get BSers asking us what career goals are “best” to use in their MBA essays. It comes up over and over again. We know where that question comes from. When faced with the task of applying to bschool, it seems that you’re dealing with one test…
We spoke recently about the Personal Statement as part of an application to many (non-MBA) master’s programs, and voila! A Brave Supplicant has surfaced with a draft they want to be snarked up. This is for one of the Master of Science programs at the London School of Economics (good school!), in this case their…
This is the second chunk of our recent plea for help and EssaySnark’s reaction to a Brave Supplicant’s worries about trying to transition from engineering to finance: My question is: I really have to get this MBA to enhance my career growth now. With my [specialty deleted] background, what is the most advisable path for…