It’s now middle of January. The de facto Round 2 deadline for Columbia — what they call their “Fellowship deadline” –was January 3rd, which was unfortunately one of the very earliest of the January deadlines and which is now officially . If you did not submit by then, you’re not being considered for free money….
We gave you a kick in the patooty on Friday to go do some more research on NYU over the weekend. Maybe you did. Maybe you came back all hot and bothered and excited about the place.
What you should know now is, their November 15th Round 1 deadline is not the day you would want to apply. You actually should consider getting your Stern application in earlier than that. If you were actively considering them already, then hopefully you already know this, since you attended an info session and you heard it from them directly: Stern has rolling admissions.
It’s not the same type of “rolling” with Columbia, where there’s this massive advantage to apply as early as possible. As far as we understand it at Stern, they don’t strictly process apps in the order received, whereby submitting later in the cycle — or on the deadline day itself — constitutes the disadvantage of being stuck behind all the other BSers who
had their act together sooner submitted their apps earlier. We’ve never once heard Stern say that there is any disadvantage in their admissions decision-making process for someone who submits on the day of the deadline, versus someone who submitted back in September.
Instead, the main advantage with Stern is that if you apply earlier than their deadline, then there’s a good chance you may hear back from them before their published decision date of February 15th.
Stern tends to release decisions as they make them — this is the main way that their process is “rolling.” They don’t queue up all the decisions and dump them out on the market of you frantic and stressed-out BSers in one fell swoop on a single day, the way other schools do. They trickle them out as they make them. Yes, there’s often a batch of decisions that are released on that published decision date that shows on their website, but you very well could hear sooner than that. They have to do it that way, to make sure they have a shot at scooping up the hot commodities out there — they know that many great candidates are hearing back from other schools starting in mid December and they don’t want to lose out on all of you.
Columbia has rolling admissions. They do things differently. We’ve covered the importance of applying to Columbia early many times before — including the major advantage of applying through Early Decision (provided Columbia truly is your #1 choice). It doesn’t hurt to go over the nuances of this advice again though, since many of you are…
Columbia Business School’s application deadlines are the confusingest of the confusing.
They have two different intakes and rolling admissions and this Early Decision thingy and whatever. And that’s just for the standard F/T MBA. Then they’ve got like five different flavors of EMBA, all with different dates too.
The worst of the confusing though is the fact that their Regular Decision deadline is in April.
“Whoa, that gives me plenty of time!” we hear you think, a sudden burst of Columbia inspiration hitting your bloodstream.
Or maybe you smashed together a whole bunch of apps in these first two weeks of January and now you’re on a deadline high, looking around, seeking another target to apply your newfound application dedication towards.
Hold up big fella.
1. If you’re just now thinking about deadlines and considering Columbia, then that tells us you’re getting started waaaaay late. Which means we have little hope for you. You’re rushing things, you’re panicked, you’re riding an artificial I’m going to bschool! euphoria and you don’t know what you’re doing. You’re cutting corners, or your clueless. This is not the way to get into Columbia (or any other top school).
2. Or, if you’re just now considering Columbia because all your other schools have said no then you need to step back and assess the reasons why. Columbia is not an easy nut to crack, particularly with a Regular Decision app…. and even more so if you’re coming to the game now.
We have so many cautionary tales for you — we hear about so many BSers just like you who went before, desperate folks who crammed together some last-minute apps in the January timeframe… and came up with nothing. Basically, they did exactly what you’re doing now, and it Did Not Work Out. Yes, they often are able to turn it around the next time through… but oh wouldn’t it be so much lovelier to not go through the gummi-worm stage?
Here’s the deal on Columbia:
1. Their process is rolling. This means they evaluate applications in the order they’re received, and they’re filling the class as they find qualified candidates.
2. The application has been open since May. People have been applying all the way along. They started reviewing the Regular Decision candidates in December — and they’ve already been admitting a good number of them. Between Early Decision and the already-admitted Regular Decision peeps, they could be moving towards like half the class already accepted.
3. The bulk of Columbia’s Regular Decision apps come in right around the January 4th fellowship deadline (which you’ve obviously already missed). If you apply now, you’ll be sitting in the queue behind a whole slew of other candidates (others who had their act together ‘cuz they submitted in time for some possible $$$). They won’t even start to look at your app until they work through all those others.
What do these points add up to?
If you haven’t yet gotten that Columbia app in, you’d best make it happen like SOON or you really should not bother.
Let’s say that again: If you’re serious about Columbia, you need to get your application in *now* – with their rolling admissions process, anyone applying after mid-to-end-January is at a serious disadvantage and has a very low chance.
We’ve seen absolutely amazing candidates who applied to Columbia in like February, and got waitlisted and then rejected – but they were admitted immediately when they reapplied in the early round the next season. This tells us that the reason they were rejected originally was simply because the class was full. There was no more space.
So once more with feeling:
If you’re serious about Columbia, GET YOUR APPLICATION IN IMMEDIATELY.
If you can’t pull this off — if you’re not able to submit a solid application within the next 10 days or so — you should just wait till next season.
That “10 days” advice is arbitrary. If you can submit on like February 5th, maybe you’re fine. Or maybe even February 15th could work out. Or maybe not. Who knows, EssaySnark is not sitting in the Columbia admissions office, we don’t have any inside info — all we have are patterns of what we’ve seen in many past seasons. Columbia has been doing rolling admissions forever, and this is pretty much always how it patterns out.
Not sure if this will register for you but we’ll say it again: It is always easier to get into Columbia through the Early Decision process. That deadline is in October (they already filled probably a third of the class from those candidates.) And even though it feels like a world away, believe it or not, if you hold off on applying now, you would be able to submit your ED app for next season in about six months. As we just said, they open their application for the next season in May. It’s likely that they might change their questions — EssaySnark is guessing that their current essay 3 will go away, however essays 1 and 2 are likely to be similar — regardless, you’d need to spend some time in crafting up some quality answers to whatever the questions are at that point. If you apply in the June/July timeframe, you will almost certainly have an answer back by September.
Yes, this would mean delaying your bschool ambitions for a full year — you’d be starting school in Fall 2013 if you go this route. But you could also have a much easier time getting in if you do. If you flail an application together now for the current-season Fall 2012 start, then we’re not holding our breath that you’ll be successful anyway.
And as we’ve cautioned against for ages, it is WAY easier getting in to a top school as a “fresh” applicant than as a reapplicant. (Though, there is a valid exception: If you’re considering one of the flavors of EMBA that Columbia offers, you should go for it — all this freak-out stuff about timing is specific to the full-time MBA — Columbia EMBA Saturday-Only has a deadline on February 8th and you’re not “too late” to apply to that.)
So. Considering an app to Columbia now? OK fine — do it now and you may have a chance. Or, step back from the edge and let the voice of EssaySnark reason speak to you, and take a calm, cool, rational approach, and perhaps you’ll avoid some heartbreak and gummi worms.
Want more insights into Columbia with detailed information on how Early Decision works and when you should apply and even more important, how to put together a good application? Check out the SnarkStrategies Guide for Columbia and other top schools to get the lowdown on app strategies for each!
That exact Google search brought someone to our blahg recently. We hope they found the answer — but we doubt we have ever done one full post on it. So here it is.
Columbia is great because of their rolling admissions. You get to submit early and you get to find out fast (comparatively speaking) what the answer is. Sounds awesome, right? What many do not realize is that the unpredictableness of this rolling process can drive you MAD. At least with other schools, you’re nervous with waiting but you know that you don’t have to REALLY get nervous with waiting until Day X, when they say that interviews will begin, or the mid-cycle release happens, or the final decisions are announced. Harvard is pretty good with mapping out what to expect. If you apply to HBS, you totally know when you can start freaking out.
With Columbia, people start freaking out from Day 1.
And then below are the general patterns and cycle times that we’ve observed over the past many years. NOTE: THESE ARE PATTERNS. Your case is almost definitely going to go through a different cycle, because, after all, it’s YOUR case and you wouldn’t have anything to freak out about otherwise, right??
- Apps are processed in order received. All that means is that they START TO look at your app based on when it came in; this does not mean that they will FINISH with your app and render a decision in the same order.
- They used to promise decisions within 8-10 weeks after submission of the app but they pulled back on this completely last year. It still tends to happen well within that timeline for J-Term apps, and often with ED apps too; it definitely does not apply to regular-round apps. And, a “decision” may be a waitlist/deferred decision offer, so some people end up in limbo for months.
- Interview invites can come at any time after the app goes complete. Some Brave Supplicants are reporting interview invitations came almost immediately after app submission this year (this is a new phenomena, it seems to have happened quite a bit this year – this does not mean that the interview invite is triggered automatically, there is no decision-making at any bschool that is done by computer).
J-TERM & EARLY DECISION
We’ll talk about these together since they have the same submission deadline.
- They’ve been processing both J-Term and ED apps since the application opened in May or whenever, however J-Term apps are prioritized. They tend to issue J-Term decisions by November or early December at the latest — after all, you’d theoretically be headed to school in January, so they need to get through them fast.
- If you submit in the summer, the whole thing can go like lightning. We’ve seen Brave Supplicants go from submit to acceptance within four weeks from July through September.
- In past high-volume years, for ED apps that were submitted right around the October deadline, interview invites would come by mid-November, and final decisions would come after Thanksgiving. This year we’re hearing anecdotes that maybe things are moving more quickly.
- Acceptance decisions usually come within a week or 10 days of the interview (if your Ambassador doesn’t submit the report right away then it may take longer – but frankly, it’s quite rare for this to happen, the alumni tend to be on top of it).
- If you’re being admitted, then almost always, someone from the admissions team will call you directly to let you know that you’re being accepted; this happens before you’ll get any email or system status change. See below for a special note about this.
- If you’re not being accepted after the interview, it often takes longer to find out; and they don’t call, they just change the status and you get an email to check the system.
- After the interview, J-Term candidates might end up on a waitlist. The waitlist is just for the J-Term; it doesn’t roll over to the August start, there’s no relationship between these two candidate pools in any way.
- ED candidates don’t get waitlisted, they get offered a “deferred decision” – this means that they’re putting you in with the Regular Round candidates and will decide on your fate after they’ve seen how the rest of the pool shapes up. You’re off the hook in terms of the ‘binding’ ED promise at that point. (Our rant from last year about deferred decision remains one of the most popular posts ever around here.)
- In years past, they’ve said that they accept from a third to a half of August Start students in the ED round. There are no rules; there are no quotas.
- Regardless of when you submitted, they will not even crack your application open until DECEMBER. That’s actually even earlier than they used to do it. They clear out ALL of the J-Term and ED applicants before starting in on Regular Round. It doesn’t matter if you’ve already submitted your Regular Round app, it’s not moving until then. At that point, it will be opened for first review in the order received, so applying earlier is an advantage.
- There is not a huge advantage to applying to the August Start Regular Round any sooner than December. There just aren’t that many apps ahead of you in the queue. Take your time and make it the strongest app possible. Submit by mid-December if you can.
- There is a huge DISadvantage to applying to the Regular Round late. “Late” in this context means after the Fellowship Deadline in early January. They tend to get the peak of applications then, often 1,000+ applications in that first week of January alone (out of ~6,500 total). If you apply after that, they’ll just have filled so many of the spots that there’s a chance you’ll be left in the cold. You definitely do not want to apply after Feb. 1st to Columbia; if you’re that late to the party, EssaySnark *strongly* recommends hanging tight and applying when the app opens up again for the next season.
- If you are early in the submission queue, you might get an interview invite in late December; mostly those tend to come in January. Final decisions are usually 3-4 weeks after interview for Regular Round candidates.
- Regular Round applicants might end up on the waitlist. If you were an ED candidate who went into Deferred Decision, you can expect a yes-or-no decision sometime in January (we’ve never seen them put an ED person on the Regular Round waitlist, they’ll just cut you loose).
Special note about the phone calls:
We’ve heard of two types of phone calls: Acceptances (YAY!) and Requests for Information. These both come from admissions people, and they try to call during regular business hours in your time zone, regardless of where you’re at in the world.
- The Request for Information calls typically are around career goals, or possibly about something that was unclear in your resume. These seem to occur when the interviewer didn’t submit a complete report, or maybe when the essays didn’t quite make sense. These are generally a good sign, in that they wouldn’t be bothering if they weren’t interested in you — but it’s not so great that they have to follow up like this (something fell down in the standard system). If you get ANY call from the adcom, treat it like you’re being interviewed – be brief with your answers but thorough, be friendly and enthusiastic, be polite.
The Acceptance calls also break down into two types:
- The Yay You’re In!! calls which are obvious: YAY!
- The Yay You’re In but have you thought about an EMBA instead? calls — which totally throw people for a loop. These first started happening last year. This is the deal: If you’re local to NYC and you applied to the J-Term especially, but even if you applied to the August Start, and especially if you’re a little older, and especially especially if you’re not changing your career or you’re an entrepreneur…. They’re almost definitely gonna hit you up to see if you want to enroll in one of their EMBA tracks instead of the full-time MBA. YOU DO NOT HAVE TO DO THIS. They are calling to accept you in whatever program you applied to, which you specifically chose, and it will NOT change their decision if you do not go for the EMBA bait. What happened (we strongly suspect) is Columbia expanded the EMBA too quickly and they don’t have enough well-qualified warm bodies to fill it… so they’re mining the rolls of the regular F/T program for takers. They can easily and always fill the F/T class with people willing to uproot their lives and move to NYC for two years. It’s not so easy to fill the ranks of an EMBA class.
If you’re already in NYC — then you’re a prime target for this EMBA pitch if they decide to accept you to the F/T MBA. Just be aware that it might happen — don’t get flustered if it does — just thank them profusely and say how honored you are that they even considered you a good candidate for that, but no thank you, you did your research and chose the exact Columbia program that you chose for a good reason, and you’d be happy to accept their offer to attend that program, Yay you!.
There are likely a gazillion other situations and permutations that we have neglected to cover here. These are the basics we can think of at this point in the day without enough coffee. If you have questions or if we missed something obvious, we’re all ears.
EssaySnark does not mean to turn into ColumbiaSnark. Really, we don’t.
However, we have yet again experienced a case of conflicting information from the Columbia Business School adcom.
Or maybe it’s misinterpretation of what they’re saying. That’s definitely possible. One source of this information is EssaySnark’s clients, so some of this is second-hand.
And the fact is, Columbia’s rolling admission and different admissions policies are so darn confusing when compared to the standard rounds and pre-published dates at other schools. So it’s possible for people to misunderstand.
However, this is what EssaySnark has heard:
* June 2010: “Applying early in Columbia’s Regular Decision cycle is equivalent in terms of your chances as applying in the Early Decision cycle.”
* October 2010: “If you’re applying Regular Decision, you better get your application in now.”
EssaySnark cannot imagine what the definition of “early” is for submitting to the Regular Round process if October is too late! As a reminder, the quasi-deadline for the Regular Round process is January 5, 2011, which is when anyone interested in a fellowship must submit by. (That’s when the school traditionally has received the bulk of their Regular Round applications; also, because that date coincides with many other schools’ Round 2s, which means that many people consider January 5 a “de facto Round 2” deadline for Columbia.) The final-final Regular Round deadline is way off in April – but anyone submitting then really doesn’t have a chance in h3ll.
No Regular Round apps are even opened until December, and then they’re processed in order received. Since the Columbia application has been “live” since the Spring or early Summer, that could be quite a few apps queued up. And spots are filled on a rolling basis: as they decide they like someone, they make an offer. So yes, you want to get your application in before January. But to send the message that you’ve already missed the boat ENTIRELY on Columbia if you didn’t submit in October?? Why not just have one deadline and call it October 6?!? Sheesh, Columbia.
To be clear: The first words of advice above came from a presentation conducted in late June 2010 by Christina Shelby in the Columbia admissions office. The second (theoretically) were reported by a client as coming from adcom members at an info session conducted on campus in mid-October; could be pure hearsay, who knows. And, sure, the school cannot know in advance how many applications they’ll get at any given time; the second advice was we’re certain well-intended, in reaction to them receiving more apps than they perhaps expected at this stage of the process.
It’s definitely freaking some people out, this contradictory info from the admissions people themselves. This process is stressful enough. Why can’t this school be more transparent and consistent in what they’re telling the marketplace?