Are you being sponsored for your MBA? Do you have plans to return to your current company after you finish with school? Great! Today’s post is not for you. 🙂 Today we’re talking about applicants who want to go to bschool and then they have a pretty good idea of what they want to do…
We admit to being DownerSnark when the subject of MBA scholarships comes up.
Mostly it’s because it’s….one of those things. Where applicants are often woefully misinformed or unaware of the realities of the situation.
If you’re applying for a graduate program in almost any other field, there is plenty of free money available. That’s how society gets smart people to go research important things. If there weren’t funding for, say, archeologists and sociologists and all those other -ologists who are ologisting all over the place to advance human knowledge, then nobody would be able to go do it.
But the MBA? There’s a very high ROI on this here degree.
We covered this good-news/bad-news situation quite directly in the post from the ‘snarchives called They are not going to pay you to get an MBA.
Today we’ll just burst your lil ol bubble with some Truth: Yes there is free money available in the form of scholarships and fellowships to help support you in your MBA dream, but you cannot assume you’re gonna get any.
The GMAT people did a survey of MBA applicants through much of 2017 and here’s what folks were assuming for how their graduate business degree would be funded:
The only category on that whole chart that resembles reality is the last one, where applicants have some corporate sponsorship lined up and their job is going to pay for their schooling. If you’re getting sponsored, you know it, and you probably know about how much you’re getting, or at least a ballpark.
The other category that’s showing a more realistic percentage is the Parental Support one, particularly for those younger applicants who are going to bschool very early on in their lives and they have their family behind them to make the investment.
But for that first bucket?
Yes certainly there are many applicants who are accepted by great schools who get significant support from the school. That money comes almost entirely from alumni donations; it’s the generosity of grads from that school who want to pay back. When you go to Harvard and you become fabulously wealthy later in life, then you can get a nice tax write-off for your donation (or at least, you used to get one; who knows if that’s going to hold true as it once did now that we’re post tax reform). It’s a little ironic that the school that’s one of the most expensive is also the one with the deepest pockets and ability to help its students out.
Which is an important point to be very aware of: The further down you go in the rankings, there is often less money available for the schools to give away. All schools have the ability to award something but it’s definitely not the same situation everywhere you turn. There’s also usually less money available for an Executive MBA track, though we’ve more recently heard of a few EMBA programs that have been able to offer more fellowships.
If you’re aiming for a Top 20 school, then your entire focus should be on earning an admit. That alone is going to be plenty of a reward! If you have an especially unique background or are coming from a particular country where there are special-focus scholarships available, then certainly you may win the double prize. But please do not assume you will get anything more than the acceptance. Start planning NOW for the costs of the MBA. Save those pennies. Cut down on your expenses today. And consider the big-picture strategy. If getting financial help for your degree is a critical factor that determines whether or not you will be able to attend, then make sure you’re putting a full-spectrum strategy into place, and make sure you’re operating in the realm of reality on how unique or differentiated or distinctive your background is (especially compared to the list of targets you’re planning for), so that you might be able to accurately hope and pray for free money.
If the free money comes, then that will be FABULOUS! But if it does not come, does that mean you won’t be going to bschool?
Having this conversation with yourself now is super important. It would suck to get all the way through this process and be sitting on a win when Round 1 closes at the end of the year, but with no way to actually afford the tuition. The schools publish this information and have lots of planning resources available. Now is the time to be looking at this, when there’s opportunity to adjust plans and create the right strategies. Given the incredible ROI of a top tier MBA, it’s highly likely that the category “Personal Earnings” will end up being a greater than 13% contribution to paying off the bill. And that’s OK! It’s the whole point of getting the degree in the first place, isn’t it?
You want to get an MBA to get a better job. Well then, doesn’t it make sense that you should plan for that better job to be paying off the cost of the MBA?
One of the many ways things can get messed up with your MBA applications is rushing through the data entry task on your application. The app dataset is an important part of your pitch — not just a chore you need to get through as quickly as possible. We’ve offered a range of strategic comments…
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!
All business schools ask you to get at least one recommendation as part of their application process. With very, very few exceptions, this should be a professional recommendation, and in fact it should be even more specific than that: You should get a recommendation from your current direct supervisor. It’s not technically mandatory that you…
First off… DO YOU KNOW THAT THE FIRST WEEK OF DECEMBER IS ALMOST OVER?!?? There. Just had to say that. A little Public Service Announcement for all of you BSers out there. On to today’s topic. The last two days we’ve had posts with nearly the same short-term goal statement in them – “I wanna…
Let’s face it, most people applying to the top MBA programs have a certain degree of self-confidence. After all, how could you even throw your hat into the ring in such a competitive process if you didn’t believe that you’ve got what it takes? (Whether that belief is misguided or not is a topic for…
We recently discussed whether you should try and get your company to foot the bill for your bschool education. In that prior post, we offered some things to think about that you might not have considered. One other point that needs to be addressed – and this may be controversial, but when have we ever strayed away from that?
We hear that the sponsored MBA students are lazy. In fact, they’re sometimes accused of being L-A-Z-Y. That they are just sorta coasting. Biding their time. Phoning it in. Not fully engaged. Wasting the opportunity.
You appreciate what you pay for, right? You might want to think about this all-too-human phenomenon, that might be setting yourself up for two years of apathy, if you’ve got someone else footing the bschool bill.
Exhibit A for this assertion:
Yes, that’s Columbia Follies, which is meant as jokes and parody and satire… but a joke is only funny when it’s based on truth.
If you’re sitting here now saying you want the MBA for the education part of it, great. We applaud you. But will you be able to maintain that noble commitment to yourself in the midst of case overload and way too many models to run and all you want to do is go to Happy Hour and drown your DCF sorrows?
As ignoble as it may be, a big motivation for many people to do the homework and get good grades (yes even with grade non-disclosure) is because they need to land a great job coming out. They REALLY need to land a great job, given the mountain of grad school debt that they’ll be facing. So, double-motivation: need the grades to get the job, need the job to pay for this very expensive endeavor that they’ve embarked upon.
Will you end up just coasting, since you have a job secured already? Even more so: Will you be coasting, because there’s no threat of a student loan payment starting to creep up on your horizon?
Yes, some employers require a minimum GPA to get the tuition reimbursement, but it’s not like you’d need to be at the top of your class. The bare-minimum has this odd way of becoming an acceptable level of performance in certain situations.
Just make sure that you’re walking into all this with a clear head and honest assessment of who you are and how you will (truly) react under this situation. It would be a shame for all your pre-MBA excitement and enthusiasm to get drained out into apathy when you’re actually going through the grad school experience.
We saw a great article on BusinessBecause recently about How to Get Your Employer to Pay for Your MBA. Excellent advice there on how to hit up your boss to sponsor your schooling. But the question left unaddressed is, even if you can get your company to pay for business school… should you? It’s an…
We had a question posed recently:
Essaysnark, I’m curious to hear about your thoughts on the Stanford Sloan’s MSc in Management program. Based on what I’ve read, its students learn the same subjects from the same professors as the Stanford FT MBA’s students. Plus it requires a GMAT score. Seems to be pretty selective and an overall good program for the older candidate. The downer is that it’s not exactly an MBA.
For those of you unfamiliar, Stanford Sloan is a best-of-both-worlds education between what’s offered by the full-time residential 2-year MBA for the standard early-career candidate (usually 24 to 32-ish), and the do-it-while-juggling-your-job split-life format of most EMBA programs, which are designed for (older) mid-career managers. Actually no, Stanford Sloan is better than that: it’s a 1-year full-time residential program. And the focus is on leadership which Stanford knows a thing or two about. It’s also for more senior execs. LBS and MIT both have similar Sloan Fellows executive-level programs, originally founded with grants from the Alfred Sloan Foundation in the ’50s.
To the question, we gave a classically snarky answer:
[BSer], your only complaint seems to be that you don’t get the three initials “M-B-A” after your name. Sorry, but we’re having trouble seeing the problem with that, based on what the Stanford Sloan program is.
To expand on that thought process:
Do you really think that someone reviewing your resume and seeing “Master’s of Science in Management from Stanford Graduate School of Business” is gonna think, “Snap, this guy is great but he doesn’t have an MBA, he’s a loser.” ???
And are you really discounting the entire EDUCATION that you’d be getting out of the Stanford Sloan process?
As you can see, this attitude miffs us.
What exactly are your priorities?
What are you looking for out of this bschool endeavor?
This is of course completely ignoring the fact that Stanford Sloan is incredibly selective, and most people who even mention their interest in it to us are not actually qualified. It’s more than just, “Damn, I guess I’m too old for an MBA, let me apply to Stanford Sloan instead.” Minimum is 8 years of experience, average is 11, upper level is 20. This is for senior managers/execs – those who are handling big stuff, people and teams and budgets, and, often, who their organizations want to move into positions of even higher responsibility (Stanford Sloan used to be solely for corporate-sponsored students, now 2/3 of the class is self-funded).
We’re not trying to discourage anyone from throwing their hat into the ring for admission to one of the Sloan Master’s – all variations of this program at all three schools are amazing. However, regardless of what we say, the price tag may deter you: the 2012-’13 Stanford Sloan program year is budgeted at $157,780 if you’re flying solo (up to $215k if you’re bringing your family) — that”s for ONE YEAR people. Tuition alone is $108,000. WOW. Talk about sticker shock. And you’re most likely not going to be getting a salary, unless you are in fact sponsored and your company really loves you.
The Stanford Sloan adcom is more flexible on the standard requirements for admission. You don’t have to have a superstellar GMAT score or a perfect 4.0 GPA-equivalent from undergrad. Shoot, they don’t even technically require a bachelor’s degree to be admitted. [UPDATE 7/11/14: As reader Jeff pointed out in comments, this has changed.] If you have had an impressive-enough career then you could still qualify for this program without having completed college. The average GMAT is typically only 680. They’re looking for different things in these candidates. Remember, the focus is on LEADERSHIP.
This program is generally not for people trying for the dramatic career change – no, it’s not an MBA, in the sense that there are no internships, there’s little if any focus on recruiting. This is not for the engineer who wants to become a consultant. If you’re an engineer who’s already made the transition to the business side of your company, sure, this could be a great fit. But you need to have shown how you’ve had an impact on the place, how you’ve brought in change and taken your team to the next level, or in some other way show that you’re ready for this.
If you put more value on the three letters of “M-B-A” then maybe you’re looking for a different thing out of the experience of going back to school? Figuring that out for yourself may help you in deciding which schools / programs are right for you — and which may then respond more positively to your application.