Tag Archives: Columbia

SBC Scoop: 640 on the GMAT

I begin this week’s Scoop by filling you in on the outcome from last week’s post about Joe who had a “D” on his transcript.  Joe was admitted to Wharton and withdrew applications from other …

I begin this week’s Scoop by filling you in on the outcome from last week’s post about Joe who had a “D” on his transcript.  Joe was admitted to Wharton and withdrew applications from other schools because he knew that was where he wanted to attend. Joe was quite satisfied that his approach to the transcript was effective and so were we!

Our client this week, Davis, is a white male working in finance in New York City.  He clearly had strong quantitative abilities, as revealed through his GPA and professional experiences.  However, his GMAT score of 640 was below average for Columbia, the one school that he was targeting.  Davis had missed Columbia’s early decision round and was submitting his application at the last minute in the general rolling admissions round.

He put together a solid application and submitted knowing that his timing and GMAT were two significant weaknesses for this particular school.  The good news was that both of these issues were fixable.  He could obviously reapply early decision the following year, and he could retake the GMAT (although 640 was his high score out of three attempts).

Ultimately, Davis was not admitted in this first attempt.  However, he managed to secure a phone conversation with a contact on the admissions committee.  The feedback was clear and specific – they wanted to see him clear 680 on the GMAT in order to be a stronger candidate.  He was encouraged to apply again.

The next several months were extremely stressful as Davis worked hard to improve his GMAT and only succeeded in raising the score by 30 points.  With a 670, he reapplied to Columbia in the early decision round.  He focused on conveying his academic and quantitative strengths, and encouraged his recommenders to weigh in on his quantitative skills to strengthen his case.  He also stayed in touch with his admissions committee contact, contacting him with occasional questions, and keeping him up to date on GMAT progress.  Via this contact, he reinforced his commitment to attend if admitted, making it clear that Columbia was the only school he had applied to.

I am happy to report that Davis was eventually admitted to Columbia!  This showed us that many schools, including Columbia do take the GMAT very seriously and target specific scores, but even a lower score can be overcome in the presence of other strengths.  Also, it never hurts to ask for feedback.  Even schools that do not “officially” provide feedback, just might do so.  My motto with many aspects of this process is…”it never hurts to ask.”

Are you surprised that Columbia gave Davis a specific target score?  Surprised that he was admitted even without hitting the 680?  Let me know what you think in the comments below!

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COLUMBIA BUSINESS SCHOOL RECEIVES $10M GIFT FOR NEW INTERDISCIPLINARY CENTER

For prospective MBAs interested in the intersection of business and law, Columbia Business School just became even more appealing. It announced last week that the Richard Paul and Ellen S. Richman Private Family Foundation granted  …

For prospective MBAs interested in the intersection of business and law, Columbia Business School just became even more appealing. It announced last week that the Richard Paul and Ellen S. Richman Private Family Foundation granted  $10 million to Columbia University to establish the Richard Paul Richman Center for Business, Law and Public Policy. The Center will be jointly overseen by Columbia Business School and Columbia Law School.  According to a Columbia University press release:

The new center will encourage collaboration among Columbia’s most prominent business and legal scholars to generate research that will inform public policy and help to unite scholarship with its real-world applications in both business and law. The Richman Center will also provide a platform for the promotion of dialogue and the exchange of ideas on timely and relevant issues, while inspiring future generations of students to pursue careers at the nexus of business, law and public policy.

Proposed Richman Center activities include curriculum development, faculty research project funding and extracurricular events such as industry conferences. According to Columbia University president Lee C. Bollinger, “Columbia’s accomplished faculty at both the Business School and the Law School share a commitment to addressing the complex challenges found at the intersection of their disciplines, and the Richman Center will undoubtedly be a valuable source of innovative scholarship and real-world solutions in the years ahead.”

In addition to opening the Center, the Richman Foundation will also fund a Richard Paul Richman Professorship of Law and a Richard Paul Richman Professorship of Business. The professors awarded these positions will have the opportunity to create research initiatives in business, law and public policy.

 Richard Paul Richman graduated from both Columbia Business School and Columbia Law School and is currently the chairman of the Richman Group, one of the nation’s largest rental property developers.

“The complex challenges in public policy need to be informed by the pragmatic perspectives of both business and law. Columbia’s intellectual capital in these two disciplines is unparalleled and represents a powerful tool to address today’s problems as well as lay the foundation for a well-planned future,” said Richman.

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Tuesday Tips – Columbia Business School Essay Tips

Columbia Business School has posted the essay questions for the class of 2013. Columbia Business School has shortened the essay set and removed some of the more challenging questions since last year. While this set …

Columbia Business School has posted the essay questions for the class of 2013. Columbia Business School has shortened the essay set and removed some of the more challenging questions since last year. While this set of essays may seem simple and straightforward, you will have less space to describe yourself and your accomplishments. Be strategic about how you approach these two or three essays (four if you are a reapplicant) and make sure you are hitting the key aspects of your application strategy.

Columbia Business School Essay 1
What are your short-term and long-term post-MBA goals? How will Columbia Business School help you achieve these goals? (Recommended 750 word limit)

This question is fairly straightforward and consistent with other typical goals essays. The wrinkle to this essay is that it focuses on your goals, rather than your background or career experience, and that you will want to demonstrate that Columbia Business School is the best school for you.

As you describe your short and long-term goals, make sure there is a clear trajectory from what you plan to do immediately after graduation (short-term) to where you want to ultimately take your career (long-term). Columbia Business School should be the natural link between your current situation and the goals you have for your career.

While you want to concentrate primarily on your future plans, you may need to set up your goals with some context from your current career. You are free to choose the most relevant experience from your background for this essay, so make sure you set the stage effectively for your future goals with your past experiences.

Columbia Business School Essay 2
Please tell us about yourself and your personal interests. The goal of this essay is to get a sense of who you are, rather than what you have achieved professionally. (Recommended 500 word limit)

While the first essay focuses on your professional accomplishments, this essay allows you to present your personality and interests to the adcomm. This is also the perfect place to focus on why you would be an excellent classmate and member of the Columbia Business School community. While it is expressly not about professional accomplishments, your personal interests ideally align with your professional goals and the entire set of essays tells a cohesive story about you.

This essay may be best utilized in a similar way as the Stanford MBA “what matters most” essay. Rather than focusing on superficial activities or hobbies, make sure your topic gets at your core values and what motivates you in your personal and professional life.

Columbia Business School Optional Essay
Is there any further information that you wish to provide to the Admissions Committee? (Please use this space to provide an explanation of any areas of concern in your academic record or your personal history.)

If there are any areas of concern, this is the correct place to address them. Strike an upbeat tone here and avoid excuses. Explain your issue clearly and focus most of the essay on the correction for the issue. For example, if you had a disciplinary issue in college, spend most of the issue demonstrating that you learned from the experience and have been an ideal citizen ever since.

If you do not have a weakness to address here, it’s an ideal opportunity to provide any information that you were unable to work into the other three essays. If you have an unusual background, hobby or extracurricular experience, this may be an opportunity to provide that information to the adcomm.

Columbia Business School Reapplication Essay
How have you enhanced your candidacy since your previous application? Please detail your progress since you last applied and reiterate your short-term and long-term goals. Explain how the tools of the Columbia Business School will help you to meet your goals and how you plan to participate in the Columbia Business School community. (Recommended 750 word limit).

If you applied more than 12 months ago, you will need to compose all of the essays in the set. If you applied more recently to Columbia Business School you are able to only draft this reapplication essay. Either way, it’s important to make sure you have made significant strides since your last application. Keep in mind that the admissions committee will have access to your previous application. While refining your goals is progress and can enhance your application, make sure your story is consistent with your last application and that you have thoroughly explained any changes in your thinking since the last time you applied.

Soul searching and feedback from others likely set you on the path to improve one or more areas that may have been weak in your last application. This essay is your opportunity to outline your better GMAT score, classes you took, additional extracurriculars, or a significant increase in responsibility at work.

The third part of this essay is to demonstrate how you will contribute to Columbia Business School. If you are a reapplicant you have likely had the time to learn even more about the school since your last application, and your research will pay off in this essay. Be specific about your skills and how you will contribute, along with the aspects of Columbia Business School that will be of benefit to your goals.
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“Students or Customers” Debate Continues

The debate over the so-called “corrupting practice” of treating MBA students as customers has taken off in the wake of a blog entry we posted recently (Some B-Schools Don’t Want Customers). Should students have more …

The debate over the so-called “corrupting practice” of treating MBA students as customers has taken off in the wake of a blog entry we posted recently (Some B-Schools Don’t Want Customers).

Should students have more say over what they are taught and even how they are judged? What’s the risk of the student-consumer approach in MBA programs? And does the issue reflect broader issues in higher education?

Editors of the New York Times dove into the story earlier this week with commentary from various voices from academia. Here’s a glimpse into the mindset of each of the featured educators.

Edward Snyder (dean, Chicago Booth School of Business)

I’ve said it before: The best students don’t view themselves as customers, and they shouldn’t be treated as such…A combination of stretch and support is the answer to the question: how can business schools get more out of their students and better prepare them for diverse careers in turbulent times in all parts of the global economy? (…) The world needs more MBAs who develop in transformational environments, not MBAs on the buy end of transactions.

Stephen Joel Tratchtenberg (president emeritus, George Washington University)

Students are not customers nor are they not customers. (…)Members of faculty dislike the students-as-customer concept because it obliges them to devote time and effort to areas beyond research that they are not interested in and they are not traditionally rewarded for. If these additional criteria were used in promotion and tenure decisions, the faculty might be more responsive to students’ requests but they would also be more challenged.

David Bejou (dean, Elizabeth City State University School of Business)

Treatment of students as customers is not about grades or unrealistic expectations; it is about a new paradigm of shared governance…Treat MBA students like customers and empower them to be responsible for their learning. Reward the faculty for applying their cutting edge applied research in shaping the future leaders who happen to have MBA’s.

Richard Vedder, (professor of economics, Ohio University)

The growth in grade inflation, the near abandonment of Friday classes on many campuses, and the provision of country club-like facilities are three indicators that universities increasingly look at students as customers requiring pampering…The “student as customer” philosophy has created an underworked and overindulged group of future national leaders, something that likely will prove costly in the long run.

Mark C. Taylor (professor of religion, Columbia University)

The controversy in many business schools swirling around practice of treating education as a product and students as customers would be comic if it did not reflect the widespread failure of people inside and outside colleges and universities to acknowledge the looming financial crisis in higher education…To deny that higher education is a product and students are customers is to ignore the reality of the current situation and to duck the tough questions we should be asking.

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SBC_Harvard_Essay_Guide-150x150If you are feeling stumped by your application essays and need some additional guidance, check out our NEW series of essay guides for MBA applications. Columbia, Harvard, Kellogg, Stanford and Wharton available now. They are seriously terrific and we are proud to say that almost every person who has ordered one has come back for more!

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Tuesday Tips – Columbia Business School January Program Essay Tips

Essay Tips for the Columbia GSB January program, which allows candidates to complete a full time MBA program in 16 month.

The Columbia Business School January program is a unique opportunity within top US MBA programs. The accelerated program will give you the experience of a full time MBA without the 24 months away from your career. Because you forgo the summer internship required of most 2-year programs, you can complete the January program in just 16 months.

Career changers will have a difficult time without an internship, so the J-term is best if you have a job lined up immediately after school, or know that you can find a full time position with your network. As the website outlines, the January program is ideal if you are an entrepreneur, will be joining the family business or can return to your employer or industry.

The January program essays are similar to that of the full time Columbia Business School MBA program, yet your additional task is to demonstrate that an accelerated program is the right fit for you. As with all MBA applications, setting your application strategy and refining your career goals will be key.

Columbia Business School Essay 1
What are your short-term and long-term post-MBA goals? How will Columbia Business School help you achieve these goals? (Recommended 750 word limit)

This question is fairly straightforward and consistent with other typical goals essays. The wrinkle to Columbia Business School’s J-term question is that it focuses on your goals, rather than your background or career experience, and that you will want to demonstrate that not only is Columbia Business School the best school for you, but that the accelerated program is a perfect fit for your career goals.

As you describe your short and long-term goals, make sure there is a clear trajectory from what you plan to do immediately after graduation (short-term) to where you want to ultimately take your career (long-term). Columbia Business School should be the natural link between your current situation and the goals you have for your career. While you want to concentrate primarily on your future plans, you may need to set up your goals with some context from your current career.

Because the January intake does not provide the opportunity for an internship, you will need to clearly demonstrate why your goals are achievable without the summer work experience.

Columbia Business School Essay 2
Master Classes are the epitome of bridging the gap between theory and practice at Columbia Business School. (View link below) Please provide an example from your own life in which practical experience taught you more than theory alone. (Recommended 500 word limit)

View the Master Class video.

This question is an ideal place to discuss a work challenge that taught you a lesson about experience vs. theory. Many Columbia Business School applicants have a hard time choosing a topic for this question because theory is so closely associated with school or academics. Think a little outside the typical definition and think about some of the theories you might operate within at work, and how you have expanded that knowledge through real life experience.

Perusing the website may also lead to ideas of your experiences that fit the master class model. Showing some familiarity with the master class program is certainly advisable here, and should be integrated organically with the example wherever possible.

Columbia Business School Essay 3
Please provide an example of a team failure of which you’ve been a part. If given a second chance, what would you do differently? (Recommended 500 word limit)

Failures are a great way to demonstrate your maturity and ability to learn from mistakes. A team failure takes the question into the realm of leadership and teamwork as well. It’s a good idea to choose an example where you had a real impact on the failure, blaming someone else on the team for the failure is not as helpful and demonstrates little about you.

Outline the example clearly and concisely, with clear descriptions of your part and the part of other members of the team. Identify where you think the failure originated, what you learned from it, and describe what you think would have corrected the failure. An ideal optimistic ending for an essay like this is a subsequent success that is related, but at the very least the essay needs to demonstrate that you learned and grew from the experience.

Columbia Business School Optional Essay
Is there any further information that you wish to provide to the Admissions Committee? (Please use this space to provide an explanation of any areas of concern in your academic record or your personal history.)

If there are any areas of concern, this is the correct place to address them. Strike an upbeat tone here and avoid excuses. Explain your issue clearly and focus most of the essay on the correction for the issue. For example, if you had a disciplinary issue in college, spend most of the issue demonstrating that you learned from the experience and have been an ideal citizen ever since.

If you do not have a weakness to address here, it’s an ideal opportunity to provide any information that you were unable to work into the other three essays. If you have an unusual background, hobby or extracurricular experience, this may be an opportunity to provide that information to the adcomm.

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4 Tips for Getting Off the B-School Wait List

Nobody likes to land on the wait list when applying to business school, but an article on Forbes.com shares some insight from admissions directors on how to handle the dreaded wait while your first-choice school …

Nobody likes to land on the wait list when applying to business school, but an article on Forbes.com shares some insight from admissions directors on how to handle the dreaded wait while your first-choice school makes up its mind about you.

Here are some top tips from the story:

Follow the school’s directions about being in touch. And whatever you do, don’t be a pest.

Columbia Business School says: Don’t call us–we’ll call you. “We no longer encourage people to set up an appointment with their wait list manager or reach out voluntarily to us,” Linda B. Meehan, assistant dean and executive director of MBA admissions, explains. “We’ve decided it makes better use of our resources if we reach out when we have questions, rather than having candidates flood us with information we may or may not be looking for.”

(On the bright side, Forbes found that the Kellogg School of Management and the Tuck School of Business are both more open to contact from waitlisted applicants. Haas School of Business prefers to hear from applicants via email.)

Let them know you’re still interested, if indeed you still are.

Haas School says: Enthusiasm will only get you so far. “Some people believe that convincing us they’re really, really interested will get them off the wait list. That’s just not true,” says Peter Johnson, executive director of admissions for the full-time MBA program. “What gets them off the wait list is strengthening one of these weaknesses.”

Enhance your application

Scrutinize your application and look for weaknesses. Remember, be brutal. Some common reasons for being wait-listed include low grades in college math courses; a lack of clarity about your future job aspirations; and/or a lack of evident leadership experience or community service.

Communicate your deadline

If you’ve already been accepted at another program but still holding out hope for your first-choice school, let them know you’re on a deadline. Many say they’ll try to accomodate your deadlines if they can, Forbes found.

In the end, though, there may not be anything you can do. “One of the big determinants in getting off the wait list has nothing to do with you,” says Peter Johnson. “We can’t predict what all the admitted students will do. Our goal is to minimize the stress as much as we can. We try to communicate frequently–and not give anyone unrealistic hopes.”

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