Is Columbia Business School on your shortlist of target MBA programs? Then you won’t want to miss this conversation with a CBS insider. Today, we’re excited to share a Q&A with Ally, our newest SBC MBA admissions consultant. Ally brings six years of admissions experience to the SBC team, most recently as an Assistant Director of Admission for the full-time MBA program at CBS.
During her time at Columbia, Ally reviewed applications, planned recruitment events, and interviewed candidates for both the full-time MBA program and the Executive MBA program. Ally also managed the class visit program at Columbia and worked to ensure prospective students had a meaningful, engaging, and fun experience.
These events allowed her to observe an abundance of prospective CBS students. More importantly, she knows what it takes for Columbia applicants to get admitted into this prestigious full-time MBA program.
We’ve asked Ally for her insights into pursuing an MBA in a moment of crisis. Also, we wanted to find out what advice she would offer to Columbia Business School applicants in particular. Here’s what Ally had to say.
What major changes took place during your time in CBS Admissions?
I think the big change on everyone’s mind is COVID-19! Quickly pivoting to offer entirely virtual programming for prospective students was both a challenge and exciting at the same time.
It was challenging because we love the in-person experience of welcoming prospective students to campus and getting to know them. But it was also exciting in that it gave us an opportunity to connect with prospective students all over the world, who otherwise could not visit the campus.
It also presented a really great time for students to pursue an MBA—with some uncertainty in the job market, it’s natural to think about taking a step back and pausing your career for a few years to go back to school.
What are the most common reasons why MBA applicants apply to CBS?
Columbia Business School applicants are drawn to the location and the opportunity to successfully pursue any career you could imagine (what can’t you do in NYC?!), its tight-knit community and super involved student life, and the amazing faculty and opportunity to learn from some incredible industry leaders.
Share with us the top 3 reasons why you loved the CBS MBA program.
The top three reasons why I loved the CBS MBA program so much are because of the students. They really are amazing and so involved and eager to connect with prospective students, which made my job easier!
Also, I worked closely with the Columbia Women in Business club, which is one of the largest clubs on campus. It was just amazing to see so many great women accomplish such cool things.
Plus, the faculty is so great and approachable. I managed our class visit program, which presented a great opportunity to work closely with some of our faculty members. When I left my job at CBS to pursue another opportunity, one of the things I was most sad about was that I wouldn’t get to work with the faculty members anymore!
Another reason is the location. It’s a great place for students to work together but also enjoy all that’s going on in their surroundings, both professionally and socially.
What are the key aspects Columbia Business School applicants should know?
A key aspect of the program is becoming involved on campus and immersing yourself in the CBS community. The students work wonderfully together; it’s not the cutthroat place that some imagine when they think of an NYC school.
It’s also important to know that it’s interesting academically. You can take whatever electives you want—and out of about 400, more than any of our peer schools, there are certainly plenty of options that you will want to take.
Something that applicants may not know is how well CBS connects students with the surrounding city (and the world). There are various immersion programs students can take as electives that allow them to spend time in class with their classmates and professors, and also spend time off-site doing corporate visits around the city (and globally).
What application advice do you have for applicants to CBS’s MBA program?
My best advice is just to be yourself! The CBS Admissions Committee wants to get to know YOU, not someone you think the AdCom wants to see. Be as specific as possible in your application and show that you’ve taken time to get to know the program. Don’t just list some basic website-level knowledge.
Review your essays and make sure you are actually answering the questions asked! My favorite applications were always the ones that had great essays where it was clear that the applicant was really being their authentic self.
What advice do you have for students at CBS’s MBA program, to make the most of the experience?
Take advantage of everything there is to take advantage of! It’s two years of being able to focus entirely on the program—academics, growing your network, getting involved in clubs, and enjoying NYC. Do it all, but don’t burn yourself out! You know yourself best and know what you have the capacity for. Be mindful of this, but also don’t be afraid to try new things.
Do you think the CBS MBA essay prompts will remain the same in the coming season, and why?
AdComs will always want to know certain things, such as your career goals and why their program. But schools will sometimes change one of their questions to allow us to get to know the candidate better. The third essay question at CBS is still pretty new, so I’m not sure it will change too soon.
What do you think the future looks like for CBS’s MBA program? Any predictions about how the program will evolve ahead?
Well, the new Manhattanville campus is opening somewhat soon, which I think will allow the program to be even more innovative and exciting than it already is.
Thanks so much, Ally, for sharing your CBS insights with our blog readers! Stacy Blackman Consulting is the only MBA admissions firm with a complete panel of former Admissions Officers. If you would like to learn more about working with us, you can request a free analysis of your candidacy here. We look forward to meeting you!