Early Thoughts on Columbia Business School’s 2016-2017 Application Essay Questions

Columbia UniversityApplication season at Columbia Business School is officially underway with the release of the school’s 2016-2017 essay questions. Let’s discuss from a high level some early thoughts on how best to approach these new essay prompts. There are three full essay questions and one shorter prompt for Columbia, which leaves this school with one of the lengthier application packages around.

With all these essays, it is crucial that applicants present their candidacy in a very clear yet non-redundant fashion. Let’s take a look at each of the essay questions Columbia is asking this year:

Goal:
What is your immediate post-MBA professional goal? (50 characters)
Given the tight character limit to this prompt, keep your response here short and sweet. Most of the context you would normally provide in such a response will find a home in your response to Essay 1.

Essay 1:
Through your resume and recommendations, we have a clear sense of your professional path to date. What are your career goals going forward, and how will the Columbia MBA help you achieve them? (100-750 words)

This is basically the same prompt for Essay 1 as last year, but with greater flexibility on the word count, which now spans from 100-750 words as opposed to last year’s 500-word limit. Do not feel it is absolutely necessary to hit the upward bounds of the new word count just because you have the option – efficiency and impactful messaging always reigns supreme in business school essays.

Columbia’s first essay question falls into the typical “career goals” essay category – the key difference here will be a focus on the future and your post-MBA career, so avoid placing too much of an emphasis on your past professional career. Remember, the Admissions Committee will already have your resume and thus, some sense of your past, so avoid rehashing your background (outside of providing any necessary context).

With this in mind, presenting both your short-term and long-term career goals in a well-aligned and clearly articulated way will be key to executing this essay successfully. Probably even more important, (given the ubiquity of your career goals), is the “fit” aspect of the essay. Breakthrough candidates will cite specific references to Columbia’s professional, academic, and extra-curricular programs that will support their development goals. With so much competition between business schools, it is critical to make a strong case that you will fit well with Columbia’s particular MBA program.

Essay 2:
Columbia Business School’s students participate in industry focused New York immersion seminars, in project based Master Classes, and in school year internships. Most importantly, they are taught by a combination of distinguished research faculty and accomplished practitioners. How will you take advantage of being “at the very center of business”? (100-500 words)

Columbia comes back this year with a slight tweak to Essay 2 with the ultimate prompt effectively being the same. Columbia is uniquely positioned at the heart of business in NYC, which has lured many applicants to this top program for years. Use this essay as an opportunity to avoid generalities about NYC that other applicants may make, and get specific about how Columbia’s unique location in NYC will serve as a clear advantage in your personal and professional career, and specifically during your time on campus. This essay can also be used to build upon your response to Essay 1. 

Essay 3:
CBS Matters, a key element of the School’s culture, allows the people in your Cluster to learn more about you on a personal level. What will your Clustermates be pleasantly surprised to learn about you? (100-250 words)

This question is a great chance to let your personality shine through. This is the shortest of the three full essays so every word counts – take advantage of this more open essay prompt and really try and give the Admissions Committee some “behind the scenes” insight into the type of person your classmates will meet in the Fall of 2017.  Use this essay as the platform to differentiate yourself, and remember to keep your tone light and authentic to give the school a better understand of who you are and how you will fit as a member of their incoming MBA class.

Just a few thoughts on the (not so) new batch of essays from Columbia Business School – hopefully this will help you get started with your own application. For more thoughts on Columbia and its application essays, check out our Essential Guide to Top Business Schools for free, here.

Applying to Columbia or other business schools? Call us at 1-800-925-7737 and speak with an MBA admissions expert today, or take our free MBA Admissions Profile Evaluation for personalized advice for your unique application situation! As always, be sure to find us on Facebook,YouTubeGoogle+ and Twitter.

Dozie A. is a Veritas Prep Head Consultant for the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University. His specialties include consulting, marketing, and low GPA/GMAT applicants. You can read more articles by him here.

What MBA Class Size is Best for You?

In ClassThere are many different characteristics that can factor into selecting the right business school for you. From school reputation, recruiting, and alumni network to teaching style and professors, MBA programs come in all shapes and sizes. One aspect that is often overlooked in the business school search process is class size – not to be confused with the size of individual classes within a school or by the size of the entire student body.

Why is this so important?  The class size of your MBA factors into many aspects of your business school experience and will continue to influence your career many years after matriculation. MBA programs like the Tuck School at Dartmouth or the Johnson School at Cornell boast tight knit cultures that offer small class sizes. By contrast, programs such as Harvard Business School, Columbia Business School and the Wharton School at Penn boast large class sizes with deep alumni networks.

So what type of environment is right for you? Only you can say, but consider the following:

Personality
What setting do you thrive in? For some, a bigger class size would be too overwhelming, while others might thrive in this setting but feel intimidated by the intimacy of a smaller class size. The decision to pursue an MBA is an intensely personal one, as is the type of program you choose, so be sure to reflect on your preferences to ensure the class size of the program you choose will mesh well with your unique personality.

Career
How will the class size of your target program impact your future career options? With a larger student body often comes more resources and access to a wider breadth of recruiters, however, such large a large student population also brings the risk of potentially finding yourself “lost” in the crowd of your classmates. Do some research and ensure the programs and recruiters necessary to support your career development align with the type of class you are looking to join.

Network
Are you more inclined to build small, closer relationships or broadly connect with many? Bigger programs can allow you to better address both of these options, while smaller programs may restrict your ability to accomplish the latter.

However, it is important to note that the culture of a school’s student community may play a more important factor than even overall class size. For example, Northwestern’s Kellogg School (a program with large class sizes) has historically been known to have very collaborative students, which counteracts the stereotypes commonly associated with programs of its size. This just goes to show that an MBA program can’t always be judged on its size.

As always, research is the key go beyond common stereotypes associated with programs of all sizes and make an informed decision as you construct your target school list or make a matriculation decision.

Applying to business school? Call us at 1-800-925-7737 and speak with an MBA admissions expert today, or take our free MBA Admissions Profile Evaluation for personalized advice for your unique application situation! As always, be sure to find us on Facebook, YouTube, Google+ and Twitter.

Dozie A. is a Veritas Prep Head Consultant for the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University. His specialties include consulting, marketing, and low GPA/GMAT applicants. You can find more of his articles here.

Breaking Down the 2017 U.S. News Ranking of Top Business Schools: Part 2

US News College Rankings

Make sure you check out Part 1 of this article before you begin reading more of our thoughts on the recently released U.S. News and World Report‘s 2017 ranking of Best Business Schools. Now let’s take a deeper look at some of the surprises this year’s rankings presented:

 

Ranking surprises 
We were quite surprised to see Columbia (#10) come behind Tuck and Yale this year (ranked #8 and #9 respectively). Columbia has a very high yield of admitted applicants who choose to attend the school, and it has been working hard to foster a more collaborative culture. However, Tuck’s employment statistics and remarkably high percentage of graduates receiving a signing bonus (87%!) play well to the U.S. News methodology. We shouldn’t sell Tuck short, though, as other intangibles at Tuck not included in this ranking — such as student satisfaction, alumni network, and tight-knit culture — also rate among the highest of any MBA program.

Yale snagged Dean Ted Snyder from Chicago Booth back in 2011 after he presided over its precipitous rise in the rankings. His magic potion seems to be working at Yale as well, and we’ve dubbed him the “Rankings Whisperer.” He thoroughly understands the drivers of rankings and pushes all levers to the max to improve the standings of his schools. Yale has begun to move away from its ties to the social and nonprofit sectors, driving up average starting salaries and recruitment percentages, but perhaps distancing the program from its roots.

University of Virginia’s Darden School always seems to be the sleeper success story, and this year is no exception. With its best placement in more than a decade, Darden came in at #11. Darden’s reputation amongst peer schools and recruiters is not as strong as most other programs ranked in the top 15, but it has a very strong starting salary/bonus and other statistics.

Be wary of average salary numbers
The U.S. News ranking incorporates average salary plus signing bonus in its rankings, which in theory, is not a bad thing. After all, many applicants desire to gain an MBA, at least in part, to improve their salary potential. However, we recommend that you look at salaries just like the rankings themselves—by using the numbers in a broader context. After all, the difference in average salary and bonus between Harvard (ranked #1 overall) and Cornell (ranked #14 overall), is less than $5,000 per year.

If you analyze the data industry-by-industry (as we have), you’ll find that there’s little difference in salaries coming out of the top 10 to 15 programs. The biggest difference is the percentage of graduates who are able to land positions in highly selective industries, such as private equity. But here’s the rub: most of these highly selective industries are looking for extremely qualified candidates who have pre-MBA experience that fits their needs. So even if you manage to squeeze into Harvard or Stanford, if you don’t have the pre-MBA experience that these firms are looking for, then you’re going to have a tough time getting an interview, much less landing a job, in the highest paying private equity or venture capital positions.

Also, some roles, such as in investment banking, do not have as high of base salaries or signing bonuses, but a high percentage of your income will come from performance-based quarterly and annual bonuses. Other roles simply pay less, such as marketing and product management, but remain very attractive to a significant number of MBA graduates. Schools with a higher percentage of graduates taking these roles, such as Kellogg, can have lower overall salary averages, when their graduates make as much or more than peers within their chosen industry. None of this information can be captured in the U.S. News ranking.

Bottom line: Are you likely to make more money coming out of a program ranked #5 than ranked #20? Yes. But should you let this number dictate your decision between #7 and #12? Not necessarily. There are many other factors to consider, such as whether your target companies, industries, and so forth.

A holistic approach
We’ve provided a bit of context and analysis around this year’s ranking, and we encourage you to use these lists as merely a starting point in your research process. We encourage you to take advantage of our Veritas Prep Essential Guide to Top Business Schools to assist in your process, as it’s now available for free on our website!

In addition, if you’re interested in finding out your chances of admission to the top schools, you can sign up for a free profile evaluation to explore your individual strengths and weaknesses. Veritas Prep has worked with thousands of successful applicants to the top business schools, and we look forward to assisting you on your own journey!

Travis Morgan is the Director of Admissions Consulting for Veritas Prep and earned his MBA with distinction from the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University. He served in the Kellogg Student Admissions Office, Alumni Admissions Organization and Diversity & Inclusion Council, among several other posts. Travis joined Veritas Prep as an admissions consultant and GMAT instructor, and he was named Worldwide Instructor of the Year in 2011. 

Columbia Business School Application Essays and Deadlines for 2014-2015

Columbia Business SchoolColumbia Business School has released its application deadlines and essays for the 2014-2015 admissions season. Like other business schools, Columbia has done some more trimming to its essays, which we discuss in more detail below.

Columbia stands out among top U.S. MBA programs because of its January intake in addition to the more common August/September intake. Columbia’s “J-Term” program allows students to complete their degrees in less than a year and a half, and is ideally suited for applicants who don’t need a summer internship — especially those who plan on returning to the same job or industry, and those who plan on starting their own business.

Here are the Columbia Business School application essays and deadlines for the 2014-2015 admissions cycle, followed by our comments in italics:

Columbia Business School Admissions Deadlines

January 2015 Entry: October 8, 2014
August 2015 Entry (Early Decision): October 8, 2013
August 2015 Entry (Merit Fellowship Consideration): January 7, 2015
August 2015 Entry (Regular Decision): April 15, 2015

Columbia is fairly unique among top business schools since uses a rolling admissions cycle. One way to look at it is that the one truly hard deadline for entry in Fall ’15 is the April deadline. The advice that we normally give regarding admissions deadlines still holds, though: We recommend that you apply early rather than later. Applying as late as March or April means competing for one of the very few seats still open at that point.

Also, remember that “Early Decision” means that you’re committing to attend Columbia if you are admitted. If you go back on your word, the worst that can happen is that you lose your deposit, but don’t forget the ethics of the situation: You take away a seat from someone who wants to attend Columbia more than you do. So, only exercise this option if Columbia truly is your first choice.

Columbia Business School Admissions Essays

Short Answer Question:
What is your immediate post-MBA professional goal? (75 characters maximum)

Wow! Last year more than one admissions consultant said, “This response can’t get any shorter,” when Columbia asked this same question and gave applicants just 100 characters to work with (down from 200 characters the year before). Now, after the school has chopped 25 characters, we’ll take a risk and say it: It’s hard to imagine this response getting much shorter!

Almost regardless of how few characters you have to work with here, your main takeaway is this: Columbia’s MBA admissions team truly just wants a super brief headline about your post-MBA career goals to better understand where you think you want to go with your degree. That’s it. Think of the Short Answer Question as the positioning statement for your short-term career goals. Do you want to be known as the applicant who wants to start a non-profit organization, or perhaps the applicant who wants to sharpen his skills and return to the technology sector as a business leader? Columbia provides some examples on its site, and you’ll see that there’s nothing particularly creative or special about them (e.g., “Work for an investment firm that focuses on real estate.”). Avoid the temptation to get too gimmicky here, but remember that this is the one thing (about your short-term career goals) that you want the admissions committee to remember.

Essay Questions:

  • Given your individual background and goals, why are you pursuing a Columbia MBA at this time? (500 words)

    This question carries over unchanged from last year, and so our advice mostly remains the same. This essay prompt is the fairly typical “Why an MBA? Why this school?: question that most business schools ask in their applications. Many applicants fail to adequately to explain why Columbia is the best place for them to earn their MBA, given the school’s culture, academic strengths, ties to certain industries, etc. Yes, Columbia has a big name and proximity to Wall Street. Those strengths are obvious. What else does Columbia offer that you can’t find anywhere else? And why — given where you’re coming from and where you want to go — is Columbia the best place for you to grow as a business leader? This is what the school is looking for when it asks about “fit.”
  • Please view the video below:
    The Center
    How will you take advantage of being “at the very center of business?” (250 words)

    This question is new this year, although it replaces a question that wasn’t radically different last year. Basically, Columbia swapped out two videos for this one, and changed the question’s wording a bit, but the meat the this question hasn’t changed dramatically. So, our take hasn’t changed much from what it was last year: We find it interesting that the Columbia MBA admissions team chose to put so much emphasis on its New York City roots — we don’t think that many applicants need to be alerted to the fact that Columbia is in Manhattan or need to be sold on the benefits of being in New York. If you want to go into finance, then your answer here will obviously touch upon this fact. (Columbia bills itself as “The Very Center of Business” in this video, but much of the message relies on New York City’s reputation as a global hub.)Don’t limit yourself just to this obvious New York City tie-in, however. What other benefits do you expect you will gain from living and learning in one of the biggest cities in the world? Also, We’ve noted before that Columbia doesn’t want to be viewed as a commuter school in the middle of a huge city… Keep this in mind as you spell out how you will fit in at Columbia. Especially if you already live in New York, be sure to emphasize that you’re excited about immersing yourself in the Columbia culture.

  • What will the people in your Cluster be pleasantly surprised to learn about you? (250 words)

    This question was new last year, and Columbia must like what it saw since the question returns unchanged for this year. This essay doesn’t need to be whimsical (although it can be), but it should present something that is interesting about you as a person, rather than rehashing something that’s already in your application or your resume. Go back to our comments above about fit and about Columbia wanting to build a strong community. Have an unusual hobby or funny story that people enjoy hearing? Can you think of something in your personal life that makes you feel very proud? This is the place to use it!

Like may other MBA programs, Columbia also provides space for an optional fourth essay. Our advice here is always the same: If you really do feel the need to explain something, then address it in this essay and then move on. Whatever you do, don’t dwell on it or provide that weakness with more stage time than it deserves!

Think you have what it takes to get into Columbia? Download our Essential Guide to Columbia Business School, one of our 14 guides to the world’s top business schools. If you’re ready to start building your own application for Columbia and other top business schools, call us at 1-800-925-7737 and speak with an MBA admissions expert today. And, as always, be sure to find us on Facebook and Google+, and follow us on Twitter!

By Scott Shrum

Columbia Business School Admissions Essays and Deadlines for 2013-2014

Columbia Business SchoolThis year Columbia Business School leads the charge, releasing its MBA application essay prompts before any other top business school. The school has also released the admissions deadlines for its two intakes in 2014.

Remember that Columbia is unique among top U.S. business schools because each year it has a large January intake in addition to the more common August/September intake. Columbia’s “J-Term” program allows students to complete their degrees in less than a year and a half, and is ideally suited for applicants who don’t plan on switching careers or may want to start their own venture after school. The January intake deadlines are also covered below.
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Columbia Launches New EMBA-Americas Program

Just weeks after ending its joint EMBA program with Haas, Columbia Business School has announced it will go it alone with a new executive program called EMBA-Americas. As its name suggests, the new program will serve experienced professionals living in North and South America.

While Columbia previously served EMBA students in New York and in the Bay Area (throughs its partnership with Haas), the school will now offer programs that meet in multiple locations in the Americas. In response to changing market conditions, Columbia will make an effort to bring the EMBA experience to students, in their local markets. According to the school’s website: “Columbia EMBA-Americas is designed for highly accomplished and motivated professionals who are looking to enhance their career with a top executive MBA degree, but whose location or schedule precludes them from attending the traditional alternating weekend format of Columbia’s EMBA New York Program.”
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Berkeley and Columbia to End Joint EMBA Program

They say breaking up is hard to do. Don’t tell that to Columbia Business School and UC Berkeley’s Haas School of Business, which announced that they will exit the Berkeley-Columbia Executive MBA Program in February 2013, when the current EMBA class graduates. In a joint announcement, the deans of the two schools said that the breakup was mutual, and was made in recognition of each program’s future plans.

The joint program, which has been around since 2002, was originally hailed as the ultimate “East Meets West” power combination, with Wall Street smart combining with Silicon Valley brains to create the next big thing in executive education. While the program has been a success by virtually any measure, one big thing has changed over the past decade: Both schools have announced or introduced their own in-house executive MBA options, leaving little room for the joint program.
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Columbia Business School Is a Good Fit for You If…

Columbia MBA Admissions GuideAmong Veritas Prep admissions consulting clients, Columbia Business School attracts more applications than all but several other schools. It’s no surprise, given how many grads Columbia places into high-paying Wall Street jobs every year. What may surprise you, though, is how many applicants apply to Columbia without really knowing whether or not it’s a good fit for them. We always urge these applicants to go back and do their homework a bit more before they start crafting their Columbia applications.

Are you thinking about applying to Columbia Business School? How do you know if Columbia really is a good fit for you? Today we present five reasons why Columbia may be the perfect school for you to target for your MBA experience:
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Is Columbia Business School a Commuter School?

Columbia MBA Admissions GuideToday we share an insider’s perspective from a current first-year Columbia Business School student. We asked him to share his thoughts on Columbia, the school’s culture, and whether or not the impression that some people have — that it’s a commuter school for many students — is true.

His guest blog post provides a terrific, candid take on what life is really like at Columbia. Read on!



I am absolutely in love with this place. I don’t know what it was like in previous years, but the class of 2013 are some of the most down-to-earth, friendly, outgoing, positive people I’ve met in my entire life. Everyone is there to help each other, learn about each other, have a good time, and cooperatively add value to each others’ experience. I had heard of Columbia’s reputation of being a “distant” almost “commuter” school, and certainly the idea of a stuffy Ivy League school in NYC, where many students likely have their own social networks and don’t need one more friend in the world did give me some pause, but I have simply not found that to be the case for anyone.
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Columbia Business School Admissions Essays for 2011-2012

Columbia MBA Admissions GuidePreviously we announced that Columbia Business School had released its admissions deadlines for the 2011-2012 application season. The school has also released its admissions essays, and we’ll dig into those today.

Note that the first step to applying to Columbia is to create an “Inside MBA” account on the school’s website. Columbia requires you to create a separate account on the school’s actual application site, too. This can be a little confusing, although Columbia seems to be working toward consolidating the two under the “Inside MBA” system.
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Columbia Business School Application Deadlines for 2011-2012

Columbia MBA Admissions GuideContinuing the trickle of new essays and deadlines coming from top schools for the 2011-2012 admissions season, Columbia Business School has released its deadlines for the new application season. Remember that Columbia is somewhat unique in that it not only has a September intake, but also a January one. This “J-Term” is really a 16-month program most suitable for someone who doesn’t need the benefit of an MBA summer internship. Columbia is also different in that it has a rolling admissions process without three discrete rounds, as is typical at most MBA programs.

Without further ado, here are Columbia’s application deadlines for the coming admissions season, followed by our comments in italics:
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Five Things That Make Columbia Business School Different

We get no shortage of inquiries about Columbia Business School from applicants. It’s no wonder, given the school’s strong ties to the banking sector and its Ivy League heritage. You would be surprised, however, by how many applicants don’t really know the school before they apply. We always urge these applicants to go back and do their homework a bit more before they start crafting their Columbia applications.

Are you thinking about applying to Columbia Business School? How do you know if Columbia really is a good fit for you? And, perhaps more importantly, how do you know if the Columbia admissions committee will decide that you’re a good fit for the school? Today we look at five things that set Columbia apart from other top-ranked MBA programs:
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Columbia Introduces New Three-Year JD/MBA Program

Columbia MBA Admissions GuideRecently Columbia Business School and Columbia Law School jointly announced a new three-year JD/MBA program, joining schools such as Northwestern and Yale that have seen these accelerated programs grow in popularity over the past few years. The new program will accept its first class in the fall of 2011.

While the program’s final details are still taking shape, this is what we know so far: Columbia JD/MBA students will spend their first and third years at the law school and their second year at the business school. Students must complete each school’s core curriculum requirements, and can enroll in electives cross-listed at both schools. JD/MBA students will also be able to choose from any electives listed solely at either school. These students will be considered full-fledged members of both Columbia Law School and Columbia Business School. As such, they will have access to all of the academic, networking, and career opportunities that all students can use in both schools.
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Columbia Business School Announces New EMBA Saturday Program

Continuing a string of Columbia Business School-related news, last week the school announced its new EMBA Saturday, a new variety of Columbia’s popular executive education program. The school’s existing program, now called the EMBA Friday-Saturday program, remains.

What’s the difference? As the names imply, one key difference is in when the classes meet. The Friday-Saturday program runs for 20 months, while EMBA Saturday runs over 24 months. In making this move, Columbia has acknowledged that there are some very good, high-potential managers who have not considered a Columbia EMBA because even missing some Fridays at work is not feasible for everyone.

One other key difference is that, while the traditional Friday-Saturday program requires employer sponsorship of time, the Saturday-only program does not. This makes sense, since students in the Friday-Saturday program miss one full day or work every other week. Employer sponsorship is still “welcome,” however. While the admissions game for EMBA programs is quite different from that of full-time MBA programs, we strongly recommend that you get your company to sponsor you (even if it’s just in spirit, not money) if you can. When a company does that, it sends a strong signal that you’re the kind of high-potential manager that Columbia looks for.

We recommend the interview that The Wall Street Journal did with Ethan Hanabury, Columbia’s senior associate dean for degree programs. In the interview Hanabury lays out the rationale by the school’s introduction of the new program and provides some hints as to what types of applicants Columbia looks for. Most importantly, note his comments about how the program was not designed with career switchers in mind.

Applying to Columbia this year? Take a look at our Columbia Annual Report, one of 15 free business school admissions guides written and edited by Veritas Prep’s team of admissions experts. And, as always, be sure to find us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter!

Henry Kravis Pledges $100 Million to Columbia Business School

Henry Kravis, a Columbia MBA (Class of 1969), made headlines yesterday when he announced a gift of $100 million to Columbia Business School. The donation will help fund the construction of Columbia Business School’s new facilities in Manhattanville, just north of the Columbia’s Morningside Campus.

Of course, when a man gives $100 million (the largest gift in the school’s history), the school has to put his name on something. Accordingly, one of the school’s two new buildings will be named The Henry R. Kravis Building in recognition of his gift. The new building will open “in about six years,” according to Dean Glenn Hubbard.

Henry Kravis is one of the most successful men on Wall Street. He is the co-founder, co-chairman, and co-CEO of Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Co. (KKR), the noted private equity and buyout firm. Kravis and his partners, as much as anyone else, pioneered the use of leveraged buyouts in the 1980s to tap into companies’ unrealized potential. All of the MBAs who rushed into private equity over the past 15 years have Kravis and his friends to thank for blazing that trail before them.

Kravis is no stranger to involvement at his alma mater, currently serving as the co-chair of the Columbia Business School’s Board of Overseers. He’s also been very active with his undergraduate school — donated $75 million in 2008 to Claremont McKenna College in 2008, which led to opening of that school’s new Kravis Center.

This is a real win for Columbia. Also the business school had already been slated to move into a new building in Manhattanville, the entire project (a very ambitious one) has already taken a long time to get off the ground, and the financial crisis of the past two years hasn’t helped. Uris Hall has long been one of our least favorite buildings (maybe our absolute least favorite) among top MBA programs’ facilities, and while you should choose a school for more than just its facilities, it’s been hard to overlook Uris Hall and its cramped setup. Even Dean Hubbard himself has acknowledged that the building has been a constraint for the school.

Who’s left? We’re still waiting for Kellogg to announce more definitive plans for its new building. By then, we will have completed the new (or at least significantly improved) building renaissance at nearly every top MBA program in the United States.

Applying to Columbia or other top business schools? Call us at (800) 925-7737 to speak with an MBA admissions expert and learn about how we can help you. And, as always, be sure to find us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter!

Columbia MBA Admissions Essays and Deadlines for 2010-2011

Last week Columbia Business School released its online application for the 2010-2011 admissions season. Oddly, they seem to make applicants create two accounts on their site: One on their “Inside MBA” site and one on Apply Yourself, which actually hosts Columbia’s online application.

Columbia’s application deadlines and admissions essays are below, followed by our comments, in italics:

Columbia Business School Application Deadlines
January 2011 Entry (“J-Term”): October 6, 2010
Early decision: October 6, 2010
Merit fellowship consideration: January 5, 2011
Regular decision: April 13, 2011

These deadlines are virtually the same as last year’s. Columbia has always been a little unusual compared to other top MBA programs because of its J-term intake, but that deadline neatly coincides with Harvard/Stanford/Wharton’s Round 1 deadlines. Also, note that Columbia Business School uses a rolling admissions schedule, so the only really firm deadline is the April 13 one. However, even though Columbia doesn’t have a traditional Round 1, Round 2, etc., our advice still holds: We recommend against applying at the last minute. Applying as late as March or April means competing for one of the very few seats still open at that point.

Columbia Business School Application Essays

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

    This question carried over unchanged from last year. It’s the standard “Why an MBA? Why this school?” question that many top MBA programs ask. Where some applicants miss the mark is in failing to explain why Columbia is the best place for them to earn their MBA, given the school’s culture, academic strengths, ties to certain industries, etc. Yes, Columbia has a big name and proximity to Wall Street. Those strengths are obvious. What else does Columbia offer that you can’t find anywhere else?

  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. (500 words)

    This question is new this year. It replaces last year’s question about Columbia’s Master Classes, which included a video prompt that applicants watched before answering the question. It seems as though that question didn’t give the Columbia admissions office what it wanted (i.e., helping them learn more about each applicant), so it replaced that question with one that very directly hits on the “Tell us more about you” theme. They clearly just want to get to know you better. If there’s any doubt about that, they explicitly add “rather than what you have achieved professionally.” Don’t be afraid to get a little casual here and show some personality. In this way, this new question is quite similar to the new “Introduce yourself to your future classmates” question on the new HBS application.

  3. (Optional) 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.)

    As we always advise, only use this essay if you need to explain a low undergraduate GPA or other potential blemish in your background. No need to harp on a minor weakness and sound like you’re making excuses when you don’t need any.

    It’s interesting to note that last year’s “team failure” essay is gone, leaving just two mandatory essays. Again, when a school drops an essay it usually isn’t giving the admissions office what it wants. Columbia must be looking to streamline its application, and that was the question that had to go.

Applying to Columbia this year? Before you do, download our Columbia Business School Annual Report, one of 15 completely free guides to the world’s top business schools, available on our site. Ready to get to work? Call us at (800) 925-7737 and speak with an MBA admissions expert today. And, as always, be sure to subscribe to this blog and follow us on Twitter!

Six Professors You Should Know at Columbia Business School

Business School Guides
Continuing our series of admissions insights clipped from Veritas Prep’s Annual Reports, our in-depth insider’s guides to 15 of the world’s top business schools, this week we look at six of Columbia Business School’s most popular professors. (Our Annual reports are absolutely free with registration, but we thought we’d share some snippets here to help get you started in your Columbia research.)

Every top-tier business school has its list of star faculty whom the students adore. The Columbia faculty is populated with many prominent business leaders, researchers, and teachers. Among Columbia students, there are a handful of professors who are considered a “must” to have for a class, due to their reputation both as educators and as experts:


Must-Have Professors at Columbia Business School
  • Bruce Greenwald, Robert Heilbrunn Professor of Finance and Asset Management. Among Columbia’s luminaries, few professors have reached the rock star or guru level of Finance Professor Bruce Greenwald. In addition to being the leading authority on value investing — or, as the New York Times put it, “the guru to the wall street gurus” –

Columbia Business School Essays and Deadlines for 2009-2010

As we round out our analysis of the top MBA program’s application essays, here are Columbia Business School’s application essays and deadlines for the September 2010 intake. Everything remains pretty the the same since last year, but we’ve put everything to make sure our readers have everything they need. Our comments follow in italics:

Columbia Business School Application Deadlines
Early Decision: October 7, 2009
Deadline for International Applicants: March 3, 2010
Deadline for U.S. Citizens & Permanent Residents: April 14, 2010

(No big changes here. These deadlines are nearly identical to last year’s.)

Columbia Business School Admissions Essays

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

    (This is a fairly standard question that you no doubt have seen on other applications. Where applicants tend to go wrong most often, though, is by failing to explain why specifically Columbia is the best place for them to earn their MBA. The school’s big name and proximity to Wall Street are obvious advantages, but what else does Columbia offer that you can’t find anywhere else?)

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

    (This question was new last year, but carries over unchanged this year. Columbia’s emphasis on its Master Classes is clear — the admissions committee seeks applicants who have rolled up their sleeves and made thing happen, rather than pure theorists. They’ll also looking for introspection — ideally you can illustrate what you learned, the impact it had on you, and how it made you a better business manager or leader.)

  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?

    (This question also carries over unchanged after being new last year. We’re glad that this is a required question. Every year we talk to many clients who ask, “Are you sure I should discuss any failures in my application?” Yes, you definitely should, as long as you can show how you grew from the experience. In this way, your answer could end up overlapping with your answer to #2. So, it’s best to not use a failure story for #2, and to save your failure story for this question.)

For more advice on applying to Columbia, visit Veritas Prep’s Columbia Business School information page. For even more advice on applying to Columbia, download our FREE Veritas Prep Annual Reports! And, to get the most up-to-date information on Columbia and all other top business schools, be sure to follow us on Twitter!

Columbia January 2010 Term Admission Essays and Deadlines

Two weeks ago Columbia started accepting applications for the January 2010 intake of its accelerated MBA program. There is just a single deadline — October 7, 2009 — and the school promises a response time of eight weeks after an application goes into review. Below are the Columbia J-Term’s admissions essays, with our comments in italics:

Columbia January Term Admissions Essays

  1. What are your short-term and long-term post-MBA goals? How will Columbia Business School help you achieve these goals? (750 words)
  2. (This is the fairly standard “Why an MBA? / Why this school?” question, but your answer will need to be a little more focused than the answer that an applicant would submit to a typical two-year program. The J-Term is especially designed for young professionals who plan to return to their current employers or otherwise don’t need the benefit of a summer internship to transition to a new career, and Columbia will closely look for evidence that you understand the pros and cons that such an accelerated program offers.)

  3. Master Classes are the epitome of bridging the gap between theory and practice at Columbia Business School. (View link.) Please provide an example from your own life in which practical experience taught you more than theory alone. (500 words)
  4. (The important takeaway for you as an applicant is that Columbia prides itself on its Master Classes, so make sure you understand what they are and why they are important to the Columbia academic experience. Columbia, like many other top schools, has made a push to better connect the theory covered in its core classes with the practical challenges that its graduates will face, and Master Classes are the school’s way of doing that. For your response, while this question doesn’t specifically ask about a professional failure, such an example might provide you with rich material for a response. Just be sure to emphasize what you learned as a result, and, ideally, how you applied this lesson later on. Even though the next question specifically asks for a failure, don’t be afraid to use another failure for this question if that would answer the question best.)

  5. 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? (500 words)
  6. (As we always say, the admissions office is most interested in what you learned from such a failure. Although the second part of this question asks a theoretical question — What would you do? — ideally you can describe a time when you applied what you learned to another real-life situation, thus preventing the same problem from happening again.)

  7. (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.)
  8. (Use this space wisely. If there is a glaring weakness in your profile, and you have not already addressed in somewhere else in your application, then you can use this space to succinctly address it. However, do not dwell on your weaknesses, go on and on with excuses about something that happened ten years ago, or unduly draw attention to a minor weakness!)

For more advice on applying to Columbia, visit the Veritas Prep Columbia Business School information page. And for more information on MBA application deadlines, visit our business school application deadlines area!

Columbia Application Essays for 2008-2009

Columbia Business School’s online application is available for the 2008-2009 season. Below are are this year’s Columbia application deadlines and admissions essays (our comments are in italics):

Columbia Business School Application Deadlines
Jan. ’09 Accelerated Program: October 8, 2008
Sep. ’09 Class, Early Decision: October 8, 2008
Sep. ’09 Class, International Applicants: March 4, 2009
Sep. ’09 Class, U.S. Applicants: April 15, 2009

(Remember that Columbia uses a rolling admissions process. No need to get your application in before it’s ready, but don’t wait until the last minute, either. As you should with other schools, you should assume that Columbia’s class starts to fill up as you approach the deadline, making it that much harder to get in.)

Columbia Business School Application Essays

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

    Columbia Application Video

    (This is new, and replaces last year’s question that had applicants read a speech by Dean Glenn Hubbard and write a reaction. Columbia’s emphasis on its Master Classes is clear — the admissions committee seeks applicants who have rolled up their sleeves and made thing happen, rather than pure theorists. They’ll also looking for introspection — ideally you can illustrate what you learned, the impact it had on you, and how it made you a better business manager or leader.)

  3. Essay 3: Please provide an example of a team failure of which you