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!