Our Insider Top Tips on Applying to Ten Top Schools – Columbia

September 16, 2014 | by Matt Symonds

Attending business school in New York City is a unique experience and those attracted to the fast pace of a global city should consider Columbia Business School (CBS). The symbiotic relationship between Columbia and the business world is a major program benefit, and the school notes that more business leaders visit Columbia’s campus than any other top business school. Columbia highlights that it is at the “center of business”, helping bright students think like entrepreneurs and develop as leaders.

Although its ties to the financial industry are one of its greatest strengths, CBS also stands out in other areas such as social enterprise and entrepreneurship. Based on its NYC location, the program hires a large number of business executives to teach classes, providing students with real-world expertise and knowledge. CBS students also have the opportunity to consult on real-world business issues through the school’s Master Classes. These are project-based electives for second-year MBA students to practice and master core concepts by applying these to modern business problems.

One of the most competitive b-schools in terms of admissions statistics, this past year there were 5,799 applications with just 1,056 of these applicants admitted, and 743 applicants enrolled. In addition to its August full-time class, CBS accepts students for a January start program (however, there is no break for a summer internship for the January intake).

If you are considering Columbia, try to visit the campus and speak to students to learn as much as possible about the program and the benefits of getting your MBA in NYC. You will even be asked to write about this in one of your essays! As you prepare your application to Columbia, here are a few admissions tips to consider.

Columbia Tip #1 – Advantages of applying early

Columbia Business School operates on a rolling admissions process – both for early and regular decisions – and applications are reviewed in the order that they are received. There are clear advantages for applying early to Columbia, as the pool will be smaller and your application will likely gain greater visibility. In fact Columbia offers Early Decision, which commits you to the school if you are admitted. But for a school that feels its New York location and Ivy League pedigree should make it a compelling choice for MBA applicants, it consistently loses people to the likes of HBS and Wharton. So if you want to send a signal of your commitment to CBS, Early Decision is a great way to do so. Don’t wait until a final deadline to apply since applications are reviewed shortly after they are received.

Columbia Tip #2 – Work experience

On average, Columbia Business School students come into the program with five years professional experience and most have at least three years. If you have less than three years of full-time work experience, it will be much harder to get admitted. You will have to demonstrate to Admissions that your professional experience is either unusual or differentiating; or that you have had some significant achievements, despite your shorter professional experience.

Columbia Tip #3 – Location, location, location

Particularly given Columbia’s new branding campaign (“At the very center of business”), the importance of the business school’s location becomes more important to recognize than ever. One of the essay questions specifically asks about how the city will impact your experience. If you aren’t currently in NYC, you need to show the Admissions team that you understand what it would be like to live there and how you would take advantage of all that it has to offer (for instance, speaker series, internships, networking).

And of course New York is more than just Wall Street. From media to advertising, consulting to real estate, the school has faculty expertise and Centers of Excellence that reflect the diversity of the Big Apple. The new Columbia Startup Lab launched in June ’14 in NYC’s Silicon Alley, helping CBS students and alumni develop their new ideas and pursue their ventures after graduation. The city is fast-paced, cosmopolitan and decisive, so how do you fit into Columbia’s New York culture?

For the additional top 10 insider tips on Columbia Business School click here, and for other b-school application tips see our Fortuna videos.

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