Admissions Update Part 3: Columbia School of Business

Columbia University is among many students’, MBA or otherwise, “dream” schools and can seem like an intimidating place. Its admissions percentage in the past few years has dropped 1%, from 17 to 16. Today we will see how Columbia’s admissions system works, what they expect from their applicants, and what make Columbia Business School special.

Admissions and Letters of Recommendation

Columbia is unique in that it has rolling admissions rather than rounds. Rolling admission is a system where there is either no set date by which applications must be in, or the deadline is at the end of a very long stretch of time. Sometimes a school accepts applications until the class has been filled. Each applicant is considered individually. According to Columbia GSB’s website, the application review for September 08 admission began on January 9, 2008 and the deadline is April 16th 2008 for US students. The decision period for the Columbia admissions team is 12 weeks.

This system has the benefit of giving the student leeway as to when they get their applications done. However it can also be seen as equivalent to having a system of rounds: Many admissions experts will still tell you to get your application in as early as possible. The school also offers an early decision (ED) option (deadline typically by mid-August for the following Fall) but you have to withdraw your applications to other schools if you want to do this. The school takes ED quite seriously calling it an “honor pledge.” In addition to withdrawing all other applications, you must pay a deposit. You are “ethically” bound due to this pledge, says Columbia. If you are not absolutely sure about Columbia, do not apply for Early Decision.

As far as recommendations go, Columbia would like you get one from the person that knows you best and can speak to your accomplishments and strong character points. The recommendation, similar to at other schools, should focus on how you will contribute to the business community and be a leader. Columbia asks the recommender to respond to 10 specific questions. The form is on Columbia GSB’s website.

Key admissions points at Columbia:

- You have the option of applying Early Decision or Regular Decision (January or September intake)
- All of these options are Rolling Admissions
- If you are completely 100% sure about Columbia, applying for ED may increase your chances
- If you are not 100%, be very, very wary of applying for ED
- If you are not admitted during the ED process, you will be rolled into the Regular Decision pool

Columbia’s Advantages

There are many benefits to getting your MBA from Columbia. One of which is its location in New York City. Because of the presence of industry and the sheer number of powerful business leaders, Columbia offers their students exposure to the best and brightest of the business community in New York.

- There are many industry professionals teaching courses at Columbia who often bring in guest speakers
- Because of the different industries, Columbia is able to offer specialized programs, e.g. for students interested in venture capital, real estate and entrepreneurship

Some key points to realize in applying to Columbia are that they have a number of admissions options including early decision and regular decision January and September intake. Remember that the processes for these can be subtly different, so prove that you are indeed detail oriented and get the process down. Columbia is extremely selective so make your application as best as it can be. Don’t worry if you don’t get in on your first try. Columbia GBS, similar to other Columbia graduate schools, has a specific system for re-applying which may be a testament to their education authority. If you are interested, the school offers a link to the re-apply page from their admissions website. When you are looking for a recommender, try to focus on people who know you well and know that you can be a leader in and out of the classroom. Columbia needs to know how you will contribute to global business after you graduate.

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Posted on February 29, 2008 by Manhattan Review

This entry was posted in Admissions, Career, MBA and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to Admissions Update Part 3: Columbia School of Business

  1. EdColumbian

    Comment posted on March 5, 2008. Bookmark the permalink.

    I applied Early to Columbia a for several reasons: (1) Location (2) Curriculum, (3) Profs. I got in and was basically so happy to have this aspect of the next couple year decided. I can move on now and think further. For me, applying ED was great. I feel now like I can just hang out for the next few months before beginning school.