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Columbia Business School

Not everybody gets admitted to his or her favorite schools. Sometimes, we wonder “if not me, then who?” “What does it take to get into the best B-Schools around? In our next few posts we will look at three schools: Columbia, UCLA and Vanderbilt, to see what it takes.


Interviews and Applications

UCLA’s Anderson School of Management received 30% more applicants in round one of 2007 than in 2006. This means, for one, that the school is changing its interview process for efficiency purposes and two, it is that much harder to get in. Now interviews are by invitation only. In other words, you may not get the chance to show the admissions team at Anderson who you are in your own words, so your application must be stellar.

If you do get the interview, be sure to be prepared. Know your resume inside and out and be able to speak to it without a second thought.

Lydia Heyman, director of MBA admissions at Anderson also has a few tips for one of the more mysterious application questions: the inevitable “is there anything else you would like to say” question.

- Out of the job? Explain why.
- Get a poor grade in undergrad? Explain why.

You have the opportunity to shed some additional light on something that without your story may not seem so positive. At this point in the application it seems best to elaborate as much as you can.

Scores and Experience

The admissions team also knows how hard the application process can be to get into a top business school. The phrase Tough Competition comes up at Manhattan Review quite often for a reason. The demand for an MBA from a top tier school is high and making your application stand out is no job for the faint of heart.

At UCLA last year there were 3,200 applications for 360 spots. Surely, most of those applicants had high test-scores and great grades in undergrad. It is a best practice to make your essay shine. Unfortunately, this is much harder than requesting a transcript. Here are some more tips:

- Give an example of past leadership experience, or something that says you have leadership potential for a management position
- Show them that you can do well on the job market. How can you contribute to the business world?
- Will you be able to give back to the school later in life?

If this sounds troublesome, you should know that UCLA students on average have just under 5 years of work experience. There is a trend, according to Heyman, of business schools taking students right out of undergrad: so called “early career admits.” In fact, some schools may devote a higher percentage of their admissions to that group. Heyman says this is not necessarily the case with Anderson, but it is still something to be aware of. The question remains: how do you get a glowing recommendation from someone in the business world, when you have not yet been in the business world?

The GMAT, as usual, seems to either be your ticket to stardom or the bearer of bad news. Last year, Anderson required in the range of 580 to 780 on the GMAT to be considered. This year, you need a 680 minimum. The reasoning behind this score is that UCLA considers itself to be a quantitative program. The school wants your knowledge of algebra and calculus (though not a part of GMAT) to be at a high level on day one.

Anderson accepted 117 non-US students out of 359 total admissions. If you are not based out of an English speaking country, UCLA requires proficiency in English and a TOEFL score submission. Besides that, says Heyman, there are no other requirements.

Still want to go to UCLA Anderson? Remember:

- Take time to develop an outstanding application, because you may not have the opportunity to interview
- If you get an interview, prepare thoroughly and know your resume well
- Have enough experience to get a recommendation from an employer, but if you anticipate the “early career admit” trend to intensify, don’t wait too long to apply.
- Aim for at least a 680 on the GMAT. Make sure you are prepared to demonstrate a high level of quantitative knowledge.

UCLA is looking to expand its representation globally, so whoever you are and wherever you come from, don’t hesitate to apply – just make sure you have the credentials.

Posted on February 25, 2008 by Manhattan Review

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On January 5 and 6, 2008 we were busy at our 2-day course MBA Boot Camp – Communication and Culture held in conjuction with Columbia University’s Chazen Institute International Orientation. Manhattan Review instructors John Beer and Susan Civale taught a diverse group of non-native English speaking Columbia MBA students. The course covered an array of what we call Smart Business Talk topics, such as:

· Accent Reduction · Grammar Specifics · Effective Writing · Cultural Etiquette· Useful Common Idioms· Sports-Related Expressions· Presentational Skills

Coffee and breakfast were provided in the mornings, which jump-started full days of learning and interaction. The classroom was a good size, tiered, and half-circle shaped, which facilitated interaction between instructor and students. Each student received personalized instruction especially on the accent reduction sections. They enjoyed the interaction and enthusiasm from our instructors.

Students were intrigued by the lessons covering sports-related expressions. They learned about phrases such as “the ball’s in one’s court” and when to appropriately use them. They also learned origins of idioms and common uses. For example, Winston Churchill coined the phrase “blood, sweat and tears” in his first speech as prime minister.

One of the favorite components of the seminar was when students could work together on group presentations. During this section, students were put into small groups and given a topic that needed to be applied to their various cultures. For example, one group had to present on common practices, regulations, and codes in high schools from their own cultures. Students were eager to learn about each other’s cultural practices and norms.

Students found the individual presentation section to be the most challenging yet rewarding experience. Unlike the group presentations, this section involved no preparation time. Each student was given a topic and then had to address the audience with a short presentation. Prior to the students’ performances, they reviewed presentational skills about both verbal and non-verbal communication. Impromptu presentations, although challenging, are common in both B-school classes and the work place. These kinds of presentation skills are essential for the field.

We work hard to ensure that students who seek to attend B-school can achieve their goals whether they wish to pursue their degree in their native country or travel aboard. This is why we offer TOEFL, Career Training, and Advanced English courses in addition to GMAT courses. We take pride in the positive feedback received from students and in our relationships with various highly regarded B-schools.