U.S. News 2015 Best Colleges

Applying to College? Check out our College Admissions 101 Pages!Last week U.S. News released the 30th edition of its college rankings. New information found on school profile pages (but not taken into consideration for rankings) include data on campus crime and security and a summary of three-year federal loan default rates. Interesting categories for ranking include Economic Diversity, Campus Ethnic Diversity, and Best Colleges for Veterans.

Here are some highlights:

Top 10 Best U.S. Universities

1. Princeton University (NJ)
2. Harvard University (MA)
3. Yale University (CT)
4. Columbia University (NY)
4. Stanford University (CA)
4. University of Chicago (IL)
7. Massachusetts Institute of technology (MA)
8. Duke University (NC)
8. University of Pennsylvania (PA)
10. California Institute of Technology (CA)

Top 5 Best Value Universities

1. Harvard University (MA)
2. Princeton University (NJ)
3. Yale University (CT)
4. Stanford University (CA)
5. MIT (MA)

Top 5 Best Value Liberal Arts Colleges

1. Amherst College (MA)
2. Williams College (MA)
3. Pomona College (CA)
4. Wellesley College (MA)
5. Soka University of America (CA)

Top 10 Best Undergraduate Business Programs

1. University of Pennsylvania (PA)
2. MIT (MA)
2. University of California – Berkeley (CA)
4. University of Michigan – Ann Arbor (MI)
5. New York University (NY)
6. University of North Carolina – Chapel Hill
6. University of Virginia (VA)
8. Carnegie Mellon University (PA)
8. Indiana University – Bloomington (IN)
8. University of Texas – Austin

John Byrne from Poets & Quants provides an analysis of these rankings (the undergraduate business ones) and shares additional highlights from the top 50, including the following:

• Within the top 10 and certainly within the top 5, there was little change from last year – just a little switching around here and there, including Cornell and Notre Dame which both fell from the top 10, from 10th place last year to 11th this year.

• Big jumpers in the top 25 include the University of Georgia and Michigan State which both climbed six spots to 21st place (they share this position with six other programs, including University of Maryland, which fell three places this year). In the top 50, University of Pittsburgh took the largest leap, from 49th place last year to 39th this year. Babson jumped five places from 34th to 29th.

• Ohio State University fell four places, finishing in 20th this year; Southern Methodist University dropped seven spots from 38th last year to 45th this year.

• Wharton received the highest score (4.8 out of 5) on the index scale (1 being “marginal” and 5 being “distinguished”).

See the U.S. News Ranking Methodology and the P&Q article for details on how these schools were ranked.

For a critique of the U.S. News rankings (and how the rankings actually hurt students and applicants), see this Vox article.

Download Free: Preparing for College in High School: A To-Do List for Eleventh Graders

Accepted.com: Helping You Write Your Best

Related Resources:

• Tips for Answering Common Application Essay Prompts
• 3 Mistakes Successful College Applicants Don’t Make
• Getting Ready to Apply to Top Tier Colleges and Universities: A Four Part Series for Freshmen, Sophomores, Juniors and Seniors

An Indian B-School Hopeful Racking Up the Work Experience

MBA Applicant Bloggers


This interview is the latest in an Accepted.com blog series featuring interviews with MBA applicant bloggers, offering readers a behind-the-scenes look at the MBA application process. And now…introducing Balaji.

Accepted: First, can you tell us a little about yourself? Where are you from? Where and what did you study as an undergrad? What is your favorite non-school book? 

Balaji: I’m based on out Bangalore, India. I currently work as a Program Management Analyst in a Fortune 100 company. I did my undergrad in Bachelor of Engineering (Electronics & Instrumentation Engineering) from Anna University, Chennai.

I love reading fictional and history books. My favorite ones have been Dan Brown’s series and my most favorite book related to history is Glimpses of World History by Nehru.

Accepted: What stage of the admissions process are you up to? 

Balaji: I did not start my application process yet. As I currently only have 3 and a half years of experience. And after thorough study, I thought I would require 5 years of experience to have a good chance of getting into top b-schools as the average WE is 5 years.

Last year, I tried applying to one b-school to get some experience in the application process. But I was dinged without interview, and I think it was due to my WE, as I had only 2 years of experience while applying.

Accepted: Do you plan on staying in your current industry post-MBA, or changing to a new field/career?

Balaji: I haven’t decided on that yet. I wanted to stay in my field for sometime post-MBA, as I love Project/Program Management – rather to generalize I love management/operational stuffs.

Also I have a plan to start my own business at some point in future.

Accepted: As an Indian male in the software industry (a highly represented applicant group), you’re going to need to work hard to distinguish yourself from the crowd. What are some things that set you apart from your competition? 

Balaji: Yes, I belong to Indian-Male category but not in software industry any more. My previous employer was a top 15 IT service provider in the world. But as soon I was done with my undergrad, I wanted to pursue an MBA. So I avoided any software related jobs in my previous employer, so I worked as Enterprise Project Management Analyst. After 3 years working with CGI. I moved to Honeywell (here I work for Aero Division). I thought working in Fortune 100 Company will make my profile/application more visible and strong.

Now moving onto distinguishing myself from the highly represented group, below are my extra-curricular activities I presently do/did during my work, undergrad and high school.

A.    Student Coordinator in National Entrepreneurship Network during my last 2 years of my undergrad.

B.    Core Cultural Committee member during my last 2 years of my undergrad – in charge/single point of contact for all technical related activities.

C.    Was a Sergeant of National cadet corps in my high school.

D.    Was a vice-captain of my high school football (soccer) team.

E.    Was core member in corporate social responsibility team at my previous employer. We conducted many charity and fundraiser events for orphanages, etc.

F.    Certified Competent Communicator and Competent leader from Toastmasters International. And also served as Vice President Education for 2 terms.

G.    Finally was a core member in Employee Welfare Association club at my previous employer.

On Entrepreneurship: My in-law runs an event management company. I take care of the business when he is held up with other important works or on travel.

Accepted: Why did you decide to blog about your experience? What have you gained from the experience? What do you hope others will learn?

Balaji: There isn’t a better way than forums and blogs to tell everyone around the world who is currently preparing for the GMAT/MBA application that it is easy to get into top b-school with your efforts and perseverance. I thought, if I start blogging about my experience I can learn my mistakes. (In PM terminology: We always to tend to document our project plan and risks etc., so that it will be helpful for the lessons learnt at the end of the project.)

And for others, there will always be room to improve from one’s own mistakes from others’ mistakes/experiences.

You can read more about Balaji’sb-school journey by checking out his blog, GNPTH: My GMAT/MBA Journey. Thank you Balaji for sharing your story with us – we wish you loads of luck!

For one-on-one guidance on your b-school application, please see our MBA Application Packages.

MBA admissions tips for Indian applicants! Download Free.

Accepted.com: Helping You Write Your Best

Related Resources:

GMAT 101 Page
Best MBA Programs: A Guide to Selecting the Right One
Entrepreneurship & the MBA

Is Your MBA Application Ready to Go Live?

FinalCheck1Wait! Are you sure you’re ready to hit submit? Are you certain that your MBA application is in tip-top condition and ready to go live? Don’t you want a definitive stamp of approval? An A+ grade that will enable you to send off your application with confidence?

With Accepted’s new Final Check service, you’ll receive a final review and critique of your essays, resume, and short answer/optional question responses. Our expert consultants will let you know what you can do to further optimize your application to get it ready for submission.

Now’s the time to get your Final Check…especially with the following deadlines right around the corner:

• Sept. 23 – MIT Sloan
• Sept. 24 – INSEAD and Kellogg
• Sept. 26 – Booth
• Oct. 1 – Stanford, Haas, Johnson, and Wharton

Give Your MBA Application that Final Check!

Submit with confidence! Get your Final Check today!

Accepted.com: Helping You Write Your Best

Tips for Answering Columbia University Supplemental Essay Prompts

New York CityThis post about the Columbia supplement to the Common Application is part of a series of posts written to help you complete the 2015 Common Application supplement for Ivy League and other top schools.  

In addition to the basic Common Application essay, the Ivy League schools require supplemental essay responses. These extra essays help these elite schools gain a deeper understanding of the applicant. They are your opportunity to explain how the school is a good match for you and vise versa. These schools want to know what is important to you and how they fit into your future goals!

Note that you can apply via the Common Application or the Columbia First-Year Application. The school has no preference; however, applicants can only submit ONE of the applications.

When addressing each prompt, consider the overall character and focus of the school in relationship to your personal objectives. Visit the school website, read about their educational mission, and think about how the school supports your interests. Columbia takes pride in the synergy created between its diverse residential student population and its location in the heart of bustling New York City. It also embraces a rich educational tradition in its interdepartmental Core Curriculum that encourages creative critical thinking by encompassing writing, science, philosophy, literature, art, music, and history.

What single activity listed in the activity section of your Common Application are you most proud of and why? (150 words or less)

This is an opportunity to highlight one of the activities you listed on your Common Application. Select an activity that reveals something important to you. This may be something you have been involved with for years or an experience that exposed you to something novel. Whichever activity you select, make sure to convey your enthusiasm and what it reflects about you. If appropriate, tie your interests to opportunities available at Columbia and in NYC.

Please tell us what you find most appealing about Columbia and why. (300 words or less)

This is a very important question. You need to convince the admissions committee that Columbia is the best school to help you meet your goals. You also have to show them how you can enrich the dynamic educational environment at Columbia. Discuss what excites you most about the Columbia experience. They want to know what kind of student you might be at Columbia.

Columbia University requires additional essay responses for students applying to Columbia College and The Fu Foundation School of Engineering and Applied Science:

If you are applying to Columbia College, tell us what from your current and past experiences (either academic or personal) attracts you specifically to the field or fields of study that you noted in the Member Questions section. If you are currently undecided, please write about any field or fields in which you may have an interest at this time. (300 words or less)

If you are applying to The Fu Foundation School of Engineering and Applied Science, please tell us what from your current and past experiences (either academic or personal) attracts you specifically to the field or fields of study that you noted in the Member Questions section. (300 words or less)

Both of these prompts ask you to consider your interests and experiences that helped you determine your specific career path. If you are truly undecided, in the Columbia College response, focus on the areas you are currently interested in, what excites you about those topics, and your hopes for the future. These prompts ask you to think broadly about your life experience as well as provide specific examples of how these experiences affected your interests and propelled you toward a particular area of study. Your discussion should reveal your passion for the subject. Remember to include why the program at Columbia is the best match to help you achieve your goals.

In addition to essay responses, Columbia requests the following lists. As you select required readings, books, and other forms of media, think about the breadth and depth of your interests. Consider how your selections represent your identity, reflect your intellect and curiosity, relate to Columbia’s Core Curriculum requirements, and make you a good match for the overall educational experience at Columbia.

List the titles of the required readings from courses during the school year or summer that you enjoyed most in the past year. (150-words or less)

This is an opportunity to showcase a particular area of interest to you. Consider classes, which you discovered something new and exciting, allowed you to explore a previous area of interest in more depth, or covered a topic that helped you see the world in a different way.

List the titles of the books you read for pleasure that you enjoyed most in the past year. (150-words or less)

The admissions committee wants to know the sorts of topics that you find interesting. What better way than to share your recent favorite books? They are trying to gain a deeper sense of who you are and how you might fit in at Columbia. This list sheds some light on how you spend your spare time.

List the titles of the print, electronic publications and websites you read regularly. (150-words or less)

The sources of information and media you engage with routinely provide insights into how you perceive the world. This list to some degree demonstrates what topics are important to you. It also indicates the modes of information exchange you find most comfortable.

List the titles of the films, concerts, shows, exhibits, lectures and other entertainments you enjoyed most in the past year. (150-words or less)

This list is allows you to tell the admissions committee the sorts of activities you do for fun! Your responses suggest the kinds of activities that may appeal to you at Columbia and provide insight about how you engage the world around you.

The admissions website clearly states Columbia’s commitment to a holistic approach to the admission process: “every single application is given a thorough review, and there is positively no minimum grade point average, class rank, or SAT/ACT score one must obtain in order to secure admission to Columbia.” That said Columbia has a highly competitive applicant pool. It received 32,964 undergraduate applications for the class of 2018. Only 2,291 or 7% were offered admission and over 90% of students admitted were in the top 10% of their high school class with average SAT scores of 2245 and an average ACT score of 33. Your essays make you more than a number.

In this environment it is essential to remain calm and focused. Keep in mind, while adhering to the designated word limits and deadlines, your goal is to distinguish yourself from your peers by sharing your personal examples, anecdotes, and perspectives. In short, by providing sincere insight into what makes you, you! And why you are a good match for Columbia! Be sure to allow yourself appropriate time to reflect on your educational goals and to convey your best self to the admissions committee through your essay responses.

Download 5 Fatal Flaws to Avoid to learn how to eliminate the most common flaws in your application essays.

Marie Todd By , Accepted’s college admissions specialist. Marie has worked in college admissions for over twenty years. She has both counseled applicants and evaluated applications. Most recently she evaluated 5000+ applications for the University of Michigan’s College of Literature, Science and the Arts; College of Engineering; School of Kinesiology. She is available to assist you (or your child) with your applications.

Related Resources:

•  Tips for Answering Common Application Essay Prompts
•  Tips for Answering Brown University Supplemental Essay Prompts
•  7 Signs an Experience Belongs in Your Application Essay

Honing in On the Cornell Johnson MBA

Click here for the full recording of our conversation with Ann Richards. There is no place like Ithaca. And if you don’t know why, you are about to find out.

Listen to the recording of our conversation with Ann Richards, Interim Director of Admissions and Director of Financial Aid at Johnson at Cornell University to learn more.

00:02:06 – A run-down of the Johnson MBA programs.

00:06:34 – Overview of the 2-year MBA program.

00:12:25 – Performance Learning (Is it different from “experiential learning”?) and Immersions.

00:18:17 – The student-run funds at Johnson: not monopoly money.

00:21:41 – The Family Business Initiatives.

00:25:27 – The Johnson application! (What you really wanted to hear about)

00:28:54 – Admissions events for subgroups.

00:33:06 – What applicants should think about/do before starting the admissions process.

00:41:48 – What Ann LOVES to see in an MBA application.

00:42:46 – Take note: Advice for all MBA applicants.

Listen to the full conversation to learn more!*Theme music is courtesy of podcastthemes.com.

Related Links:

Johnson at Cornell University  
Johnson at Cornell University 2015 MBA Essay Tips & Deadlines
• 7 Tips for MBA Applicants from Family Businesses
• Smith Family Business Initiative 
The Cayuga Fund 
• Where Does Wall St. Hire: U.S. B-Schools Sending Grads into Financial Services 

Related Shows:

Dr. Douglas Stayman Shares the Scoop on Cornell Tech NYC
• 5 Million to Share: The 43North Competition
• The Tuck School of Business and the Global Insight Requirement

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