On May 30, Association of International Graduate Admissions Consultants (AIGAC) conference attendees had the privilege and pleasure of learning firsthand from Columbia Business School admissions officials, professors, students, and administrators about latest developments at CBS.
One big takeaway for me – CBS admissions has become friendlier, more welcoming. And more transparent. (“More” relative not just to the past but to MBA adcoms generally.)
These changes reflect the idea that, ultimately, constructive success in business (and life) comes down to people, human beings. It was reflected during the conference in multiple ways: the warm reception we received from the adcom members, plus their openness and frankness during discussions; the heightened emphasis in the program elements (structure, curriculum, extracurriculars, etc.) on developing individual students into responsive, responsible leaders; and the student representatives’ frequent and enthusiastic references to their supportive community.
This is not to say that Columbia doesn’t still require academic rigor. Or is softening its high admission standard. Or that math and analytics are out the window… They’re just important in a broader context.
The adcom reps report that they seek applicants who:
• Are or have the capacity and character to be knowledge creators
• Demonstrate strong commitment
• Go out and have an impact
Clearly, character is as important as smarts in Columbia’s equation.
And character is addressed immediately for incoming students. A scintillating presentation by Kathy Phillips, Paul Calello Professor of Leadership and Ethics, gave us a taste of her 6-day LEAD block leadership course, People, Teams, Organizations. This course heightens students’ self-awareness through activities and dialogue to become leaders who “elicit high commitment and productivity from people and groups.” Professor Phillips notes that this course ends up influencing students’ subsequent course selections and perspectives.
Additional points of note:
• The January entry is not just for people with family businesses, but also for people who have solid enough networks and/or networking skills in their industry that they don’t need the summer internship.
• The career services – ACE – feature three dimensions: Advisors, Coaches, and Executives-in-residence.
• Many current students volunteer to email with prospective applicants to share their experiences and answer questions – use this resource to gain a student’s-eye-view of the program! You can sign up on the Columbia website.
• Some things remain the same in Columbia admissions, e.g., in the goals essay, specific is good. And they want to see applicants convey fit. The adcom now has so many resources on the web that it’s easier to research Columbia Business School from a distance than previously.
• As someone who works with many applicants to top EMBA programs, I asked what the EMBA adcom learns from the GMAT – since some other top EMBA programs no longer require a standardized test and since the GMAT score need not be super-high (indeed, I’ve had Columbia EMBA applicants admitted who had GMATs in low to mid 600s). Their answer: willingness to take this step shows proper mindset, commitment. So if you’re interested in applying but are put off by this requirement, perhaps go ahead.
• The acceptance rate for Early Decision applicants and for Regular Decision applicants who apply early (i.e. before approximately December 15) is the same. However, the acceptance rate for Regular Decision applicants generally goes down with the passage of time and the approach of CBS’ April 15 deadline.
By Cindy Tokumitsu, co-author of The Finance Professional’s Guide to MBA Admissions Success, and author of numerous ebooks, articles, and special reports. Cindy has advised hundreds of successful applicants in her last fifteen years with Accepted.