In what follows, I provide: my answer to the question of who should apply for Columbia Business School's Early Decision, one reason why I think Columbia has an application option, and some related remarks on application strategy.
SHOULD YOU APPLY FOR COLUMBIA EARLY DECISION?
Every year many applicants to Columbia Business School have to deeply consider whether to apply to the Early Decision or the regular application round. Among top MBA programs Columbia's Early Decision (ED) is unique. While Tuck has Early Action,I have not seen applicants face the same issues of school selection and application with Tuck that I will discuss below in regards to Columbia. First keep the official statement from Columbia regarding Early Decision in mind:
"The Early Decision option is ideal for candidates who have completed their research about MBA programs and have decided that Columbia is the school they want to attend. Early Decision applications are reviewed before Regular Decision applications." Early Decision candidates must sign the following Statement of Commitment: As an Early Decision candidate to Columbia Business School, I understand that if I am admitted I will submit my non-refundable $6000 deposit to secure my place in the September entering class. I am committed to attending Columbia Business School, and will withdraw all applications and decline all offers from other schools upon admission to Columbia Business School.
Early Decision Applicants will find the Statement of Commitment in the Honor System section of the online application.
Early Decision candidates who are offered admission have up to three weeks to arrange their non-refundable $6,000 deposit which must be submitted to reserve a space in the class. Applicants who are not yet ready for this level of commitment are encouraged to apply for Regular Decision."
This statement is quite clear and is taken very seriously by Columbia. Consider Linda Meehan's (assistant dean and executive director for MBA admissions and financial aid at CBS) remarks made in Businessweek's August 19, 2007 chat:
"Early decision is geared toward those applicants who know that Columbia Business School is the right fit for them. They have researched many programs and have determined that the offerings, opportunities, and education available at Columbia will best fit their needs. We ask our ED applicants to know that they will attend Columbia should they be admitted and withdraw applications from any other schools to which they have applied and turn down offers they may have received."
"When one applies ED to Columbia, you sign an honor pledge. As part of this agreement, you state that you will withdraw your applications from any other school to which you may have applied, as well as submit the deposit. That being said, you are bound ethically by your initial decision to apply for the ED period. Should you not be confident that this is the perfect fit for you, please apply during the regular-decision period. Everyone should be able to live with the decisions and commitments they make."
Her language is quite strong. Given that MBA programs take ethics seriously, I think it would be very bad idea to treat ED as some sort of $6000 insurance policy. ED is great for those are ready to apply and know Columbia is their first choice. However, if Columbia is not your first choice, but simply a great option, apply in the regular round.EARLY DECISION INCREASES COLUMBIA BUSINESS SCHOOL'S YIELD
I think one primary reason that Columbia takes Early Decision so seriously is that ED Increases Columbia's yield (percentage of admitted who attend). Below are the yield rates for Columbia plus the schools I think someone is most likely to chose over Columbia. This data is based on US News and World Report for Fall 2007 Admissions in Yield Order:
HBS Yield: 88% Admitted: 1021 Attend: 901
Stanford GSB Yield: 80% Admitted: 455 Attend: 362
CBS Yield: 77% Admitted: 919 Attend: 711
Wharton Yield: 69% Admitted: 1153 Attend: 799
Univ. of Chicago GSB Yield: 60% Admitted: 932 Attend: 555
Yield is a fundamental measure of program popularity. After all if a program has a higher yield it means that applicants who are often admitted to multiple schools are choosing to attend it over another school.
I think it is useful to compare Columbia's yield rate to those programs with which it is in the most competition for admits. I think that, regardless of any rankings considerations, Columbia is most in competition with HBS and Stanford, where, at least in my experience, it usually loses. Next comes Wharton, where Columbia is more likely to lose, and Chicago, where Columbia often wins. My assumptions were made well before I ever looked at yield numbers, but are, with the seeming exception of Wharton, consistent with them.
Now Columbia's yield is certainly high. That said, ED helps to keep it that way and hence given the unique nature of that round, comparing the rates of CBS to other programs is somewhat problematic because by comparison the other schools are at a disadvantage. Which is to say, if Columbia did not use the mandatory $6000 deposit and ethical stranglehold approach it takes to those who are accepted for Early Decision, its yield would easily fall. How far, I am not sure, but enough for it to matter. Given that Columbia is at least popularly perceived as losing to Wharton when it comes to school selection, I think we can assume there would be a statistically meaningful impact This is, of course, pure speculation on my part. While it might be the case that CBS Adcom simply takes the applicant's binding commitment seriously, I think it would be safe to assume that they do so based on the institutional interest of the Business School, not merely ethical considerations.
APPLICATION STRATEGY ASSUMING COLUMBIA BUSINESS SCHOOL IS YOUR FIRST CHOICE
If Columbia Business School is your first choice and you can get your application ready by the due date of October 8, 2008, I do suggest applying to Early Decision. Given the deadline, you might try to get in other first round applications as well, but I would focus on making your Colombia application as strong as possible and consider applying to more schools in the second round. While I suppose there are many who will finish Colombia by October 8th and try to get in another top program such as HBS by the October 15 deadline, do not do that if it means submitting a weak application for either school.
Try to apply as early to ED as possible, but only if your application is as strong as you can make it. Since decisions are made within ten weeks of sending a complete application, I would recommend that you apply for ED relatively soon after they start taking applications on August 13th because this will give you sufficient time to consider whether you need to apply in the second round. Also, if Tuck is your second choice, it will give you plenty of time to apply to its Early Action round (due on October 15th).
Applying in mid-August means that you should have Columbia's decision by or before the end of October. One advantage to waiting until 2nd Round for at least some of your other applications is that if you don't get invited to a Columbia interview and/or are dinged after an interview, you have a pretty good indicator that you need to do a better job with your other applications (See here for a relevant post on that topic).
Finally, the above application strategy is not for everyone. In my experience, each applicant's needs very. When I am actually advising an individual client on application strategy I can factor in their specific situation to come up with an optimal tailored strategy.
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MBA留学 ビジネススクール カウンセリング コンサルティング コロンビア MBA
MBA留学 ビジネススクール カウンセリング コンサルティング コロンビア MBA