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May 17, 2014

The Possible Impact of the HBS Round 1 Deadline on Columbia Early Decision

Harvard Business School's Round One Deadline of September 9th is perfectly designed to make the decision to apply to Columbia Business School Early Decision easier than ever before because applicants who time their ED applications right can know whether they have been invited to an HBS interview long before paying Columbia's deposit and even possibly before applying. My post on Columbia’s essays for 2015 entry, including an extensive discussion on Early Decision and Regular Decision can be found here. My post on HBS Class of 2017 essays will be up soon.

Here is what Dee posted on the “From the Admissions Director” blog about the first round deadline:
“Round One application deadline will be September 9, 2014. Interviews, by invitation only, will be conducted from mid-October through end of November. Notification will be on or around December 10.”

Unless HBS is particularly nice to Columbia, which I doubt, it will send at least some and perhaps all of its invites before the ED deadline of October 8, 2014. This is the first time this situation will have occurred and it could impact the way some applicants apply to Columbia. While HBS has not announced when Round 1 invite interviews will go out, last year the invites went out on October 9th and 16th and interviews took place between October 21 and November 22.  Since the interviews will be conducted between mid-October through end of November and the application deadline is a week earlier this year (September 9, 2014 compared to September 16, 2013) it is likely that interview invitations will come around the last week in September and first week in October, which means that applicants can make much better decisions about proceeding with an ED application.  If my invite date assumption is correct, HBS interview invites will go out before Columbia’s ED deadline,  so they can simply switch to Columbia RD.

This does not mean those applying to HBS and interviewing in R1 are likely to have their result before the Columbia ED deposit is due, so if  an applicant  is admitted to Columbia ED and waiting for the result of the HBS decision after interviewing, the applicant will still have a difficult choice (Not even considering other schools that they might prefer to Columbia). Since Columbia’s Early Decision Deadline is October 8th,  anyone applying to Early Decision close to or by the deadline will know whether they have been offered an HBS interview way before interviewing at Columbia because all the HBS invites will most likely  be out prior to when interviews start in mid-October. Assume that Columbia will process applications quickly,  so if someone applies to ED sometime between the end of September and the October 9th deadline, it is likely that will have interviewed and received a decision sometime between late October-mid November and since a pplicants have only two weeks to pay the deposit once admitted, I expect that they would still have to pay that deposit before HBS decisions come out.

To summarize, if you do plan to apply to HBS in R1 and Columbia ED,  you now have the following options:

The option ED applicants always have had: Apply early to Columbia ED so you know the result before you apply to HBS or other schools. If you are admitted and happy with Columbia than you can choose  to be finished with the application process very early and can minimize the time and expense invested in the application process. Alternatively, if you are admitted, you can treat CBS like a $6000 insurance policy (See next paragraph about that issue).   If you are rejected, you will have a  good indicator that you probably need to change your application strategy in some way and can make modifications prior to submitting your application to HBS and other schools.

-Apply to HBS in R1 and then apply to Columbia no sooner than about two weeks before the ED deadline. To be even safer, a week or less before the deadline would be ideal.   You will know whether you have been invited to an HBS interview before you would have to pay your ED deposit if you are admitted to Columbia. You can then decide to (1) withdraw from Columbia because you are feeling optimistic about HBS and/or other applications you have submitted or (2) can pay the ED deposit and withdraw from other schools or (3) be unethical by treating CBS as a $6000 insurance policy while waiting to see what happens with your other applications. It is not my place to defend CBS ED policy by telling applicants that they should be ethical in regards to it, merely to state the available viable options.

-Possible option if the HBS interview invitation notification is before the Columbia ED deadline of October 8th, you will not need to apply to ED if you are invited to HBS.  You can apply to Columbia RD.

I am quite interested to watch how this all plays out in the fall. I doubt any significant statistical impact on CBS. For example, I can't imagine their yield being negatively impacted because of a decrease in ED admits (who are highly likely to  attend because of the ED deposit and ethics policy)  in comparison to RD admits (who are more likely to decline an offer of admission).  Instead the impact will be, as I have discussed above,  on how this plays out for applicants. 

-Adam Markus
I am a graduate admissions consultant who works with clients worldwide. If you would like to arrange an initial consultation, please complete my intake form. Please don't email me any essays, other admissions consultant's intake forms, your life story, or any long email asking for a written profile assessment. The only profiles I assess are those with people who I offer initial consultations to. Please note that initial consultations are not offered when I have reached full capacity or when I determine that I am not a good fit with an applicant.
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