It's the time of year where I start having the "Round 2 conversation" a lot with individual clients. Basically, the idea is that Round 2 might be offering a slight advantage, based on theories of market inefficiencies and so forth. For years, the prevailing belief is that Round 1 is the best round to apply to business school. While there is no hard-core evidence to suggest otherwise, some common sense may point to a different result.
I just saw a whole lot of MBA essays over the past few months and now that Round 1 is (mostly) finished, I thought it would be an interesting exercise to jot down the most common mistake I saw for each of the most common essays I worked on with clients. Round 2 clients can get a leg up by simply avoiding these traps.
Normally, once the fireworks go off on the 4th of July, that's our signal to start digging into the apps in earnest, as "October" Round 1 deadlines are a few months away. However, in recent years, the deadlines keep getting earlier and earlier. I know I had to really reset my own calendar given these changes, so I figured I'd do a public service and list them out here, calling special attention to the front-loaded nature of the deadlines.
Like last year, we are going to use a little running device of "three key thoughts" for each essay release. If you want to get a deep dive into these essay sets, of course, the answer is probably obvious: sign up for our services and become a client, at which point we can guide you every step of the way.
Now, on to some thoughts from the new Columbia essays!
As always, Columbia is the first top MBA program out of the gate with its new essay questions (for 2014-15). This is no surprise, as CBS has both a January intake and an Early Decision deadline, so they quite simply need to get their essays out earlier than other schools. This year, the new essays bring about very little by way of change, which suggests Columbia was pretty happy with the length and overall coverage of what they asked last year. That said, there are a few subtle changes that actually speak volumes and we are going to break those down below, as well as add some larger thoughts about the essay set. Let's get into it.
I wanted to see if I could simplify it for those applicants currently working on their essays and application, while trying to figure out "Why Columbia?" I created a visual representation (mindmap) of the site, which ended up looking like the New York subway system, and I wanted to share it with you. Hopefully this will allow you to see where you fit into CBS' clubs, curriculum and student culture.
Andrew was a re-applicant, having applied to Columbia Business School the year before. He knew that he would be under the gun to answer “what had he improved since late applying to Columbia.” However, since last applying, his professional situation had taken a turn for the "worse." Andrew had been laid off from his New York City based financial services job. Further complicating his situation, Andrew did accept a new role – an unpaid position that was outside of his finance industry.