Columbia Business School
If you want to get into Columbia Business School’s MBA program, you might want to highlight your leadership potential and any engagement you’ve had with the CBS community.
Elizabeth Kiefer, of Business Insider, recently spoke to Columbia alumni and admissions officers about what the b-school seeks in applicants and how prospective applicants can bolster their applications.
CBS seeks applicants who have leadership potential and can show examples of that potential.
One of the areas where applicants can highlight this is through recommendation letters.
“When I read your recommendation, [and] it’s from an expert practitioner who is your boss, does that person say: ‘I’ve been in this space for 10 to 20 years, [and] this is why I think she has the potential to be a leader in the future because this is what I’ve seen her do’?” Michael Robinson, the director of admissions at Columbia Business School, tells Business Insider.
Leadership examples may be hard to pinpoint. However, Meredith Shields, co-founder of Vantage Point MBA Admissions Consulting, says applicants should look at key characteristics of leaders to help get some thought starters.
According to the Harvard Business Review, the top four leadership qualities found during a 10-year study of the highest-performing CEOs include:
- Ability to engage others (e.g. motivate)
- Ability to adapt well to change
- Reliability (in producing results)
“Even if you’ve only been working for a few years, chances are you can give examples of how you’ve exhibited some of these leadership qualities,” Shields writes for P&Q.
CBS also seeks applicants who can fit well into their community.
To understand fit, it’s important to understand what kind of community CBS offers. Experts say applicants should try to attend CBS events and try to connect with the CBS community.
“By the time I was applying to CBS, I’d gone to a number of events, met with admissions officers, [and] spoken to current students and alums, so I knew how to map my career-to-date and interests onto what I wanted to get from and contribute to CBS across academics, career, and community,” Stephanie McCalmon, a Class of 2019 MBA at CBS, tells Business Insider.
Knowing the school and understanding what kinds of people attend CBS can help you ensure your story and goals line up.
“In the end, we want people who are going to add value to our community, and you can’t really add value without knowing the community, taking the time to immerse yourself, and asking: ‘Is this the right thing for me, given what I want to do?’” Robinson tells Business Insider.
Sources: Business Insider, Poets & Quants, Harvard Business Review
USC Marshall students
The University of Southern California’s Marshall School of Business is all about its Trojan community.
For MBAs, fit is one of the key aspects admissions officers look for in applicants.
“What matters most to us is our learning community and how, through collaboration, we grow and learn together to collectively strengthen the Trojan Family,” Assistant Dean and Director Evan Bouffides says.
Stacy Blackman, of Stacy Blackman Consulting, recently discussed how applicants can address Marshall’s essay prompts to highlight fit.
What is your specific, immediate short-term career goal upon completion of your MBA? Please include an intended position, function, and industry in your response.
Marshall’s first essay prompt asks about applicant goals. Blackman says it’s important for applicants to ensure that their resume complements and supports their essay.
“For example, if you are career switching, highlight any transferable skills in your resume,” she writes. “Another idea is to ask your recommenders to comment on your future plans. Further, as you craft all of these strategies, make sure you highlight how you will use your MBA to reach your goals.”
Please draft a letter that begins with “Dear Admissions Committee”
While the open-endedness of this prompt may appear challenging, Blackman says this essay is the perfect opportunity to go into detail about aspects you haven’t covered in other areas of your application.
“This essay is purposely open-ended,” she writes. “You are free to express yourself in whatever way you see fit. The goal is to have an appreciation for and an understanding of each candidate in ways that are not captured by test scores, grades, and resumes.”
This essay can also be an opportunity to align yourself to the virtues and characteristics of the Trojan community.
“Showing who you are as a person is important to your USC Marshall application,” Blackman writes. “Ideally, you can demonstrate that you understand the USC culture and values with your answer to this essay question.”
Sources: Stacy Blackman Consulting, Marshall School of Business
The new Tepper Quad at Carnegie Mellon
Online MBA programs are growing at b-schools. At Carnegie Mellon’s Tepper School of Business, the online MBA offers the benefits of an online program with the experience of a traditional MBA.
Robin Madell, of Business Insider, recently broke down why Tepper’s online MBA stands out and how applicants can get in.
ONLINE BENEFITS, WITH IN-PERSON EXPERIENCES
One of the standout qualities of Tepper’s online MBA is the access that students have to in-person learning and networking.
It’s what Tepper calls “Access Weekends,” events that are held six times a year in Pittsburgh, Silicon Valley, Philadelphia, and Washington, D.C.
“These weekends give you the in-person experience you won’t get in other online programs and allow you to start all of your classes in person, enhancing the learning experience and building meaningful relationships with your faculty and colleagues,” according to Tepper’s website.
These types of in-person events allow for online-students to connect and build with their peers.
“For those few days, you and your cohort are focused on being together, learning, and bonding,” Andrew Adrian-Karlin, who earned his MBA online from the Tepper School in 2019, tells Business Insider. “It’s something that builds bonds in a way I don’t think traditional part-time formats excel at.”
At the same time, online MBAs at Tepper have more flexibility than students in traditional MBA programs.
“I personally attended class while on business trips in Washington, DC, London, Tel Aviv, Bangalore, Bristol, and New York,” Adrian-Karlin tells Business Insider. “In a traditional part-time MBA program, I would have had to turn down those opportunities or lost out on class experiences. That list doesn’t count being able to attend class with a sleeping newborn on your shoulder, being able to stay with your parent while they recover from surgery, or just taking a vacation somewhere with a beach.”
WHAT TEPPER LOOKS FOR
Being a prestigious program, Tepper admissions officers seek out the best-of-the-best.
“We particularly value candidates who have a forward-thinking approach to their career, who have a strong desire to make an impact in both their organization and the greater world, and look to Tepper as the partner to get them there,” Kelly Wilson, executive director of masters admissions at Carnegie Mellon’s Tepper School of Business, tells Business Insider.
On average, online MBAs at Tepper have 6.1 years of work experience, with a majority coming from industries like manufacturing, consulting, and healthcare, according to class data.
Online MBAs average 669 GMAT with a 3.3 GPA. Additionally, an overwhelming 43% majored in engineering for undergrad.
Wilson says the b-schools seeks out applicants with a high quantitative aptitude and a willingness to receive feedback.
“These align directly with our approach to teach our students in-depth analytical tools that will serve them throughout their career, and the leadership development work that our students undertake while enrolled in the MBA program,” Wilson tells Business Insider.
Sources: Business Insider, Tepper School of Business, Tepper School of Business
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