Saturday, September 6, 2008

Submission Revelation & Risky App Strategy

Remember how I had imposed a 2-week silence on application talk on my blog? Well that time's elapsed and I can now reveal that I've already submitted my Columbia app. I'm sure you all could've guessed that just from my enthusiasm for CBS. Here's the crazy thing. I actually submitted it on Aug. 10! That's right, a full 3 days before the review period started on Aug. 13. I was hell-bent (to say the least) on being at the very top of the pile for their rolling addmissions process. The crappy thing is that, unlike last year, no applications went under review until a day after the review period opened. My app went under review on Aug. 14 and judging from all the BW posters, the same holds true for them. Here's the other mildly annoying tidbit. I got the email saying that my app was under review around 12:30 pm on Aug. 14 whereas someone who submitted on Aug. 13 (three days later than mine) got his email on around 11:00 am on Aug. 14. I know that means nothing and I was probably reviewed first but I wanted that distinction :)

Judging from ChristophW's spreadsheet on last year's ED applicants, the first interview invites should go out either Friday, Sept. 12 or early the week after (if last year's trends hold, which it very well may not since apps have spiked this year). Last year, most of the submitters who went under review on the first possible day got their interview invites around Sept. 10-11 and up to Sept. 15. The crazy thing is that a re-applicant actually got an interview invite last year on Sept. 6. But he was definitely an outlier. I fully expect next friday to start generating some interview invites. Since CBS adcom has stated that they expect a 20% increase in app volume, I think it's logical that they'd be reviewing even faster or more efficiently this year to avoid getting swamped by the volume. That's why I think that last year's timeline will hold. But if the volume is just too great, then maybe they'll be backed up anyway. I think I will ask the adcom when I visit the CBS Admissions Reception Event on thursday next week in DC. Do you think I'll sound like a total tool if I ask such a specific question?

I actually have quite a busy slate of receptions lined up. Tomorrow, sunday, I will be attending the MBA Tour. It's really annoying that they don't reveal who the participating schools are, especially since the event is from 9am to 5pm! I guess I will plan on hanging around there all day. The school's have individual presentations and then an MBA Fair afterwards so I may have to stick around the entire time to get the face time I need. Yale will be there though. No word on NYU Stern or Wharton or Columbia. Then on monday, there is a Yale Diversity reception. Now I'm not an under-represented minority (though I am a a minority) so I doubt they'll care to see me but I want to gather more info and get my name in their heads. Then on tuesday the very next night is the HBS Reception which I probably shouldn't bother attending but it's free and I will get some info so why not? If anything, it's interesting to check out the type of people who apply to top places like HBS. Then wednesday I get the evening to myself and on thursday is the CBS reception. Whew! Too bad Stern doesn't visit for awhile.

I've been thinking again about what happens if I don't get into Columbia. And it seems like if I don't get into Columbia ED, then I probably have little to no shot at Wharton (though I'll probably still try). Thus my secondary choices come down to Yale SOM and NYU Stern. I just looked into the Consortium becuz Yale and Stern both accept applicants thru that program. Too bad I don't really count cuz 1) I'm not under-represented, and 2) my background doesn't show a commitment to the Consortium's mission. Yale just joined the Consortium this year so I feel they'll certainly be saving a decent amount of spots for Consortium applicants.

Want to hear about my risky application strategy? I'm researching the other schools but I'm not actually going to start any apps/essays until I find out if I got an interview from Columbia or not. I expect to know by Sept. 15 or so but the tricky thing is, if you don't get an interview, CBS won't tell you and won't reject you right away. Plus if I wind up not getting an interview, then I will be in a time crunch though Yale's app is not due until Oct. 22 I think. Wharton's app is due on Oct. 9th I believe and Stern's not until Nov. 15th. So that's the risk. But if I do get an interview, then I think I've got a good shot at admission to CBS and I will have saved myself sooo much extra app work. There's a part of me that only wants to apply to CBS and Stern actually. Not the smartest idea but my heart's in New York.

By the way, I am completely dismissing the idea of beoming an investment banker. Before I was intrigued because of the obvious reasons ($) but after reading the "Mergers and Inquisitions" blog (the website is their name plus .com), I realize that I'm kidding myself if I think I'd be happy with 90+ hour weeks. I mean c'mon, seriously. There is also a hilarious video on "The Faceoff" from the "Leveraged Sellout" blog that is a rap battle between consultants and bankers. It's great, right up there with "every breath bernanke takes" though different. I found these on Soni's blog so I'm not going to link them myself. Just go to his site and check out the hilarity (and great info!)

It's a super rainy Saturday here in DC and I'm about to tutor my co-worker/friend on GMAT math. We'll be studying on Georgetown's campus and then I'm going to hop to the gym directly afterward. Hope everyone in bloggerland is staying happy.


solaris said...

Well, you know a 20% increase in J-term applications might throw a spanner in the works. It does seem to me that applications have been going under review a little faster than 2006/2007, and the 3-4 week turnaround to interview decisions (for up to 75% of applicants, I think) seemed to hold back then, too. I'm also guessing the first interview invites will go out next week, but earlier than Friday!

TienyChesney said...

Hey Solaris,

Yeah, some ppl on the forums are speculating that J-Term invites need to finish before any Fall09 invites go out. I don't know if that's necessarily true though it would be logical if I were heading the Adcom office. Let's hope it's not the case though. I agree that applicants for Fall09 have been going under review quickly but it was similarly quick last year (within 24 hours) unless you applied late in the cycle (in which case it took up to 3 or 4 days) so I don't think that's unusual. The 3-4 week turnaround time held for submitters in the middle of the ED round last year but early submitters had to wait at least 4 weeks if I recall correctly.

Everyone else who is reading this analysis probably thinks we're crazy :)

solaris said...

Oh yes, we're obsessed! The J-term review goes on until October 8th, the same day ED review officially closes. So the admissions committee is going to have to juggle both.

The first person who reported an offer of admission and wasn't a re-applicant posted on Businessweek September 24th. So perhaps you're wise to push off working on any other applications until the 15th.

I'm far too nervous about my CBS chances and am working on Stern and Cornell (close enough to NYC I guess) as we speak.

TienyChesney said...


You're a wise man. You're right- the J-Term and ED deadlines are both Oct. 8th so the adcom definitely expects to juggle both simultaneously. Kinda crazy how interview invites can come out starting around Sept. 10-11 yet the first decisions won't come for 2 more weeks! I really feel like they could've cut that down for us. It seems like they review the completed apps in batches regardless of when your interviewer submits their feedback. All of a sudden, Sept. 24-25 to Oct. 9th (Wharton's R1 deadline) seems like an awfully short time to put together another app!

Anonymous said...

Good going TC!! Great to know that we've some dedicated souls among the crowd of procrastinators. (This includes me!! :()

BTW< I'd advise you against what u r doing.. I understand that u r passionate abt Columbia, but it'd make sense if you start devoting some efforts to rest of ur target schools..

Gud luck!!

Soni said...

Tien, nice to hear you got your app in super early, good for you! I assume you waited for both recs to be submitted before submitting your app? I've heard there's delays in processing if you don't follow that instruction.

Also, Mergers and Inqusitions tells IB stories from the perspective of an analyst...MBA grads move in as associates. You're looking at 70ish hours then. Not a huge time savings, but not trivial either.

I will be at CBS reception in Baltimore since that's closer to me. Christina Shelby (yeah from BW forums) is running it.

Maxwriter said...

Thats waaay to early. What a way to show your commitment to the Adcom, something CBS likes so very much! ATB!

Anonymous said...

Good luck, and I hope you get that interview invite soon!
And its good that you know how risky your appln strategy is!!The returns are definitely higher, but take care to limit the risk by having more options to choose from. atb!

TienyChesney said...

Wow, such an outpouring of support from the community. Thanks, guys! Hopefully this is the collaborative team atmosphere that b-schools like to brag about :P Anyway, you guys are totally right about pointing out just how risky my strategy is, but I'm willing to give it one more week to see if I get an invite. It's actually not as risky as it may seem. With the exception of Wharton (Oct. 9 deadline) which I probably wouldn't get into if I didn't get into Columbia ED, the other deadlines are very manageable. Yale is Oct. 22 and NYU Stern is Nov. 15. I'll keep you all updated here of course.

And Soni, don't worry, I did indeed wait for both recommenders to submit. Thanks for pointing out that Associates only work 70-ish hours weekly. That is actually a big difference to me. 12 hours per day plus 10 on the weekend for Associates sounds viable to me. 14 hours per day plus 20 on the weekend for Analysts does not!

Soni said...

Yup, exactly. Associates are the ones that dump work on the lowly analysts ;)

solaris said...

Who says the analysts are actually "working" those 100 hour weeks? You've also got to account for those weekend afternoon pizza "parties", late night tee offs in the office, wine tastings with clients, closing dinners, etc. etc.

And no one in Fixed Income really works 100 hour weeks. Even the analysts. I was one before I got canned.


Hello People ,

I see great enthusiasm for fall 2009 Columbia ED program. But i am still stuck on my third essay and my 1st and 2nd essays are still taking time.. So I don't know by when can i submit my application. Can you tell me whether submitting my app one day before deadline will seriously hamper my chances compared to submitting it by 16 to 17th Sept


TienyChesney said...

hey Rebel House,

All else being equal, you will always have an advantage by submitting sooner. I know that CBS Adcom has said that they received about 1,500 apps in the week leading up to the Regular Decision deadline last year. I am sure the volume is less pronounced for ED but the lesson should hold- that a lot of people submit around the deadline. So def submit at least a week before the deadline if you can. But if you think your essays will be much stronger if you had that time to work on it, then you will probably benefit from waiting and thus submitting your strongest possible app. Either way, you will still get the ED advantage (showing to CBS that they are indeed your first choice) over the RD folks.


I have some doubts about GPA CONVERSION for Columbia. I have around 66.51% but according to Columbia's Scale it should be around 1.1 which is very low compared to avg for Columbia's business School.. But Maximum that class topper has is around 82~83 %
which translates to 3.4 only. Kindly advise what should I do? Does Columbia has a list of colleges and top marks that people get to there to have a clear view of candidate ? or do i need to mention in an optional essay to talk about it. A Columbia admit for Jan who had similar marks wrote about "different Grading system" in DCE in the optional essay. But is it required?

TienyChesney said...

Hi Rebel House,

While CBS may be familiar with your school and its grading structure, it is impossible for them to know the structure of every single school in the world. Thus I would play it safe and do one of two options. 1) You could follow their recommended GPA conersion rules and report the low GPA conversion. Then you could explain in your optional essay that your grades were actually good relative to the grading structure at your school.... or, you could choose option 2) If your school has an official conversion that is more reflective of your performance, then use your school's conversion instead. That way, your converted GPA will look better. You will still have to write in the optional essay about why you converted using different rules though. But I think this way is preferrable as it will make your GPA look better.

The worst thing you could do is to NOT write about it in your optional essay. Becuz then they will think your GPA was terrible (if you went with option 1) or they will think you lied and made up your own grades (if you choose option 2) without explaining the method.

littlebirdie said...

Hi TienyChesney,
I love love your blog! One question on this particular post: What's ChristophW's spreadsheet? It sounds to be a very informative tool so I googled it, but couldn't find it anywhere :( Do you still have the link or something? thx!!

TienyChesney said...

hi littlebirdie,
here's the link:

be warned that this is only for those applying for the cbs class of 2011 and it's ONLY businessweek's EARLY DECISION candidates... so it may not be very representative but it's interesting to see the stats and trends. if you hop on the BW threads, you might be able to find the regular decision spreadsheet or even other years. good luck, birdie!