Columbia's Admitted Students Reception was this past Tuesday evening. It took me about 0.04 seconds to decide to make the trip from DC to NY and back for this two-hour event. Of course I was down. In fact, I'm thinking of attending both Open Houses later in February and April.
The event was held in Low Memorial Library. It was nicer than I expected. I hadn't been inside Low since I visited campus for undergraduate admissions so I forgot how majestic the inside was. I had hopped off the bus just 30 minutes prior and walked through the Alex Lerner Center which is this large, transparent student center on Broadway. I had never been inside so I took a quick tour (the parts that I could access at least) and found Citibank ATMs and a bubble tea shop inside- nice! I can't wait to make bubble tea a part of my diet again :)
So I go the reception and I'm happy to learn there's a coat/bag check. I'm 5 minutes early for the reception but there are already around 20 people inside. There are drinks and attendants in the middle of the room and finger food off to the right. I was going to walk right up to the first person I saw but everyone was already in their little clusters. I decided to actually put on the little nametag that they handed out and when I picked my head up, Bob Shea, one of the admissions officers was there in front of me with a current 2nd year student. Pleasant conversation ensues. I then meet and talk to many more current students, incoming students, and admissions officers. Alumni were present too but I didn't speak to any of them by coincidence. In all, there were maybe 250 people in attendance I would guess? Half were 2009 J-Term and half were Fall 2009 full-time. Women were roughly only one-third of the room from my estimation but I'm happy to report that they were all very attractive :) Most everyone was dressed in business or business casual. I'd say that I was dressed in business casual casual though- sweater over a dress shirt with grey chinos and brown boots. I knew that incoming students often dress up for the first few events and then wind up throwing sweatpants on once class begins. I wanted to push the envelope and go casual with jeans (to show how confident and independent I was hehe) but stepped it up right before I left DC. Good thing too because only 1 or 2 people were in jeans that I noticed.
The event passed quickly. It wasn't one of those tiring networking events where I keep glancing at the time. The two hours passed in no time and many people had to be ushered out as the room was closed down. All the incoming students were really nice and pleasant to talk to. I even recognized some from the Facebook group but didn't mention this so as not to creep them out. It was really refreshing to see that so many of them were completely relaxed, normal, fun people. No super duper stars like some of the people I met at HBS. The incoming students I met were bankers, consultants, media people, entrepreneurs, but nothing insanely mind-blowing like Egyptian national team gold medalist in the hammer throw or anything like that. I enjoyed being around them- they were pretty unassuming. I could picture myself being friends with them. I didn't make plans to keep in touch with any of them but it was nice meeting them nonetheless. There will be plenty of other opportunities at Open House. Plus, I found the website for the pre-MBA Tour. It's not an official club but some incoming students will be touring the world over the course of 3 months prior to the start of school. Basically we just meet future classmates and travel together. It's all self-funded. I'm down for much of it- most likely the legs that go through Europe, Latin America, and Japan.
I've compiled a spreadsheet that details my remaining vacation time and my anticipated travel locations. I've really grown to appreciate Excel in the past year. As someone who has traveled minimally in his life, I'm a bit worried that all the travel prior to school might prove exhausting. I need to budget enough recovery time so that I can fully enjoy/appreciate everything.
Oh yeah, there were two speakers at the reception. One guy I don't remember his name or his position at all due to his heavy accent. The other person was Linda Meehan herself! Linda (the Dean of Admissions) was a short but incredibly energetic woman. She did a great job of working the room and I was shocked by how much enthusiasm she had. I joked with her about how I didn't receive a phone call from her yet. She also revealed that they're anticipating total application volume to be around 7,500 this year. They had 5,999 last year so that would be a 25% jump overall. Of course this is just what she said she anticipated from current volumes. She did say that she expects the Regular Decision volume to be even higher than the ED volume due to the amount of prep time it usually takes for those applicants who might've recently been affected by the financial crisis.
I left the reception and actually met Samantha (sorry, i'm too stupid to figure out how to put a link in here so go to the right and click on her Best MBA Blog Ever) at Pinkberry briefly. I promised to keep her anonymity but to you, my readers, I will reveal this: Samantha is not her real name... it is Bruce. Directly afterward, I met another future classmate for a quick dinner (same guy I had brunch with last time in NY) and then called it a night.