VP Weekly Three: The Three Best MBA Questions We Heard This Week (…With Answers)

Every week we speak with MBA applicants who are trying to figure out how the MBA application process works and how they stack up to the competition. So, in this series we will track the best questions we’ve received and periodically send out a summary of the answers (think FAQ style) to help fast track the process for all of you. Here’s what we have for you this week:


1) If I apply to Columbia Early Decision and am accepted, then I find out that I got into another school that I’d rather go to, can I renege?
No. Could you physically do this? Yes, but you’re giving your word to Columbia and signing a statement affirming that if you are accepted then you will decline all other offers and withdraw other applications. It’s your honor on the line – our advice is to apply Early Decision ONLY if you know that Columbia is your top choice and that you’d go there despite the outcome with any other school. Check out a summary of Columbia’s Application Options, including a description of the Early Decision parameters; and it’s also helpful to know that Columbia does look favorably upon ED applicants.


2) Can one of my recommenders be my mentor?
It depends. Is your mentor someone you currently or previously worked with who can speak to what you’re like to be around on a daily basis, how your performance compares to your peers, and your relative strengths and weaknesses? Normally when people ask us this question, they are referring to someone who they have never worked with but who has been a strong influence personally or professionally. In this case, we generally guide people towards continuing to leverage this relationship by asking your mentor to review your application and/or essays and provide feedback, but we don’t generally advise applicants to ask this person to be a recommender. Why not? The schools are looking at recommender feedback to get a sense for how you operate on a team / within an organization, what kind of person and leader you are, and importantly, what professional trajectory you’ve been on. If you’re not working with or interacting with someone on a daily basis like you would in a work setting (give or take), it’s hard to answer those questions with as much credibility as would be desired. It’s ok to have two recommenders from the same company; especially if you’ve only worked for one company.


3) If my significant other is currently a student at the school I’m applying to, should I tell admissions?
Yes. Every school is evaluating you based on your experience and the competitiveness of your profile; however, they are also considering your level of genuine interest in the school and fit with the culture. If you have a significant other at a school already, then it’s pretty clear that you’d be interested AND know a lot about the program already (hence your decision to apply).

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