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Admitted to Columbia EMBA

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Admitted to Columbia EMBA  [#permalink]

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New post Updated on: 13 Mar 2018, 22:50
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Hi,

This forum helped me alot, so I wanted to give back in any little way I can. There seems to be a plethora of information on full time MBAs, but only scant info on EMBAs. Obviously I'm partial to the part time or EMBA track, but I really do believe that this educational path will become more viable and popular in the years to come. People (some) simply do not want to pause their careers and earnings to get a higher education.

In all of the old EMBA posts I couldn't find a comprehensive thread that talked about the application process, highlighted the differences between MBA and EMBA candidates, etc. If there are any EMBA applicants that want an interactive FAQ, I'm hoping I can help until I begin class in May and get too busy.

My application process spawned 6 months and I interacted with many colleagues, EMBA graduates and admissions staff at Columbia, so I'm hoping any tips and tricks I picked up can be used to help someone.


Profile


  • Ivy League Undergrad (Harvard, Yale, Penn)
  • Psychology Degree (started on a pre-med / bio-engineering track, but drifted towards finance by the conclusion of my studies)
  • Poor GPA, but strong internship work experience


Background; Why EMBA; Why CBS


Accepted an offer out of school from a bulge bracket investment bank and entered an analyst training program in 2010. Over the past 8 years, I went from analyst to associate to vice president. I now work for a global European bank in Manhattan in leveraged finance. I wanted to continue working so the only schools I initially considered were Columbia, Cornell and NYU Stern. Initial research led me to believe that Columbia was considered the best, followed by NYU and Cornell. I personally did not find Cornell very appealing, even though it is an Ivy League school (their program does not even require applicants to take an entry test and a colleague mentioned it was a cakewalk).

My boss was supportive of getting an MBA, but was not a fan of having me missing any actual work days, so NYU was out as their EMBA program required students to miss every other Friday. I believe they do have a part-time program on weeknights, but that would lead to some really long days!

That only left Columbia and Cornell, as they offered weekend options and I did not want to go to anything less than a top tier or Ivy League school, so I didn't really consider other NY area schools like Fordham or Baruch. From all the research I undertook, Columbia appeared ranked the highest so I focused on it. Cornell also mentioned to me I was younger than their normal applicant, did not require applicants to take any type of admission test (mentioned above) and their EMBA campus was a separate facility from their Ithaca campus - I decided I would not even apply to it.


Cracking Executive Assessment


I began studying for the GMAT and found it very time consuming. I had to refresh myself with old academic topics, especially geometry, and re-acclimate myself with the timed test environment. One weekend I attended an info session at Columbia and a speaker mentioned the Executive Assessment Test. They mentioned this new test was specifically designed for working professionals and had some attractive features, including the fact that the test contained no geometry and had a 1.5 hour time limit. The test also had some challenging features - you had to keep your score, could only take it twice and the IR section counted towards your final score.

I found the EA test to be exactly what was advertised, a mini-gmat with no geometry and a challenging IR section. Some people online made it seem like the test would be a cakewalk when compared to the GMAT, but my experience was different . Yes, the test was shorter, but the actual questions were tough and I'm so glad I had spent time studying for the GMAT because the questions were similar in difficulty and prepared me well.

Most top EMBA programs stress that there is no target score, but you should aim for high single digits or low double digits for each section and a total score above 150. I scored 15, 15, 16 for a total score of 164. In my admissions interview I was told that this was a very high score and mitigated any concerns about my mediocre undergrad grades. My advice would be to take the test as seriously as you would the GMAT. In some ways it can be an even more stressful endeavor because you have to keep your score and there are less questions, so each one is very important. The best way to prepare is to buy the materials provided by GMAC and take a bunch of timed practice GMAT tests. Also, remember to practice for the IR section as it counts towards your score (unlike the GMAT) and it's very easy to run out of time on that section.


Essays


With regards to my essays, I focused on my professional accomplishments since undergrad and emphasized the fact I had been promoted on a routine basis. Success in your professional career can help rub the stain off any struggles you had in your undergraduate career. I also stressed the fact that Columbia was my first, and only, choice and did not apply anywhere else. I made it clear that I would take the program seriously and come hell or high water I would never miss a class.

EMBA programs are valuable for many reasons, but one of the major appealing factors is the actual students themselves. Unlike the full time student body, EMBA students have had experienced sustained real world success and ensuring they are active participants in the class is a major appeal. You can learn just as much from the students as you can from the professors in the EMBA programs. So I let the admissions committee know that I would do my best to share all I could about the investment banking world and they would never have to worry about my as a drop-out or "flight" risk; I would never drop out of the program due to the time demands from a full time finance job and an Ivy League curriculum.

I'm unsure of the drop-out rate for the top EMBA programs, but balancing a full time job and academic schedule can be daunting. Since the classes only meet once a week or once every two weeks, missing even one day can be severely detrimental to the student and that student's learning team. There will be times your personal or work life may suffer in favor of academics and I felt like admissions people want to know you're "all in" for this program.


Recommendation Letters


The final piece of the puzzle are your recommendations. Columbia required 2 and one HAD to come from your direct boss. You could not get away with asking a former boss or colleague, it had to come from recent colleagues, mainly ones you dealt with on a daily basis and were above you in the corporate hierarchy. In my case, I was able to secure terrific recommendations as I had been doing very well recently at work. I am unsure if my "recommenders" were called or what exactly was written on my behalf, but I am confident I got strong referrals.


Interview


The interview was very standard and I would compare it to a relaxed job interview. It was more of a "fit" interview, rather than a technical one. They will ask you to address any weaknesses in your application, your long term goals, what life or professional experiences you will be able to share with the other students and your level of dedication to the program. I feel like they are trying to get a sense of whether or not you will do a good job and be a good representative for the school in the professional world. The top schools have the luxury of being picky, but EMBAs are also a cash cow so I think there is a good balance in the application decision making. Just be yourself and let the chips fall where they may. As my father would say, work hard and leave the results to God.

Anything else I can opine on or help with, please let me know.

Originally posted by Jazzy3113 on 13 Mar 2018, 13:56.
Last edited by Narenn on 13 Mar 2018, 22:50, edited 2 times in total.
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New post 24 Apr 2018, 07:22
Hi Jazzy,
Good post and thanks for bringing focus to EMBA. Do you have any information about EMBA in India?
I have close to 13 years technical experience, will it help to switch to leadership and management roles?
I have applied for IIMB, S.P.Jain Global, and great lakes institutes.
Thanks,
Parag Mehta

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New post 24 Apr 2018, 07:49
pm2812 wrote:
Hi Jazzy,
Good post and thanks for bringing focus to EMBA. Do you have any information about EMBA in India?
I have close to 13 years technical experience, will it help to switch to leadership and management roles?
I have applied for IIMB, S.P.Jain Global, and great lakes institutes.
Thanks,
Parag Mehta

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Hi Parag,

Even though I am of Indian descent, I was born and raised in the states, so I do not have any experience with the India educational system. I do believe, and this may sound self-serving, that the EMBA will be the educational path of the future. A full time MBA makes sense if (in my opinion) you want to do a career 180, need a break from real life, or went to a mediocre undergrad school and want to up your prestige game. But the real cost to me is not the tuition, which is steep in and of itself, rather, the true cost is the opportunity cost of lost human capital.

You are sacrificing two working years in the prime of your life to go back to school full time. In my industry, two years can be a lifetime. It can be the time needed to go from analyst to associate or vp to director. So for me, I was loath to lose the two years of wages, but I was even more loath to lose two years of work experience. I was scared if I went to a full time program and struggled to find a job, or found a job that paid me about the same as I make now, than I would feel so frustrated.

I think an EMBA makes sense from the handful of facts you mentioned. You seem older, have mostly technical expertise and want that leadership education. However, I urge you to speak to someone who has more knowledge of the Indian market and education system.
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New post 24 Apr 2018, 08:04
Thanks for the response.
I am 34 and pretty settled in my current organization and good in technical. I am also scared on the same point. Job opportunities after full time mba and again strive hard in initial years. Which I have done before in past.
I can still do it but after emba where I don't have opportunity cost.
Thanks again for your help.

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Re: Admitted to Columbia EMBA   [#permalink] 24 Apr 2018, 08:04
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