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# Early Decision is a Tough Decision

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Early Decision is a Tough Decision [#permalink]

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20 Sep 2004, 09:51
Hi:

As you probably guessed from the subject of this thread, I'm in a quandry on deciding on whether or not to apply early decision. Does early decision really increase the odds of getting in? I would love to go to Columbia, and possibly apply early decision, but I don't want to suboptimize by applying to only one school. However, I don't like the idea of getting in with early decision and not getting in without it, the thought of not getting into one of my target schools when I could have otherwise is beginning to drive me crazy. Also, any feedback you could provide about my profile/chances would be extremely appreciated. Anyways here is some more information about my background:

Age: 24

Target Schools: Harvard, Stanford, Wharton, University of Chicago, Columbia.

GMAT Score: 690, 96% verbal, 66% english

Undergrad GPA: 3.83, University of Nevada, Reno, majors in accounting/economics/finance, magna cum laude

Certifications: Ceritified in Financial Management, Certified Management Accountant, Certified Public Accountant, Certified Valuation Analyst, completed Lvl 3 Chartered Financial Analyst, will receive charter in January.

Work Experience: In college worked at a small venture fund, after graduation worked at Deloitte & Touche as an auditor for ~ 18mos., now working at a botique finance firm in Reno valuing private companies/derivatives/intangible assets.

Thanks!
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20 Sep 2004, 09:56
Correction:

GMAT: 690, 96% verbal, 66% quant.
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20 Sep 2004, 10:40
Hi,

Consider the text of the Statement of Commitment carefully:

"I choose to apply Early Decision to Columbia Business School, and I understand that if I am admitted a $5,000 deposit is required to secure a place in the September 2005 entering class. I am committed to attending Columbia Business School, and I will withdraw all applications and decline all offers from other schools upon admission to Columbia Business School. I will be enclosing my$5,000 non-refundable deposit upon admittance."

Note the second sentence stating "I will withdraw all applications . . . from other schools upon admission to Columbia Business School." In your opinion, what does this imply about one's ability to apply to more than one school?

Hjort
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20 Sep 2004, 10:58
I guess it means that I can still apply to the other schools, but have to turn them down if I get into Columbia, which is not a bad situtation to be in. What do you think my chances are at these schools, assuming I have strong essays and letters of reccommendations?
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Re: Early Decision is a Tough Decision [#permalink]

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20 Sep 2004, 14:28
aezgar wrote:
Hi:

As you probably guessed from the subject of this thread, I'm in a quandry on deciding on whether or not to apply early decision. Does early decision really increase the odds of getting in? I would love to go to Columbia, and possibly apply early decision, but I don't want to suboptimize by applying to only one school. However, I don't like the idea of getting in with early decision and not getting in without it, the thought of not getting into one of my target schools when I could have otherwise is beginning to drive me crazy. Also, any feedback you could provide about my profile/chances would be extremely appreciated. Anyways here is some more information about my background:

Age: 24

Target Schools: Harvard, Stanford, Wharton, University of Chicago, Columbia.

GMAT Score: 690, 96% verbal, 66% english

Undergrad GPA: 3.83, University of Nevada, Reno, majors in accounting/economics/finance, magna cum laude

Certifications: Ceritified in Financial Management, Certified Management Accountant, Certified Public Accountant, Certified Valuation Analyst, completed Lvl 3 Chartered Financial Analyst, will receive charter in January.

Work Experience: In college worked at a small venture fund, after graduation worked at Deloitte & Touche as an auditor for ~ 18mos., now working at a botique finance firm in Reno valuing private companies/derivatives/intangible assets.

Thanks!

The ED program at Columbia is for people for whom Columbia is a first choice. That's the target market. If Columbia is your first choice, then you can apply safely ED. If it's not your first choice, and you don't want to have a very difficult and potentially expensive decision to make, then apply after the ED deadline.

You also asked for an assessment of your chances. I don't like to be discouraging but I see most of the schools as stretch schools for you: HBS, Stanford, Wharton and Columbia. You have a competitive profile for Chicago. I think you need to apply to additional schools that are slighly less competitive, but still strong in finance. Check out NYU, Michigan, Duke, UT, Yale, and Cornell. (I'm assuming that you want to remain in a finance-related field.)

Good luck!
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Last edited by Accepted.com on 21 Sep 2004, 21:13, edited 1 time in total.
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20 Sep 2004, 16:10

Thanks,

Aaron
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20 Sep 2004, 18:55
Hi,

Why do you want to get an MBA now as opposed to a few years in the future?

What type of quant coursework did you have in college?

Hjort
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20 Sep 2004, 19:41
Hi Hjort:

I'm applying for an MBA now for a couple of reasons:

1) Just finished the CFA program.
2) Want to move into investment banking, or m&a at a large company, and unfortunatley can not do so without an MBA.
3) Ready for a vacation from reality and go back to school.
4) If you apply and get rejected, I heard your chances improve for getting in the next year, so what have I got to lose?

As far as my quantitave courses, I think my majors in accounting, economics, and economics are highly quantitative. I know I did poorly on the GMAT quant because I tried to solve every problem, regardless of if I had to or not. Do you think I should take it again? Some of my specific courses were:

physics for engineers (the freshman level course), math modeling, calculus, financial theory, international finance, C++, international finance, price theory, advanced financial accounting, statistics 1 & 2. Basically I took every hard acc/fin/ec class at my college to meet the 150 credit criteria to sit for the CPA exam. I decided to get a triple major instead of a master's degree so that if I decided to get a master's I could do so elsewhere. But honestly, this stuff was pretty easy compared to the CFA.

Thanks Hjort, any advice you could provide would be very much appreciated.
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21 Sep 2004, 07:38
From your perspective, what distinguishes you from the thousands of other candidates for the schools with the highest general reputations?

Have you considered schools with high domain specific reputations in finance but lower general reputations?

Am I correct that you attained five professional designations in roughly two years?

Best,

Hjort
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21 Sep 2004, 09:39
Hi Hjort:

Officially I have not been awarded the CFA charter yet, but will be in January. I actually started taking the professional exams for the CFM/CMA while still in college. After graduating took the CPA exam, passed all 4 parts on my first sitting & got one of the five highest scores in the state (albeit in Nevada). I've passed all 3 parts of the CFA on the first shot, and actually never failed a professional exam (except the AICPA's ethics exam! which I don't count since so many cheat on it). After leaving Deloitte I earned the CVA working at the valuation firm where I am currently employed. So it seems like a lot, and to a certain extent is, but I figure that its better to have them sooner rather than later.

I guess I'm hoping that my certifications, solid work experience (which will be ~ 4 yrs by the time I enter), decent GMAT, and high GPA w/honors & a triple major from a lesser known school will be good enough to get me into at least one of my target schools.

I hope so anyways. What lesser known schools w/ a very good reputation in finance would you reccommend? Linda seemed to have some pretty good suggestions, do you have others?

Thanks again.
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21 Sep 2004, 11:44
Hi,

Linda has provided a good list of schools.

NYU is one of the very best schools in finance in the world with strong placements.

UCLA, another elite school, is worth considering as well.

Hjort
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21 Sep 2004, 16:51
What do you suggest I do to improve my chances of getting into Columbia before the October 13, ED deadline?
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21 Sep 2004, 21:27
aezgar wrote:

Thanks,

Aaron

Aaron,

It's not so much that anything is really weak, but that nothing stands out and really sells you. Yes, you have a high GPA, but it is from a school that lacks a strong academic brand. Your work experience is good, but you only have two years, which is a real tough sell at schools like Wharton. You have those certifications, but a low quant score, which is more of a problem than your overall score. And these are the most competitive schools so it isn't enough to be competitive, you have to have something that says "Admit me!" and not the other 3-5 competitive applicants gunning for the same spot. You don't mention extra-curriculars or community service so I'm assuming that they are not significant. Again, at the top schools the lack of community service can be a problem for people with an otherwise average profile. Consequenlty, unless there are diversity factors of which I am unaware, I gave the assessment I gave.

At the same time, I don't think you have to abandon all the stretch schools. Perhaps apply to 2 of those and then 3-4 others which support your goals and at which you are more competitive.
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22 Sep 2004, 09:46
Thanks for the reality check Linda. Does the following list make more sense:

Columbia
NYU
Wharton
Chicago
Dartmouth
Yale

I decided to drop Harvard and Stanford as it seems that I am highly unlikely to get into one of these. Maybe I should be paying you for this good advice?

Thanks again,

Aaron
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22 Sep 2004, 14:28
aezgar wrote:
Thanks for the reality check Linda. Does the following list make more sense:

Columbia
NYU
Wharton
Chicago
Dartmouth
Yale

I decided to drop Harvard and Stanford as it seems that I am highly unlikely to get into one of these. Maybe I should be paying you for this good advice?

Thanks again,

Aaron

Of course you should be paying me. If I'm this good for free, imagine what Accepted.com can do for you when paid!

Kidding aside, this is a much better list. Still no safeties, but with good essays, recs, and interviews, your chances are good of admission to at least one of these schools. You may also want to consider Michigan.

Finally, I and Cindy Tokumitsu have published an ebook, The Finance Professional's Guide to MBA Admissions. It should be of help to you. Cindy also wrote a great article "MBA Admissions: Application Advice for Investment Bankers" . The latter is free; the former is not.

Good luck!
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Co-Author of: MBA Admission for Smarties: The No-Nonsense Guide to Acceptance at Top Business Schools

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28 Sep 2004, 10:40
Well, since I've decided to apply to Columbia early decision, I've been working on my application over the past week. I'm now to my weakest section, extracircullar activities. Would it be ok to list Beta Alpha Psi, Institute of Management Accountants, men's adult soccer league, and goju katate kempo as extra activities while in college? How about the Institute of Management Accountants, men's adult soccer league, Nevada Society of CPA's, and community improvement organization for post college. How much information should I give about each activity, and should I follow the bulleted format shown on Columbia's application, or should I write the information in paragraph form? I really don't have any outstanding extra activities. Should I include weight lifting (not organized)? Thanks again for you help.

Aaron
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28 Sep 2004, 11:11
Hi,

I would follow the format given by the school unless there is a compelling reason to deviate from this.

I would list the activities that you feel best represent your interests outside of work and that provide a fuller protrait of you as a person. In this sense, common membership in a large organization probably communicates little to the admissions officers.

Regarding extracurricular activities et al, remember that you are a candidate for business school, not a candidate for canonization. Schools generally seek individuals who are passionate about activities beyond what is narrowly required of them and who seem likely to be interesting, active participants in the business school community.

Hjort
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28 Sep 2004, 11:31
Thanks Hjort. I will follow their bulleted format and include all the activities I listed above. What about working-out? Is that a cheese ball item that the admissions committe would laugh as if I listed it as an extra activity?
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28 Sep 2004, 12:35
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Hi,

Re: "unofficial" activities/hobbies, like most things it is a matter of how you sell them.

Contrast,

1) I like to jog

with

2) I have run at least 100 miles per week since I was 12 years old, and have participated in x marathons.

The first is a bland pronouncement, the second provides some insight into your commitment and passion for the activity.

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28 Sep 2004, 19:14
Hjort wrote:
Hi,

Re: "unofficial" activities/hobbies, like most things it is a matter of how you sell them.

Contrast,

1) I like to jog

with

2) I have run at least 100 miles per week since I was 12 years old, and have participated in x marathons.

The first is a bland pronouncement, the second provides some insight into your commitment and passion for the activity.

Hjort

Excellent post, if I may say so.

If weight-lifting is important to you, then write about it. If it's something you took up a month ago and do when the moon is in the right phase, then don't right about it.
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28 Sep 2004, 19:14

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