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Columbia Business School: Five Things You Need to Know Before You Apply

August 29, 2012 :: Admissionado Team

So, CBS looks like the school for you? It’s a great program… which is why TONS of people apply there every year. How oh how do you stand out from the crowd?

If you want to know Columbia, you have to talk to someone who GETS Columbia. And our rock star MBA consultant and CBS graduate Mandy Tang is a killer resource.

Here are some fantabulous insights into CBS from Mandy, ways to understand the ins and outs of Columbia.

  1. It’s All About the Core, Baby! At Columbia Business School, all first year students are required to take the core curriculum. This includes: Corporate Finance, Accounting, Statistics, Managerial Economics, Operations, Marketing, Strategy, and more. There aren’t any “majors” at CBS (i.e. your diploma won’t say you specialized in anything), and so you have to explain why you want to go CBS and why you’re ready to undertake the rigorous core. And, by the way, you take all of these courses with your “Cluster,” a group of 50-60 people that become your best friends because you spend pretty much every waking moment with them. Within your cluster, you’re assigned to a learning team of 5-6 people that you do almost all of your assignments with… as a team. You’ll book a study room in the CBS library for your team, sneak in some snacks to keep your blood sugar up, and start cranking through those Statistics assignments.
  2. Post-MBA Goal? CEO, Of Course! Being in NYC, there are loads of MBAs who have the entrepreneurial bug and will start their own companies. In the course “Launching New Ventures,” students are guided through the first steps of starting a business, including writing a business plan, testing market size, and even launching a prototype. With “Entrepreneurial Finance,” students learn the the ins and outs of how to fundraise and manage the financial growth of your company. Resources include the Eugene Lang Entrepreneurship Center and the Greenhouse Program that provides funding to select CBS start-ups.
  3. Finance, Finance… and more Finance. The CEOs and SVPs from Goldman, Citigroup, and Bank of America are regularly on campus giving talks and meeting with students. Columbia is a hardcore finance school, and they take it very seriously. If you’re interested in finance, check out the famous Value Investing Program or the awesome Program for Financial Studies. There are also student-run clubs for any kind of finance interest, including the Investment Banking Club, the Private Equity and Venture Capital Club, and the Columbia Investment Management Association.
  4. Doesn’t Get Any More “Real World” Than This! At CBS, Master Classes are the ultimate manifestation of the “theory meets practice” philosophy. These are elective courses that bring in real-life practitioners from the professional world. Oftentimes, students are assigned on a consulting basis to work with real world companies. Past courses have included “Innovative and Entrepreneurial Solutions to the City’s Complex Challenges,” where students work closely with members of the NYC mayor’s office, and “Retailing: Design & Marketing of Luxury Goods,” where students do consulting projects for luxury companies such as Gucci, Cartier, and Dior.
  5. Did Someone Say Happy Hour? Every Thursday night (yes EVERY Thursday), the cafeteria at CBS called Uris Deli transforms into a rowdy, crazy Happy Hour. This is where all of the MBAs gather to have free beer (from huge kegs), free dinner (usually either Italian, Asian, or soul food), and show off their dances moves (and yes, there is even a live DJ that plays hip-hop and will play the songs you like…if you ask nicely). This is when everyone relaxes, gets to know each other, and just chills out. It’s basically a CBS institution, and after a full week of non-stop core classes — you’ll be grateful that it exists!

Now that you’ve got the inside track on CBS, it’s time to whip up some essays! Still have questions about writing them? Check out our 2012-2013 Columbia Essay Analysis.