Too Late to Start from Scratch and Apply for this Round for MBA? (Specifically CBS)

EsVedra's picture
Rank: Senior Chimp | 20

Hi all, hoping to get some feedback on a little predicament am in due to my own indecisiveness and poor timing. Business school has been in the back of my mind for a while but I only recently officially made the decision in my own head to pursue and MBA. Once I started looking at the deadlines, I realize I picked a poor time to have this "ah hah" moment. My main goal is to get into Columbia, but given the timing I am stuck with the decision between two main options.

1) Don't rush the application and apply during the next round (for Fall 2019 entry). This will give me the best chances because I can apply Early Decision for Columbia and also spend plennnnnty of time on the overall application and give me more time to study for the GMAT. I have not started studying for the GMAT at all, but have general confidence in my test taking skills and ability to get a decent score (but this will be on a shortened study period so who knows). The main downside is that Fall 2019 is a long time from now. I am already very bored at my current job and definitely can't stay that long. I'd have to find something to do for that large gap of time. I'm sure I can get creative and figure something out (travel, side project, new work experience), but again Fall 2019 is a loooong time from now. No wife or kids though, so that helps a bit.

2) Get started ASAP and get those applications ready! Work isn't too busy in December so I can really go beast -mode on the GMAT and all the applications. The downside is that I would face the harder task of getting in at the later rounds at all the various schools, and specifically not having the ability to apply ED at Columbia. Not to mention, the overall application might be as good as it could be with more time.

Profile for background:
non-urm, 27yrs old
3.4 undergrad GPA with economics major from top 10 US university
Post-College Work Experience:
2 yrs rotational development program at top-tier fund manager (think Fidelity or similar)
3 years at same company as a buy-side execution trader
ECs: decent to slightly lacking

Any thoughts are much appreciated !

United States - Northeast

Comments (9)

Nov 29, 2017

lol maybe i'm a retard but i think you'd need a month alone on gmat prep even if you weren't working. if you get a decent test score on an official test then maybe it's doable? also you would need to give your recommenders adequate time to fill out the app and you still have to write your essays...

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Nov 29, 2017

@plskystks Right, I'm thinking the same thing. I was thinking i'd give my recs 6 weeks, which would bring us to mid January. During those 6 weeks I would do gmat prep and write essays. If you build in some cushion, let's say you submit everything by mid/late January. This is in time for most deadlines, but of course harder to get in the later you submit. Columbia for example is technically due on April 11th.

Best Response
Nov 29, 2017

Well, Columbia is the only top school that's rolling admissions, and after January 5th it's challenging to get in. My understanding is that it's the equivalent of R3 at non-rolling admissions schools, where they're basically looking for a few more people to round out a class. Are they looking for white finance guys? probs not, TBH. I think applying next year is the best move. If you did shit out an application this year and it's terrible, you'll end up in the "Reapplicant" file next year, which means now you need to show GROWTH vs. this year (better GMAT, promotion at work, new significant community involvement, etc) whereas your profile executed well the first time is more likely to get in. I took like 4 months of GMAT prep but I was pretty relaxed about it (didn't really miss out on much, just took like 30-60 minutes after work to do practice questions instead of watching tv). Is it worth making the next 2-3 months of your life hell to potentially make it harder for you in the long run?

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Nov 29, 2017

Why don't you take a free practice GMAT ASAP from a test prep company without any study to see where you're at. If you're close to where you would like to be or in a range where you could take a crash gmat course (while having enough time for the CBS app) and apply before CBS' January non-deadline, I would recommend it. If you do poorly on the practice, I recommend applying ED to CBS in Fall or if you aren't planning to change careers, consider their January entry. Jan 2019 isn't so much after August. 2018.

I agree with the poster that unless you did super-well on the GMAT it would be unlikely to get accepted to CBS after January 5.

Another option, prepare for the GMAT either with a tutor or an intensive course and plan to take it just before Jan. 5. Prepare your application for CBS. At the test you can decide whether your score is good enough to apply or not. If it is, you go full steam ahead. you'll be ready. If it isn't, you cancel the score and apply for Fall 2019.

We've helped people get accepted to top-tier schools with crazier schedules than yours. It's not easy, and it's not what we recommend, but it's where you're at now.

Linda Abraham
President, Accepted | Contact Me | Admissions Consulting

    • 2
Nov 29, 2017

I am going to second @little-monkey on this one.

You got a full work load, studying for the GMAT. Take some time to get a good score and rest your body so you do not over-stress. A year will fly past you before you know it!

I think differentiating yourself from the competition (applicants) will help tremendously. Everything from Community Outreach to Volunteer at a local charity/organization/hospital, regardless of what you do, make sure it is something you are passionate about and enjoy.

@EsVedra - what made you decide to go to Business school if I may ask? What are your end goals?

No pain no game.

Nov 30, 2017

BTW - I did a full court press in round 1 - applied to 5 schools and interviewed at 3 and currently waiting to hear back (CBS wasn't one of them). I started studying for the GMAT last year during Thanksgiving break. I took the GMAT in March, got my target score (but if I hadn't, was going to retake in May), visited schools and refined my targets from March-May, started writing essays when they were released late May/early June, and was ready to submit for the September deadlines. I would recommend this timeline to anyone who can swing it - it was still hard work, but it was spaced out and I never felt TOO overwhelmed. It goes faster than you think.

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Nov 30, 2017

Appreciate all the helpful feedback everyone. I totally agree that the time will fly by. At the end of the day, I want to put my best foot forward and if it requires a little bit of patience, so be it. I think the key is how meaningfully all that extra time in between is spent. With some creativity, it could turn into a unique opportunity for travel/learning/projects and
a great asset.

@H13x , that's a fair question. There are a few reasons, but my end goal is to break out of buy-side trading and use school as an opportunity to pivot into another asset class within the mutual fund world or go into real estate. Within this team, my opportunities for advancement are mainly within the pillar of trading and anything outside of it will be more difficult, though I have been trying and networking. Because the nature of my role is very specialized, I am finding it hard to switch directly into these roles due to the lack of experience and certain skills (though I am trying as much as possible to learn on my own through online courses and what not). I spent too much time/energy narrowly focused on chasing the promotions and bonus which sometimes conflicted with the learning quality and quantity, so this is making the pivot harder. I see business school as an opportunity to build that solid foundation and hit the reset button.

Nov 30, 2017

Similar boat mentally re: working a boring job with little upside. I work in mid office at a hedge fund (related to risk mgmt) and I feel like I am getting dumber and lazier, each additional day I'm working this job.. hours are good and pay decent, but the work is just god awful boring and soul sucking.. really looking forward to starting mba soon and getting the hell outta here

If I were you, I would first crack 720+ on gmat. Remember that certain employers such as MBB consulting use gmat as a resume filter criterion. You don't want to get rejected by any job at mba ocr due to lackluster gmat, even if u manage to get into a top mba. Also, use some time between now and mba application to shop around your resume and try a new gig, or learn about other careers. So that you will have a better, more informed view as to what you want to do post mba.

Best of luck!

Dec 1, 2017