To apply or not to apply ED - Merit Scholarship chances

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I have a question regarding timing for applying to Columbia and the likelihood of getting merit scholarship/fellowships offers. I need to give some context, please bear with me, I'll get to the questions shortly...

I expect to present what I see as a pretty strong application (experience at leading firms in my field, substantial and succesful leadership experience, glowing recommendations from very senior people, started and later sold my own startup company , GMAT above 750, native English skills, top 5pc of my undergrad class at leading local college). This leads me to believe I have a shot at being awarded a substantial scholarship/fellowship.

Given my focus is on value investing, Columbia is clearly my top pick. I am also applying to Wharton/Lauder and Harvard, but would definitely choose Columbia if accepted to all in similar conditions. This naturally leads me to consider applying for the Early Decision round, but I have serious questions due to financial considerations.

Reading online articles, they all mention Harvard as very aggressive towards using financial incentives in attracting top applicants, Wharton as moderately so and Columbia as very conservative. While I clearly prefer Columbia at the same price and even at a moderately higher one, I hesitate to make the commitment to attend at ANY price differential, given the potential six-figure difference in tuition costs if I get a strong fellowship offer from one of the other schools. I am self funded and far from rich, 100k USD would make a substantial dent in my savings.

After this lengthy introduction, here are the questions:

1. Any weakness I'm not sensing in my application? Am I being too optimistic in expecting strong merit scholarship offers? What else would I need to present in order to increase my chances?

2. When considering to whom they should offer merit fellowships, anyone know if Columbia considers ED applicants on an equal footing with regular applicants?

I ask because since ED applicants make an honor commitment to attend if accepted, the "machiavellian" thing to do is to not offer substantial financial incentives, even if you consider the person to be a top applicant to whom you would award a substantial incentive if they were in the regular rounds. I take my word very seriously and would have a big problem with applying ED and then foregoing my 6K deposit to go to another school, but paying potentially six figures extra to attend Columbia instead of Wharton/Lauder or Harvard is a stretch.

I am torn between applying to Columbia ED and taking the risk the admissions office will be fair in their evaluation of whether I deserve financial incentives, or apply regular round just to be sure. Any suggestions? How does ED factor into merit scholarship decisions?


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by fxmbaconsulting » Fri Jul 04, 2014 9:27 am
Columbia's ED deadline is in early October. The merit fellowship deadline is in early January. If you do an early decision application to Columbia you are saying
'Columbia you are my first choice school and if offered a place I will accept it (most likely) and I am committed to attending Columbia Business School and will withdraw all applications and decline all offers from other schools upon admission to Columbia Business School.'
Columbia also has another round of 'regular decision' applicants who are considered after the ED applicants. Just using common sense - I would say Columbia would have less incentive to award a fellowship to an ED applicant because they are, by definition, the most enthusiastic about the school and probably the least likely to need incentives in order to be convinced to attend.

You might want to apply to Columbia ED as a safety option - and then do HBS & Wharton 1st round.

Your self-summary sounds good on the surface but without details it is really hard to judge whether you might be over (or under :) estimating the strength of your candidacy vis a vis the fellowships.

If you want to email me your resume I'm happy to take a look [email protected]

Happy 4th of July!
Leah Derus
Leah Derus
MIT Sloan MBA 2010
Senior Admissions Consultant
[email protected]

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by MBAPrepAdvantage » Fri Jul 11, 2014 11:35 am
Columbia is not less likely to award fellowship opportunities to ED candidates, so do not let that dissuade you from applying Early Decision. One fact you might note though. At our AIGAC Conference a couple of months ago, co-hosted by Columbia, a member of the Columbia Admissions Committee told us that non-ED applicants applying before January have an equal chance as those applying Early Decision. However, if you apply in 2015, your chances go down (Columbia is rolling).

I hope this helps.

Best of luck,
Michael Cohan
MBAPrepAdvantage Founder & AIGAC Board Director

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