You’re already in the city of your dreams: New York. Now, you’re ready to move on with your career by getting into a top MBA program. Yes, Harvard sounds attractive, but if you could get into Columbia Business School (or maybe NYU Stern), life would be sweet. You could stay in the city, be near your friends, relationship maybe, and continue to build your network across the 5 boroughs (if you’ve even been to Staten Island; I haven’t).

Here’s the tricky part – getting into Columbia Business School is more difficult for you than for someone who lives in Chicago, Los Angles, Paris or Lagos.

Why? It’s a question of supply and demand; so many New Yorkers want to stay local and attend a top MBA program, while each incoming class at CBS consists of only about 740 students and Columbia wants to ensure diversity. Not only diversity of race, gender, and professional experience, but also of undergrad school, current location, and preferred location post-MBA. If you’re a New Yorker and want to study at CBS, you probably also want to work in NYC after graduation. And that’s great – but it also has a disadvantage: Columbia Business School already has a strong network in NYC. It’s interested in strengthening its brand and network in other areas of the world – Asia, Europe, Africa, South America, etc.

According to this year’s employment report – among US citizens who attended  Columbia business school, 39% found jobs in the northeast. That’s 180  students who stayed in the region. Only 7% went to the mid-Atlantic, 5% to the West, 5% to the South and a meager 1% went  to the Midwest.

So, should you…

1. Fake a career goal in another location?

Forget about it. Admissions staff are masters at identifying these fake stories and lying will only worsen your chances. In the latest graduating class of CBS, about 4% (or 18) of the domestic US students went to work outside of the US. If you’re a dual citizen, or have international work experience, this story might work for you, but don’t try it unless you mean it.

2.  Not apply to Columbia or Stern?

If New York is where you want to live and work you should absolutely apply here. Columbia has a strong network and brand name, not only in the US but also globally. It’s well worth investing the energy and time to apply, even if you don’t get in.

3. Apply to a part-time or EMBA program instead?

This could be an option, unless you want to make a significant change in your career or role .

But your best move is to apply early, do you homework, and compose a kick-ass application. By applying early I mean get your materials in for the early admissions round and commit to enrolling at Columbia Business School if you’re accepted. If you’re later admitted to Harvard or Wharton you can decide what to do then.

Do you homework, specifically about Columbia business school. When I worked in the admissions office of NYU Stern, I interviewed a student who lived nearby in NJ but hadn’t made time to attend even an info session before applying. How could I consider him to be serious about his MBA application when he hadn’t bothered to make that short trip? So, make sure you visit the school, attend a class, talk with alumni and current students, and can articulate your reasons, beyond location, for applying to CBS.

Now you’re ready to write that kick-ass application. Make sure your application is strong and original, explaining why you particularly want to study at CBS and how you will contribute to the school. Go beyond the basics when you talk about living and studying in NYC. Being a New Yorker already should give you a more clear and realistic view of the advantages you can draw from the city. Anyone can write, ‘New York is the center of the universe and I will benefit from being there.’ but an experienced resident should be able to be more specific

Let me help you get into the Columbia MBA program. Fill out the contact form below and I will contact you within 24 hours. We can set up a phone session or an in person meeting in NYC.