Is Columbia Early Decision Binding?
In theory, candidates applying during the early-decision cycle sign an electronic form saying that they are committed to withdrawing their application from other schools if they are offered a place in the Columbia MBA class. However, in reality, I’ve seen multiple candidates who applied by the early-decision deadline but ended up going to other schools, such as Wharton or Harvard. Columbia Business School does not release information about how many people have done so in the past, but I assume there are a few cases every year.
The reasons for selecting another school after being admitted to Columbia are normal and reasonable—the other school may offer you a more generous financial aid package, or a stronger brand (or network). Backing out of an early decision acceptance is not a trivial thing to do, and a little bit scary, as many candidates are worried about what Columbia B-school could do to them, and whether the admissions office at Columbia will notify other b-schools to report this behavior. Still, if you do it, you will not be the first. If you are debating whether to apply early decision or not, email me to talk about your situation. I’m at email@example.com
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