Anyone who has used Clear Admit’s MBA LiveWire already knows this. The real-time updates provided by candidates as they move through the admissions process at leading business schools has offered a new degree of transparency into the processes at individual schools.
Including when they experience hiccups—as was the case earlier this week at Columbia Business School (CBS).
A small flurry of activity on LiveWire on Monday and Tuesday caught our attention. It revealed that some current candidates received invitations to interview, only to later learn that those messages were sent in error and that their applications are still under review.
In three separate discussion threads, CBS applicants triumphantly announced receiving invitations to interview on Monday, October 8th..
“I submitted recommendations and application on 10/2 and 10/3 and received a generic email from the admissions office inviting me to interview around 9pm ET on 10/8,” wrote one. “The email notes ‘interviews can occur at any stage of the application review process’ so I’m not sure what if anything I should read into that, but I’m going to try to schedule it ASAP. Any advice from people who have gone through the CBS interview process is appreciated!”
This candidate’s note drew quick congratulatory responses from other applicants. But a subsequent entry confirmed that the invitation had been issued by mistake.
“Yes unfortunately I had received this message in error. Application is just being reviewed now,” wrote the original poster.
Other discussion threads revealed that several candidates found themselves in the same boat, with some even contacted by alumni interviews to schedule a time to meet.
“Very awk. circling back with my interviewer to cancel and having to tell my partner/family,” wrote one. “Do feel bad for Admissions (a bit) – sometimes this stuff happens and there’s not much else they can do after the fact – but man, oh man, it’s some real cringe-worthy stuff.”
Others were less understanding, adding that the message conveying the error didn’t reflect a lot of care.
“Pretty ridiculous from a top 10 organization tbh,” one candidate posted to LiveWire. “I get having system errors, but at least make the email seem like it wasn’t just written in 2 minutes. They should have some empathy for people given how stressful it is.”
A third discussion thread included multiple candidates sharing similar sentiments. “Really bad on their part and even their email seemed really rushed,” wrote another.
We reached out to officials at CBS to better understand what happened, and Assistant Dean of Admissions Amanda Carlson responded by taking responsibility and apologizing.
“This was an unfortunate error on our part, and I am sorry for the confusion, concern, and frustration it caused for the few dozen candidates who received it,” she said. The error was discovered the next morning, at which point the admissions team notified candidates right away, she added.
Clear Admit’s Alex Brown weighed in on the issue before we’d heard back from Carlson. “I’m sure Columbia wants to keep it quiet, but in this world of transparency and sharing (thanks to LiveWire), schools need to be more vigilant,” he said.
Carlson acknowledged that she understands the anxiety many applicants in the high-stakes MBA admissions process are feeling. “I know that we all recognize that applying to business school is a stressful process to begin with, and I sincerely and humbly apologize to those who received this notification in error,” she said.
Obviously, it’s never any school’s intention to create added anxiety for applicants. With any luck, this most recent example—like others before it elsewhere—will only serve to help Columbia iron out any kinks.
Still, it’s never any fun to be un-invited to anything. Best of luck to the Columbia applicants who had this happen to them. Here’s hoping the next invitation you receive is legit.