Tag Archives: Harvard Business School

No. 1 Trait HBS Looks for in MBA Applicants

Do you have an idea about what the number one characteristic the admissions team at Harvard Business School is looking for in MBA applicants? I recently shared my thoughts on the subject with Business Insider, …

HBS applicantsDo you have an idea about what the number one characteristic the admissions team at Harvard Business School is looking for in MBA applicants? I recently shared my thoughts on the subject with Business Insider, based on my 15 years of experience advising clients on how to position themselves when applying to the world’s top business schools.

It may not surprise you to learn that the most important trait the AdCom looks for is high-impact leadership, or what I call the “big kahuna” at HBS.

When evaluating your leadership potential, the admissions committee will be looking for evidence that you have made a positive impact on the communities of which you’ve been a part, both personally and professionally. However, it’s not about the scale of your achievements – rather, it’s the fact that you left indelible footprints.

Click on over to Business Insider to read more about what I believe are the 10 traits Harvard Business School looks for in the ideal MBA candidate.

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Tuesday Tips: Harvard Business School Fall 2017 MBA Essay Tips

Harvard Business School continues to provide one open-ended essay question to applicants. This year the essay is required (unlike two years ago) but the essay question has changed from last year, and is instead much …

HBS essay adviceHarvard Business School continues to provide one open-ended essay question to applicants. This year the essay is required (unlike two years ago) but the essay question has changed from last year, and is instead much more flexible (like two years ago).

Last year the HBS admissions director blog noted that the “optional” element was dropped because: “this season, every applicant submitted a response. We get it. You want to tell us things.”

The most challenging part of this essay is remaining disciplined. With unlimited space to make your case, you may be tempted to compose a laundry list of everything interesting or impressive you have ever done.

That urge could backfire, as the essay is used to determine who isn’t a fit for HBS as much as those who deserve the chance to move into the interview round. Maturity, accomplishment, and leadership are highly valued qualities and this essay is your chance to display those qualities through the stories you choose and the voice coming through your writing.

There is one question for the Class of 2019 application essay:

As we review your application, what more would you like us to know as we consider your candidacy for the Harvard Business School MBA program?

From HBS: There is no word limit for this question. We think you know what guidance we’re going to give here. Don’t overthink, overcraft and overwrite. Just answer the question in clear language that those of us who don’t know your world can understand.

A note on word count: HBS values brevity in essays. Do not be tempted to go overboard with a 2,000 word essay, rather focus on concise and clear writing and consider keeping this essay to 1,200 words or less. Our clients have successfully composed essays anywhere from 500-1,300 words, though you should take a pass through your essay to cut any unnecessary words if you find yourself on the upper end of that range.

The goal of this essay is to know yourself, know HBS, and know how to match the two to demonstrate your fit for the school. Your first task should be to evaluate all of the other aspects of your candidacy – what is the story your resume tells? What do you think recommenders will say? How does your transcript communicate your skills, accomplishments and interests? Then you need to evaluate how to fill the gaps with the essay.

Last year HBS recommended a video on the case method, which is worth watching now. The video clearly shows that diverse perspectives are valuable to the case method experience. Think about what diverse experience you bring. We have found that both personal and career oriented topics can work, and most candidates tell more than one story in the essay. In the past we have observed that successful HBS essays also demonstrate a core driving passion. HBS students are ambitious, motivated and never boring.

As you consider possible stories to tell in this essay keep in mind that HBS has always been highly focused on leadership and really loves candidates with a track record of leadership impact and a success trajectory that indicates upper management potential.

Accomplishments have traditionally been a strong focus of HBS essays, and using at least one accomplishment story in this essay may be a good strategy, particularly if your accomplishments are not obvious when reading your resume or transcripts.

A note on what not to do: We see many applicants tempted to include “why HBS” type information in HBS essays. Explaining why the case method specifically is a good fit for you and your learning style is absolutely appropriate, but more detailed “why HBS” content has never been asked for in an HBS application essay question. HBS admissions is quite clear on the value of an HBS degree, and they would rather see you use the space to provide more information about yourself and your candidacy.

Looking for guidance on your HBS application? Contact us to learn more about Stacy Blackman Consulting.

Image credit: Chris Han (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)

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Maximize the ROI of Your B-School Decision: Are You Thinking Deep Enough?

With the high cost of admission to a top-tier business school, prospective students should determine whether pursuing the MBA degree makes financial sense as a long-term investment. I advise applicants to ask themselves three questions: …

ROI of the MBA

With the high cost of admission to a top-tier business school, prospective students should determine whether pursuing the MBA degree makes financial sense as a long-term investment. I advise applicants to ask themselves three questions: Will the degree help me switch careers? Can I expect a significant salary increase? Will an MBA help me reach a leadership position sooner?

While it can be daunting to pay hundreds of thousands of dollars to earn an MBA, most business school graduates experience a substantial salary increase. The degree is also a powerful differentiator in a crowded marketplace. The vast majority of graduates report having greater job satisfaction and the ability to advance quickly and, therefore, earn more in shorter time.

In fact, Graduate Management Admission Council’s 2016 Alumni Perspectives survey gets very specific about the dollar value such a degree can bring. Business school alumni earn a median of US$2.5 million in cumulative base salary over 20 years following graduation. Alumni — on average — recoup their b-school investment within four years after graduation, depending on the type of program attended.

Last fall, when Forbes released its 2015 ranking of the best b-schools based on the ROI of the MBA Class of 2010, Stanford Graduate School of Business nudged out Harvard Business School for the top spot for the second straight time, with a five-year gain of $89,100 for graduates. In fact, according to the report, the class of 2010 tripled their pre-MBA total compensation to $255,000 five years out of school.

Calculating the return on investment requires a simple formula. It’s the return acquired from an investment minus the cost of the investment, divided by the cost of the investment. Students of two-year MBA programs typically have the largest investment expense because they miss two years of employment. They need to recoup the cost of the MBA degree plus the opportunity cost in order to get a positive return on their investment.

To dive deeper into the numbers, TransparentMBA, a company started in 2015 by University of Chicago Booth School of Business students who were frustrated by the lack of relevant compensation and satisfaction data available to MBA students, provides both industry and company-specific on effective hourly wage across a multitude of post-MBA roles.

This can greatly help those considering business school figure out just what type of salary bump they can look forward to based on the industry or company they plan to target upon graduating.

Prospective students should consider payback time with projected cumulative growth, and average growth rate, when looking at return on investment as a motivating factor for pursuing an MBA. But keep in mind, the value of the MBA degree varies depending on your post-graduation plans, as well as the brand of the business school where you earn the degree.

In an earlier post on ROI, Paul Danos, former dean of Dartmouth College’s Tuck School of Business, noted that while the elite programs require a significant investment in time and money, it pays off in both career options and compensation. “The top programs are able to recruit the best qualified students, provide a truly excellent educational experience, and therefore attract top recruiters who recognize the value of that experience.”

Remember, every choice that you make when deciding whether an MBA makes sense for you– ranging from the cost of the city you decide to live in, the field you move into, to the school you choose – will impact your financial return on investment.  Nevertheless, I believe that no other degree can open doors as the MBA does.

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HBS 2+2 Program Now Has Single Application Deadline

Earlier this month, Harvard Business School announced a significant change to the application process for its 2+2 program. This deferred admissions program is designed for college seniors, who, if accepted, work for two years (or …

Harvard Business School-Flickr

Earlier this month, Harvard Business School announced a significant change to the application process for its 2+2 program. This deferred admissions program is designed for college seniors, who, if accepted, work for two years (or more) after their college graduations before entering the b-school.

Going forward, there will be a single deadline for these applicants—April 3, 2017—and one decision notification in mid-May.

In an update to the Director’s Blog, outgoing head of MBA admissions Dee Leopold notes that the change now offers the admissions team the opportunity to see applicants’ fall term grades and activities, and allows the team to review the entire pool at once.

While applicants can submit their materials earlier, Leopold stresses that this is not a rolling admissions process and no application will be considered prior to the April deadline.

“Many participants elect to work for three years and some for four,” adds Leopold. “You’ve heard us say this before and we’ll say it again: 2+2 probably should be re-named ‘Flex+2’…Your plans for employment need to be approved by us but we encourage a wide range of career exploration.”

Interview dates have not yet been set, though successful applicants can anticipate interviewing in late April-early May.

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Harvard Business School Fall 2017 MBA Essay Question

Harvard Business School has introduced the required essay prompt for the 2016-2017 MBA application season, which is a revisit of the optional question HBS used a few admission cycles back. It is as follows: As …

Harvard Business School SpanglerHarvard Business School has introduced the required essay prompt for the 2016-2017 MBA application season, which is a revisit of the optional question HBS used a few admission cycles back. It is as follows:

As we review your application, what more would you like us to know as we consider your candidacy for the Harvard Business School MBA program?

Per HBS: There is no word limit for this question.  We think you know what guidance we’re going to give here. Don’t overthink, overcraft and overwrite. Just answer the question in clear language that those of us who don’t know your world can understand.

The post-interview reflection remains a part of the HBS application process. Within 24 hours of the interview, candidates must submit a written reflection through the online application system. Detailed instructions will be provided to those applicants who are invited to the interview process.

For more information, please visit the HBS MBA admissions website. And stay tuned for our expert tips on how best to answer this prompt!

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Harvard Business School Fall 2017 MBA Application Deadlines

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Harvard Business School Fall 2017 MBA Application Deadlines

Harvard Business School has announced the application deadlines for the 2016-2017 MBA admissions cycle. They are as follows: Round 1 Application due: September 7, 2016 Decision released: December 7, 2016 Round 2 Application due: January …

Harvard Business School deadlines

Harvard Business School has announced the application deadlines for the 2016-2017 MBA admissions cycle. They are as follows:

Round 1

Application due: September 7, 2016
Decision released: December 7, 2016

Round 2

Application due: January 4, 2017
Decision released: March 22, 2017

Round 3

Application due: April 3, 2017
Decision released: May 10, 2017

Applications are due by 12 noon on the day of the deadline. Harvard Business School anticipates that many candidates will submit their online application materials very close to 12 noon on submission deadline dates. To avoid heavy server traffic and potential delays, HBS encourages candidates to submit application materials as early as possible.

For more information, please visit the HBS MBA admissions website.

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Harvard Business School Fall 2017 MBA Essay Question

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