Tag Archives: Harvard Business School

Harvard Business School’s Fall 2018 Deadlines, Essay Question

Chad Losee, Harvard Business School’s director of MBA admissions and financial aid, took to his blog this week to preview the following MBA application deadlines and essay question for the 2017-18 admissions season. Round 1 Application due: …

successful HBS applicantChad Losee, Harvard Business School’s director of MBA admissions and financial aid, took to his blog this week to preview the following MBA application deadlines and essay question for the 2017-18 admissions season.

Round 1

Application due: September 6, 2017
Decision released: TBA

Round 2

Application due: January 3, 2018
Decision released: TBA

Round 3/2+2

Application due: Early April 2018
Decision released: TBA

Harvard Business School strongly encourages international applicants to apply in rounds one or two to allow sufficient time for visa processing, as well as additional time to work on English fluency.

All applications are due at 12 noon EST on the day of the deadline. If submitted after 12 noon, applications will be considered in the following round.

Essay Question

The essay question will remain the same as last year: 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? (no word count limit)

In the past, the HBS admissions team has suggested that applicants watch this video about the Case Method before beginning to write. Note that there is no word limit for this question, but as always, the team stresses that the goal is not to overthink, overcraft, and overwrite. Just answer the question in clear language that anyone outside of your industry would understand.

Applicants will have to answer a written reflection within 24 hours of their interview with an admissions staffer. The new application will go live in early June. For more information, please visit the HBS admissions website.

Image credit: Michael A. Herzog (CC BY-ND 2.0)

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Paying for a Harvard MBA

In his recent update to the Director’s Blog, Harvard Business School‘s head of admissions and financial aid Chad Losee shared a few important points of how financial aid works at HBS. The inspiration for the …

HBS financial aidIn his recent update to the Director’s Blog, Harvard Business School‘s head of admissions and financial aid Chad Losee shared a few important points of how financial aid works at HBS. The inspiration for the post came after attending the school’s annual “Fellowship Dinner” for current students who have received need-based aid to study and the donors who make it possible.

“I intellectually know that 50% of all HBS students receive an average fellowship of $74,000 over the two years (money that doesn’t need to be paid back), ” Losee writes, “But seeing everyone together—filling up three basketball courts in the HBS gym (Shad Hall)—I was struck by how many people’s lives are impacted for good.”

Alumni donations to HBS don’t go into a large pot to be divided up among students with need, Losee explains, adding that fellowships are not provided as an anonymous way of discounting tuition for some students.  “The funds are real money from real people, and each donor’s contribution goes to a specific student,” he explained.

“At the Fellowship Dinner, those giving and those receiving sit next to one another, and students are able to personally thank their benefactors. At my table last night, I saw great conversations, genuine heartfelt gratitude, and budding mentor relationships take hold. It was moving,” he shared.

“These are busy people with busy lives all over the world,” Losee writes, “But here they are on campus to support these students. Many were fellowship recipients themselves as HBS students and feel an enduring connection to the School.”

Cash-strapped applicants can take heart when they hear what Harvard Business School dean Nitin Nohria said in this Bloomberg interview in 2015: “What we’re looking for is the brightest people with great leadership potential. And I promise you, if you apply to Harvard Business School you will be able to attend irrespective of your financial needs.”

Some very worthy applicants become scared off of applying to a school of this caliber for fear that the expense will be too great to bear. Losee’s post therefore is extremely important to keep qualified candidates from self-selecting out of the HBS applicant pool next season.

For more information about the financial aid process at Harvard Business School, take a look at this webinar on the school’s website.

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

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Ramp Up Extracurriculars Before Round 1 Deadlines

This post originally appeared on Stacy’s “Strictly Business” MBA Blog on U.S.News. If you’ve been holed up in your office for the past three years, you may not have realized that volunteer experience and extracurricular …

extracurriculars and MBA application

This post originally appeared on Stacy’s “Strictly Business” MBA Blog on U.S.News.

If you’ve been holed up in your office for the past three years, you may not have realized that volunteer experience and extracurricular interests are a crucial aspect of your business school application profile.

Now you might be panicking as to what to do to fill out your application. You may even wonder why the admissions team is so keen on learning about your community service efforts or hobbies.

Top-ranked MBA programs aren’t looking for number-crunching robots to fill their seats – they are seeking multidimensional candidates with interests and passions outside of work who have shown a commitment to serving their community in some meaningful way.

An added bonus: The ability to make time for such endeavors shows that you’re someone capable of juggling academics with clubs, conferences, recruiting and more once at b-school. It also provides insight for the admissions team as to how you might one day contribute to the vitality of a class and the school’s alumni network.

If you’re planning to apply to b-school during the 2017-18 admissions season and don’t have many volunteer experiences or extracurricular interests to speak of, now is the time to start becoming involved – and avoid looking like you did it just for the application.

But there’s more to it than merely adding another line to your resume. Here are two ways to strengthen your MBA application with volunteer work and extracurriculars.

Brainstorm interests and activities: Start by brainstorming things that you enjoy doing in your personal life and seek out related organizations. Your extracurricular activities should be things that resonate with you and don’t have to include saving the whole world.

Perhaps you can expand one of your lifelong hobbies within a group setting. Are you a cycling enthusiast? Consider volunteering at an advocacy organization working to improve the cycling environment in your city.

Or do you love food and feel passionate about sustainability or the fight against hunger? Start a community garden or become involved with a food bank. The possibilities are endless, and any meaningful involvement can give you the opportunity to exercise your leadership and management skills in a low-risk, high-responsibility situation.

One client we worked with, Ali, had a strong applicant profile, complete with stellar undergraduate GPA, a high GMAT score and impressive work experience at a prestigious investment bank. Admissions committee members know that most investment bankers have little spare time to devote to community service, but we felt it would further bolster his candidacy if we could show Ali had an interest in helping others.

Ali and his consultant mined his background for relevant activities that would not seem abrupt if he became involved just six months before his MBA application deadlines. Inspired by his sister’s work with nonprofit organizations related to girls’ education in the Middle East, Ali had an idea to have young professionals in New York sponsor a high school-aged girl in a Middle Eastern country and mentor her in terms of possible postgraduation career paths.

Ali enlisted friends and colleagues to recruit mentors, and he launched the first year of the program in the spring before his application deadlines. In his MBA applications, Ali discussed how he had recruited six mentor-mentee pairs for the program and raised a meaningful amount of money to support it.

While low in time commitment for Ali, this activity had high impact and assisted him in his successful applications to Columbia Business School, Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business and Harvard Business School.

Think about activities that you participated in as an undergrad and become re-engaged. It’s ideal to be able to show continuity in your interests and goals. Even impacting your alumni organization in a positive way can be as impressive as engaging in charity work.

If you are a career-changer, your extracurricular activities may be a great introduction to your new target industry or function. Think about how you can demonstrate knowledge of your newly chosen career path through volunteer and community activities.

Focus on quality: If you’re already involved in a volunteer activity, that’s great, but that means that the quality of your contributions is most important.

Seek out leadership opportunities in your existing activities or find an organization that can benefit from your management skills. Taking charge in your extracurricular interests is great material for any leadership, management or teamwork-themed essay.

Business schools pride themselves in training future leaders and look for individuals who are concerned about doing great work and improving the world around them. Having interesting hobbies and community involvement shows that you have a larger view of the world and that you see what’s happening outside of your office and are motivated to become involved and contribute in some way.

These activities can also show self-awareness about your own role as a leader and your ability to leverage your position. You still have several months to create a meaningful impact before the first-round application deadlines, even if your free time is limited. But the time to get started is today.

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A Look at One Successful HBS Applicant

Prospective applicants always wants to know how to land a seat at the (usually) top-ranked MBA program in the land, Harvard Business School. If that sounds like you, then check out the recent piece in …

successful HBS applicantProspective applicants always wants to know how to land a seat at the (usually) top-ranked MBA program in the land, Harvard Business School. If that sounds like you, then check out the recent piece in BusinessInsider profiling first-year MBA student Ayse Baybars and her journey to HBS.

Baybars graduated from Harvard University in 2012 with a major in human evolutionary biology and minor in English. Her work experience prior to applying to business school included a stint at a small nonprofit focused on STEM, and a role at the lingerie startup Peach.

“I am one of the only students with a science background who also has significant startup experience, so I think that brings a very different view to our case discussions when we talk about making decisions using very little data,” she said of her contributions to the class.

Her best advice to MBA hopefuls is, “Be true to who you are. Don’t try to craft the story before you’ve lived it. The story and the narrative will come as long as you pick steps with authenticity that speak to what you want to do.”

Click on over to the original article for more details on how Baybars’s non-traditional background, coupled with an adroit packaging of her story for the admissions team,  helped her gain admission to this elite business school.

Image credit: Michael A. Herzog (CC BY-ND 2.0)

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Is There Such Thing as Too Old, Too Young for an MBA?

The profile of the typical business school applicant has changed significantly over the past decade. Once upon a time, few would contemplate applying without first having the requisite 5 to 7 years of work experience …

Many prospective business school students confront whether now is the right time to get an MBA.

The profile of the typical business school applicant has changed significantly over the past decade. Once upon a time, few would contemplate applying without first having the requisite 5 to 7 years of work experience under their belts. The prevailing wisdom held that older candidates would have more to contribute to class discussions because of their substantial real-world experience.

Flash forward to today and you’ll see schools taking a closer look at younger candidates, including those with no work experience. The reason for this shift is that business schools fear some applicants would attain so much success after only a few years that they would not want to go back for an MBA.

Some candidates really are ready for business school right after graduating from college; some have started a company while in school, played a strong role in a family business, or gained relevant experiences in other areas.

But as more MBA programs welcome younger applicants, and in some cases actively court them with programs geared toward younger students—such as Harvard Business School‘s 2+2 Program, Yale School of Management‘s three-year Silver Scholars M.B.A. Program, and the deferred enrollment option for college seniors offered by the Stanford Graduate School of Business—anyone over age 28 may feel that she or he doesn’t stand a chance of getting in.

When a client asks, “Am I too old (or too young) for an MBA?” I respond that it’s not about chronological age. It’s more about maturity, readiness, and where you are in your career. Sometimes these things can be linked to age, but that’s not a certainty.

Instead, think about what you want to gain from and what you can contribute to an MBA program. You may be 22 but have a ton of insight to share and highly focused career goals. That would give you a leg up on the 28-year-old who is lost and just using the MBA as something to fill the time.

While older candidates do face certain obstacles, these applicants get into the top programs every year, and can and should apply if an MBA is the necessary stepping stone to advance their career. If you’re contemplating business school in your mid-30s, the key is to demonstrate confidence, how you’ve progressed professionally, and what you’ve contributed on the job.

A 38-year-old candidate who has spent more than a decade in the same position without showing progression will have a hard time being admitted to a top MBA program. This is not because of age. Rather, it is because the candidate may not demonstrated growth during that time.

If you’re applying to an elite school like Harvard, which values great leadership, you should’ve already developed terrific leadership skills. Many people with great leadership skills have achieved so much by the time they near 40 that they’re not interested in going back to school.

However, if one of these people is interested and can demonstrate great achievement balanced with a legitimate need or desire to return to school, then they have a good chance. Proving that you are a strong and accomplished 40-year-old leader, and balancing that with the fact that you want to improve in order to get to the next step, is tough to pull off. That said, “old” people are admitted every season!

Younger applicants, meanwhile, have their own set of obstacles to overcome. They’ll need to demonstrate to the admissions committee that they have the focus and maturity required to succeed in an MBA program.

Since a huge part of the b-school classroom experience is the exchange of ideas from diverse individuals, younger candidates will also need to prove that they have enough life experience to contribute to an incoming class. Business schools are looking for authentic experience, not just students who subscribe to the Wall Street Journal. Finally, younger applicants will need to show an admissions team they have a strong reason for returning to school so soon after graduation.

Regardless of whether you are young or old, if you can achieve what is written above, you will have a good chance of getting into a program that is the right fit for you. Your age should never be the sole deciding factor of whether to apply to business school.

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The Gamble of Applying in Round Three

It probably comes as no surprise, but round three is the most competitive one at most business schools, since the vast majority of acceptances happen in the first two rounds. If you weren’t able to …

Round 3 MBA deadlineIt probably comes as no surprise, but round three is the most competitive one at most business schools, since the vast majority of acceptances happen in the first two rounds. If you weren’t able to apply earlier because you were busy studying for the GMAT, dealing with a family crisis or completing an all-consuming work project, you’ve got to bring your A-game if you hope to land a seat at the end of the admissions cycle.

With fewer slots available, fine-tune your focus on schools where you’ll be a compelling candidate. A strong, well-thought-out application is critical. Make sure your academic profile aligns with the school’s median GMAT and average GPA and that you add something special to the class that the admissions committee didn’t see earlier in the season.

Special means unusual work experience, substantial community service, a diverse background, compelling leadership examples, unique or uncommon interests outside of business or entrepreneurial success of some sort.

You should definitely use the required or optional MBA admission essays to explain to the admissions committee your reasons for waiting until the third – or final – round to apply. You don’t want anyone to jump to the conclusion that you are using round three as a last-ditch effort to get into business school in the fall after receiving rejections from other schools in earlier rounds.

It’s worth noting that being admitted to some schools is not as challenging in round three as others. Elite European business school INSEAD has four rounds, and provides options for a January start date in addition to the traditional September intake. This allows later applicants who don’t mind waiting to start school to have a stronger chance at admission.

The University of Cambridge’s Judge Business School has five rounds, and Columbia Business School also offers a January intake for candidates who don’t need an internship between the first and second year.

Finally, it’s important to have a Plan B in case things don’t go your way. You can always apply to a set of schools in round three knowing there is a good chance you will need to reapply to them and add in some new ones next season.

Though the initial rejection may sting, you’ll be in a great position for round one in the fall with your essays, recommendation letters and transcripts already in hand. Or, you may find that the soul searching required for an MBA application sets you on a different path altogether. Perhaps you will decide to make a career switch now and pursue higher education later.

Round three is certainly a gamble, but you just might be that missing element the admissions committee is looking for to spice up the mix.

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