Tag Archives: HBS

Tuesday Tips: Harvard Business School MBA Application Essay Tips 2014

Harvard Business School has decided to repeat the same essay question this year as originally used in last year’s application cycle. Though the admissions committee said they were planning to change the essay questions every …

Harvard Business School has decided to repeat the same essay question this year as originally used in last year’s application cycle. Though the admissions committee said they were planning to change the essay questions every year, it turned out that the one open-ended essay was helpful enough to use it again.

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 selecting the lucky candidates who make it 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, technically optional, for the Class of 2017 application essay:

You’re applying to Harvard Business School. We can see your resume, school transcripts, extra-curricular activities, awards, post-MBA career goals, test scores and what your recommenders have to say about you. What else would you like us to know as we consider your candidacy?

HBS adds this tip to the essay prompt:

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 traditionally has limited essays to around 400 words each. 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 successful clients had essays anywhere from 500-1,300 words last year, 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.

We advised many successful clients on this essay last year, and those who received an acceptance letter from Harvard Business School pursued a range of topics. Some applicants focused on their career journey and aspirations while others wrote about their personal background. Both highly personal and career oriented essays were successful, and most candidates told more than one story in the essay. One common thread we observed was that all of the successful essays demonstrated a core driving passion.

While comparisons with Stanford’s “What Matters Most” open-ended question may come immediately to mind, HBS is very different and it will be important to know the program. As you consider possible stories to tell in this essay keep in mind that HBS has always been highly focused on leadership and wants to accept candidates who have 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. This has never been part of an HBS application essay question and we don’t recommend including that sort of angle here. HBS is quite clear on why applicants are interested in the school, and they would rather see you use the space to provide more information about yourself and your candidacy.

Posted in Application Tips, Harvard Advice | Tagged , , , , , ,

HBS Keeps “Optional” Essay for 2014-2015 Admissions Cycle

Just one day after Harvard Business School sent out Round 3 decisions, director of MBA admissions and financial aid Dee Leopold was back on the blog today with the news that HBS would be repeating …

HBS R1

Just one day after Harvard Business School sent out Round 3 decisions, director of MBA admissions and financial aid Dee Leopold was back on the blog today with the news that HBS would be repeating the optional essay prompt that created such a stir when it was first announced.

The (optional) “essay” question is:

“You’re applying to Harvard Business School. We can see your resume, academic transcripts, extracurricular activities, awards, post-MBA career intentions, test scores, and what your recommenders have to say about you. What else would you like us to know as we consider your candidacy?”

Although Leopold went on record last year saying Harvard Business School would always be changing the essay question, the director admits the admissions team really liked the wide range of responses they received from admitted candidates.

She goes on to list the two recommender questions for the upcoming season, which are as follows:

How do the candidate’s performance, potential, background, or personal qualities compare to those of other well-qualified individuals in similar roles? Please provide specific examples. (300 words)

Please describe the most important piece of constructive feedback you have given the applicant. Please detail the circumstances and the applicant’s response. (250 words)

The application will go live in mid-June, says Leopold, and the Round 1 deadline has been set for September 9, 2014. HBS will conduct interviews from mid-October through November, with notification on or around December 10th, the director adds.

 You may also be interested in:

Harvard Business School Enters Online Learning

Harvard Business School Admitted Student Profile

Posted in School News | Tagged , , ,

Round 3 Myth-Busting by Harvard Business School

Applying to business school in the final round is a tricky proposition, primarily because your application needs to be exceptionally strong to garner one of those oh-so-limited remaining spots. Harvard Business School Director of Admissions …

Applying to business school in the final round is a tricky proposition, primarily because your application needs to be exceptionally strong to garner one of those oh-so-limited remaining spots.

Harvard Business School Director of Admissions and Financial Aid Dee Leopold recently did some myth-busting related to submitting in Round 3, and here’s what she had to say:

1. There are spots available in the final round. Not as many as in Rounds 1 and 2, but keep in mind, there are also fewer applicants in the final round. “Do I think a strong candidate has a fair shot?,” Leopold asks. “Yes.”

2. From the first applicant accepted until the very last, each student has access to the same need-based financial aid.

3. If your Round 3 application is not successful, there’s absolutely no reason you shouldn’t apply again in Round 1 next fall. “Many people in our classroom today were successful re-applicants,” Leopold notes.

4. Round 3 is a great time for 2+2 applicants to apply, as college seniors will have another semester of grades and activities to highlight. “We can be more flexible about the number of 2+2 admits given that we are not worried about a ‘seat being occupied’ for this September,” she explains.

5. Lastly, while there is no Welcome Weekend for Round 3 admits, you will get a chance to see the campus in real time since all the interviews will be held on campus. HBS will be hosting other events on campus in the next few months, including an LGBT Open House, Prospective Students’ Diversity Day, and lunches for prospective women applicants with members of the Women’s Student Association.

Also, a word to future Round 1 applicants: Spring is a great time to plan a campus visit if you want to see the case method in action, as there’s limited availability for visiting a class in the early fall.

The Round 3 deadline at HBS is coming up on April 7th. Good luck to all who are applying!

You may also be interested in:

Evaluate in Which Round to Submit Your B-School Application

 

 

 

Posted in School News | Tagged , , , , ,

HBS Alumni Break Record in 2013 with $22M in Donations

Harvard Business School‘s recently released annual report notes, among other achievements, that the school received a record-breaking $22 million in unrestricted current use gifts from former students in 2013. This unrestricted funding was crucial in …

HBS alumni giving

Harvard Business School‘s recently released annual report notes, among other achievements, that the school received a record-breaking $22 million in unrestricted current use gifts from former students in 2013.

This unrestricted funding was crucial in allowing the school to expand entrepreneurship programs at the Harvard i-Lab and to pursue other strategic initiatives without drawing on unrestricted reserves, the report reveals.

In addition to expanding entrepreneurship programming, the donations also helped increase the amount of tuition assistance for MBA students. HBS sets MBA tuition and fees at levels that don’t fully recover annual operating expenses, and the shortfall is offset primarily by income and gifts from alumni and friends of the school.

Roughly half of the school’s student body receives fellowship support, and the average amount of aid per student rose three percent in 2013 to $30,725, more than half of the annual tuition bill. First-year MBA tuition in fiscal 2013 was $53,500—near the midpoint among the seven comparable schools tracked by HBS.

The Harvard Business School Campaign, which launches in April, “aims to find new ways to engage with alumni as it seeks to fulfill the School’s mission of making a difference in the world.”

Noting rising operating costs across the school and lower margins at Harvard Business Press and Executive Education, the school anticipates even greater pressure to grow revenue from gifts and endowment distribution in the coming year.

source: Harvard Business School 2013 Annual Report

Posted in General | Tagged , , , ,

Weigh Trying a MOOC Before an MBA

This post originally appeared on Stacy’s “Strictly Business” MBA Blog on U.S.News.com 2013 may well become known as the year of the massive open online course, commonly abbreviated MOOC, as more and more prestigious business …

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

2013 may well become known as the year of the massive open online course, commonly abbreviated MOOC, as more and more prestigious business schools began offering their courses for free to anyone in the world with an Internet connection.

Stanford Graduate School of Business, University of Virginia’s Darden School of Business, Michigan’s Ross School of Business and Spain’s IE Business School are just a few of the top MBA programs bringing their courses to the people, and it seems more are joining the party every month.

Most elite schools use the Palo Alto-based education company Coursera to host their MOOC content. While universities don’t offer official credit for their MOOCs, some offer participants a certificate – either free or for a fee – confirming completion of the course and a demonstrated understanding of the material.

In the fall, the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School, Harvard Business School and HEC Paris announced they will offer numerous MOOCs as a way to enhance the academic experience and allow teaching to go beyond the confines of the classroom. HEC Paris is the first business school in France to launch a MOOC and will offer two courses, European law and corporate finance, in early spring 2014.

When announcing the news, HEC Dean Bernard Ramanantsoa said, “This partnership with Coursera offers HEC an opportunity to open up our courses to people who might not usually have access to higher education, whether for practical or economic considerations. Sharing our faculty’s expertise with the general public at no cost is a truly exciting and meaningful challenge.”

Meanwhile, with the Wharton MBA Foundation Series, faculty teach four core classes in financial accounting, operations management, marketing and corporate finance, allowing students all over the world to learn the same material a first-year Wharton MBA student would.

“This is the first time that a business school has bundled a collection of MOOCs together in this fashion,” Don Huesman, managing director of the innovation group at Wharton, told Bloomberg Businessweek in September. “We’re taking our core required classes in the MBA program, with the same instructors, to provide those same core concepts.”

Harvard Business School is playing it close to the vest with its initial foray into online education, perhaps because it must consider how to impart its knowledge to the masses without tarnishing the school’s venerable brand.

Brian C. Kenny, chief marketing and communications officer for HBS, told The Chronicle of Higher Education that the school needs to figure out how to translate its signature pedagogical technique, the case method, to an online educational experience.

“Whether or not the case method can work online,” said Kenny, “is a question that we haven’t answered yet.”

For its part, Darden has upcoming courses in foundations of business strategy, smart growth for private businesses, design thinking for business innovation and new models of business in society. Darden’s Dean Bob Bruner remarked in an interview that the school is proud to be one of the most active schools in online learning.

“Everyone says ‘you’re a business school, why are you giving it away for free,’” Bruner said, but he explains that “MOOCs are consistent with our mission and we’re learning a great deal about digital instruction with practice.”

These online courses may also be one of the best marketing tools the schools have at their fingertips. As Bruner noted, MOOCs are “helping a part of the world to learn about Darden, a population that was pretty much oblivious to the existence of the school beforehand.”

For MBA applicants wondering whether to enroll in a MOOC at one of their target schools, I say go for it. There’s no harm in getting an early taste of the course work to come, and the experience might actually help inform your decision to apply or allow you to reference something concrete about the curriculum in your essays.

The courses typically require a high level of motivation to complete, and doing so shows a commitment to self-improvement the admissions committee would find laudable.

Just don’t make the mistake of thinking that completing a set of MOOCs from Wharton will put you in the same league as a student on campus. The conversations that occur in class and out, and the networking opportunities business school provides, remain the most valuable aspects of the MBA experience.

No one is exactly sure yet how free online courses factor into the world of students, nonstudents and applicants. Does it merely offer a taste of the school, or will it one day replace live classes? Right now, this kind of online learning is still in its infancy, but it is a very real part of the education world and good to experiment with rather than ignore.

Posted in General, School News | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , ,

MBA as Great Equalizer for Women

Although US Labor statistics still report women’s wages lag behind their male counterparts at 81 cents on the dollar, Forté Foundation‘s Elissa Ellis Sangster believes the gap could well shrink as more women enter the upper …

Although US Labor statistics still report women’s wages lag behind their male counterparts at 81 cents on the dollar, Forté Foundation‘s Elissa Ellis Sangster believes the gap could well shrink as more women enter the upper echelons of business management upon earning an MBA degree.

In addition to opening up new career opportunities for women, who are more likely than men to switch careers, an MBA could boost a woman’s lifetime earning potential by $3 million, Forté Foundation has found.

While this is encouraging news, Sangster’s recent editorial in the Financial Times notes that the problem continues to be lower enrollment levels for women at the world’s elite business schools.

University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School sets the record among top programs with a 42 percent female Class of 2015, while 41 percent are women at Harvard Business School. At Stanford Graduate School of Business, women represent 36 percent of the entering class, and at Chicago Booth School of Business, women make up just 35 percent of the Class of 2015.

To encourage more women to pursue an MBA, Sangster believes the key, among other efforts, is early exposure to business careers, and getting more women to major in business at the undergraduate level.

Also, business needs to become more responsive to the needs of both women and men for flexibility that helps balance employee’s personal and professional lives.

“Statistic after statistic show that women are good for business, but business is lagging behind in returning the favour,” Sangster writes. “While not a magic bullet, an MBA can boost earning potential and open up a broad range of opportunities for women. We just need to make sure that they get the memo.”

You can read Sangster’s editorial in its entirety at the Financial Times.

 

Posted in General | Tagged , , , , , ,