Tag Archives: MBA Voices blog

5 Tips for Harvard Business School Applicants

Harvard Business School is famously difficult to get into, but don’t let low acceptance rates keep you from applying if this is truly your dream MBA program. In a recent post to the school’s MBA Voices …

HBS application tipsHarvard Business School is famously difficult to get into, but don’t let low acceptance rates keep you from applying if this is truly your dream MBA program. In a recent post to the school’s MBA Voices Blog, six recent or soon-to-be graduates offer their advice for future applicants eager to learn all they can about the HBS admissions process.

Tip 1: Be your authentic self

“Be honest and genuine. I spent time reflecting on what really motivates me and what is most important to me. It may sound straight-forward, but I think it’s really important to have clear direction on what you want to do and how the HBS experience will help you get there. Then make sure that your application really shows your personality and conveys this message of who you are and where you want to go.” Stephanie Marr, MBA 2016

We say: The admissions committee wants to get to know you as a person beyond the resume—don’t write anything just because it seems like something an admissions committee would want to hear.

The trick to fleshing out your human side in the application is to take just a couple of experiences, activities, or themes and expand upon them in a much more detailed and nuanced way. Don’t shy away from your true interests; illustrate how they have helped shape the incredibly dynamic and fascinating person that you are.

Tip 2: Pick your recommenders carefully

“Select recommenders who know you well enough to tell a story that covers your accomplishments and the obstacles you overcame to achieve them. I chose recommenders who had seen me take on responsibility, struggle at times, and adapt to reach my goals. I think this matters much more than having recommenders with a particular job title or connection with HBS.” Sam Travers, MBA 2016

We say: When considering potential references, ask yourself whether the person has worked closely with you, thinks favorably of you, and will put in the time to write a thoughtful, detailed endorsement of your candidacy. If you can’t answer yes to these three requirements, move on until you find the person who fits the bill perfectly. Your chances of admission to the school of your dreams may well depend on it.

Tip 3: Learn more about the generous financial aid options HBS offers

“Trying to figure out how you’re going to afford your Harvard MBA can feel very scary – I definitely remember the sticker shock I felt when I read the expected student budget for the first time. Luckily, there are a lot of ways for you to get support as you decide how you want to finance your time at HBS. Many students, myself included, aren’t able to pay for business school out of their savings and instead utilize a combination of financial aid, scholarships, and loans to get themselves through the program. 

HBS has an incredible need-based financial aid program; over $36 million dollars is awarded to students each year. The administration firmly believes that funding should not be a barrier for anyone to attend business school and they ensure that no student is required to take on too much debt. HBS wants everyone who is admitted to be able to come and therefore the aid is awarded solely based on financial need. Nearly 50% of the class receives HBS Fellowships with the majority of Fellowships in the $30,000-$50,000 range per year.

The average starting salary at graduation is $135,000. Most alums are able to pay back loans in considerably less time than the terms provided. HBS also offers a variety loan forgiveness programs available at graduation for those students plan to pursue a career path in a less lucrative field—for example, there are financing options for graduates heading into social enterprise or pursuing entrepreneurial ventures.” Leslie Moser, MBA 2015

We say: People will tell you that you will find the money you need to go, but we know that thinking about all those zeros can get overwhelming and intimidating. Just know that most students use multiple sources; it’s never too soon to start researching your options; don’t underestimate your costs; and rest assured that schools want you to find funding and will do everything they possibly can to help accepted applicants.

Tip 4: Keep in mind HBS is reapplicant-friendly 

I had been dinged from HBS once and wondered if it was worth applying a second time.  Although uncertain of whether or not I’d be accepted to the program, I wanted to give it another shot.  Fortunately, and likely due to some divine intervention, I was accepted to the program.  I was absolutely elated when I received the good news.” Ryan Hansen, MBA 2017

We say: Many people in b-school right now were dinged the first time they applied. Reapplying shows you are serious about your interest in the MBA program. Make sure your letters of recommendation and your GMAT or GRE scores are rock-solid, and don’t recycle essays from the first time around.

Use the additional essay question to explain what’s changed in your situation to make you a stronger candidate this time around. Make sure to address both professional and personal advancements, but show that you are realistic and self-aware. Revealing your humanity in the form of quirks, weaknesses and flaws can often help the admissions committee to like you.

Tip 5: Don’t self-select out

“When you’re lifting your finger to hit the submit button, or when you’re walking into your interview, stop thinking about your imperfections and deficiencies. In fact, stop thinking about yourself as an individual. Rather, think of yourself as a piece of something bigger – your potential HBS class. What you do have to offer? What characteristics you bring to the table that will make your section that much better? I bet there are several things about you that no one else can claim, and that’s the good stuff. Tell admissions about them.” Peter Nolan, MBA 2017

“To those thinking about applying to HBS, I encourage you to go for it. Don’t let your own self-doubt sabotage what could be one of the best experiences of your life.”   Terrance Rogers (MBA 2017)

We say: It’s hard not to feel intimidated when you read the admitted student profiles at many of the elite MBA programs, which might include Olympians, successful entrepreneurs, decorated military officers and candidates with outstanding public service experience. However, don’t get psyched out of applying just because you can’t list anything similarly noteworthy on your application.

To stand out in the eyes of the admissions committee, you just need to provide hard proof that you made a difference. Remember, it’s not about the scale of your achievements – rather, it’s the fact that you left indelible footprints.

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

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Motherhood and the MBA

While it’s true that going to business school with children in tow is no cake walk, many MBA moms are finding more resources and support on campus than ever before. With Mother’s Day coming up, …

working mom

While it’s true that going to business school with children in tow is no cake walk, many MBA moms are finding more resources and support on campus than ever before. With Mother’s Day coming up, I wanted to share this post on being a student mom recently published on the MBA Voices blog at Harvard Business School.

Elena Rodighiero started at HBS in August 2014 with a three-month-old son, and is graduating this spring with a second child, a baby girl this time, who is just a few months old.

The need to prioritize is paramount for MBA moms, and what I found inspiring about her post was how she took an existing student association at HBS and expanded it to better meet her specific needs and to give back to future mothers pursuing the degree.

She and other moms created a new group within the Women Student Association called moMBAs, and she says the group focuses on building community and improving the HBS experience for student-moms, moms-to-be, and everyone who is interested in parenthood.

“My classmates and I wanted to institutionalize motherhood at HBS.”

“If we could collect and curate our combined experiences (including tips and tricks on things like childcare and lactation rooms on campus) we could help future generations of moms at HBS,” Rodighiero writes.

The group also worked with HBS’s Career and Professional Development Office to create a list of coaches able to help students structure a career path that considers their family’s needs as well, Rodighiero explains.

MoMBAs at HBS also has a speaker series planned for Fall 2016, and Rodighiero shares how she has integrated her interest in the topic of motherhood into her studies.  Together with classmate Carina Rutgers, she created an independent project on motherhood that “hinged on the consideration that in our professional careers we will all deal with parenthood, as managers or coworkers, even if parenthood is not part of our own personal lives. This is an important message for students at a business school, who will encounter this issue throughout their lives.”

Pursuing an MBA as a mother has its unique challenges and requirements, but it’s definitely feasible. Every woman interested in forging a new career path should know that business school, career advancement and having children are not mutually exclusive. I invite you to read the complete post on the MBA Voices blog to learn more about experiencing Harvard Business School from this unique point of view.

Image credit: Sal (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

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HBS Admissions to Launch New ‘MBA Voices’ Blog

Dee Leopold, director of MBA admissions at Harvard Business School, made a couple of interesting announcements on her blog last week. For one, the space has been renamed “Direct from the Director,” and will continue …

new MBA admissions blog at HBS

HBS Admissions Director, Dee Leopold

Dee Leopold, director of MBA admissions at Harvard Business School, made a couple of interesting announcements on her blog last week. For one, the space has been renamed “Direct from the Director,” and will continue to focus solely on updates and information related to the MBA admissions process in an attempt to make the experience as transparent as possible.

The director also revealed that the team at Dillon House will debut a brand-new blog later this month called “MBA Voices,” which will have the following purpose:

We want to tell you compelling stories from around HBS. We want you to get to know our students, alums and faculty. We want to help you get a better understanding of our clubs, initiatives and the student experience. We want you to gain insight into the career choices our students make and the myriad activities that make our campus come to life.”

MBA hopefuls will no doubt welcome having this insider view of the top-ranked business school, which may help the undecided take the plunge and apply. We’ll keep you updated here on the launch of this new online space, and make sure to bring to your attention all of the most relevant, interesting stories to come from Harvard Business School’s “MBA Voices” blog. Stay tuned!

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