Stacy Blackman Consulting has several consultants exclusively dedicated to college senior clients during the first quarter of every year. Their expertise runs deep for the deferred MBA admissions programs across our client pool. In fact, one of the founders of the HBS 2+2 program is now an in-house advisor at SBC.
A recent 2+2 client who worked comprehensively with one of our college senior experts agreed to share her experience applying for the HBS deferred admissions program. Here’s how her SBC consultant described this exceptional client:
“She quickly understood that to stand out she needed to dig deep and take chances. She appreciated the challenge of articulating a vision that was bold yet grounded with skills she could back up through her experiences in college, internships, and participation in the community. Our back and forth brainstorming gave her the confidence to find her voice. She is absolutely an amazing young professional who was a pleasure to mentor.”
In this interview, this HBS 2+2 admit put herself in her own shoes and thought about what would have helped her back when she applied. Her insights below are encouraging.
Enjoy this interview, and reach out if you’d like feedback on your deferred MBA program admission chances. You can inquire about availability for comprehensive All-In support from one of our college senior admissions experts here.
How did you hear about the deferred MBA programs?
I found out about deferred programs while doing online research about MBA programs toward the beginning of my senior year. At that point, I had no idea that deferred programs existed for college seniors. I was just looking ahead at my future career options, which I thought might involve an MBA.
A couple of weeks later, I saw that HBS was hosting a 2+2 info-session at my university. Attending that gave me more insight into the program and process.
What made you decide to apply for deferred MBA programs?
Honestly, I was not 100% sure about applying until halfway through my senior year. The deferred programs seemed like a fantastic opportunity to secure my spot in business school while I pursued a more technical role in the short-term before pivoting to a more strategic / leadership-oriented position in a few years.
I didn’t know if I was qualified enough to be admitted, given what I had heard about the programs’ competitiveness. After talking to some consultants, including my initial consultation with SBC, I gained a little more confidence in my profile.
I learned that these programs welcomed students from STEM backgrounds. Plus, I realized that I really had nothing to lose. After all, I could always apply again in a few years if I didn’t get admitted.
What do you think led to your admissions success? Any ideas of how to stand out—especially for HBS 2+2?
One thing that helped me was sitting down to reflect on my path and taking time to connect the dots. Why did I pursue the internships and opportunities that I did in college? How did they relate to who I was and what things mattered to me personally?
It ended up being an insightful and revealing exercise that helped me convey my story throughout my essays and interviews.
What advice or tips do you have for others applying to the HBS 2+2 program?
It is okay if you don’t know EXACTLY what you want to do in the future, post-MBA. I was hung up on this for a while in the beginning because I felt like I should only apply if I knew the answer to this question. You will probably have a couple of hypotheses for what you want to do. As you self-reflect, you will gain more clarity.
Then, if you can pick one that really matters to you and aligns with your story, and that you can write about, run with it. You might change your mind in a few years, and that’s okay. But if you are passionate about it now, there’s a reason for it, and that will come through when you are writing and talking about it.
Secondly, HBS lists out their evaluation criteria on their website, which are: 1) a habit of leadership (note: does not mean formal leadership titles only); 2) analytical aptitude and appetite; and 3) engaged community citizenship.
Make sure that you’ve demonstrated each of these in some way or another across the entire application—from your resume to the essay to the short answers within the application itself.
What should applicants to HBS’s 2+2 MBA program avoid doing?
Don’t underestimate yourself or compare yourself to others too much. Recognize that your values, your lived experiences, and your interests are what make you YOU. Focus on letting that shine through your application.
And definitely don’t NOT apply because you feel like you’re not qualified enough. I could have missed out on getting admitted to HBS 2+2 had I let my initial self-doubts get the best of me.
One thing that helped give me an extra boost of confidence to apply was telling myself that even just the application process itself was a tremendous growth opportunity—a chance to reflect and figure out my future goals. And it truly was a fantastic experience. I feel like a more self-aware person now than before I applied, and in the end, it worked out well!
What networks or access does being an HBS 2+2 admit give you?
Being a 2+2 admit means you are a part of the larger 2+2 community. This includes both current admits (for multiple years, since admits can defer for 2-4 years) and past 2+2 alumni.
One of the first admit events HBS hosted was a panel with previous 2+2 students. We had the opportunity to hear their stories and ask them questions directly. You can also attend other quarterly events such as networking events and mock cases exclusive to 2+2ers.
Do you think the college senior round is more competitive?
I’m no expert on this, but I think it’s competitive in different ways than the regular admission rounds. So, you can’t compare it in a straightforward way.
In this round, all the other applicants are college students like you. This underlying similarity means that you’ve all had some of the same opportunities and experiences. It also means you need to demonstrate a strong commitment to and passion for your outside involvements. Explain why they made sense for you in light of your goals to “stand out.”
The good news is, adcom understands that you are a college student. They don’t expect you to have the same level of accomplishments as someone who’s been out of college for a couple of years.
In the regular rounds, the applicants might have had a bit more of a blank canvas to start with. They’ve had a greater variety of experiences that they can talk about, but that also means the standard is higher.
Though I would reiterate not to let the competition scare you. Just focus on what you can control— building and communicating the strongest application you can.
We hope you enjoyed this exclusive interview with an inspiring young professional who got admitted to the HBS 2+2 MBA program. Don’t miss our How to Get Into HBS 2+2 overview here. You can also read an interview from a successful Stanford GSB deferred MBA admissions client here.
Learn more about the deferred MBA program at Harvard on the 2+2 program website.