HBS Releases Application Essays & Deadlines for Class of 2011

If anything marks the official beginning of the 2008-2009 application season, this is it: Harvard Business School just released its deadlines and application essays for the Class of 2011.

For those of you who are planning ahead, the application deadlines are mostly the same as last year, except for the Round 1 deadline, which is almost two weeks later than last year’s. The deadlines are as follows:

  • Round 1: Oct. 15, 2008
  • Round 2: Jan. 6, 2009
  • Round 3: Mar. 11, 2009

Remember that you want to aim for Round 1 or Round 2. Applying after Round 2 means competing for very few open seats, so you want to do everything you can to apply no later than Jan. 6, 2009. Since the Round 1 deadline is just five months away, it’s not too early to start preparing! That especially goes for the GMAT. Study until it hurts, take a GMAT prep course if you want some extra help, and then nail the GMAT and get it off of your plate. The last thing you want to do is have to cram for the GMAT while you’re also trying to perfect your essays and chase after the people writing your letters of recommendation!

Looking at the HBS application essays, there are now just four required this year, compared to five last year. Two are required, and two can be chosen from a list of four questions.

Required Essays

  1. What are your three most substantial accomplishments and why do you view them as such? (600-word limit)
  2. What have you learned from a mistake? (400-word limit)

Optional Essays (choose two)

  1. What would you like the MBA Admissions Board to know about your undergraduate academic experience? (400-word limit)
  2. Discuss how you have engaged with a community or organization. (400-word limit)
  3. What area of the world are you most curious about and why? (400-word limit)
  4. What is your career vision and why is this choice meaningful to you? (400-word limit)

Of the optional essays, many applicants will assume #1 is only meant as a “Let me explain why my undergrad GPA is low”-type essay, but also consider using this as a chance to discuss a time when you pushed yourself out of your intellectual comfort zone. Looking at #4, the “why is this choice meaningful to you” part is what is most interesting. HBS isn’t looking for you to just rattle off your five-step plan for world domination. Explore why you want to do it, and why you’re passionate about it. This kind of introspection is key to setting yourself apart in HBS admissions officers’ eyes.

If you would like more information about applying to HBS, visit our Harvard Business School profile page. And for more information on business school application deadlines, visit our MBA admissions deadlines page.

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