HBS Admissions Essays and Deadlines for 2009-2010

Harvard Business School has released its application deadlines and admissions essays for the 2008-2009 season. Here they are, taken from Harvard’s site. Our comments are in italics:

Harvard Business School Application Deadlines
Round 1: October 1, 2009
Round 2: January 19, 2010
Round 3: April 8, 2010

(Harvard’s Round 1 deadline is two weeks earlier than it was last year. However, its Round 2 deadline is nearly two weeks later than last year’s, and its Round 3 deadline is nearly a month later. The Round 3 move is especially interesting since this past year Stanford GSB’s Round 3 deadline was also on April 8. This was almost certainly a move made to match Stanford in trying to grab any last-minute, high-potential applicants.)

Harvard Business School Application Essays

  • What are your three most substantial accomplishments and why do you view them as such? (600 words)

    (This is the same question that HBS has asked for years now, and is a great opportunity for you to spell out three main themes that you want to emphasize in your application. This being HBS, at least one of your examples should highlight leadership, but don’t discount stories that also demonstrate the other three dimensions that admissions officers look for: teamwork, innovation, and maturity. As we always tell our clients, the “why” is even more important than the “what,” so be sure to spell out why these accomplishments are so critical to describing you as an emerging leader. Also, ideally you will be able to draw upon multiple types of experiences — not only on the job, but also from your community involvement, your hobbies, and even, in some cases, your personal life. Finally, the word count is your friend! Harvard’s relatively short essays force you to focus on your most important experiences!)

  • What have you learned from a mistake? (400 words)

    (Also a carryover from last year. The key here is to not only describe what happened and what you learned, but also to show how you put that lesson to work in a later situation. That last point allows you to evolve the essay answer from being purely hypothetical to being an opportunity to discuss another achievement.)

  • Please respond to two of the following (400 words each):

    1. What would you like the MBA Admissions Board to know about your undergraduate academic experience?
    2. Discuss how you have engaged with a community or organization.
    3. Tell us about a time when you made a difficult decision.
    4. Write a cover letter to your application introducing yourself to the Admissions Board.
    5. What is your career vision and why is this choice meaningful to you?

    (Of the above questions, the “difficult decision” and “cover letter” questions are new since last year. They replace a question that asked, “What area of the world are you most curious about and why?” which only lasted for one year, probably because it didn’t help the HBS admissions committee learn much new valuable information about its applicants. For the new questions, we like how the “difficult decision” question gives you an opportunity to really show off their maturity. The “cover letter” question is similar to MIT Sloan’s, and provides another good opportunity to sketch out the main themes of your application. However, if you are able to do this well enough with Essay Question #1, then this one may be unnecessary.)

If you would like more information about applying to HBS, visit our Harvard Business School information page. And, for more advice on applying to Harvard, download our FREE Veritas Prep Annual Reports!

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