Recently Harvard Business School announced the 2010 deadline for its HBS 2+2 Program. While the deadline has changed quite a bit since last year (it’s several weeks earlier than before), but the program’s admissions essays actually remain the same.
So, our comments and advice mostly remain the same, but it’s still worth sharing them again. Note that there are a few subtle nuances in our advice that are new this year, based on feedback we’ve heard directly from successful HBS 2+2 Program applicants this past year:
HBS 2+2 Program Application Essays
- What are your three most substantial accomplishments and why do you view them as such? (600 words)
This is exactly the same question on the traditional HBS application. While you are obviously younger than the typical HBS applicant, the school still expects to see several separate, concrete examples of how you made a positive impact on the organization, community, or people around you. Having a hard time coming up with many? That may be the first sign that you’re not yet ready to apply to HBS (or to any top MBA program). If that’s the case, don’t despair… You just may want to consider the more traditional route of working for several years before applying to business school.
- What would you like us to know about your undergraduate academic experience? (400 words)
Being that you probably don’t yet have any full-time work experience, the admissions office needs to dig a little deeper into your undergraduate experience to learn more about you. Don’t simply recount your transcript here. Why did you choose your major in college? What motivated you to choose certain course? Were there any instances when you really pushed yourself out of your comfort zone? Focus on just one or two themes here, ideally showing how you have grown academically over the past three years. Harvard loves the idea of being able to transform you from young raw ingredients into a polished, finished product. Showing glimpses of such a transformation in the first three years of college can help the HBS admissions office picture you thriving at HBS.
- What have you learned from a mistake? (400 words)
This is also taken directly from the standard HBS application. Just like with all mistake essays, you want to show introspection (What did you learn?) and a motivation for self-improvement (How did you use what you learned to better yourself and avoid that mistake again?). While you won’t have the same experiences as a twenty-five-year-old applicant to draw upon here, look for experiences in all aspects of your life where you learned a valuable lesson. There’s a good chance that your richest story will come from outside of your academics.
- Optional Essays (choose one)
- Discuss how you have engaged with a community or organization. (400 words)
- What area of the world are you most curious about and why? (400 words)
- What is your career vision and why is this choice meaningful to you? (400 words)
All three of these are also taken from the standard HBS application. We always recommend that applicants err on the side of discussing themselves, the decisions they’ve made, and the impact they’ve made on those around them — not on a person or an idea that they hold dear. The former is really the only way the admissions office will get to you YOU, and without knowing you, how can Harvard admit you?
These specific examples of your initiative and leadership are extremely valuable, especially if you are relatively inexperienced. This doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t answer one of the other questions, but be careful to avoid discussing big-picture generalities that don’t let the admissions committee get to know the real you.
Every year we work with many applicants to the HBS 2+2 Program, and many of them get in! For more advice on getting into Harvard Business School, download our HBS Annual Report, one of 15 completely free guides to the world’s top business schools. If you’re ready to start building your own HBS 2+2 Program candidacy, call us at 1-800-925-7737 and speak with an MBA admissions expert today!