Early Thoughts on Harvard Business School’s 2016-2017 Application Essay Question

Harvard Business SchoolApplication season at Harvard Business School is officially underway with the release of the school’s 2016-2017 essay question. Let’s discuss from a high level some early thoughts on how best to approach this year’s new essay prompt. HBS is mixing it up again this year with a slightly different essay prompt that maintains the same spirit of last year’s essay question. With only one question, it is critical that applicants make the most of the limited real estate available, here.

Essay 1:
As we review your application, what more would you like us to know as we consider your candidacy for the Harvard Business School MBA Program? (no word limit)
Open-ended prompts such as this are often the most stressful type of essay question MBA applicants receive – couple that with the inherent pressure that comes with applying to Harvard, and this essay may be viewed as one of the more nerve-wracking questions of the application season. The challenge here for many will be just the sheer simplicity of this question. This essay prompt is a good example of why it is important to really just pay attention to the advice the HBS Admissions Committee offers:

“Don’t overthink, over-craft and overwrite. Just answer the question in clear language that those of us who don’t know your world can understand.”

HBS has really gone out of its way, particularly through Dee Leopold’s blog (soon to become Chad Losee’s blog), to emphasize a desire for authenticity and transparency in the essay-writing process. Candidates who are able to channel their approach in a compelling and natural way will stand out from the flock of impersonal, inauthentic and overly-curated essays the school is bound to see.

This approach tends to fly in the face of what the expectation is at other business schools, but in this case, candidates who are unable to adhere to the guidance provided by the school will struggle with securing admission to HBS. Breakthrough candidates will answer this specific question posed in the manner the school has outlined – your response should be brief, conversational, and really provide the Admissions Committee with insight into aspects of “you” that are not currently represented elsewhere in the application.

Harvard has set the tone of an almost casual “blog-style” approach to their essay, and last year, even focused their prompt around having candidates write from the perspective of communicating with their future classmates. Even though the prompt, itself, is a bit different this year, maintain the spirit of this communication style to really make your essay stand out. At its core, this question is honestly about getting to know you, so don’t miss the opportunity by trying to craft a seemingly “perfect” but dispassionate answer for the Admissions Committee.

These are just a few thoughts on the new essay from HBS – hopefully this will help you get started. For more thoughts on Harvard and its application essay, check out our Essential Guide to Top Business Schools for free, here.

Applying to Harvard or other business schools? Call us at 1-800-925-7737 and speak with an MBA admissions expert today, or take our free MBA Admissions Profile Evaluation for personalized advice for your unique application situation! As always, be sure to find us on Facebook, YouTubeGoogle+ and Twitter.

Dozie A. is a Veritas Prep Head Consultant for the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University. His specialties include consulting, marketing, and low GPA/GMAT applicants. You can read more articles by him here.

Ever Wonder What HBS Professors Read Over the Summer?

Harvard Business School, home to some of the brightest business minds in academia. What could all of those brains possibly do during the summer, when they don’t have to worry about teaching courses and can instead focus on pure intellectual pursuits (and perhaps consulting gigs)? An article in the June, 2011, edition of the HBS Alumni Bulletin asked just that question, and the answers make for an interesting read… and just might inspire your own summer reading list.

We most enjoyed reading what authors, books, and magazines made it onto each professor’s “guilty pleasure” reading list:
Continue reading “Ever Wonder What HBS Professors Read Over the Summer?”

HBS Admissions Essays and Deadlines for 2010-2011

Harvard Business School GuideIf you were wondering whether the 2010-2011 MBA admissions season could really upon us already after Wharton released its application deadlines last week, then wonder no more. Yesterday Harvard Business School announced its application deadlines and admissions essays for the 2010-2011 season. Here they are, taken from Harvard’s site. Our comments are in italics:

Harvard Business School Application Deadlines
Round 1: October 1, 2010
Round 2: January 11, 2011
Round 3: March 31, 2011

This year’s Round 1 deadline is exactly the same as last year’s. We wonder if a top school will soon move its deadline into September? Round 2’s deadline is about one week earlier than last year’s, meaning applicants will have a bit less breathing room after the holidays pass this year. The Round 3 deadline has also crept forward by about a week.

Harvard Business School Application Essays

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

    This question has remained unchanged for years. It’s 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 other traits that admissions officers look for, including teamwork, innovation, and maturity. Remember, the “why” in your story 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, don’t be intimidated by that relatively tight word count! Harvard’s word limits force you to focus on your most important experiences!

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

    This question also carries over from last year. An okay essay will answer the question and describe what you have learned, but a great one will then discuss how you put that lesson to work in a later experience. This allows you to move away from this essay being purely hypothetical to discussing another achievement in your young career.

  • 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. What is your career vision and why is this choice meaningful to you?
    3. Tell us about a time in your professional experience when you were frustrated or disappointed.
    4. When you join the HBS Class of 2013, how will you introduce yourself to your new classmates?

    The first two questions carry over from last year. The first one has “Optional essay for applicants with problematic undergraduate transcripts” written all over it. Only use it if you’re in this situation. The second one is not too different from other school’s “Why MBA?” and “Short-term/long-term career goals” questions. This is a perfectly fine question to choose, but avoid speaking in over broad generalities or in grandiose terms — e.g., “To solve world hunger” — that admissions officers will find hard to believe.

    The third question is an interesting because, on the surface, it doesn’t seem very different from the “What have you learned from a mistake?” question. We recommend that you answer this one only if you can do what we describe for that other question: Don’t only describe a time when you were disappointed, but also discuss what you learned from it and how you put that lesson to work.

    The last question essentially replaces last year’s “Write a cover letter for the admissions committee” question, and we like it the slightly less formal slant that this version takes. What do you think are your most memorable experiences or attributes? How do you want to be known by your classmates? It will be interesting to see how applicants tackle this one, but we recommend erring on the side of being less formal — friendly, written in the first person, and maybe even a little humorous.

Every year dozens of Harvard Business School applicants turn to Veritas Prep for help in getting into HBS. For more advice on getting in, 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 candidacy for Harvard or another top MBA program, call us at 1-800-925-7737 and speak with an MBA admissions expert today!

HBS Names Nitin Nohria New Dean

Yesterday Harvard Business School announced that Nitin Nohria, the Richard P. Chapman Professor of Business Administration at HBS, will become the School’s 10th dean, replacing current Dean Jay Light on July 1, 2010.

Nohria, currently the co-chair of the school’s Leadership Initiative, gained notoriety last year when he co-authored a Harvard Business Review article that ultimately led to the creation of the MBA Oath. His reputation for being willing to ask tough questions about ethics and the social of managers that makes him an attractive choice to lead HBS in the post-financial-meltdown world.

Nohria has been at HBS for the past 22 years, joining the faculty as an assistant professor in 1988 after earning his PhD at MIT Sloan, with an emphasis in behavioral sciences. He earned tenure in 1997, and was named to the Chapman Professorship in 1999. Most recently he has served as the Harvard’s senior associate dean for faculty development and chair of its organizational behavior unit.

As expected, the HBS community has been very supportive of Nohria’s announcement, all the way up to Light, who had this to say in written statement:

Nitin Nohria will be a wonderful dean of Harvard Business School. He is widely respected within our extended community as a perceptive scholar of leadership and as a thoughtful and able academic leader. He believes deeply in the distinctive mission of the School and its role in the world. He will effectively carry forward the objectives and the strategies that make this institution a very special place.

In a statement accepting the role, Nohria set the tone for his new role:

I feel a profound sense of responsibility for continuing Harvard Business School’s proud legacy of groundbreaking ideas and transformational educational experiences. With business education at an inflection point, we must strive to equip future leaders with the competence and character to address emerging global business and social challenges. As we enter our second century, I look forward to working with the School’s faculty, staff, students, and alumni to forge a vision for Harvard Business School that will enable it to remain a beacon for business education for the next 100 years.

Every year we help many applicants get into Harvard Business School. For more advice on getting into HBS, 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 candidacy for Harvard or another top MBA program, call us at 1-800-925-7737 and speak with an MBA admissions expert today!

HBS 2+2 Application Deadline Announced for 2010

HBS 2+2 ProgramHarvard Business School has just announced this year’s application deadline for the HBS 2+2 Program: June 15, 2010. Note that this is a couple of week’s earlier than last year’s deadline.

Harvard launched the HBS 2+2 Program to encourage high achieving undergraduate students who are not on a “business track,” to pursue careers in business. The program targets students focused on non-business concentrations such as engineering, liberal arts, science etc. Accordingly, they’re looking for students coming from those majors, rather than from undergraduate business programs. (If you’re in college now and fall into the latter camp, have no fear! That’s what the traditional HBS two-year MBA program is for.)

If you’re current a college junior, this deadline announcement is most relevant to you, since you will apply right after your junior year ends. To get a feel for what to expect in the coming months, take a look at the HBS 2+2 Program Timeline on Harvard’s web site. You’ll notice that the timeline suggests taking the GMAT or GRE this spring. If you haven’t yet gotten ready for the test, take a look at Veritas Prep’s GMAT prep options.

After getting the GMAT or GRE score that you want, then you’ll need to focus on writing a terrific application. Fortunately, we’ve been helping applicants do that for years, and we have helped many HBS 2+2 Program applicants since the program’s inception in 2008. To get an early read on your own admissions chances, give us a call at 800-925-7737 and speak with a Veritas Prep MBA admissions expert today!

Three Things that Harvard Business School Looks For

Harvard Business School GuideHarvard Business School’s Round 2 deadline is still almost two months away, but we know that thousands of applicants are already gearing up for their Round 2 HBS applications. We thought this would be a good time to share some snippets from Veritas Prep’s Annual Reports, our in-depth insider’s guides to 15 of the world’s top business schools. Our Annual reports are absolutely free — all you have to do is register to access all of them — but we thought we’d share some snippets here to help get you started in your HBS research.

Today we break down the main characteristics that HBS looks for in its applicants. Obviously, HBS is highly selective and can afford to look for “perfect” candidates. In addition to the common metrics such as GPA and GMAT score, the school specifies a handful of qualities and traits that it seeks in an applicant.

Three things that HBS looks for may seem obvious, but are all extremely important in successfully applying to the school:

  • Habit of Leadership. As mentioned in the HBS Approach, the business school is highly focused on leadership. Professional leadership experience is the most common and transferable, but extracurricular, personal, and community leadership accomplishments and qualities are recognized as well.
  • Capacity for Intellectual Growth. This is the portion of the HBS admissions process that puts a candidate’s undergraduate performance (reputation of institution, major, course work, GPA, trends, and so on) and GMAT scores under a microscope, to ensure that the candidate can thrive in the demanding case method-based courses. While HBS does not state a preferred major or career path, it demands a comfort with and aptitude for quantitative, analytical, and communication skills.
  • Engaged Community Citizenship. This element is as simple as it sounds: HBS is looking for people who have shown the ability to impact their communities and who will continue to do so both as a student and an alumnus. While this can be demonstrated in a host of settings and ways, paramount is a sincere commitment to helping others, viewed as an integral component of the responsibilities of leadership.

While demonstrating all three of these attributes won’t guarantee that you’ll earn a spot at Harvard Business School, NOT demonstrating these traits is a sure way not to gain admission. Think carefully about how persuasively you can demonstrate all of these attributes when you build your HBS application.

Today’s installment was clipped from our HBS Annual Report, one of 15 guides to the world’s top business schools, available for purchase on our site. If you’re ready to start building your own candidacy, call us at 1-800-925-7737 and speak with an MBA admissions expert today!

HBS Admissions Interview Update

On Friday Harvard Business School’s Dee Leopold posted a brief update on the HBS admissions blog regarding the admissions office’s plans for Round 1 interview invitations. The key takeaway is that Harvard is not yet done sending out invitations, although the number of remaining invitations is certainly dwindling:

I know I promised an update about interviews. They are in full swing on campus and elsewhere. We are still sending out interview invitations — maybe 50 or so more may go out before December 15 — plus waitlist invitations to some of those who have not received an interview invitation. In terms of “where” these interviews might be held, we anticipate they would likely take place on campus in Boston during December or via telephone.

We also want to share with you the list we just compiled of the undergraduate schools represented in the last three classes at HBS.

If you don’t receive an invitation by December 15, all is not necessarily lost. On October 22 Leopold posted that around 100 Round 1 applicants may go straight to the waitlist without an interview. Obviously this is not what you were dreaming of when you submitted your application, but know that there still may have a shot if you don’t get invited to interview!

For more advice on getting into Harvard, download Veritas Prep’s HBS Annual Report for free. If you’re ready to begin working on your HBS application, call us at 1-800-925-7737 and speak with the Veritas Prep MBA admissions consulting team today!

Harvard Business School’s Advice on Recommendations

Yesterday Harvard Business School Dean of Admissions Dee Leopold wrote a blog post dispensing some good advice to HBS applicants regarding their MBA letters of recommendation. While what she wrote is all consistent with what we have written in this space many times before, much of it bears repeating.

Dee hits on several key themes that we tell our clients, and that are covered in detail in Your MBA Game Plan, our MBA admissions guide. These include:

  • Above all else, make sure that your recommendation writers know you well. Every year we have clients approach us and say something along the lines of, “Good news. I think I can get my CEO to write a letter of recommendation for me.” If your CEO hasn’t worked with you extensively, and can’t discuss your strengths and potential in great detail, then this isn’t very good news. Admissions officers are impressed by what YOU have done, not by what your recommendation writer has done.
  • Details and specifics are key. As Dee says, “What we are hoping for are brief recounts of specific situations and how you performed.” Any recommendation written in general terms — “He’s a true leader… He exhibits teamwork all the time…” — will fail to leave a lasting impression on admissions officers.
  • While your recommendations don’t all have to come from the workplace, the best ones are usually written by someone who has evaluated your performance. Dee writes, “Note that we are not looking for a peer recommendation – we find it most helpful if there is some developmental distance between you and the recommender.” That kind of person is typically best suited to comment on your strengths and development areas.
  • Simply knowing an HBS student or grad doesn’t give you any kind of leg up. Dee has this to say: “Please don’t ask current HBS students to write to us on your behalf outside of the formal recommendation process.” Of course, dozens (if not hundreds) will surely ignore her advice this year, but you heard it straight from Dee!
  • This last one is Dee’s most interesting point. To answer the question of whether or not someone with a tenuous job situation should go to his or her boss for a letter of recommendation, Dee says, “Especially in these unusual times, please don’t jeopardize your employment in order to secure a recommendation from a current employer.” While we have also shared this advice before, we glad that Dee wrote this. Having it come from the head of admissions at HBS should put some jittery applicants at ease as they grapple with this question.

For more information and advice on applying to Harvard, visit the Veritas Prep HBS information page. Also, call us at 800-925-7737 and find out how we can help you with your recommendations!

The New MBA Oath – Does It Matter?

Last week a recent Harvard Business School graduate spoke out about the Class of 2009’s collective effort to create and endorse a new “MBA Oath” in response to the public beating that the Master of Business Administration degree has taken in the public eye. In an article posted on harvardbusiness.org, Max Anderson explained he and his classmates’ reasons for signing the oath.

“The oath began as a voluntary, opt-in grassroots initiative among our classmates to get 100 HBS students to sign by graduation,” Anderson wrote. “We based our oath language largely on a draft of an oath completed by Professors Nitin Nohria and Rakesh Khurana in the Harvard Business Review last October, with a few edits of our own. We thought 100, or more than 10% of the class, would have symbolic power. As of June 8, 2009, more than 50% of Harvard’s graduating MBA class has signed the oath.”

Interestingly , the oath has grown in popularity. Anderson went on to write, “Beyond Harvard, more than 200 students at other business schools, from Stanford to Wharton to Oxford, have also signed the Oath. Just this week, we received a request to translate the oath into Spanish for an MBA program in Colombia.”

What exactly is the oath supposed to accomplish? Anderson explains, “We hope the Oath will accomplish three things: a) make a difference in the lives of the students who take the oath, b) challenge other classmates to work with a higher professional standard, whether they sign the oath or not and c) create a public conversation in the press about professionalizing and improving management.”

While many people in the press have expressed skepticism that such an oath will in any way impact these graduates’ future behavior, Anderson cites some research in “predictive irrationality” that suggests that such public commitments do in fact impact one’s actions. So, even if the oath is somewhat hollow, is it possible that it still might steer some grads towards a more responsible path?

Others have referred to the wave of new ethics courses in business schools in the wake of the Enron and Worldcom scandals of a few years ago, and the impact that these courses have had (or haven’t had) so far. However, these courses are still so new that, even if they are effective, it’s too soon to see their impact.

The net takeaway is that none of these changes is likely to single-handedly solve any widespread cultural problems among MBAs (if you believe there are any) that could drive them towards reckless or irresponsible behavior. Taken together, though, over time they may start to positively impact MBA grads.

However, as much as we believe in the power of HBS or any other business school to transform someone into stronger business leader, we also believe that how likely someone is to be a responsible manager (and a responsible community member overall) depends more on who they are when they enter business school than on the lessons they learn — and the oaths they take — while in school. And that will never change.

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!

Harvard Business School to Accept the GRE

Yesterday Harvard Business School joined the likes of Stanford GSB and MIT Sloan when it announced that its general two-year MBA program will starting accepting the GRE from applicants this fall. This move comes after the HBS 2+2 Program announced in March that it would accept both the GRE and the GMAT this year. While this won’t affect your plans if you have already taken (or are about to take) the GMAT, it will potentially attract a bigger and more diverse applicant pool to Harvard’s two-year MBA program.

In an HBS press release, director of admissions Dee Leopold said, “We are pleased to widen our requirements to give all MBA candidates the option of submitting results from either the GRE or GMAT exams. Since many HBS applicants are also considering graduate programs besides the MBA, there is now no need for them to take the GMAT if they have already taken the GRE. We believe that both the GMAT and the GRE meet our expectations of what a standardized test can tell us about a candidate’s ability to thrive in our MBA Program.”

This is consistent with the school’s push (of which the HBS 2+2 Program is an important part) to find more business leaders outside of the traditional MBA program feeders, such as business-oriented college programs, investment banks, and consulting firms. It also marks another win for ETS in its push to position the GRE as a credible competitor to the GMAT in assessing MBA applicants’ abilities. With a handful of top-ten schools already accepting the GRE, we expect more schools will soon follow suit.

With ETS making slow but steady progress in winning over the top business schools, it’s no wonder that the Graduate Management Admission Council has started to make noise about producing a next-generation GMAT exam, due to reach the market by 2013.

HBS Waitlist Update

Last week Harvard Business School’s Dee Leopold posted a brief update on the HBS blog, providing some news for waitlisted applicants as well as some advice for those who may apply in 2009-2010. Whether you’re anxiously awaiting news on your HBS waitlist status or your business school applications are just a twinkle in your eye right now, this brief post was especially useful.

In her update, Dee wrote:

  • Our Round 1 deadline for the next application season will be earlier in October, BEFORE fall class visits are open. We encourage those of you who are thinking of applying in Round 1 to consider a class visit this spring — class visits are available until May 8. Visiting an HBS class has absolutely no impact on the application process – we just want everyone to know that you are welcome.
  • We will be making more offers from the waitlist this year, and we hope to make the majority of these decisions as soon as we can – definitely before the end of May.
  • International students will have access to loans without needing a U.S. co-signer. We will release details/terms on specific programs as they are finalized.

That first point is very interesting. If you apply in Round 1 this coming fall, you won’t have a chance to sit in on an HBS class before you submit your application. Therefore, even if you’re not sure that you’ll apply to HBS, if you can get to Boston this spring, it’s a good idea to schedule your visit now. Doing so — and being able to write about it in your HBS admissions essays — may give you a small but important leg up vs. other applicants next year.

Admissions Updates from HBS and Wharton

This week Harvard Business School and Wharton provided important updates for applicants on their blogs. For anyone who is currently waiting to hear back from HBS or Wharton, the next couple of weeks figure to be an important time.

On the HBS admissions blog, Dee Leopold provided an update for applicants in all three admissions rounds.

She wrote:

Round One Waitlist – We will be extending offers of admission to about 40 round one waitlisters shortly after April 2. We will continue to maintain a waitlist and Eileen Chang will send out an update in early April.

Round Two Notification – April 2 is the notification date. All decisions will be released online – you will receive an email instructing you to check your status. We won’t be making any congratulatory phone calls in advance of April 2!

Round Three Interview Invitations – Many, but not all, will go out on April 3.

Meanwhile, over at the Wharton admissions blog, the team posted an update specifically for Wharton’s Round 2 applicants:

All Round 2 applicants who were invited for interviews: you will receive your admissions decision tomorrow. You may check your decision status at that time through your online application. We will also make every effort to contact all new admits via telephone or e-mail.

Return here tomorrow for an announcement that decisions have been released and for more details…

Good luck to everyone!

That Wharton blog post was written yesterday, meaning that by now many of you should have heard from Wharton… Hopefully you got good news!

For more regular updates on HBS, Wharton, and other top business schools, be sure to follow Veritas Prep on Twitter.

HBS Class of 2009 Employment Update

Last week Harvard Business School’s Dee Leopold posted an update on HBS second-year students’ job prospects for this year. This update is especially interesting to anyone who is preparing to leave a steady job this year to enter a full-time MBA program.

According to Leopold, 77% of the HBS Class of 2009’s job seekers (this excludes anyone who will continue academic work or who will return to a previous employer) have found full-time jobs. She went on to write:

I don’t have any more details to offer at this point, but we are proud of both our students and our Career Services team who have helped many of our students discover and pursue their dreams and find new opportunities in the midst of great uncertainty in the market. It is still months from graduation and companies and organizations continue to be a big presence on campus – spring will be lively here at HBS. We will provide updates as the season progresses.

Hopefully for those HBS students — and for students at all business schools this year — spring will indeed prove to be a lively season for recruiting.

For more information on HBS, visit the Veritas Prep Harvard Business School information page.

HBS Round Two Admissions Interviews

Last week the Harvard Business School’s Dee Leopold posted a short message on the HBS admissions blog about the timing for Round Two admissions interview invitations:

On February 9 we will send out invitations to interview. The invitation will come in an email from HBS MBA Admissions and will contain detailed instructions about how to sign up for interviews both on campus and in hub cities. Please be assured that if we see you haven’t signed up for an interview by the end of the week, we will contact you by phone…thus there’s no reason to be anxious about lost emails, etc.

Shortly afterward, I’ll update you here as to how many invitations have been issued and how many we expect will go out between February 10 and the April 2 notification date.

Note the second part. While a majority of interview invites will likely go out on Feb. 9, don’t despair if you don’t hear anything on that day. The admissions office will be working through thousands of applications, and they may not get to yours for another few weeks or more.

Visit Veritas Prep for more information on Harvard Business School and how to ace the MBA admissions interview.

HBS Round Two Admissions Update

Dee Leopold posted another update on the Harvard Business School admissions blog last week, this one for Round Two applicants. Consider this a mini FAQ for all of the questions that Round Two applicants will invariably ask 1,000 times over the next couple of weeks.

Most importantly for those who are racing to get the GMAT in before January 6, Leopold explained that reporting an unofficial exam on your application is enough. If GMAC’s official score report doesn’t get to HBS until after January 6, that’s okay. However, if you haven’t yet taken the TOEFL, then you’re too late. In the case of the TOEFL, you do need to include an official score report with your application.

You DON’T need to wait for all of your recommendations to be sent in before you submit your HBS application, but your recommenders DO need to get their letters in before the Jan. 6 deadline (at 5 PM EST).

Good luck, everyone! For more information on HBS, visit the Veritas Prep Harvard Business School information page.

Update from the HBS Admissions Office

Last week Dee Leopold posted a Round One update on the HBS blog.

Leopold and her team are now in the process of reviewing applicants who have already interviewed for Round One, and they expect to continue doing so up until the school’s Jan. 21 notification deadline. They are also putting some applicants onto the Round One waitlist, and Leopold says that she expects to waitlist around 100 Round One applicants.

If you’re waitlisted, don’t despair — you may be invited to interview along with Round Two applicants. “Thus, you could say that a Round One waitlist decision is essentially a ‘further consideration’ message,” says Leopold.

Given the anticipated surge in applications this year, especially in Round Two, we expect HBS and other top business schools to make heavy use of waitlists this year. They may like the looks of your candidacy, but if they’re not sure just how big the Round Two wave will be, they may decide to wait until February before making a decision on your candidacy.

If you’re racing to finish your HBS application before the Jan. 6 Round Two deadline, take a look at our MBA essay editing services, which offer a 72-hour turnaround time. Good luck!

HBS Admissions Podcast

Recently the Harvard Business School admissions office posted a podcast interview with Dee Leopold, Managing Director of MBA Admissions and Financial Aid.

The interview started off with the question that Leopold hears most often: “What are you looking for in an applicant?” Leopold broke it down into “qualities” and “experiences,” and explained that they look for common qualities but diverse experiences in the incoming class.

For qualities, Leopold highlighted the following:

  • Solid values and integrity — No surprise here. HBS and all other programs won’t even consider someone who may seem unethical.
  • Ability to thrive in an analytical environment and academic setting — As described in Your MBA Game Plan, this is one the key dimensions that you must show in your application. We at Veritas Prep refer to this as “Innovation.”
  • Initiative — How can you show you how you go above and beyond what’s normally expected of you?
  • Curiosity — Another part of what we call “Innovation.” Show that you want to learn more about what makes the world tick.
  • Maturity — This is another one of the four important dimensions that we describe in Your MBA Game Plan.
  • Perspective — Do you have self-awareness? How have your experiences shaped your outlook on the world?
  • Sense of humor — Yes, even HBS wants to see applicants who don’t take themselves too seriously. We believe this a sense of humor is a clear sign of maturity, humility, and self-confidence.

Note that Leopold didn’t mention “leadership.” She went on to explain that, “We’re looking for leaders who have these qualities (above). We don’t think that ‘leadership’ as a one-size fits all or something that is a list of things on your resume. We think that leadership, and the way you lead, is as exciting a dimension of diversity as any of the other things I mentioned.”

There’s a lot of great information in the podcast, and this is just a sample. Go here to listen to the entire podcast.

One other note: Leopold mentioned that HBS is visiting a lot of college campuses this year, to open more undergrads’ eyes to HBS and the value of an MBA. This is just one more sign of HBS’ effort to attract and accept more candidates with very little job experience. Take note of this if you’ve been out of college for a couple of years and are wondering whether you should apply now or in a couple of years. “We are encouraging people to think about business school earlier in their lives,” Leopold said.

While she also went on to say that this is not bad news for more experienced applicants, we believe that HBS’ vision of the typical first-year student has permanently changed vs. ten years ago (i.e., it has become younger). If you apply later in your career, expect that HBS will have a lot of questions about why you waited.

Visit Veritas Prep for more information on Harvard Business School and the HBS 2+2 Program.

HBS on International Student Loans

Amid all of the grim news lately regarding the availability of student loans, Dee Leopold posted an update on the HBS admissions blog to let international applicants know that they will still have access to need-based loans without a U.S.-based cosigner.

Writes Leopold:

While at this time we do not have further details about specific loan programs with private lenders, we are able to make this important – and reassuring – statement about continued accessibility.

She went on to say that all students will still be eligible for HBS fellowships, which don’t need to be repaid. The average need-based fellowship is about $25,000 per year, making them critical in keeping down HBS students’ total costs.

If you’re applying to Harvard, visit the Veritas Prep HBS information page for more application advice and resources.

HBS Interviews: Dee Leopold on Round One

The other day Dee Leopold posted a message on the HBS admissions blog regarding the school’s upcoming wave of Round One interview invitations. HBS will start contacting applicants to set up interviews on November 12, with many of the interview requests going out the following week.

As HBS and other top schools often do, Leopold reminds applicants that the timing of the interview invite is strictly a function of when the application is reviewed in the process — it’s not a reflection on the strength of one’s candidacy. There’s also no rhyme or reason in terms of alphabetical order, geography, or the date when the application was received. In other words, don’t bother trying to divine your chances based when you receive (or don’t receive) an interview invitation!

Leopold finished the post with a plug for the updated entrepreneurship info on the HBS web site. A few times lately we have heard HBS representatives emphasize the program’s entrepreneurship-related content… Something to keep in mind if you are an HBS applicant with a sincere interest in this area.

For more advice on applying to HBS, visit our Harvard Business School information page. For more advice on how to nail your HBS interview, take a look at our MBA admissions interview preparation service.

Harvard Business School Celebrates 100 Years

In a proud weekend tinged with a hint of sobriety because of the current economic crisis, Harvard Business School celebrated its centennial this past weekend. What was a yearlong celebration of the school’s centennial ended with the three-day HBS Global Business Summit.

The summit was attended by a wide variety of business and government leaders, from Bill Gates to Jeff Immelt to Meg Whitman to India’s finance minister. And while schools normally have to campaign to encourage their alumni to attend on-campus events, HBS’ centennial boasted a waitlist of over 250 people. By all accounts, it was a terrific celebration of this important institution.

But it was not all caviar and bubbly. On his Financial Times blog, Stefan Stern recounted how the crowd could not avoid discussing the current financial turmoil. HBS Dean Jay Light opened the proceedings with a serious address, pinning the blame for the current turmoil squarely on the same leaders that HBS produces. While the focus of the event was squarely on HBS and not on the markets, current events were very much on the top of everyone’s mind.

It will be up to HBS and other top business schools to dig deeply and decide how they will evolve their philosophy for training business leaders in the future.

Harvard Business School Students’ Work Experience

Last week HBS posted the college graduation years of its incoming Class of 2010 on its blog. As expected, more than half graduated in 2004 or 2005 (i.e., they have between three and four years of work experience), and about three quarters graduated between 2003 and 2005 (three to five years of work experience):

Source: The Director’s Blog at HBS.edu

There’s nothing too eye-opening here, but it’s good to see the data broken out so explicitly. One reason is that so many applicants only see the mean number of years of work experience for a school’s incoming class, and wrongly assume that if they aren’t right at that number, then their chances of success are very low. It’s good to see that, while their numbers are clearly lower, there are significant numbers of older and younger HBS students.

We expect to see the number of years of work experience for admitted HBS students to continue to decrease slightly over time, given the school’s push to attract younger applicants (especially through its HBS 2+2 Program). Although, it will be interesting to see if the economic slowdown affects number in the coming year: Will it cause the average age of applicants to drop even further as they accelerate their plans to go to business school, or could it actually end up attracting more older applicants who are out of career options? Only time will tell.

Harvard Business School Application Now Available

Last month Harvard Business School released its essays for the 2008-2009 application season. This past Thursday, the HBS released its full application for the coming year.

As Dee Leopold mentioned on the HBS blog, there is no advantage to applying before the Round One deadline. According to Leopold:

“Please keep in mind that… we only begin to review applications after the October 15 Round One deadline. The Admissions Board has no knowledge of whether you submitted your application today or in October. To put it another way, we consider applications in three distinct decision rounds; within rounds, it is not a ‘rolling’ admissions process.”

In other words, don’t needlessly scramble to get your application in early. By all means, resist the urge to prcrastinate and submit your application right at 5:00 PM on October 15, but there’s no reason to submit your application before it’s anything less than 100% perfect.

For more information about applying to HBS, visit our Harvard Business School information page.

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.