One More Reason to Apply to HBS While You Are Young

MBA Admissions
If you’ve been reading our blog for a while, you no doubt have picked up on the fact that Harvard Business School has been the most vocal among top business schools about trying to attract younger applicants. By “younger” we mean that, while the mean number of years of work experience for students entering top business schools is still around 5 (note that’s the number of years of full-time work experience at matriculation, not when they submit their applications), Harvard has made a point of encouraging applicants to apply with fewer than three years of experience. In fact, nearly half of the Class of 2011‘s 937 students has no more than three years of full-time work experience.

As if being an “old” applicant (i.e., someone with 5+ years of work experience) doesn’t seem tough enough these days, now comes word that HBS is encouraging college seniors to apply in Round 3. As Dee Leopold wrote on the HBS Admissions Blog the other day:

If you are a college senior who wants to go to HBS – but not right away – then applying in Round 3 could be a smart choice.


  1. The positive outcome is going to be “deferred admission” — a guaranteed spot in the class of 2014 with the stipulation that you work for two years before matriculation.
  2. No target or cap on the number of deferred admit spots we will offer. Last year 43 college seniors were offered deferred admission.
  3. No downside: If you aren’t admitted, apply again in a couple of years — lots of denied college seniors are successful in the future.
  4. The application fee is only $100.
  5. GMAT/GRE scores are good for 5 years – why not take the test in college while you are still in test-taking mode?

Applying to HBS or any other top MBA program in Round 3 can be daunting enough on its own, but this doesn’t help. However, this is great news if you’re a college senior who missed the boat on the HBS 2+2 Program before your senior year.

Overall, if you’re an older applicant, stop reading this post (lest you just make yourself more stressed). If you’re a college senior or a fresh-out-of-college applicant, however, this is one more reason to think about applying to Harvard Business School sooner rather than later, provided that you’re truly ready. This means that you have a competitive GMAT score, already have an idea of who can write great letters of recommendation for you, and have some good experiences to draw upon to demonstrate your leadership abilities and your maturity. If you already have these things (or have an idea of how you can get them within the next year), Harvard’s signal is clear: They would rather that you apply now, rather than a few years from now.

For more advice on getting into Harvard Business School, download the free HBS Annual Report, one of 15 completely free guides to the world’s top business schools, available 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!