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!