Harvard Business School Application Essay & Deadlines for 2019-2020

Several of the top U.S. business schools have already released their application essays and admissions deadlines. It’s that time of year when we start digging into them for you. Today, we’re looking at the business school with the biggest name and the earliest Round 1 deadline: Harvard Business School.

Without further ado, here are Harvard’s deadlines and essay, followed by our comments:

Harvard Business School Admissions Deadlines

Round 1: September 4, 2019

Round 2: January 6, 2020

2+2 Round: April 2, 2020

Harvard Business School Admissions Essay

There is one question for the Class of 2022:

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?

There is no word limit for this question. We think you know what guidance we’re going to give here. Don’t overthink, overcraft and overwrite. Just answer the question in clear language that those of us who don’t know your world can understand.

HBS kept the exact same essay prompt. When a school carries over an essay from one year to the next, that means admissions officers like what they’re seeing in the essays they receive. Based on what we’ve learned from our clients over the past several years (many of whom were admitted!), we feel very good about the advice we’ve been giving on this essay, so our advice mostly remains the same.

A familiar essay prompt. Take a look at this HBS essay prompt from 2014-2015:

“You’re applying to Harvard Business School. We can see your résumé, school transcripts, extra-curricular activities, awards, post-MBA career goals, test scores and what your recommenders have to say about you. What else would you like us to know as we consider your candidacy? (No word limit)

Notice anything similar? While the school chose not to list out the other application elements this year, the prompts are essentially the same. Regardless, it’s important to take some guidance from the way HBS once chose to phrase the essay question. Keep in mind that they do have your résumé, they do have your test scores, and they do have your transcripts. In other words, Harvard’s admissions committee isn’t looking for an essay answer that merely rehashes everything already noted on your application. If one or two of your accomplishments listed elsewhere organically find their way into your answer, that’s fine, but avoid the temptation to merely remind them of what they already know.

Your overall goal. We always tell every applicant that they need to do two things to get into HBS or any other top MBA program: 1) Stand out from other applicants (especially those with similar profiles), and 2) show how you fit with the school. If you come from a very common background (think management consultant, investment banker, or IT consultant from Asia), then you need to stand out even more, and this essay is your chance to do it. If your background already makes you unusual compared to the typical HBS class profile (perhaps you have more than the typical amount of work experience or have zero quantitative abilities to point to), then you need to use this essay to demonstrate that you will fit in and thrive at Harvard. Resist the urge to go for a gimmick, but don’t be afraid to let your hair down a bit. What brought you to this point in your life? What will you uniquely contribute to your MBA class? What do you want to do after HBS? What do you like to do outside of school and work? What gets you up in the morning?

Choose a theme. One approach we would recommend is to think of a key theme or differentiator that defines you. Recognizing that this kind of self-reflection can be a challenge for many applicants, Veritas Prep entered into a yearlong collaboration with the publishers of the Myers-Briggs personality type assessments to develop our Personalized MBA Game Plan™ assessment tool, available free to all GMAT Prep and Admissions Consulting customers. Using your Myers-Briggs personality type, this assessment helps you analyze your own strengths and weaknesses to determine the unique ways that you may stand out from the crowd. Whether or not you utilize this resource, be very mindful of the key takeaway that you want the admissions board member to remember about you.

Read more of our thoughts on the HBS essay here.

Every year we help dozens of applicants apply to Harvard Business School. Want to see if you have what it takes to get into HBS? You can get a free profile evaluation from a Veritas Prep MBA admissions expert or give us a call at (800) 962-2069. And, as always, be sure to find us on Facebook and YouTube, and follow us on Twitter!

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