Harvard Business School Application Essays and Deadlines for 2010-2011

Earlier this week 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 Admissions 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. Harvard’s Round 3 deadline is also about one week earlier than last year’s R3 deadline.

Harvard Business School Admissions Essays

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

    (HBS has used this same question for a while now. 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 can 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.)
  • What have you learned from a mistake? (400 words)

    (This question is also a repeat. 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 are repeats, but the other two are new. 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., “I want to solve the world’s energy crisis.” — that will make admissions officers’ eyes roll. 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. 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? For this one, we recommend trying for a less formal slant. Make it friendly, written in the first person, and maybe even a little humorous.)

If you’re just starting to plan your MBA candidacy, be sure to subscribe to this blog and to follow us on Twitter for more advice on the business school application process!

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