Last week the the Harvard Business School admissions committee released its application essays for the HBS 2+2 Program for next year. Today we’ll take a look at the program’s application deadlines and essays for students applying to the Class of 2016.
Note that there is a big change in deadlines since last year: There are now four deadlines, vs. one single summer deadline for the program. Even though the window in which you can apply is now more wide open, note that the program is still designed with current college juniors in mind. (HBS phrases it as anyone who will “be graduating from your college or university between October 1, 2011 and September 30, 2012,” which mostly applies to those who are just wrapping up their junior year in college.)
HBS 2+2 Program Admissions Deadlines
Summer Round: July 6, 2011
Round 1: October, 2011
Round 2: January, 2012
Round 3: March, 2012
Right now, only the Summer Round has a specific date attached to it, although that will likely change soon. Also, be aware that applying by the July deadline (which used to be the only 2+2 deadline) means you will notified by September, which gives you plenty of time to make plans in your senior year. You can apply as late as March of your senior year, but that will probably mean finding out your status no sooner than when you graduate. Many students may not be comfortable with this arrangement. We recommend getting your application in by the July or October deadlines to give yourself enough time to plan things out on the back end.
HBS 2+2 Program Admissions Essays
- Tell us about three of your accomplishments. (600 words)
This question used to ask, “What are your three most substantial accomplishments and why do you view them as such?” which was exactly the same question that was on the traditional HBS application. Although they’ve rephrased it (probably to try to sound a little less stuffy and intimidating to 20-year-old college kids), the meat of the question remains the same: They don’t explicitly ask for your “most substantial” accomplishments, but of course you’re not going to want to tell them three mundane stories. While you are obviously younger than the typical HBS applicant, the school still expects to see several separate, concrete examples of how you made a positive impact on the organization, community, or people around you. Having a hard time coming up with many? That may be the first sign that you’re not yet ready to apply to Harvard Business School. If that’s the case, don’t despair… You just may want to consider the more traditional route of working for several years before applying to business school.
- Tell us three setbacks you have faced. (600 words)
Okay, fair enough. First they ask for three accomplishments, and now they want to hear about three “setbacks” (which is sort of admissions speak for “failures,” although these don’t need to be spectacular disasters). Last year, the question “What have you learned from a mistake?” which was also taken directly from the two-year Harvard MBA program’s application. In some ways we’re a little surprised that they’re asking for three, since the most important part of a “failure” essay is showing what you learned and how you grew as a result, and 600 words doesn’t give you a lot of space in which to tell three such stories (and do it well). Still, your mission will be to show introspection (What did you learn?) and a motivation for self-improvement (How did you use what you learned to better yourself and avoid that mistake again?). While you won’t have the same experiences as a twenty-five-year-old applicant to draw upon here, look for experiences in all aspects of your life where you learned a valuable lesson. There’s a good chance that your richest story will come from outside of your academics. However, academic stories are indeed okay. The admissions committee knows you’re young and don’t yet have much professional experience.
- Why do you want an MBA? (400 words)
Believe it or not, while this might question seem like a must, HBS never asked this in its 2+2 Program application until now. While you’re still young, your answer to this may have as much to do with your past as your future. You may have some ambitious plans, but those will be meaningless unless they fit within the context of your background. For instance, you could write, “I want to get an MBA so that I can launch a global non-profit organization to wipe out illiteracy,” but if philanthropy and an interest in education don’t show up anywhere else in your background, this may seem like nothing more than a bunch of hot air. Also, be sure to demonstrate that you’re mature and realistic as far as what an MBA can do for you. Graduating from HBS in a few years won’t immediately launch you into the world of private equity stardom… There are a lot of other things you will need to do to get there, and you want to show admissions officers that you understand this. Talking to current MBA students and recent business school grads can help you a great deal here.
- What would you like the MBA Admissions Board to know about your undergraduate academic experience? (400 words)
This question carries over from last year. Being that you probably don’t yet have any full-time work experience, the admissions office needs to dig a little deeper into your undergraduate experience to learn more about you. Don’t simply rehash your transcript here! Why did you choose your major in college? What motivated you to choose certain course? Were there any instances when you really pushed yourself out of your comfort zone? Focus on just one or two themes here, ideally showing how you have grown academically over the past three years. HBS wants to transform you from young raw ingredients into a polished, finished product. Showing glimpses of such a transformation in the first three years of college can help the Harvard admissions office picture you thriving at HBS.
To learn more about HBS and other top-ranked MBA programs, be sure to find us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter!
We’ve written in this space before about the trend at some top business schools toward accepting younger applicants. In some cases, these schools have even created specific programs to attract these candidates. But, a big question still looms: Does it make sense for someone to enter an MBA program with little or not full-time professional experience?”
A recent Wall Street Journal article, explored this issue in some depth. The article doesn’t really choose a side, but raises some interesting questions about how attractive a younger candidate is when he graduates at 24 with a fancy degree and very little work experience.
As we have said before, these schools’ reason for trying to attract younger candidates is that even Harvard Business School and Stanford GSB feel the need to hustle to get their hands on high-potential young professionals before other graduate schools (not just MBA programs) do. Stanford GSB’s Derrick Bolton said as much in the article: “When you see really talented people, you want to lock them in.”
But does it do a service to the student to lock them in so early? For us, it really comes down to whether those candidates enter business school with any significant professional experience under their belt. The HBS 2+2 Program gives new admits a chance to gain two years of experience before matriculating, although even these candidates still seem a bit young to us, thinking back to our time in business school and who seemed “with it” and who still seemed a little young to be taken seriously. But, at least those first-year students will have some professional experience, usually from blue-chip firms.
Other programs mentioned in the article, such as Stanford, will (on rare occasions) let someone matriculate straight out of college. While the rare student who does this is undoubtedly a remarkable young person who has already achieved a lot and demonstrated unheard of potential, they often still bring a level of naïveté that will induce the occasional groan from other classmates. I know, because I have see it firsthand.
And, as the WSJ article points out, the other audience to consider are professional recruiters. Here schools imply need to be pragmatic about what works and what doesn’t. If a school Southern Methodist University’s Cox School of Business (a fine MBA program) can’t easily place 24-year-old grads in great jobs from Harvard and Stanford still can, then it may simply mean that the “younger MBA” formula will only work for schools with strong enough brands.
At the end of the day, despite Harvard’s seeming push to get younger, we almost always advise an young applicant to wait an extra year or two before applying. That person’s application story will be stronger, his academic experience in business school will be richer, and his job candidacy will almost always be more appealing to future employers. Patience is a virtue, even in MBA admissions.
For more news and advice on getting into the world’s most competitive MBA programs, be sure to subscribe to this blog and to follow us on Twitter!
Recently Harvard Business School announced the 2010 deadline for its HBS 2+2 Program. While the deadline has changed quite a bit since last year (it’s several weeks earlier than before), but the program’s admissions essays actually remain the same.
Since the essays themselves are unchanged, our advice mostly remains the same, but it’s still worth sharing it again. Note that there are a few subtle nuances in our advice that are new this year, based on feedback we’ve heard directly from successful HBS 2+2 Program applicants this past year:
HBS 2+2 Program Application Essays
- What are your three most substantial accomplishments and why do you view them as such? (600 words)
This is exactly the same question on the traditional HBS application. While you are obviously younger than the typical HBS applicant, the school still expects to see several separate, concrete examples of how you made a positive impact on the organization, community, or people around you. Having a hard time coming up with many? Don’t despair… You just may want to consider the more traditional route of working for several years before applying to business school.
- What would you like us to know about your undergraduate academic experience? (400 words)
This question is unique to the 2+2 Program application. Being that you probably don’t yet have any full-time work experience, the admissions office is willing to dig deeper into your undergraduate experience to learn more about you. Don’t simply recount your transcript here. Why did you choose your major in college? What motivated you to choose certain course? Were there any instances when you really pushed yourself out of your comfort zone? Focus on just one or two themes here, ideally showing how you have grown academically over the past three years. Harvard want to transform you from young raw ingredients into a polished, finished product. Showing glimpses of such a transformation in the first three years of college can help the HBS admissions office picture you thriving at HBS.
- What have you learned from a mistake? (400 words)
This is also taken directly from the standard HBS application. Just like with all mistake essays, you want to show introspection (What did you learn?) and a motivation for self-improvement (How did you use what you learned to better yourself and avoid that mistake again?). While you won’t have the same experiences as a twenty-five-year-old applicant to draw upon here, look for experiences in all aspects of your life where you learned a valuable lesson. There’s a good chance that your richest story will come from outside of your academics.
- Optional Essays (choose one)
– Discuss how you have engaged with a community or organization. (400 words)
– What area of the world are you most curious about and why? (400 words)
– What is your career vision and why is this choice meaningful to you? (400 words)
All three of these are also taken from the standard HBS application. We always recommend that applicants err on the side of discussing themselves, the decisions they’ve made, and the impact they’ve made on those around them — not on a person or an idea that they hold dear. The former is really the only way the admissions office will get to you YOU, and without knowing you, how can Harvard admit you?
These specific examples of your initiative and leadership are extremely valuable, especially if you are relatively inexperienced. This doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t answer one of the other questions, but make sure yoo go beyond big-picture generalities and let the Harvard admissions committee get to know the real you.
For more updates on the HBS 2+2 Program and similar programs at top business schools, subscribe to this blog and follow us on Twitter!
For a while we have been telling applicants that the earlier in the careers they apply to Harvard Business School, the better. While the mean number of years of work experience for students entering top business schools is still around five, 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 five or more 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 last week:
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.
- 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.
- No target or cap on the number of deferred admit spots we will offer. Last year 43 college seniors were offered deferred admission.
- No downside: If you aren’t admitted, apply again in a couple of years — lots of denied college seniors are successful in the future.
- The application fee is only $100.
- 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.
If you are still in college or are a fresh-out-of-college applicant, 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 some recommendation writers lined up, and have some good experiences to draw upon to demonstrate your leadership abilities and your maturity. If you already have these things in your profile, or are at least close, then Harvard’s signal is clear: They would rather that you apply now, rather than a few years from now.
For more advice crafting a successful HBS application, take a look at Veritas Prep’s HBS Annual Report, one of 15 completely free guides to the world’s top business schools, available here. For more updates on HBS and other top business schools, subscribe to this blog and follow us on Twitter!
Earlier this week Harvard Business School has 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.
On the HBS Admissions blog, Dee Leopold wrote:
This is a special message to college students who have been waiting to see the essay questions for the upcoming 2+2 application season. Surprise: They are the same as last year’s!! Before we get to being creative and tinkering with them, we decided to have three years of the same questions so we can do a little bit of longitudinal analysis about the responses. Please visit the 2+2 Program website so you can learn more details about the program and the application dates.
Interesting comment about how the school wants another year’s worth of data before they start tinkering with the questions. Usually, when a school changes its essay questions, that’s a sign that it wasn’t happy with what the previous questions were accomplishing — in terms of getting to know each individual applicant or in terms of separating the great applicants from the rest of the pack. HBS probably doesn’t feel a pressing need to change things at this point, but we’re curious how this might change next year. Given that some schools now accept audio or video responses, and that HBS wants its 2+2 Program to be hip and appeal “to the kids,” we wonder if HBS will eventually offer an essay option that has a digital or social-media component.
The HBS 2+2 Program was designed to attract impressive undergraduate students coming from non-business disciplines such as engineering and humanities. Accordingly, they’re looking for students coming from those majors, rather than from undergraduate business programs. If you feel like you don’t have a very business-ish background, and if you’re current a college junior, then now is the time to start thinking about applying. 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 the GMAT prep classes from Veritas Prep.
For more updates on the HBS 2+2 Program and similar programs at top business schools, subscribe to this blog and follow us on Twitter!
A new article in the Financial Times reports that the typical MBA classroom now has more women in it than ever before. The article cites a study by the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business, which shows that women now make up about 37% of the student body at traditional full-time business schools in the U.S., up from 33% just five years ago.
And, this positive trend isn’t just happening in the U.S. — most top business schools in Europe also have attracted more women. INSEAD’s most recent graduating class, for example, was 34% women, up from 23% in 2000.
MBA admissions officers seem to agree that graduate business programs face one significant hurdle in attracting women, compared to other professional graduate programs: Most top business schools expect applicant to have at least several years of full-time work experience before applying. For some young women thinking of starting a family soon, the idea of needing to wait a few years before applying to grad school means that they may have to wait longer than they would like before having children.
This partly explains top business schools’ push to attract younger applicants, and early results at one school seem to suggest that these programs are in fact attracting more women: Approximately 50% of the students in the HBS 2+2 Program’s inaugural class are women, compared to the full-time MBA program’s Class of 2010, which is make up of 38% women.
For more help in applying to business school, call the admissions experts at Veritas prep at 800-925-7737 for a free initial consultation. And, be sure to follow MBA Game Plan on Twitter!
This past week Harvard Business School released its admissions decisions for the HBS 2+2 Program. HBS has admitted 115 students — nine more than last year — according to an interview with Dee Leopold in the Harvard Crimson.
This year 843 rising college seniors applied to the program, an increase of more than 33% since last year, when 630 students applied. The number of admitted applicants also increased (from 106 last year), although the overall acceptance rate has dipped to just 13.6% (from 16.8% in 2008) because of all those additional applicants.
The growing number of applicants is at least in part a reflection of how much work the HBS admissions office did this past year to spread the word about the program. The HBS 2+2 staff visited nearly 60 undergraduate colleges and universities, according to the article. As word of mouth grows and HBS continues to market the program, we expect the number of 2+2 applicants to keep growing significantly over the next few years.
In the article, Leopold made a concerted effort to dispel the notion that the 2+2 Program is a Harvard-only program. Still, with nearly a quarter of the program’s admits coming from Harvard College, the program still has some work to do in diversifying its student body.
Also, anyone who is worried about being “too old” for HBS likely won’t be pleased to see that HBS has carved out another nine seats for 2+2 students. While this trend does not help you if you’re already out in the working world, we still believe that HBS will have to add another section to its class by the time the first 2+2 cohort — which graduated from college this past spring — enters HBS in Fall 2010.
To stay on top of all HBS 2+2 Program news, be sure to follow MBA Game Plan on Twitter!