Harvard’s New MBA Application – Expert Advice

Posted By SWatts on May 23, 2012 | 0 comments

Harvard Releases Details of New Application – 2013 Matriculation

Harvard Business School (HBS) has released some information about its new application for Fall 2013 matriculation. I know many of you have been waiting anxiously for this! Compared with prior years, there are some substantial changes to the application, including the essays and the overall process. Below, I highlight some of the notable changes, some of the notable things that have stayed the same, and some of the implications of each.

Among the most notable changes are these:

1. The number of essays that are due before HBS makes a decision about whether it will extend an interview to you has been reduced from four essays to two essays. Each essay is limited to 400 words. This represents a tiny amount of required essay material relative to other top business school applications, which tend to have essays totally between 1800-2100 words in content. The implication here is that you must do a truly outstanding job with the two HBS essays, since you have so little essay space. You need to think long and hard about what represents the best material to include here. Another implication is that, given how little space you have in the essays to present your case for admission, your other admissions materials will be all the more important – including your resume, your application form, and your recommendations. You will need to go over those other materials with a fine tooth comb! You should aim to use those materials to present your best credentials in compelling, concise ways in order to persuade the HBS admissions committee to extend an admissions interview invitation to you.

2. The resume can now be 2 pages long. In some past years, HBS restricted the resume to only one page. The resume will be more important given the brevity of the essay section. Make sure to use the resume excellently!

3. After the admissions interview, the candidate will be asked to submit within 24 hours a post-interview reflection essay. Note, however, that only some applicants will be invited to interview, and those applicants are the ones in whom HBS has ‘some interest’ after reviewing their written application. Thus, not all applicants will need to complete this reflection essay.

HBS describes the reflection essay process as this: “Following the interview, candidates are required to submit a written reflection using our online application system. This must be submitted within 24 hours following the completion of the interview. Detailed instructions will be provided to those applicants who are invited to the interview process.” (HBS website) This reflection essay will be very important. You need to use this essay to your great advantage, given the small amount of text you have for essays in this set. You should make sure you are able to devote the time to generate the best possible content in the 24 hours after the HBS admissions interview. This essay will be a true test of your writing abilities and of your ability to underscore the case for your admission!

4. The application is due in late September rather than in early October. Moving a deadline earlier in Round 1 sometimes signals that a business school is expecting a greater volume of applicants. HBS may believe this will be the case, since a shorter essay set may encourage more applicants to apply.

Among the items that have remained the same, are these:

1. Three recommendations are still required. The recommendations are a similar length as in recent years and have similar questions to those found on previous HBS recommendation forms of recent years. The recommendations will be all the more important now given how little space you will have to present yourself to the admissions committee through the two required HBS essays that are due before a potential interview.

2. The HBS admissions interview will be tailored to the candidate. The interview will be very important, so prepare for it excellently!

3. The HBS application form restricts how much information you can include with regard to past awards, jobs and extracurricular activities. This means you need to determine which credentials you truly want to shine a light upon. You should use the HBS application form excellently, in particular because you have so little space in the essays to present your case for admission to the committee. The HBS application form has many “boxes” (fields) where you can add text to describe your jobs, activities and awards. Use your words carefully in these areas. You need to use the HBS application form itself to shine and impress.

4. HBS will only consider one GMAT score. This is great news for those of you who scored poorly but were able to improve your GMAT score. Your best score is what will factor into the admissions calculation.

I look forward to providing more reflections on the new HBS set as more information is released! Feel free to check the MBA Admit.com website at www.mbaadmit.com for more reflections.

Best wishes,
Dr. Shel (Shelly Watts)
President, MBA Admit.com
email: mbaadmit@aol.com

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