In another post, I wrote an open letter to the Stanford GSB Admissions committee with suggestions for how they might change the application, if they so desired.
To be honest, the Stanford application is pretty tight, but I did have some ideas for questions I thought might elicit richer and more diverse answers from applicants than What matters most and why?
But to you, new Director of Admissions at HBS, I say: please, don’t change a thing.
The HBS application is the most perfect of all the MBA applications out there and it no doubt enables you to make strong, confident, and generally correct choices about who to include in your class.
- You collect detailed but finite information on achievements via the online short answers for candidates whose resumes were poorly written that adds meaningful detail for those with well-written ones.
- You ask a quite frankly perfect MBA essay question that evokes rich, thought-provoking, revealing, and differentiating answers from applicants. (Unlike Stanford’s question A, which can lead candidates to emphasize the what and the why too heavily, reducing themselves to boilerplate claptrap, your question actually forces the candidate to reveal the how of their life: how they want to be known. It’s much harder for students to answer Harvard’s MBA application essay because it requires such depth of reflection and then, ultimately, self-confidence to answer authentically.)
- The Harvard MBA interview process is thorough, generous, fair, and enjoyable for applicants.
So basically, though I know you didn’t ask, from my humble perspective as a seasoned MBA application coach who’s helped hundreds of people successfully apply to Harvard Business School, I’d say: don’t change a thing.
Except one thing:
Could you please stop being so brand-conscious?
Every year, you pass over extraordinary candidates who have amazing experiences that took much more initiative, creativity, grit, and drive than getting into and succeeding within a brand name HBS-feeder company. I would just love it if you’d put a little more work into vetting your own candidates instead of letting the market do that for you by bringing on board such a huge portion of your class from the same companies year after year. I have no doubt this advice will fall on deaf ears, but it’s my two cents.
Meanwhile, where the application itself is concerned, I hope you won’t mess with perfection!
For candidates applying to Harvard,
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Read this letter explaining why the resignation of the Stanford GSB Dean of Admissions gives Stanford the chance to reform the 2023 application and find applicants who will have a positive impact.
Do you want to write an impactful MBA essay? Do you want to show your very best self to the adcom? 3 tips on showing your best self in your MBA application
The very best MBA applications are built on self-awareness and clarity. A successful MBA Essay works when you take a good look at yourself!