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As an opportunity to present your distinctive qualities, your essays are an important part of your MBA application. You will be asked to submit your personal statements online with the balance of your application materials. Essays should be single-spaced. Please limit your response to the length indicated.
All applicants must submit answers to four essay questions. The first two questions are required of all applicants. The remaining two essays should be in response to your choice of the next five sub-questions.
Joint program applicants for the Harvard Medical School, Harvard Law School, and Kennedy School of Government must provide an additional essay. Essays:
* What are your three most substantial accomplishments and why do you view them as such? (600-word limit) * What have you learned from a mistake? (400-word limit) * Please respond to two of the following (400-word limit each): 1. What would you like the MBA Admissions Board to know about your undergraduate academic experience? 2. Discuss how you have engaged with a community or organization. 3. Tell us about a time when you made a difficult decision. 4. Write a cover letter to your application introducing yourself to the Admissions Board. 5. What is your career vision and why is this choice meaningful to you?
Joint degree applicants:
* How do you expect the joint degree experience to benefit you on both a professional and a personal level? (400-word limit)
Round 1 - Application by October 1, 2009 - Notification by December 15, 2009 Round 2 - Application by January 19, 2010 - Notification by April 6, 2010 Round 3 - Application by April 8, 2010 - Notification by May 13, 2010
Given past experience, we anticipate that many candidates will submit their online application materials very close to 5 p.m. EST on submission deadline dates. To avoid heavy server traffic and potential delays, we encourage candidates to submit application materials as early as possible.
Beginning with the class of 2012, HBS will accept both GMAT and GRE results. We think that both tests will provide adequate metrics of what a standardized test can tell us about a candidate. It will take a while for us to do a complete update of every reference to these tests on our website — in the meantime, please accept this as official notification of this change.
News For International Applicants...
Beginning with the Class of 2012, HBS will accept only the Internet Based Test (IBT) version of the TOEFL or the IELTS as tests of English as a foreign language. The TOEFL or IELTS is required of applicants who did not use English as the language of instruction in their undergraduate education. In our discussion-based, case method classroom, we have found that speaking ability (along with strong listening, reading and writing skills) is critical to success. Therefore, we need to see speaking scores in order to evaluate applicants appropriately; both the IELTS and the TOEFL IBT have speaking components. The IBT version of the TOEFL is available in all testing centers.
* Candidates who received their bachelor's degree from an English-speaking university are not required to take the TOEFL or IELTS (i.e., they are exempt). * Candidates who received their bachelor's degree from a non-English-speaking university are required to take either the Internet-based version of the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL IBT) and/or the International English Language Testing System (IELTS). * Candidates who received a master's or Ph.D. degree from an English-speaking university are strongly encouraged to submit the TOEFL IBT and/or IELTS. * Scores from tests taken before January 1, 2008 will not be accepted. * The MBA Admissions Board discourages any candidate with a TOEFL score lower than 109 on the IBT from applying.
The Class of 2012...
Please note that the Round One application deadline is October 1 — a bit earlier than last year — and notification is in mid-December. We've also pushed the Round Two application deadline back to January19 while keeping the notification date in early April. Both of these moves are attempts to shorten the wait time for candidates... we really do understand how hard it is to wait.
Recommender Questions for the Class of 2012
Recommendations must be completed online. The form includes the following three essay response questions, along with other types of questions.
* Please comment on the context of your interaction with the applicant. How long have you known the applicant and in what connection? If applicable, briefly describe the applicant's role in your organization. (250-word limit) * Please describe the most important piece of constructive feedback you have given the applicant. Please detail the circumstances and the applicant's response. (250-word limit) * Please make additional statements about the applicant's performance, potential, or personal qualities you believe would be helpful to the MBA Admissions Board. (250-word limit)
5) GMAT CLUB CANDIDATES
STATS: Total applicants: 51 Invited to interview: 16
Re: Calling all HBS candidates for 2010 [#permalink]
20 May 2009, 18:37
In for R1. I look most forward to the HBS and Stanford essays... What do you think about the decision regarding HBS allowing the GRE instead of the GMAT...?
Not really sure what this means... maybe they don't wanna be "worse" than Stanford... maybe indeed they plan on fighting GMAC's monopoly... maybe this means further "Age Jihad"... or maybe...?
BTW, I love the idea of R1 notifications before Christmas. If you're in you have best Christmas present ever and also you can tell (show off your family and make them happy (jealous). If you're dinged then at least you don't worry over the Christmas about decision. And if you're waitlisted it doesn't make any difference to you.
So now we have already HBS, Stanford, Booth, Wharton releasing R1 decision before Christmas... Nice!
What are your three most substantial accomplishments and why do you view them as such? (600-word limit) The most important question by far: as a rule these accomplishments should reflect your work, your development and extra currics. The purpose of essays for HBS is find out what makes you tick --they already will know a lot about you, so think added value not sketching out your story, they know that. OK to write one that in general says, "Coming to USA (or overcoming childhood b..c of poverty blah blah) and thriving by dint of finding mentors etc. is accomplishment--e.g. life story summary. Usual work b.s. is ok, e.g. I did X at work which required being leader and overcoming obstacles and then say how; also ok to say I did extra curric X which had impact1 2 3 and here is how I did it. Accomplishments should be concrete w. metric outcomes if pzzble, e.g. impact at work was x, raised y dollars, increased club size fr. x to y. But more imptly, you need to explain HOW YOU DID IT, how got others to cooperate, etc. etc.
What have you learned from a mistake? (400-word limit) Yikes, this Q sucks and usually does not add value, IMHO, after having read over ~300 of them last year. It is possible to 'score' here w. some deeply personal story about addiciton and recovery, disappointing or lying to parents, lovers etc. and why, & what you learned, but the vast majority of answers, even among accepted kids, take the form, "I made a mistake at work b.c. [too arrogant, too rushed, too focused on my ego, did not listen b.c., too immature to get help, too afraid to get help, blah, blah, or mismanaged my first subord for same reasons, and consequences and b.s. about how better you have become w. examples. Duh, try to avoid that, but remember, 70 percent of the admitted class wrote essays just like that, so if you are not fortunate enuf to have recovered fr. meth, etc. well, write one of those dufus essays. What would you like the MBA Admissions Board to know about your undergraduate academic experience? hmmmm, do not answer this Q in general UNLESS you need to--e.g. explain bummer grades or something else clinical and important, it is REALLY hard to add value w. this. My guess, number of admitted kids who answer this Q=less than 10 percent, which cld also be the pool of all applicant percent (or maybe not, if there are LOTS of kids explaining bad grades who dont get in. )
Discuss how you have engaged with a community or organization. winner!--most kids answer this (both admitted and all applicants) b.c. it is HBS sweet spot, it allows you to do a leadership demonstration piece. Classic answer is Over x period I dealt w. Org Y, and made these innovations, added members, built out org (specify) and here is how I got results and others to help me. Oddball but effective variants are engagment w. your family or a cause (e..g based on your affinity or ethnic background) over time, same jive tho. What you did, how you led, or worked in teams, etc. etc. As a rule extra currics work better here, but if you got a super strong work story, that works, but less effective IMHO.
Tell us about a time when you made a difficult decision. hmmmmm, new Q. My hunch, in general. AVOID, unless you are burning to answer this b.c. you actually have MADE a difficult decision. What works in these apps is real accomplishments w. results, bang, bang bang. altho adcoms will swear til Sunday they want to know how you think blah blah and may even believe it themselves (until actually reading apps and not pontificating in Forums) -going thru some decision tree etc. etc. like who cares? Sure, if you can combine this w. some accomplishment, e.g. how as captain of team I benched star player b.c. of my coaching style, and other key decisions like that, or how you decided, after leading student demos in Commie country growing up, you called them off b.c. loss of life was not worth it, well, yeah, if you got a story like that, sure. Coming out to parents, hmmmmm, my guess is, they are going to get A LOT of those stories . Stay in the closet, essay wise. altho trust me, in next year's admitted class there will be ~20-30 kids w. coming out to parents stories admitted, but it will not be THAT essay which got them in. Pulling plug on mom or dad, etc. could work if you can show how you marshalled medical and other family members to make that call.
What is your career vision and why is this choice meaningful to you? Most kids answer the career vision essay b.c. 1. they already got answer fr. other apps, they think HBS cares, they want to also waste our friggin time by saying WHY HBS (HBS DONT CARE!!!!) Well, the trend is your friend here, you should answer this Q too, but beware--you need to think MACRO, we want a VISION not a business plan, not a continuation of what you are doing, but some vision of how the platform of your current life and accomplishments is a sort of foundation for a vision which is based on it in some deep way but yet builds it out. A good answer has a PC or informed variant of whatever industy you choose, dont worry about being a cliche, all those cliches get in, and several DUMS DUMS thinking of marching to their own stupid drum often do real damage here. Make sure what you want to do sorta requires an MBA, and slug in some part which explains personal sig. to you.
Write a cover letter to your application introducing yourself to the Admissions Board. Dunno, this seems like fun, but you should have introduced yourself LONG before this by dint of all the other essays and accomplishments and resume. Soooo, I have a hard time seeing a good answer here. As a rule, wild stuff, like list of favorite songs, books, etc. and Twitter type baloney, which you think is SOOOO intimate and clever, dont work. I've read several attempts at that, so you keep the sun roof open in the winter and sing along to the radio, who gives a F. DO NOT EXPLAIN WHY YOU WANT TO ATTEND HBS, THAT IS NO VALUE AND FOR LOSERS. SURE SOME KIDS WHO DO THAT WILL GET IN, BUT IT WILL BE DESPITE THAT PART. I suppose if you got some amazing Lost Boys of Sudan story w. family trauma, etc. etc, you could do a good job here, you could also finese career vision question in here and write cover letter about how background etc. impacts goals, yeah, but you could do that w. vision question too (and should). Dangers here more likely than value. But tempting, good luck, and your funeral.
Last edited by garbus222 on 20 May 2009, 19:21, edited 1 time in total.
Essays The most important thing here is to decide what you really want to convey to the adcom and what stories you will tell. For HBS I suggest that each example displays your leadership ability, and shows that you posses qualities that are critical to leading effectively. Everyone's definition of leadership varies so I suggest that you follow your own belief (personally I think decisiveness, vision, and confidence are critical to leadership). Then you will have to decide which stories line up with the essay questions, which I don't believe is too difficult with HBS' broad range of questions. If you can, take a novel approach to answering a question. I ended up completely changing my culture shock essay10 days before submitting the application because I realized that culture shock can include much more than travels to other countries.
I suggest that you have your essays reviewed by multiple people, I had two sisters, a current HBS student, and a professional editing service review my essays. If you are a very technical person (Engineer or in IT) I suggest that you have non-technically oriented people review your essays. Always remember that it is your application though and you have the final say in what changes and what stays. While I am on the topic of editing, I have to plug Edit Avenue (http://www.editavenue.com). I had all of my essays reviewed by Fin&Marketing and she was able to provide copy editing and advice on content without charging the ridiculous MBA admissions consultant fees.
I believe the most difficult part of the HBS' essays is meeting the ridiculously short word limits. I ended up removing many of the details from each story and had my editors confirm that the essays still made sense. The essays also lacked smooth transitions because those often take a lot of words. My essays were not pulitzer prize winning works, don't worry if writing is not your strong point, I believe it is one of my weaker points. As long as you can clearly show and not tell your story, your writing should be OK.
Interview First off, if you get an interview invitation, congrats! When I met my interviewer, I was a little intimidated because he seemed like the type of person that would thoroughly grill you and take pleasure in breaking you down. It turns out that it was actually a very enjoyable experience, and had to be the most comfortable interview I have ever had. I believe everyone is interviewed by an HBS adcom, and it is not a blind interview. The adcom will know your profile very well, and have specific areas that they want to probe into. I prefer this approach because I did not find myself recycling my essay and resume material, it was obvious they already knew that well because it would be used as a spring board for their question.
The only piece of advice I can really offer for the interview is to know yourself!!! I know it sounds stupid, but they will start asking about things you barely even mention in the essays. I spent ~10mins of the interview talking about a topic that was not mentioned in my essays, but he knew my profile well enough to read between the lines. Keep your cool throughout the interview, and if needed, take a second to think things over or ask them to repeat the question. Some people just get too wound up and tense which then makes them panic and blow the interview. I listened to some Linkin Park & Jay-Z before the interview and it got me pumped up and in the right mood, being in the right mental state is half of the battle.
I walked out of the interview very satisfied with how things went. I knew that I put my best foot forward, and had no regrets.
Re: Calling all HBS Fall 2010 Candidates [#permalink]
21 May 2009, 09:46
This post received KUDOS
To all HBS hopefuls and dreamers... My best advice is: don't let anybody tell you that you have or you don't have a shot at HBS. As long as you've stats in the ballpark (GMAT +/-700, reasonable GPA) try. It's about how you present yourself and all the talk that "too old", "too young", "too much work experience", "too little work experience", etc. is - in my opinion - useless. The only way you know is by trying.
Re: Calling all HBS Fall 2010 Candidates [#permalink]
21 May 2009, 09:54
This post received KUDOS
"Useful stuff" continued... This is one of the best HBS app hints I have found last year. It's brilliant and helped me tremendously last season. It also ties well with my previous post. Taken from "CS @ HBS" blog (http://www.computersexy.com/blog/2007/0 ... lishments/).
Harvard Essays Analysis
Essay 2: Accomplishments
April 28th, 2007
2. What are your three most substantial accomplishments and why do you view them as such? (600-word limit)
Yeah, that’s a tough one. Maybe even the toughest. When I visited the US couple of months before applying, I went to one of those huge US book stores and amusingly surveyed the University Admissions Help section. I was less amused when I picked up “65 Successful Harvard Business School Application Essays: With Analysis by the Staff of the Harbus, The Harvard Business School Newspaper”. The first essay I read was this one, and the guy’s accomplishments were the following (quoting from memory…): 1. broke his leg/arm/some combination of them in a horrible accident, was told he’d never walk again, and was able to walk within 4 months, 2. after that, managed to graduate with honors and start his own company, which was incredibly successful blah-blah, 3. also founded and a was a member of an extremely valued jazz band, which had concerts in fancy clubs and was featured in several magazine articles.
“Wow!”, was my first thought after reading that, “I stand NO chance at HBS!”. See, I’m not a superstar. Haven’t founded any company (yet?), don’t have a band, and (fortunately!) didn’t have any accidents. What will I write about? My own accomplishments, which I thought were pretty decent up until this point, seemed to turn pale in comparison.
Well apparently, they were just enough for HBS. I can tell you roughly what they were:
1. Overcoming a major professional hurdle at work and managing to come out of it in a very good way, including a prestigious award. 2. Launching a significant initiative at work, that was completely ‘mine’ from the conception of the idea to its successful implementation, which involved guiding other team members. In the long run, this initiative also led the way to my career progress from my first position to the current one. 3. Successfully combining a demanding full-time job and demanding full-time undergraduate studies.
See? In my opinion, these are quite impressive achievements, but they’re certainly not ’superman’ ones. I definitely view them as my substantial achievements and I’m proud of each and every one of them, but I don’t think they’re ‘extraordinary’ or ’superhuman’. I think HBS is aware of the fact that not many of us would have ’superman’ achievements, at least not at this point in time.
After writing a draft for this essay, I showed it to someone whose opinion I highly valued. Her feedback was - “That’s it? I think you should come up with something more impressive!”. Naturally, I was upset. But after thinking it through, I just realized that this is me, these are my achievements, I’m proud of them, and I’m not going to embellish or make up anything. And apparently I was right.
A few technical comments:
* Start off with this essay, even though it might be the hardest - or at least start with an outline or decide what are the accomplishments you’re going to write about. After that, the accomplishments or key strengths that were ‘left out’ would need to be mentioned, somehow, in the other essays (like the first or the third). * 600 words isn’t much. Unless one of the achievements is clearly more significant than the others, make a deliberate effort to devote1/3 ( 200 words) for each one. Otherwise one will look more important, just because of the length. * I gave a short ‘title’ for each accomplishment: “Accomplishment 1“ etc. It makes it clearer and easily shows the reader that there are three distinct ones. * Don’t forget to answer the second part of the question: “and why do you view them as such”. Sometimes, especially when the accomplishment isn’t that “bright”, the explanation can give you an extra “wow factor”. Of course here you can also explicitly bind the accomplishment to the values and qualities you want to convey in the application:
“The ability to juggle between responsibilities and requirements in different fields, and to successfully perform under time constraints for a long period, make me view this achievement as a significant one.”
Though the essay is undoubtedly one of the hardest to write, I think you should view it as an excellent opportunity to showcase your best strengths and achievements to date, without the risk of sounding arrogant or vain. After all, that’s exactly what they want to hear, and this is your chance to impress, point-blank!
Last edited by garbus222 on 21 May 2009, 10:36, edited 1 time in total.
businesschat: What does Harvard look for in a candidate? HBSDeirdre: We're looking for an assortment of leaders, all of whom can thrive in a demanding, fast-paced, highly verbal academic environment. Our classroom experience is quite different from traditional academia; students need to be fully present and engaged and ready to contribute. There are no opportunities to be a bystander. We're looking for people who, at every opportunity, have chosen to be givers vs. takers and don't sit by and wait for others to take the initiative.
ramtelecom: What do you, compared to previous admissions directors, look for in new HBS candidates? HBSDeirdre: I have been thinking a lot about leadership and how to both define and identify it. I think there's a danger in thinking that there is just one model of a leader—someone who is larger than life and always out in front—who should be at HBS. I prefer to think in terms of an assortment of leaders, some of whom gravitate to traditional leadership roles in an established organization, some of whom like to start things and get them up and running, some of whom motivate small groups, "thought leaders" who provide the unexpected and provocative way of looking at a problem. One of the most exciting ways of thinking about diversity in the case method classroom is on the dimension of leadership styles—bringing together all these folks and hearing how they tackle the real life problems in a case.
sendo: What kind of qualities are you looking for in international applicants? HBSDeirdre: We don't view international applicants as being in a separate pool. All candidates are evaluated on the same criteria. We find that our international applicants offer the same measure of diversity of work experience and leadership styles as those from the U.S.
littledhc: I want to know if taking the GMAT exam multiple times is frowned upon and if a lower score in a previous attempt reflects negatively on an HBS application? HBSDeirdre: We look only at the score that you report in the application
PJC2007: How re-applicant friendly is HBS? I have heard and read that chances aren't good the second time around. HBSDeirdre: There's absolutely no stigma in our application process against re-applicants. When an application is read by the admissions board, previous status is unknown. However, if a re-applicant is invited to interview, we may choose to include the previous application in our preparation for the interview.
cmrMBA: How creative can applicants get with their essays? I've heard you look for essays that "stand out," but I wonder if there is a line you don't want to cross. HBSDeirdre: As I said before, our process is not to find the most unusual or striking essays—it's to use the essays to try to get to know the candidate. Use the essays to tell us about the real you, vs. trying to get our attention.
Paradosso: When evaluating CVs, do you take into account the differences in education cycles among countries? Should one convert his academic title to the nearest U.S. standard or maintain the original? HBSDeirdre: We have students from about 70 countries. We're well-versed in understanding the differences in international academic systems, so don't worry about trying to translate for us.
businesschat: I have 15 years of work experience and want to do my MBA now. Is too much experience a problem for getting admission? HBSDeirdre: This is an important question: Whether you have 15 years of experience or two, think about whether the MBA is going to add value and be a significant transformational experience. For many candidates, two to three years is just right; for others, they are "ready" after a much greater number of years of experience. There's no right time.
PeteN: Other than the brand-name reputation and the case-study-only approach, what are the most distinguishing factors of the HBS program? HBSDeirdre: I'd focus on the case method learning model, the required curriculum which gives all students an opportunity to get a solid grounding across business disciplines, and the distinctive nature of faculty interaction with students in a very high-quality teaching environment. Faculty at HBS can't rely on prepared lectures since the case method is organic and continually evolving. One-third of the cases in any given course are brand-new every year, and that's a critical way of being on the cutting edge. In addition, one-third of the cases used are about international organizations, in large part due to the network of five HBS global research centers. There are significant opportunities available for HBS students to be global, both here and abroad. Unlike many schools, we are a residential campus, with 33 buildings on 40 acres. About 80% of students live on campus, which makes for a close-knit community experience.
Last edited by garbus222 on 21 May 2009, 10:37, edited 1 time in total.
Re: Calling all HBS Fall 2010 Candidates [#permalink]
21 May 2009, 10:22
Extremely "useful stuff"
For the brave ones to use in your apps to answer "Why HBS?" (even though there is no question like this in HBS app) - especially the part I highlighted in blue-bold I can already picture something like this: "HBS is my dream school because of its proximity to Wellesley college. In combination with HBS' renowned H-bomb effect and my extraordinary social skills..." (taken from http://www.asktheharvardmba.com/page/3/)
BTW, can anybody pls explain what "Kevin Rose-esque swath" is?
What is the social life like at HBS? June 29, 2008 – 5:41 am
“I’m thinking of applying to an MBA program at an American University, most notably at Harvard.
I am keen to get a rounded experience of university in the US. What I want to know is what is the social life like at Harvard in particular?
Ancilliary question: Do you know if postgraduate students can join the so called “final clubs” such as Porcellian or AD at Harvard. Or can postgrad students even join fraternities?
A million thanks in advance!”
The Harvard MBA Says:
Now here’s a question after my own heart. After all, if networking is one of the most important aspects of business school, the social life of the school is probably more important than the number of Nobel prizewinners on the faculty (though those help too!).
HBS offers a very rich social life, but it is very different from the experience of being an undergrad at an American university. A quick look at demographics helps illustrate this:
* The average age of first-year HBS students is somewhere around 27, versus 18 for college freshmen. * Women make up a little over 1/3 of the student body, which is very different from the typical college, where women make up the majority of students. * 1/3 of the students are from countries other than the United States, a figure that is far higher than the typical college.
Rather than young adults trying to find their identities and figure out what they want to do with their lives, MBA programs features cosmopolitan men and women who are focused on accelerating their careers.
Both millieus feature plenty of partying, but that’s where the resemblance ends. You’re not going to be spending late nights debating the meaning of life or trudging your way to the local frat party to score some illegal booze. Instead, you’ll be hitting bars and clubs with your friends during schools, and planning posh treks to Bali and other global hot spots for your vacations.
Of course, not every HBS student opts for the party circuit. There are plenty of married students who (like me) prefer a quiet dinner with other couples. Though even us old married types try to make time to attend a few functions like Vegas road trips to act as steady wingmen for our single brethren.
Social activities tend to center around four different groups: Section, Study Group, Clubs, and Friends.
HBS’s 900 person class is divided into 11 sections, each designated with a number. In HBS terms, I was in Section D, Class of 2000. Because you spend your entire first year taking all your classes with the same 80 people, you tend to develop very strong bonds. Your section is the equivalent of your freshman dorm…if your freshman dorm consisted of nothing but overachievers who were bent on global domination.
Study Groups are another tradition, though less formal. Students self-organize into groups of 4-8 students that help each other prepare for classes. Since HBS classes are graded primarily on class participation, being prepared is critical, especially if you receive the dreaded “cold call” from the professor to “open” the class by presenting your analysis of the case study. It gets pretty quiet pretty quickly when the professor cold calls an unprepared, possibly hung-over student. With an average of13 cases per week, no one has time to prepare a full analysis of each (a full analysis including a recommended course of action with financial model as supporting evidence), hence the rise of the study groups.
Study groups meet every day, generally before the first morning class. Again, because the group members see each other every day for an entire year, strong bonds develop. I’ve heard of study groups who still do yearly reunions.
HBS is also full of clubs and activities, including the annual HBS musical. While at HBS, I was the Co-President of the High Tech club, and one of the writers for the musical. Unlike sections or study groups, clubs and activities generally bring together people with similar interests. I’m still in close touch today with my fellow High Tech club officers, as well as my fellow writers.
Beyond these three structured social activities, HBS students also simply make friends. There are folks like my friend Tony whom I simply enjoy spending time with, even though we never took a class together, studied together, or were in a club together. Even at HBS, friendship without ulterior motive flourishes.
One thing that HBS does have in common with college is the fierce search for romantic companionship.
Thanks to the 2:1 gender ratio, female MBA students (the heterosexual ones at least) find themselves in a near-ideal dating environment, surrounded by accomplished, socially successful, high-earning-potential men. A large number of my female classmates, far larger in proportion than my college contemporaries, end up marrying classmates.
But don’t feel bad for the poor male MBA students. In the Boston area, Harvard MBAs are considered the best possible catch for young women, and the so-called Harvard effect holds sway over the rest of the world as well. Trading on the HBS aura is known as “dropping the H-bomb,” and the HBSer on the prowl will find it an effective weapon on anyone from cocktail waitresses to Wellesley students to MBAs of lesser schools.
For example, early in the school year, the Wellesley girls actually put invitations to parties in the mailboxes of EVERY male HBS first-year. The invitations include complimentary limo service to bring you to the campus in case you don’t have a car. I kid you not.
I could also tell you stories about certain classmates of mine cutting a Kevin Rose-esque swath through the ranks of Columbia MBA students, but that I’ll save for another time.
The one drawback of the social whirl at HBS is the fact that the good life does end up being pretty expensive (Wellesley women nonwithstanding). Someone has to pony up the bucks to pay for airfare and 4-star resorts, and that someone is generally Citibank’s loan department, which will be happy to loan you practically unlimited funds (they know you’ll be good for it someday).
As for your ancillary question, I’m pretty sure that Finals Clubs like the Porc are limited solely to undergrads. I can tell you any HBS student who took it upon himself to do the equivalent of rushing an undergrad frat would be in for some serious abuse from the rest of us. Not to worry. While these secret societies encourage conspiracy theorists to prove that they rule the world through covert connections, HBSers are content to wield their power out in the open.
Re: Calling all HBS Fall 2010 Candidates [#permalink]
21 May 2009, 15:13
This post received KUDOS
All of you thinking about HBS, you already know that HBS = case method. To be honest I still have my doubts about it (even though I'm excited about cases at the same time). Some info on case method I found interesting.
4) How effective is the case method for quantitative courses such as accounting and finance?
This question will be answered very differently depending on your personal background, work experience and level of quantitative skills. If you've kept up with my blog at all, you'll see that I'm not the strongest in the quant area, nor do I particularly love dealing with numbers (I'm much more of a creative, people person). While this does put me at a disadvantage immediately in these courses, I've learned very quickly to take it all with a grain of salt. What I mean by this is two things: firstly, I have no intent of going into banking or accounting, so for me, a general foundation in the subject will likely suffice, and any additional quant training could be learned on the job or through additional outside coursework. Secondly, while the HBS grading system tends to compare students to one another, I had to take a step back to keep my sanity and remind myself that I am truly incomparable to many of my sectionmates in this area. Without a quantitative work background, I will never be as good in accounting as the two CPAs in my class, and I will never be able to model as quickly or effectively as the former I-bankers. But that's okay! Really. It's hard to come to grips with at first, but you start to recognize your personal competitive advantages quite quickly here and it's best to run with them and take the other courses for what their worth.
Now I realize I have not at all answered the question yet, but I felt like that was important to say. Personally, I don't find the case method as conducive to truly learning the techniques and concepts of accounting and finance. For me, a combination of case learning and lecture/small workshop courses would be more effective in helping me get a grip on the basics. The good news is that there are tons of resources on campus (whether it be second year tutors, sectionmates, people from your learning team, textbooks in the library, meeting with professors, etc.) that you can employ to help yourself understand these concepts. It's without a doubt more work, but that doesn't mean you can get there. On the upside, the case method is a great way to teach you how to think about business problems in an environment where information is ambiguous and often incomplete. You truly learn a ton in class every day.
I would highly, highly suggest that you take the time (if possible) to come visit HBS and see the case method in action. It's a truly different classroom experience from anything I've seen, and watching a course will give you the best idea of whether or not you can see yourself thriving in an environment like it.
2. The case method: He felt the case method was the single most valuable feature of HBS. If you want to learn finance, he said, then go to community college and you can learn all you want about the mechanics of finance. Or go to the library and learn it on your own. But the case method teaches you how to think about finance (or any subject), and it teaches you that your thinking can be enhanced by having a strong group of thinkers around you. Learning to think in a new, rigorous, thorough manner was the number one thing he got out of HBS, it was worth more than all the other benefits of combined.
CASE METHOD: I know a lot people have doubts in this for classes like accounting and finance, and it's not for everyone, but I find it amazing. The best part is that while I learn the concepts (which anyone could do from a book) what we really learn are about the managerial decisions that executives must make for cases that are "on the edge". When is it appropriate to change depreciation methods? Is it representative of the business we are in? How would the change affect the financial statements and in turn the investors view of the company? I truly appreciate the no-laptop policy, and I can't imagine a situation where students are more engaged and enthusiastic to be in class.
Last edited by garbus222 on 21 May 2009, 15:42, edited 2 times in total.
Where the HBS Learning Model Falls Short A student ponders the HBS learning model and identifies strategic areas of opportunity Jimmy J. Tran (OJ and MPA '09), Associate Editor Issue date: 2/17/09 Section: News
HBS has been a phenomenal experience and like many of you, I have learned a tremendous amount, despite many warnings to the contrary (from both alums as well as non-alums). Yet, despite my respect and admiration for the HBS learning model, there are several areas in the model that have come to disappoint me.
As a disclaimer, I write this not to bash on HBS; instead, my goal is to identify areas where the HBS learning model could potentially be improved. As individuals linked to HBS in one way or another, it is our responsibility (and in our best interest) to continually improve HBS's learning model.
Thus, the following sections present several areas potentially ripe for improvement:
Weak link to the mission statement
By now, most of us can recite HBS's mission statement as if it were second nature. Time and time we have been told that HBS exists, "To educate leaders who make a difference in the world." The statement itself is simple, clean and concise - a beautiful thing in our increasingly complex world.
Yet despite the clarity and inspirational nature of our mission statement, it is difficult to see how the mission statement holds true in the actual curriculum. In the RC year, for example, HBS students proceed through a dizzying array of management skills and concepts such as TOM, FIN, and MKTG. While these subjects clearly build the skills necessary for us to become general managers, it is not clear that they build the effective leaders referenced by our mission statement.
To this, an often response is, what about LCA and LEAD? Sure, these classes provide a venue for talking and discussing leadership through a variety of case protagonists, but I'm not convinced that they can prop up the demanding mission statement of an entire institution.
Lack of higher order, intellectual discussion
While some may argue that it is not within a business school's realm to encourage and discuss higher order, intellectual topics, I disagree. Instead, I believe our mission statement mandates that we engage in broad discussion about an ideal state of capitalism and our role in making this structure happen.
Instead, many of the discussions at HBS focus on mundane managerial issues: How much equity should the protagonist demand from the deal? How should product X be marketed in country Y? How should the initiative be rolled out and communicated to the organization?
While these managerial issues are clearly important, they overwhelmingly dominate our learning, often at the expense of higher order intellectual debate about how capitalism can and should create a positive difference in the world (see mission statement above).
While HBS lists globalization as a major initiative in its current strategic plan, I still find that our global initiatives and presence lag far behind compared to the 'best in class' in this dimension. In fact, we have been slow in the uptake of global initiatives, and even a concerted push in recent years has left HBS behind other top schools.
At McCombs Business School at the University of Texas, for instance, every single student in the MBA curriculum visits a country outside of the United States where they learn about business and politics in that particular country. At Kellogg School of Management, students receive course credit through the Global Initiatives in Management (GIM) program, which combines 10 weeks of in-class work with 2 weeks of in-country research in places ranging from Ghana to Vietnam.
At HBS, on the other hand, we have a scattered array of Treks and Immersions that are confusing and often haphazard, despite coordination efforts from administrators and student clubs. These trips are seldom integrated into a student's financial aid package and currently do not link to our BGIE unit. The history of HBS Treks and Immersions shows that both were student initiated and student driven, yet neither has not been systematically integrated into the overall MBA curriculum.
Beyond learning about and visiting other countries, some schools such as INSEAD actually require fluency in a second language. At HBS, students cannot even take a language for credit towards the MBA degree! This is despite that fact that many of the language courses in Harvard Yard are extremely rigorous, meeting 5 days a week in intensive language labs. Everyone may have a different take on this, but in my mind, it's tough to say that becoming fluent in Mandarin contributes less to an individual's leadership potential then, say, a class on Supply Chain management in the EC year.
No interaction with Executive Education
Well, I take that back. There is actually one event that I can think of that actually leverages full-time MBA students and the wealth of knowledge that Executive Education participants: a single case discussion held once a year where selected MBA students join Executive Education participants for a joint case discussion.
Other than that, our Executive Education participants are barricaded in a corner of campus (Kresge and MacArthur ring a bell?), only crossing paths with full-time MBA students during awkward exchanges at Shad Hall.
Personally, I think this is a shame. Clearly MBA students and Executive Education participants bring different skills to the table, and its tough for me to believe that there is not a tremendous amount we could learn from each other. Thus, we forgo a huge untapped resource, and block off areas of our campus to discourage MBA students from interacting with CEOs and top executives. Strange, isn't it?
Some may look at this and say, "Isn't that the way it's supposed to be?" To this, I would point to the Kennedy School, where Mid-Career students enroll in the same classes and sit side-by-side with 'traditional' Kennedy School students. Having benefited from this experience, I can testify that these interactions exposed me to a wide range of leadership styles and methods, which in turn has shaped my own thinking and outlook.
One size fits all approach
Besides a highly customized Executive Education program and a small number of doctoral students, the standard HBS product is a two-year, full-time MBA degree. In the first year, students take the exact same courses, with zero exceptions. While there is certainly a case for the simplicity in this model, in practice, courses evolve into a 'lowest common denominator' whereby some students struggle while other students are bored.
At Stanford, on the other hand, the MBA curriculum is highly customized in the first year depending on the needs of each individual student. Students enter various tracks of general management courses depending on their prior experience and familiarity with various subjects. A former Goldman banker, for instance, might enter the 'advanced track' in Finance and the 'base track' in Information Technology. The result is that each student picks a permutation that best fits his/her needs.
It is ironic that in MKTG, we study companies with 'differentiated product offerings' and discuss the importance of 'needs-based segmentation,' but sit through classes that do not address our individual needs.
In a world of increased customization, HBS keeps serving plain old vanilla cones, even to students that may be die-hard chocolate fans.
Few opportunities to process what we learn
In my tenure at HBS, I have noticed that the learning model is centered around a high-paced environment where we learn in 80 minute increments. Once one class ends, we file our cases away (both in our binders and our heads) and hope we never need to recall them again.
While this might just be the way things work, it's difficult for me to believe that there is not a more integrative manner in which we can approach our mission. The Capstone Experience in the EC year, for instance, is just one session long and as far as I can tell, there is no structure or format to this 'capstone' experience. Sections select a professor and together, they decide on an appropriate topic. Thus, some sections end up pondering the meaning of life whilst others hammer out a solution to the current financial crisis.
It's tough for me to believe that we cannot create a more integrative learning model that draws upon our modularized courses in a more meaningful way.
So now what?
I write this not to bash on the HBS learning model - on the contrary, I believe our learning model possesses many strengths and want to see it continually improve for future students. Improvement demands that we take a critical look at our current program and make incremental changes that work towards achieving our mission.
As we learn from numerous case studies of storied organizations, complacency is a sign of obsolescence.
Friday, August 17, 2007 Advice on Leadership Essays Hi all ... long time no post, I know, I know. Still trying to figure out what exactly to do with this blog. In the meantime, I thought I'd post answers to some of the questions I've being receiving via email because the answers will hopefully be helpful to other applicants ... as a disclaimer these are usually written late at night (ahhh summer vacation) so please excuse poor grammar/spelling.
Recently I got a question from someone asking for help in the leadership essays because he/she felt that with limited experience and without "high-up" positions he/she didn't know what to write about. Here is my response:
I think when talking about leadership you don't need to necessarily have been a president of club or company. It can be in everyday actions and you just have to find one in your past experiences that shows it. For example, for a work leadership example in my essays I talked about how a member of our team was unexpectedly let go and because of his departure there was a big hole, including reports needed for senior management. I saw this and approached my VP asking him if I could do the work for no pay, but as a trade off to get the experience. He agreed and I started getting higher level work and exposure to high-ups. Although this isn't leadership in the sense of managing people it is leadership in taking charge of an unfortunate situation to help the greater company's good. In terms of extracurricular another example I used in my essays was how even when I was just a member of a committee (and not on a board) I always made it my mission to make ppl on the committee emotionally connected to each other. I did this both because I enjoy building personal relationships but also because I think when ppl are emotionally dedicated to a cause and to each other you get a much better result in the end. This is another case where there is no "concrete" leadership, but instead a subtle way of helping to form a successful group.
I think the key is not getting caught up in titles and positions, but instead of what sort of leadership is innate in you. My type of leadership (from the examples above) is being able to fix holes in a team and building team morale. By looking at patterns in what you have done in the past twenty-something years of your life you will hopefully be able to find your own personal leadership style!
Last edited by garbus222 on 21 May 2009, 15:42, edited 1 time in total.