Insights from the Latest Round of HBS, Stanford GSB and Wharton Admissions
One of the most frequently asked questions we hear from clients is how to gain acceptance into the fabled trinity of Harvard Business School, Stanford GSB and Wharton, colloquially referred to as HSW. While all candidates are unique and there’s no magic formula guaranteeing admission, there are certainly consistent themes across the profiles of successful candidates.
Recently, I solicited stories from my Fortuna Admissions colleagues about clients who were admitted to at least one of the HSW schools for the incoming class. Analyzing these successful candidate profiles illuminated some salient patterns, affirming our team’s most emphatic guidance for business school hopefuls who set their sights set on the world’s most competitive MBA programs.
In my latest article for Poets&Quants, I offered five key factors for successful applications, as demonstrated by admitted HSW candidates for the 2021 MBA class, including:
“When you take the risk to be vulnerable, it inspires a human connection, and it’s so much more appealing to read,” says Fortuna’s Karla Cohen, former Associate Director at HBS in her article, What Harvard Business School Really Wants. “The more personal you can be in terms of why you do what you do, the more interesting and memorable you’ll be. Because so few people are. Honesty is too easily pushed aside in a bid to impress, and very few are vulnerable in the process of storytelling. But there is something so powerful about the truth when you read it – it hits you.”
One young woman with a private equity and investment banking background created a narrative around her desire to increase gender representation in financial services. She secured an impressive letter of recommendation letter from her manager, who offered tangible and convincing examples of her leadership in women’s networking organizations, as well as her drive to shift the gender balance. It illuminated how she was perceived by colleagues and further reinforced her fit with the program.
“The people you select to be your outspoken champions – and the enthusiasm, thoroughness and strength of their recommendations – are an essential element of your overall narrative,” says Fortuna’s Jessica Chung in her article, Secure The Best Letters Of Recommendation. “Make sure that your recommender is someone who will take the time to write a supportive and thorough letter, detailing examples that speak to your leadership, teamwork and presentation skills.”
“What you do in your free time (what little you might have of it) is as interesting and important to the admissions committee as what you do at work, because it sends a signal about the kind of student and alum you’ll be,” says Fortuna’s Heidi Hillis, former alumni interviewer at Stanford GSB in her two-part series on Positioning Extracurriculars On Your MBA Application.
For all five tips to help you maximize your chances of admission at HSW, read the full article in Poets&Quants.
Fortuna Admissions Co-Founder Judith Silverman Hodara is the former head of admissions at Wharton.