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Harvard MBA Admissions & Related Blogs

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Re: Harvard MBA Admissions & Related Blogs [#permalink]

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New post 17 Mar 2017, 11:47
U.S. News & World Report has released the 2018 Best Graduate Schools rankings, designed to help prospective students research programs across six disciplines and evaluate the potential return on their investment.

Image

In this year’s full-time MBA rankings, Harvard Business School and the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School have tied for the No. 1 program in the country. The University of Chicago Booth School of Business holds the No. 3 spot, and the Stanford Graduate School of Business drops from last year’s second place to share fourth place with MIT Sloan School of Management and Northwestern’s Kellogg School of Management.

Among part-time MBA programs, the UC Berkeley Haas School of Business once again retains the top spot, followed by Chicago’s Booth School of Business at No. 2. The NYU Stern School of Business and UCLA Anderson School of Management tie at third place.
US News’s Best Business Schools
  • Harvard Business School (#1 tie)
  • Wharton School (#1 tie)
  • Chicago Booth School of Business (#3)
  • Stanford Graduate School of Business (#4 tie)
  • MIT Sloan School of Management (#4 tie)
  • Kellogg School of Management (#4 tie)
  • UC Berkeley Haas School of Business (#7)
  • Tuck School of Business (#8)
  • Columbia Business School (#9 tie)
  • Yale School of Management  (#9 tie)

The six graduate disciplines U.S. News ranks annually are evaluated on factors such as employment rates for graduates, starting salary and standardized test scores of newly enrolled students. Because each graduate program is different, the rankings methodology varies across disciplines.

Different output measures are available for different fields, U.S. News explains, saying that in business, they use starting salaries and the ability of new MBAs to find jobs upon graduation or three months later.

“A graduate degree can lead to professional advancement and a potential salary increase,” says Anita Narayan, managing editor of Education at U.S. News. “Whether you are interested in pursuing a full-time program or taking classes part-time, the grad school rankings and advice offer guidance on finding programs that help you fulfill your personal goals.”Image

***

If you are looking for guidance on your MBA application, Stacy Blackman Consulting can help with hourly and comprehensive consulting services. Contact us to learn more. Visit the website for Stacy Blackman Reviews, and check out the company’s e-publications for more in depth school-by-school guidance.

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New post 20 Mar 2017, 04:42
By Adam Hoff, Amerasia Consulting Group
Time for another Monday MBA Resource, where we share the things we are reading, watching, and listening to that might be helpful to people in the MBA community.
Some are more focused on applicants, others are better for students, some for both - but all of them offer great insights that are worth soaking up.
Today's Resource is the Knowledge@Wharton podcast.
WHO HOSTS IT: 
Wharton's business journal Knowledge@Wharton puts these on.  The host is Dan Loney, who is a total pro as a broadcaster and does a great job on this.
WHAT IT IS: 
A podcast that puts up 3-5 episodes a week covering topics that cover a broad range of areas that would be interesting to just about anyone connected to the MBA experience.  They can range from more "skill" or "self-help" type topics (such as "The Right Way to Take Risks - in Business and Life") to more hardcore informational topics ("The Private Equity Outlook in Latin America, India and Africa").  They run about 20-25 minutes in most episodes and are almost always centered around interviews with several guests.  It might be an author with a new book out, a professor wanting to highlight a key issue, or just the podcast reacting to a hot-button issue (such as the EpiPen price scandal).

WHY YOU MIGHT BENEFIT: 
I'm thinking largely of my clients here, so from that POV I think the biggest benefit is it does two things at the same time: A) broadens your talking points (I work with almost all PE clients, for instance, and I find it helps me to hear about Healthcare, marketing, etc. - I can only imagine how true that would be for an actual client who is inside a myopic industry or company), and B) takes you into little deep dives on hot topics.  It all has a way to moving the brain away from "my life, day to day, what I'm focused on for work and play" and towards the wide-ranging topics and conversations of business school. Could be very helpful in an interview setting and definitely would be a good way to "reprogram" your brain before classes start in year one.

WHERE YOU MIGHT NOT BENEFIT: 
Don't allow these dips into industries and hot topics impact your essay writing.  Readers won't to know about you, what you care about, who molded you, your passions, etc.  They don't want you to dive deep into EpiPens or changing food patterns among buyers.  My only concern in recommending this podcast to b-school applicants is they might lean into an already prevalent tendency to wax poetic about industries and business problems, rather than talk about themselves.  So don't do that!
MY FAVORITE EPISODE TO DATE: 
How Millennial Consumers Will Transform Healthcare[/b]

HERE IS THE ITUNES LINK TO SUBSCRIBE.
If you are looking help with your applications, please email us at mba@amerasiaconsulting.com.  We have seen what the competition is doing and we can say without a doubt that we go deeper, more strategic, and generate better results with our methods.  Line up a call and find out for yourself.

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Re: Harvard MBA Admissions & Related Blogs [#permalink]

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New post 22 Mar 2017, 18:40
[caption id="attachment_36513" align="alignright" width="1024"]Image
How to Handle the HBS Waitlist by By Adam Hoff, Amerasia Consulting Group[/caption]
Going quick and nothing fancy here, just looking to get the word out on "HBS Waitlist Day" as it will likely become known in the future.
I stunning number of candidates appear to have been WL'd today, just based on what I'm seeing stream across my inbox.  The biggest group looking for answers are candidates I've never heard of, who are seeking answers and asking what to do.  This is when I know I have to go to the blog.  Let's work through this.

FIRST, UNDERSTAND HBS.  
The first thing to do is take a deep breath and either remember or learn what HBS is all about.  I've written about it many times over the years, but this is the confidence school.  This is the program constantly seeing who will flinch.  They changed their essay to something open-ended to force you to make confident choices in content, they brought in a 24-hour post-interview assignment to demand cool under pressure, and, yes, they bring that to the WL as well.  If you read the instructions they give, you will almost always see that the mandate is "do nothing."  Reworded as "stay cool."

NEXT, UNDERSTAND HOW THE WL WORKS IN THIS CASE.  
Now we have to move on to understand just how HBS is using this version of a waitlist.  If its a "normal" WL, maybe you throw out my advice above and try for a Hail Mary approach, even if it costs you - after all, HBS really has no need to use a normal waitlist.  They yield at such a high rate that they will never really need to use it.  So whether you hold your powder or not, you aren't getting in ... IF it is a normal WL situation.  This does not appear to be a normal WL situation.  This looks and feels more like a deferral.  If you note the language they are using ("has not yet reached a final decision" and "permission to continue to consider") and the way a second person - a WL manager - reached out and clarified some things, it seems pretty clear that they are trying to buy some time to make final decisions.  Why?  Who knows, honestly.  Maybe they were too aggressive in when they thought they could make decisions.  Maybe a bunch of 2+2 candidates showed up and changed their projections.  Maybe it is human error and someone lost a bunch of files.  It doesn't really matter, what matters is that they seem to extending their process out a bit.  If this is true, it means you are still in the game.  

SO, WHAT SHOULD YOU DO?  
Nothing!  Here is the wording in Chad's initial letter:

"We will be in touch if we need additional information from you as we make a decision on your candidacy."

Here is the wording on their FAQ site:

"Our decision will be based upon a continued review of the completed application materials you have already submitted. If we need additional information from you as we make a decision on your candidacy, we will contact you."

The wording in the letter from the WL manager is fuzzier, but still says they need more time to decide and directs the candidate to the WL FAQ site.

All told, this is not the time to try to jam the round peg into the square hole.  As hard as this can be to hear, the best plan is to do nothing.  Put your hands in your pockets and whistle as you walk through the mine field.  There is a chance that is exactly what they are sussing out here.  Who has the confidence to hold steady?  Who is secure enough to avoid panicking?  Who is mature enough to handle ambiguity?  Who reads the directions?
Look, the cynical mind would say they are using this as another test - another way to split hairs and see who has what it takes.  I wouldn't go that far, but HBS has been using Round 1 deferrals for a while now and in my experience, the people who eventually get in never flinch.  I've honestly never in my life seen someone panic and get in off the HBS deferral list or WL.  They are being explicit that they have everything they need and they will contact you if they need anything else.  Take heed!  What good can come from going against these instructions?  It's not a game of "who wants it the most."  Have some confidence.  Trust in what got you here and know that the rest is out of your control - just as it was yesterday and the weeks before that.  All that has happened is that HBS has said "we need more time to decide."  Its just that they have to use this mechanism to do it, or they have a circus on their hands.

Good luck ... doing nothing.

Please contact us at mba@amerasiaconsulting.com for help on any of your application needs.

Source: http://www.amerasiaconsulting.com/blog/2017/3/22/how-to-handle-the-hbs-waitlist

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New post 23 Mar 2017, 10:11
[caption id="attachment_36534" align="aligncenter" width="300"]Image
Getting an MBA while the world falls apart[/caption]
There are times when things feel so crazy, out of control, and even hopeless that our own individual pursuits start to feel trivial, selfish, and even misguided.[/b]
I can remember vivid moments over the past 10 years where I had a distinct feeling of living the wrong life, given what was going on around me.  When the financial collapse took hold in 2009, I thought to myself "why did I leave corporate law - where I could be part of the solution - to instead help people apply to business school right in the teeth of a recession?"  Just this past winter I watched "Making a Murderer" on Netflix and kicked myself for not remaining a lawyer ... but this time not a corporate lawyer, but instead a constitutional attorney like the individuals portrayed early in that documentary series.  And now, as police/citizen animus and race problems in America reach a peak, as the EU teeters, as [seriously, enter any of a dozen paralyzing issues] I sometimes am not even sure what I should be doing.  But I do know it doesn't feel like enough; it feels to insular and self-absorbed and small.  But then it occurred to me: I bet a lot of people feel that way, including my past and present clients pursuing an MBA.  So let's talk about that.

How do you lock in your focus and devote everything you have to a task like "getting an MBA" when the macro problems in the world feel so seismic and crushing?  I think it's worth analyzing this from both the perspective of applying to and then attending business school, because they are different aspects of the same end goal.
ATTENDING BUSINESS SCHOOL AMIDST CHAOS[/b]
I'm starting here because attending business school is likely to be the phase of the process where these macro issues are going to flood your world.  Class discussions are going to center around issues like Brexit and Trump, hallways chatter will grapple with Black Lives Matter and the militarization of local police departments, and affinity groups will no doubt wrestle with social media nearly as much (if not as much) as real life.  Your MBA life will be surrounded and engulfed with real life, because the days of going off to a leafy campus to disconnect from Planet Earth for two years ... well, those days are over.
WHAT DO YOU DO WITH THIS REALITY?  
My advice, honestly, is to take a step back from it.  It's great to be around other young, smart, driven, passionate people and to be on a college campus, where issues have a way of becoming causes.  However, you also invested two years and probably 150K to get a professional degree that was part of a long-term plan of attack.  What was that plan when you started?  What does it look like now?  Be sure to constantly step back from the crowds and the emotions of your experiences to analyze your entire life, your interests, and your goals.  Make your moves - not just what job to take, but what classes to take, what clubs to join, how you spend your time, etc. - based on that big-picture plan and not what is spiking the blood pressure of people around you.  In a Twitter world, in a world where Donald Freaking Trump is the Republican nominee, in a world of protests, it is easy to pursue paths that "feel" right (whether because of your moral compass or the "street cred" points you pick up in the process), but aren't actually right for you.

Others may disagree with me on this, but having gone to an elite graduate school and been swept up in such things myself (only to land in a hedge fund law group of which I never planned to participate in), I learned the hard way that grad school is not College, The Sequel - you are investing in your career.  Just don't lose sight of that.

APPLYING TO BUSINESS SCHOOL AMIDST CHAOS
Okay, so if my advice for attending an MBA program is to stay focused and to keep a cool remove from the waves on campus, surely I have the same recommendation for the application process, right?  Nope.
WHEN APPLYING, IT'S ESSENTIAL TO "READ THE ROOM."  
We know what that phrase means in the context of an actual room or a meeting, but what I mean here is you have to know the mood of the application process into which you are applying.  There are years where cold, hard plans to make a lot of money and be a super innovative genius are going to be passable.  This is not one of those years.  We live in a time where social injustice is streaming onto our phones everyday, where news media is transforming overnight, where "global business" means twenty different things, where the world is literally melting down environmentally, and where tech and business platforms offer some of the very best solutions to those problems.  This means two things when you talk about your goals, passions, interests, and why you want an MBA:

1. YOU WILL PROBABLY COME ACROSS AS COLD, HEARTLESS, AND OUT OF TOUCH IF YOU WRITE ABOUT GOALS THAT ARE FOCUSED ON YOU.  
This is pretty much true always, no matter what is happening in the world around you, but at a time like this, you will seem especially myopic if you aren't engaging with society on at least some level when you share your story.  Is that fair?  Probably not, but I'm just telling you the truth.  The person reading your file follows the same people on Twitter you do and they are going to bed every night thinking "geez man, things are falling apart."  They are also reading lots of files of people wanting to use their talents to solve problems.  If you want to use your talents to make money or satisfy your own internal desires, you just won't measure up very well.
2. YOU ARE MISSING THE DOZENS (HUNDREDS?) OF WAYS THAT BUSINESS CAN BE USED TO SOLVE SOCIAL ISSUES.
Profit-based business could be the solution to anything from the polar ice caps melting to kickstarting a new way of nominating presidential candidates to supplying water to third-world countries to advancing information technology in medicine.  I would wager that every person applying to b-school (at least every person that deserves to go) could dig deep and find A) an issue they care about, and B) a skill or experience they have that could potentially help address that issue in a business context.  Maybe that's not the case and if so, don't lie.  But my challenge to you, reader, is try to find that.  Make that your first challenge to yourself and then retreat back if you have to.  But start there.

No matter what you do as it pertains to an MBA, don't just give up.  Action is what leads to changes, so keep charging ahead.

If you are applying to MBA programs and are looking for a coach to stand beside you and help you get the best results possible, email us at mba@amerasiaconsulting.com.

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New post 27 Mar 2017, 03:54
By Adam Hoff, Amerasia Consulting Group
Time for another edition of Monday MBA Resource, where we share the things we are reading, watching, and listening to that might be helpful to people in the MBA community.
Some are more focused on applicants, others are better for students, some for both - but all of them offer great insights that are worth soaking up. Let's hope we can keep it up with this next entry, which is the book:
THE CHARISMA MYTH: HOW ANYONE CAN MASTER THE ART AND SCIENCE OF PERSONAL MAGNETISM by Olivia Fox Cabene.
WHO WROTE IT:
Olivia Fox Cabene is an executive coach to Fortune 500 CEOs, a lecturer, and a writer.  She is an expert at teaching crucial, next-level behaviors to people in powerful positions.  She uses strong behavioral science principles, but also draws from her diverse background - she has dual citizenship (American and French) and speaks four languages.
WHAT IT'S ABOUT: 
From her website, which sums it up quite well:

"For the first time, science and technology have taken charisma apart,  figured it out and turned it into an applied science: In controlled laboratory experiments, researchers could raise or lower people's level of charisma as if they were turning a dial.
What you'll find here is practical magic: unique knowledge, drawn from a variety of sciences, revealing what charisma really is and how it works.  You'll get both the insights and the techniques you need to apply this knowledge. The world will become your lab, and every person you meet, a chance to experiment."

WHO IT BENEFITS: 
Honestly, as with last week, I think this one is for everyone.  Not only does this book actually work in the intended way - boosting levels of personal magnetism - but it also has a way of helping reframe life around us.  I know for me, reading this book helped me a great deal in being more present ("be where your feet are" is how I heard one baseball manager put it), slowing down to appreciate life as its happening, and to cut my "staring at screens" technology addiction.  And make no mistake: this book really does help you ramp up your own level of charisma.  For MBA applicants, students, and alumni members, that is huge.  How you come off to people - how much power your project and how much you own the space, jump off the page, create a spark, etc. (pick your cliche) - makes a huge difference.  I have been recommending this book for several years running to my clients as "long game" interview prep, because I think it can help transform the way people present in that setting.  But really, truly, this is a great book for everyone.

IF YOU WANT A TEASER: 
Not convinced? Not a big book fan?  At least listen to this podcast episode.

If you are looking help with your applications, please email us at mba@amerasiaconsulting.com.  We have seen what the competition is doing and we can say without a doubt that we go deeper, more strategic, and generate better results with our methods.  Line up a call and find out for yourself.

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New post 28 Apr 2017, 12:00
Image
Prospective applicants always wants to know how to land a seat at the (usually) top-ranked MBA program in the land, Harvard Business School. If that sounds like you, then check out the recent piece in BusinessInsider profiling first-year MBA student Ayse Baybars and her journey to HBS.

Baybars graduated from Harvard University in 2012 with a major in human evolutionary biology and minor in English. Her work experience prior to applying to business school included a stint at a small nonprofit focused on STEM, and a role at the lingerie startup Peach.

“I am one of the only students with a science background who also has significant startup experience, so I think that brings a very different view to our case discussions when we talk about making decisions using very little data,” she said of her contributions to the class.

Her best advice to MBA hopefuls is, “Be true to who you are. Don’t try to craft the story before you’ve lived it. The story and the narrative will come as long as you pick steps with authenticity that speak to what you want to do.”

Click on over to the original article for more details on how Baybars’s non-traditional background, coupled with an adroit packaging of her story for the admissions team,  helped her gain admission to this elite business school.
Image credit: Michael A. Herzog (CC BY-ND 2.0)Image

***

If you are looking for guidance on your MBA application, Stacy Blackman Consulting can help with hourly and comprehensive consulting services. Contact us to learn more. Visit the website for Stacy Blackman Reviews, and check out the company’s e-publications for more in depth school-by-school guidance.

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New post 11 May 2017, 18:44
I have been getting a lot of emails lately that center on the same basic idea: "I got feedback directly from the admissions office and they told me X about my application."
Sometimes the feedback is ultra specific ("you should seriously consider retaking your GMAT") and other times it is extremely vague ("there were elements of your application that just weren't quite where they needed to be"), usually somewhere in between.
The question is: should you put stock in what they are saying?
Let's just say that - spoiler alert - my post title may indicate where I land on this.

First, Some Context
When you have worked in an admissions office at a competitive school and fielded calls and emails from denied candidates, you know how brutal it often is to try to come up with reasons that person was denied.  If you have not worked in such a capacity, let me tell you - it is brutal.  Let me break down some key info here.
The reality is that at very competitive schools, it can be extremely difficult to know why you denied someone.
These programs are having to take a list of initial "admits" (people that have been flagged as admitted by their individual file reader) and shave it way down.  Like WAY down.  And if you are in a very popular demographic (White Male, Indian Male, etc.), it is often just a bloodbath. A lot of times it is completely unfair, or maybe it is subjective, or perhaps you the reader just didn't really remember the app and so when it came time to lop off people and hit the numbers, they shrugged and said "sure, cut him."  I don't mean to sound heartless, but that's how it can go down.
So What Does This Mean?
Well, if you are that admissions officer and someone gets in touch with you (either because your school offers feedback, ala Tuck, or because you worked some back channels or connections to get in touch with an admissions officer), what are you supposed to say?  Either you mumble through something about it being a competitive year, or you grab onto some BS reason like a quant split or a junior year grade or something even more vague like the recommendation letters.
The #1 goal of an admissions officer talking to a denied student is to GET OFF THE PHONE CALL. I promise you this.
What Should You Do?

If you would like the kind of assistance and evaluation that helps you understand where you might have actually gone wrong - or might be going wrong this time around - hit us up at mba@amerasiaconsulting.com.

Source: Taking MBA Admissions Feedback With a Grain of Salt — Amerasia Consulting Group - <http://www.amerasiaconsulting.com/blog/2017/4/24/taking-mba-admissions-feedback-with-a-grain-of-salt>

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Re: Harvard MBA Admissions & Related Blogs [#permalink]

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New post 21 May 2017, 08:43
What Are Your Real Odds Of Getting In To HBS?

What does your MBA profile look like, and how will the HBS adcom really see your MBA application? That's always the question, isn't it. For starters, be aware that your MBA profile is composed of a variety of things that ALL count, if not equally, than selectively once your 700+ GMAT score helps you make the initial cut: so, we have your GMAT score, your work experience, your admissions essays (demonstrating your leadership and management skills), and your admissions interview (if you get that far in the process).

So, given the above, what are things that can help you hit a home run with Harvard, in particular?

First, as mentioned, your GMAT score is going to be one of the most important things, in my professional opinion. A high score, and by high I mean 730+, can get an applicant in to a lot of the top MBA programs, if when perhaps they don’t have as stellar a resume as the applicant standing next to him (or her). A high GMAT score, in other words, makes everything possible.

Second: work experience. The adcom at Harvard tend to value experience at “known-name” companies over lesser known ones: a.k.a. companies that are leaders in their industry and/or Fortune 500 firms.

Working at one of these firms will help you get attention in the admissions office, as it is a competitive game and working at a top firm not only means you had what it takes to get there and gain some footing in your career at an ambitious level, but more importantly, that you made it through these firms' highly selective screening process.

In other words, the firms vetyou first so the adcom basically highly weighs that silent and unspoken recommendation.

The area of the country where you work in also matters. An HBS applicant who works for Morgan Stanley or Deloitte in NYC, and has a 730 GMAT and can demonstrate both strong leadership and management ability through the examples they choose to speak about in their essays, is going to have an easier time than an man (or woman) sitting in Indiana who’s working for a unknown firm.

However, founding your own firm (and being successful) is also a strong way to go.

Location matters too though, because again, the Harvard adcom sees this as an example of DRIVE, because the belief is that if you can succeed in a large city (whether it be New York or London) and compete in such a competitive marketplace, it lends just a little more weight to your application.

And that can make a difference.

[I’m a former Harvard admissions interviewer and a Harvard grad, and currently run the MBA & EMBA admissions firm http://www.MBAIvyLeague.com Check us out today! ]
_________________

I'm a former Harvard admissions interviewer and Harvard grad, and currently run the award-winning MBA & EMBA admission firm and blog: http://www.MBAIvyLeague.com. Check out the blog and contact me for a free consultation today!

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New post 22 May 2017, 13:14
Last year (after just one season), Harvard Business School (HBS) did away with its incredibly broad “introduce yourself” essay prompt in favor of one that at first glance seemed to have almost no parameters at all—and, interestingly, was more or less the same as the one from 2013–2014, when Dee Leopold was running the show. Now with a full year under his belt as HBS’s director of admissions, Chad Losee must feel that the essay question was effective in eliciting the kind of information the admissions committee finds valuable in evaluating the program’s potential students, because it remains exactly the same this year. Our analysis of the prompt and advice on the best way to approach it therefore also remain constant…

“As we review your application, what more would you like us to know as we consider your candidacy for the Harvard Business School MBA Program?” (no word limit)

Take special note of the word “more” in this straightforward question. With it, the admissions committee is subtly acknowledging that it already has a lot of information about you that it can and will use to get to know you better, including your resume, extracurricular activities, recommendations, short-answer question responses, academic transcripts, and GMAT/GRE score. You should therefore think first about what these portions of your application convey about who you are as an individual and candidate, so you can determine which parts of your profile still need presenting or could benefit from more detail. Now, some applicants may fret that this means they absolutely cannot touch on anything mentioned elsewhere in their application, for fear that the admissions committee will become annoyed and reject them. However, HBS is not asking only for fresh information—it is asking for more, and specifically, whatever “more” you believe the committee needs to evaluate you thoroughly and fairly. So, even though a bullet on your resume may inform the school of a certain fact, if a profoundly important story lurks behind that fact that you feel effectively expresses a key part of your personality or skill set, you should not feel hesitant to share that story. That said, we are not advocating for you to explore your resume in depth, just trying to convey that “more” here does not mean strictly “thus far unmentioned.”

Before we discuss a few approaches you might take in framing this essay, we must note that your goal in writing it is sincerity. The admissions committee is not staffed by robots, seeking to detect a certain “type” of applicant. These are human beings who are trying to get to know you and really want to end up liking you! With this essay, you essentially want to forge a meaningful connection with a complete stranger, and if you try to present yourself as something or someone you are not, you will fail.

You, like many other applicants, may worry that your sincere stories will sound clichéd. For example, if you want to write about making a difference, you may wince simply thinking those words: “making a difference.” But the power of your story does not lie in the theme you choose (if you choose to write thematically, that is), but in the manner in which you reveal your actions. If you have truly made a significant difference in the lives of others and can own that angle by offering powerful anecdotes and demonstrating a deep emotional connection to others and profound purpose in your acts, you can write on this topic. Although more than a few candidates will undoubtedly submit clichéd pieces on making a difference, if you can capture your admissions reader’s attention fully and make a strong enough impression, the cliché aspect will disappear, and he or she will be impressed by your actions and character.

So, what approach might you take to this essay? The prompt is so open-ended that we cannot possibly capture all possible options, but here are a few:
  • Thematic approach: You could write about a characteristic or attribute that has woven its way throughout your life or that you have woven into your life. Do some self-exploration and see if you can identify a thread that is common to your greatest achievements, thereby illustrating its importance in bringing you to where you are today. Simply stating that theme is not enough—you need to really guide your reader through the illustrative events in your life to show how and why this theme manifests. In the end, your values are what need to come to the fore in this essay, rather than just a series of discrete episodes. (Note that highlighting your values is necessary with any approach you take to your HBS essay.)
  • Inflection points: Maybe the key events and aspects of your life cannot be neatly captured or categorized within a neat and tidy theme. People are complex, meaning that many are not able to identify a singular “force” that unifies their life experience. If this is you, do not worry—instead, consider discussing a few inflection points that were instrumental in shaping the individual you are today. This does not mean writing a very linear biography or regurgitating your resume in detail. The admissions committee does not need or want such a summary and is instead interested in your ability to reflect on the catalysts in and challenges to your world view and the manifestations thereof. Likewise, you do not need to offer a family history or an overarching explanation of your existence. Simply start with the first significant incident that shaped who you are as an adult, and again, ensure that your essay ultimately reveals your values.
  • Singular anecdote: Although this is rare, you may have had a single standout experience that could serve as a microcosm of who you are and what you stand for. If this experience or moment truly defines you and strikes at the essence of your being, you can discuss it and it alone. You do not need to worry that offering just one anecdote will make your essay seem “skimpy” or present you as one-dimensional, as long as the story has inherent strength and power. You will need to delve into the narrative and let the story tell itself; if you are choosing to write a singular anecdote, the story should be sufficiently compelling on its own, without a lot of explanation.
You may have read through these three options and thought, “What about a fourth option, in which I discuss my goals and why HBS? Certainly they want to know about that!” The HBS admissions committee is a straight-shooting group—if the school wanted candidates to write about their goals and why HBS, or wanted them not to, the prompt would come right out and say so. The reality is that most people should not use this essay to discuss their career ambitions and interest in HBS, because doing so will not reveal that much “more” about them. For example, if you are a consultant who plans to return to consulting after graduation, we cannot imagine a scenario in which addressing your goals and why an HBS MBA is critical would constitute an effective use of this essay. However, if you are a medic at a bush hospital in Uganda and are applying to HBS with the goal of commercializing low-cost technologies to fight infectious diseases, this may well be a fitting topic for your essay, as you seek to connect the dots between your unusual (in a positive sense) career path and your aspirations. In short, for most candidates, we would suggest eschewing a “Why MBA? Why HBS?” approach, but in a few rare cases, it may be appropriate and compelling.

Finally, let us talk about word limits! HBS has not stipulated any particular parameters, but keep in mind that with each word, you are making a claim on someone else’s time—so you better make sure that what you have written is worth that additional time and effort. We expect that most of our clients will use between 750 and 1,000 words, with some using as few as 600 and a small minority using as many as 1,250. We have difficulty imagining a scenario in which an applicant would truly need more than 1,250, but we certainly know of candidates who were accepted with essays that exceeded that high target. In short, take the space you need to tell your story properly and showcase your personality and experience, and then work to reduce your essay to its lowest possible word count, without sacrificing any impact or effectiveness.

Have the Last Word: The Post-Interview Reflection (conditional on being interviewed)

From the admissions committee: “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.”

For the fourth consecutive year, HBS ask candidates who are granted an interview to complete one more written task. Within 24 hours of interviewing, you must submit some final words of reflection, addressing the question “How well did we get to know you?” As with the application essay, this post-interview reflection is open-ended; you can structure it however you wish and write about whatever you want to tell the committee. HBS urges interviewed applicants not to approach this reflection as a formal essay but instead “as an email you might write to a colleague or supervisor after a meeting.”

Some candidates may find this additional submission intimidating, but we encourage you to view it as an opportunity to reveal new aspects of your profile to the admissions committee. Because your HBS interviewer will have read your entire application before your meeting, you will likely discuss information from your resume, essays, recommendations, etc., during your interview. This post-interview reflection, then, could provide an opening for you to integrate new and different elements of your profile, thereby adding depth to your candidacy. For example, if you could not find a way to include the story of a key life experience of yours into your essays, but your interviewer touches on a similar story or something connected with this experience in your meeting, you would now have license to share that anecdote.

As soon as your interview is over, jot down all the topics covered and stories you discussed. If you interview on campus, note also any observations about your time there. For example, sitting in on a class might have reminded you of a compelling past experience, or participating in the case method may have provided insight into an approach you could use in some way in the future. Maybe the people you met or a building you saw made a meaningful impression on you. Whatever these elements are, tie them to aspects of your background and profile while adding some new thoughts and information about yourself. This last part is key—simply describing your visit will not teach the admissions committee anything about you, and a flat statement like “I loved the case method” will not make you stand out. Similarly, offering a summary of everything the admissions committee already knows about you will not advance your candidacy and would constitute a lost opportunity to keep the committee learning about who you are.

HBS offers some additional advice on the post-interview reflection that we strongly urge you to take seriously and follow:
  • We will be much more generous in our reaction to typos and grammatical errors than we will be with pre-packaged responses. Emails that give any indication that they were produced BEFORE you had the interview will raise a flag for us.
  • We do not expect you to solicit or receive any outside assistance with this exercise.

As for how long this essay should be, HBS again does not offer a word limit. We have seen successful submissions ranging from 400 words to more than 1,000. We recommend aiming for approximately 500, but adjust as appropriate to thoroughly tell the admissions committee what you feel is important, while striving to be succinct.

For a thorough exploration of HBS’s academic offerings, defining characteristics, crucial statistics, social life, community/environment, and other key facets of the program, please download your free copy of the mbaMission Insider’s Guide to Harvard Business School.

The Next Step—Mastering Your HBS Interview: Many MBA candidates find admissions interviews stressful and intimidating, but mastering this important element of the application process is definitely possible—the key is informed preparation. Download your complimentary copy of the Harvard Business School Interview Primer today, and be sure to also check out our tailored HBS Mock Interview and Post-Interview Reflection Support.

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New post 31 May 2017, 11:05
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Harvard Business School just announced the deadlines for the class of 2020, and the essay question, which is unchanged from last year. It’s worth trying hard to hit the first round deadline when there is a lower volume of applicants and therefore more time for the admissions committee to evaluate your candidacy. You have just a few months until the September 6th deadline.

The most challenging part of the HBS essay is remaining disciplined. With unlimited space to make your case, you may be tempted to compose a laundry list of everything interesting or impressive you have ever done.

That urge could backfire, as the essay is used to determine who isn’t a fit for HBS as much as those who deserve the chance to move into the interview round. Maturity, accomplishment, and leadership are highly valued qualities and this essay is your chance to display those qualities through the stories you choose and the voice coming through your writing.

Class of 2020 admissions essay question:
As we review your application, what more would you like us to know as we consider your candidacy for the Harvard Business School MBA Program? (no word count limit)

A note on word count: HBS values brevity in essays. Do not be tempted to go overboard with a 2,000 word essay, rather focus on concise and clear writing and consider keeping this essay in the ~1,000 word range. Our clients have successfully composed essays anywhere from 500-1,300 words, though you should take a pass through your essay to cut any unnecessary words if you find yourself on the upper end of that range.

Because there is no stated word count you do have the flexibility to take extra space if you are telling a compelling story that needs it.

The goal of this essay is to know yourself, know HBS, and know how to match the two to demonstrate your fit for the school. Your first task should be to evaluate all of the other aspects of your candidacy – what is the story your resume tells? What do you think recommenders will say? How does your transcript communicate your skills, accomplishments and interests? Then you need to evaluate how to fill the gaps with the essay.

HBS is devoted to the case method, and published a video a few years ago, which is worth watching now. The video clearly shows that diverse perspectives are valuable to the case method experience. In your essay preparations consider what diverse experience you bring.

Check out the incoming class profile for some idea of what a “typical” HBS student is like. We have found that both personal and career oriented topics can work, and most candidates tell more than one story in the essay. In the past we have observed that successful HBS essays also demonstrate a core driving passion. HBS students are ambitious, motivated and never boring.

As you consider possible stories to tell in this essay keep in mind that HBS has always been highly focused on leadership and really loves candidates with a track record of leadership impact and a success trajectory that indicates upper management potential and a passion for impact in both business and society.

Accomplishments have traditionally been a strong focus of HBS essays, and using at least one accomplishment story in this essay may be a good strategy, particularly if your accomplishments are not obvious when reading your resume or transcripts.

A note on what not to do: We see many applicants tempted to include “why HBS” type information in HBS essays. Explaining why the case method specifically is a good fit for you and your learning style is absolutely appropriate, but more detailed “why HBS” content has never been asked for in an HBS application essay question. We believe it’s more effective for you to use the space to provide detailed information about yourself and your candidacy.

Looking for guidance on your HBS application? Contact us to learn more about Stacy Blackman Consulting.
Image credit: Michael A. Herzog (CC BY-ND 2.0)Image

***

If you are looking for guidance on your Harvard MBA application, Stacy Blackman Consulting can help with hourly and comprehensive consulting services. Contact us to learn more. Visit the website for Stacy Blackman Reviews, and check out the company’s e-publications for more in depth school-by-school guidance.

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New post 31 May 2017, 11:06
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Harvard Business School just announced the deadlines for the class of 2020, and the essay question, which is unchanged from last year. It’s worth trying hard to hit the first round deadline when there is a lower volume of applicants and therefore more time for the admissions committee to evaluate your candidacy. You have just a few months until the September 6th deadline.

The most challenging part of the HBS essay is remaining disciplined. With unlimited space to make your case, you may be tempted to compose a laundry list of everything interesting or impressive you have ever done.

That urge could backfire, as the essay is used to determine who isn’t a fit for HBS as much as those who deserve the chance to move into the interview round. Maturity, accomplishment, and leadership are highly valued qualities and this essay is your chance to display those qualities through the stories you choose and the voice coming through your writing.

Class of 2020 admissions essay question:
As we review your application, what more would you like us to know as we consider your candidacy for the Harvard Business School MBA Program? (no word count limit)

A note on word count: HBS values brevity in essays. Do not be tempted to go overboard with a 2,000 word essay, rather focus on concise and clear writing and consider keeping this essay in the ~1,000 word range. Our clients have successfully composed essays anywhere from 500-1,300 words, though you should take a pass through your essay to cut any unnecessary words if you find yourself on the upper end of that range.

Because there is no stated word count you do have the flexibility to take extra space if you are telling a compelling story that needs it.

The goal of this essay is to know yourself, know HBS, and know how to match the two to demonstrate your fit for the school. Your first task should be to evaluate all of the other aspects of your candidacy – what is the story your resume tells? What do you think recommenders will say? How does your transcript communicate your skills, accomplishments and interests? Then you need to evaluate how to fill the gaps with the essay.

HBS is devoted to the case method, and published a video a few years ago, which is worth watching now. The video clearly shows that diverse perspectives are valuable to the case method experience. In your essay preparations consider what diverse experience you bring.

Check out the incoming class profile for some idea of what a “typical” HBS student is like. We have found that both personal and career oriented topics can work, and most candidates tell more than one story in the essay. In the past we have observed that successful HBS essays also demonstrate a core driving passion. HBS students are ambitious, motivated and never boring.

As you consider possible stories to tell in this essay keep in mind that HBS has always been highly focused on leadership and really loves candidates with a track record of leadership impact and a success trajectory that indicates upper management potential and a passion for impact in both business and society.

Accomplishments have traditionally been a strong focus of HBS essays, and using at least one accomplishment story in this essay may be a good strategy, particularly if your accomplishments are not obvious when reading your resume or transcripts.

A note on what not to do: We see many applicants tempted to include “why HBS” type information in HBS essays. Explaining why the case method specifically is a good fit for you and your learning style is absolutely appropriate, but more detailed “why HBS” content has never been asked for in an HBS application essay question. We believe it’s more effective for you to use the space to provide detailed information about yourself and your candidacy.

Looking for guidance on your HBS application? Contact us to learn more about Stacy Blackman Consulting.
Image credit: Michael A. Herzog (CC BY-ND 2.0)
Image

***

If you are looking for guidance on your Harvard MBA application, Stacy Blackman Consulting can help with hourly and comprehensive consulting services. Contact us to learn more. Visit the website for Stacy Blackman Reviews, and check out the company’s e-publications for more in depth school-by-school guidance.

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New post 31 May 2017, 11:09
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Chad Losee, Harvard Business School’s director of MBA admissions and financial aid, took to his blog this week to preview the following MBA application deadlines and essay question for the 2017-18 admissions season.
Round 1
Application due: September 6, 2017
Decision released: TBA
Round 2
Application due: January 3, 2018
Decision released: TBA
Round 3/2+2
Application due: Early April 2018
Decision released: TBA

Harvard Business School strongly encourages international applicants to apply in rounds one or two to allow sufficient time for visa processing, as well as additional time to work on English fluency.

All applications are due at 12 noon EST on the day of the deadline. If submitted after 12 noon, applications will be considered in the following round.
Essay Question
The essay question will remain the same as last year: As we review your application, what more would you like us to know as we consider your candidacy for the Harvard Business School MBA Program? (no word count limit)

In the past, the HBS admissions team has suggested that applicants watch this video about the Case Method before beginning to write. Note that there is no word limit for this question, but as always, the team stresses that the goal is not to overthink, overcraft, and overwrite. Just answer the question in clear language that anyone outside of your industry would understand.

Applicants will have to answer a written reflection within 24 hours of their interview with an admissions staffer. The new application will go live in early June. For more information, please visit the HBS admissions website.
Image credit: Michael A. Herzog(CC BY-ND 2.0)
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***

If you are looking for guidance on your Harvard MBA application, Stacy Blackman Consulting can help with hourly and comprehensive consulting services. Contact us to learn more. Visit the website for Stacy Blackman Reviews, and check out the company’s e-publications for more in depth school-by-school guidance.

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New post 31 May 2017, 11:21
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In his recent update to the Director’s Blog, Harvard Business School‘s head of admissions and financial aid Chad Losee shared a few important points of how financial aid works at HBS. The inspiration for the post came after attending the school’s annual “Fellowship Dinner” for current students who have received need-based aid to study and the donors who make it possible.

“I intellectually know that 50% of all HBS students receive an average fellowship of $74,000 over the two years (money that doesn’t need to be paid back), ” Losee writes, “But seeing everyone together—filling up three basketball courts in the HBS gym (Shad Hall)—I was struck by how many people’s lives are impacted for good.”

Alumni donations to HBS don’t go into a large pot to be divided up among students with need, Losee explains, adding that fellowships are not provided as an anonymous way of discounting tuition for some students.  “The funds are real money from real people, and each donor’s contribution goes to a specific student,” he explained.

“At the Fellowship Dinner, those giving and those receiving sit next to one another, and students are able to personally thank their benefactors. At my table last night, I saw great conversations, genuine heartfelt gratitude, and budding mentor relationships take hold. It was moving,” he shared.

“These are busy people with busy lives all over the world,” Losee writes, “But here they are on campus to support these students. Many were fellowship recipients themselves as HBS students and feel an enduring connection to the School.”

Cash-strapped applicants can take heart when they hear what Harvard Business School dean Nitin Nohria said in this Bloomberg interview in 2015: “What we’re looking for is the brightest people with great leadership potential. And I promise you, if you apply to Harvard Business School you will be able to attend irrespective of your financial needs.”

Some very worthy applicants become scared off of applying to a school of this caliber for fear that the expense will be too great to bear. Losee’s post therefore is extremely important to keep qualified candidates from self-selecting out of the HBS applicant pool next season.

For more information about the financial aid process at Harvard Business School, take a look at this webinar on the school’s website.
Image credit: Chris Han (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)
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***

If you are looking for guidance on your HBS MBA application, Stacy Blackman Consulting can help with hourly and comprehensive consulting services. Contact us to learn more. Visit the website for Stacy Blackman Reviews, and check out the company’s e-publications for more in depth school-by-school guidance.

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Re: Harvard MBA Admissions & Related Blogs [#permalink]

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New post 05 Jun 2017, 07:09
Wanted to add my Harvard MBA blog to the list, also as profiled in Business Insider: http://www.MBAIvyLeague.com/blog
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I'm a former Harvard admissions interviewer and Harvard grad, and currently run the award-winning MBA & EMBA admission firm and blog: http://www.MBAIvyLeague.com. Check out the blog and contact me for a free consultation today!

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New post 07 Jun 2017, 21:29
From Dr. Shel (Shelly Watts), http://www.mbaadmit.com, email: info@mbaadmit.com


HBS Single Essay 2017-18: How to Approach?!! (Don't Panic!)


Just as in recent prior years, the rejection rate at Harvard Business School (HBS) last year for applicants to the Class of 2018 was 89%. Approximately 9,759 candidates applied to Harvard’s MBA program and HBS admitted a mere 11%. Harvard boasts a 90% yield – that is, 90% of admitted candidates matriculated. The take-away: Harvard is in great demand and those candidates who are admitted are more than happy to attend this prestigious and renowned institution. Competition is keen, and hence it is imperative that you prepare an outstanding application if you hope to gain admission.

As candidates survey the newly released 2017-2018 deadlines and essay, they see that Harvard has one of the earliest Round 1 deadlines this year and Harvard has once again offered only one essay prompt as a part of its MBA application – and this sole essay has no specific topic and no word limit! This year once again, Harvard’s MBA essay topic is:

“As we review your application, what more would you like us to know as we consider your candidacy for the Harvard Business School MBA Program?” No word limit.

If you are like candidates in the last few years, this essay topic may have you nearly panicked, uncertain of what material to present. Here are some practices to observe and ideas to guide you as you assess how you should approach the one admissions essay topic that HBS is offering this year.

Review the Business School Materials Offered

In introducing their MBA programs, many business schools including Harvard provide links to information about the programs. For instance, there are HBS videos about the Harvard Business School experience and common qualities of current students. There are also other HBS videos that allow you to take a good look at the school’s culture. You can glean a strong understanding of what qualities are valued in students at HBS. After reviewing materials like this, take a solid look at your credentials and experiences. Do you have some of the valued characteristics and experiences? How can you show that you can fit in and contribute? Consider including comments about these matters in your essay.

A Holistic Approach

Even with one open-ended, no-word-limit single essay to write, it is important that your entire application conveys the strengths of your candidacy and also addresses any weaknesses (indirectly or directly). All parts of your application must work wonderfully together to convey your message and story to the committee. The resume, recommendations and application form take on much more importance in this context. Indeed, the application form and resumes are often “missed opportunities” where candidates fail to showcase their greatest assets for admission. Remember, the admissions committee sees your application form and resume before the essays. They are your “first impression” – and first impressions last! Use this space well. It will free you to focus more deeply on important themes in your essay.

You should stand back, determine which of your achievements, experiences, skills, activities and credentials are most important for admissions success, and make certain that these are highlighted somewhere in your application. HBS, for instance, provides space for the applicant to mention very important parts of their portfolio. These spaces are divided mainly into three sections on the application form: employment, academics, and activities. Take the time to consider what you will highlight on your resume and application form. Try to communicate well with your recommendation writers so that they can introduce useful information through their recommendations for you.

With such a holistic view of your application, you can be confident that if you have explained on the application form how you contributed excellently as you served as a board member of an important nonprofit, you may not need to elaborate on that also in the essay. Likewise, if you have clearly indicated the strength of your GPA and awards on your resume, you may not need to refer to this again in your essay.

Strategy is the Key

After reviewing your key strengths in the areas of your professional, academic, extracurricular and personal achievements, and after checking to make sure most of these are reflected somewhere in your application (resume, recommendations and application form), you are free to focus in on the essay. Make certain to shine a light on value-added information that can help get you to an “Admitted!” outcome. Taking the opportunity to shine a light on your winning attributes in your essay is what we at MBA Admit.com call “strategic content”. Whether you convey your unique strengths and attributes effectively can make all the difference between acceptance and rejection. You should strive to present a compelling blend of topics that highlight your strengths and minimize your weaknesses.

“Creative Strategy” for the Open-Ended Single Essay

Even though Harvard’s sole essay is open-ended, you are still seeking to paint a clear, well thought-out picture of who you are and your qualifications to the admissions committee. With an open-ended, no-word-limit essay, you have ample space and creative freedom to implement your strategy. In addressing the no-word-limit essay, blend in references to the topics you have determined merit more space in your application and, in addition, think about these matters:

Length

Don’t submit a book-of-an-essay that is 3,000 words or longer. We are sure you have led an amazing life and have enough accomplishments to fill a 3,000 essay, but the admissions committee will not want to read something that long and may be left thinking your ego is a little too healthy in size.

In most cases, you also should not submit a hyper-short essay that is 100 words or less. To do this can be read as arrogant, even if your credentials are outstanding in every way (professional, academic, and extracurricular). Are there exceptions to this? Of course. If you are an under-represented candidate who graduated Summa Cum Laude from college, have had promotions at a prestigious company like Morgan Stanley, have always received the top performance ratings, scored a 770 GMAT score, were student government president for three years during college and are certain you will receive glowing recommendations, perhaps you can afford to submit the 100-word essay. The rest of your application will speak amazingly to your credentials! But, most candidates don’t fit this profile, so you should use the essay as premium space to “make your case” to the admission committee.

As you decide on the ideal length, bear in mind that in the past couple of years, a typical-length MBA admissions essay set allowed for approximately 1,000-1,600 words, so that can give you a sense of what might be considered appropriate and not excessive in terms of a word limit. You may be able to state your case in 600-1,100 words.

Tone

What about the tone of the essay? Is it okay to make the essay tone more casual? Yes. Is it okay to make the essay tone more formal? Yes. There is not necessarily a right or wrong choice; it is a matter of what is the best choice for the needs of your candidacy and application. There are countless ways to compose a compelling essay. But remember, the ultimate purpose of the essay is to persuade the Harvard admissions committee to say “yes” to your candidacy. Adopt a style that can advance you toward that end.

Self-constructed prompt

When an essay topic is as open-ended as Harvard’s this year, some candidates make the mistake of constructing an essay that wanders in too many directions, rambles in parts and is not coherent. One way to help ensure you write a strong essay is to determine your own essay prompt. Thinking about what that prompt is can help you create a theme that permeates the whole essay. You may end up mentioning a mixture of professional, academic and extracurricular successes, and that is fine. But they should not be clumped together in a scattered sort of way. Flesh out what your theme is. For instance, a successful essay might present topics that reflect the theme, “This is what has influenced me to be who I am today.” Alternatively, a successful essay might reflect themes such as, “These are the things that motivate my future goals,” or “This is who I intend to be in 10 years,” or “This is my personal story and why my passion for my profession is so deep.” The possibilities go on. With such a potentially long essay, make sure your essay holds together well.

Specific personal values

As you draft, also bear other matters in mind. Certain schools value specific personal values and characteristics. Schools like Harvard, for instance, value proven leadership, strong ethics, curiosity and innovation. Consider including topics that show you have these traits.

Why HBS? Long-term goal? What can you contribute?

It is okay to touch on more traditional topics also. For instance, what are your long-term goals? Why is Harvard right for you? What can you contribute to HBS and through your future career? But try not to present a dry essay that simply answers the common MBA essay question, “What are your long-term goals and why our school?” If that was precisely what HBS wanted to hear about, it would have presented that as the essay prompt.

Other elements of style

Please also bear in mind that your style can vary greatly with an open-ended, no-word-limit essay. Even if you choose to write the essay as if the topic was about what has influenced you to be who you are today, you can do this by taking us back in time to a pivotal life event. Or you can take us forward in time to who you intend to be and reflect on the influence. Or you can adopt a straight-forward style and simply recount your main messages. Don’t restrict yourself, but also don’t forget that your adopted style should be – above all else – effective. It is better to have a straight-forward style that got you an “Accepted” reply than a creative style that failed to convey the key attributes that would have elicited a positive response from the admissions committee.


Good luck in your writing process and feel free to reach out to us at http://www.mbaadmit.com if you need some assistance!! The application is your very important "marketing package", so use it well!


Best wishes,
Dr. Shel (Shelly Watts)
President, MBA Admit.com

http://www.mbaadmit.com
Email: info@mbaadmit.com
_________________

Dr. Shel Watts, the Founder of MBA Admit,.com, is a Harvard and Oxford graduate with Harvard admissions experience and over 26 years of work with MBA applicants. Clients can opt to work directly with Dr. Shel in the admissions process. http://www.mbaadmit.com

Direct email address: info@mbaadmit.com

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Harvard MBA Admissions & Related Blogs   [#permalink] 07 Jun 2017, 21:29

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