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# Harvard Specific Question!!

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Director
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08 Sep 2004, 20:47
Omari:
I need your help in understanding the reason for the change in some of the HBS questions along with some "pearls of wisdom"..... Could you take some time and help me out:
Based on my what i've read/heard/hearsay/etc., i've come to the conclusion that everything at HBS happens for a reason - there always seems to be a method behind the madness. 3 of the essay questions between the 2004 and 2005 application have changed.

Questions 1, 3 and 4 have changed while 2 5 and 6 have remained the same.

Essay # 1:

2004:

Discuss a recent leadership experience. Briefly outline the situation and then describe your role, how you were effective, and what
you learned. (400-word limit)

2005

1. Describe a significant change that you brought about in an organization and its impact on your development as a leader. (400 word limit)

- To me these questions are similiar in the sense that both are looking for a "leadership experience", the outcome and lessons learnt from this experience. What was the driving force for the "slight" shift. What in your opinion is the adm comm looking for "behind the scenes"? Can you shed some light on this please.....Did something happen in class last year to cause this subtle shift that i should be aware of?

Essay #2:

2004
Describe a situation when you questioned your values and/or beliefs.

2005
Provide a candid assessment of your strengths and weaknesses

- I think the question was asked in 2004 because of all these financial scandals - TYCO, ENRON are both Harvard Alums.....;

For this year's question, what kind of strengths/weakness in your opinion are they looking for? For e.g. i dont want to use a weakness that would make the adm comm feel that "oh we shouldnt admit this type of candidate because of his weakness". On the other side of the coin i dont want to talk about a strength which would make me sound cocky/arrogant,etc, etc. Can you shed some light on this please?

Essay #3:

2004:
What do you find most challenging about working with a group?

2005
How do you define success?

I've heard that the "group" question in 2004 was asked because HBS had problems with students who didnt function too well in groups. On the same token what are they looking for when ask the "Success" question.

I hope not to come off as a "show-off" who knows about HBS when i make my comments on the 2004 questions.....I'm just very wary of the fact that every question is asked for a certain reason anf if i know the driving force behind these questions i'll be in a better position to explain/share experiences in my professional/personal life that are the most pertinent.

regards
gmataquaguy
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09 Sep 2004, 20:00
Interesting analysis. Honestly though, I think you're reading into the changes a bit too much. Over the last several years HBS has had a tendency to change a few essays while keeping some of the old essays from the previous year. The three accomplishments essays, for example has been a mainstay for a long time.

I think HBS sometimes introduces an essay for a specific reason (for example a call for more attention to ethics), but sometimes just introduces a new question to find out something different about applicants.

Overall, I wouldn't remain hung up about why they're introducing a certain question, but rather how to approach it -- which is what your other questions touched on.

To be honest all of your questions about approaching these types of questions are addressed quite extensively in our book Your MBA Game Plan. Nonetheless, I'll try and provide some insights here.

"1. Describe a significant change that you brought about in an organization and its impact on your development as a leader. (400 word limit)"

HBS is all about leadership, so this is a really important question to approach correctly. The thing I would stress is that it is vital to answer the second part of the questions. The admissions committee really wants to hear about what your approach to leadership is and how that has developed. For the first part of question, be sure to specify the impact you had -- don't be overly general.

"2. Provide a candid assessment of your strengths and weaknesses"

As my partner in crime (Scott) mentions, stay away from discussing character flaws as weaknesses -- items that you would have a difficult time changing. Still don't just say "I sometimes work too hard". Pick something that can be corrected and you might want to even go into ways that you're currently addressing it -- you can also talk about ways that HBS would help you address it.

Regarding strengths, don't worry too much about sounding overly cocky. Just mention a couple strengths that you've identified in your game plan that you want to come out in your application. And spend time explaining why you view them as strengths.

"3. How do you define success? "

This is what we call a "personal philosophy" question. The adcomm are trying to get into your head on this one to find out what makes you tick. It's kinda similar to Stanford's "What means the most to you and why" question.

Hope that helps.

- Omari
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Director
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14 Sep 2004, 19:07
Omari:
Thank you very much for your responses. I truly appreciate your input.

More than spending a certain amount of money on a book i'm worried about the time-spent...."Time is money and money is time". Could you maybe provide a "blurb/elevator pitch" on your book - something unique about your brand, pls. This will help me make a more informed decision.

regards
gmataquaguy
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14 Sep 2004, 20:26
I'd be more than happy to give you the elevator pitch:

Your MBA Game Plan (YMGP) focuses on assisting the applicant in developing his/her strategy for crafting the optimal application package. Most books simply tell you about each application component and provide some examples to help you fill them out.

YMGP is all about showing readers how to differentiate themselves from candidates with similar backgrounds as well as how to establish fit with their target schools. This is all accomplished by developing an "application game plan". Helping the applicant develop that game plan is the goal of the book.

You'll note that the book is purposefully shorter than most out of the market. We only include what the market said was "value-added". I.e., everything you need and nothing you don't.

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Director
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15 Sep 2004, 07:15
Omari:
Just a follow question: I clicked on your table of contents and you've presented live-links of the univs along with the a classification of each University's essay questions (e.g. Personal Philosophy, Personal Evaluation, etc. etc).
While the questions maybe different each year (for e.g. though you wrote the book last year i'm guessing the principles/what each school is looking for is still pertinent/applicable this year too, correct?).
Am i correct in saying in your book you provide the guideline/framework for each essay question for each univ (e.g. what are they looking for when the ask this question ,etc, etc) though the questions have changed since last year, correct?
If so this will be of great value add to me.

regards
gmataquaguy
CIO
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15 Sep 2004, 12:01
We wrote the book to be "timeless". In other words we didn't write it for a specific year -- the prinicples we discuss will always apply (unless the application process changes drastically).

To answer your question more specifically... We provide guidelines / frameworks for each essay category. This is accompanied by examples of questions that fall into that category and then an example of a good essay that falls under that category with accompanying commentary. You will find that every essay you come across falls into one of the categories discussed, which makes principles applicable year in and year out.
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