Our partners and friends over at mbaMission have posted their annual Harvard Business School Essay Analysis. Here is is what they had to say…
Harvard Business School (HBS) kicks off the MBA application season again, and this time it is doing so with a significant overhaul of its entire application. HBS has shrunk its written requirements from four mandatory essays of 400 to 600 words to two essays of 400 words each, but has added a new post-interview 400-word write-up (for the approximately 25% of applicants who are selected to interview), giving interviewees a mere 24 hours to submit their “last word” to the school.
Managing Director of MBA Admissions Dee Leopold has long held that essays play too prominent a role in the business school admissions process, but does giving candidates just two essays (analyzed later in this post) truly reduce the emphasis? We suspect that having only 800 words with which to make a lasting impression on the admissions committee, candidates will worry that they do not have enough space to successfully convey a full picture of themselves. We therefore expect that applicants will fret even more than usual over their essays, debating whether the two stories they have chosen to share will be sufficiently powerful and compelling, and giving their essays an incredible amount of attention. Meanwhile, to make up for this lack of space—and thus allay their fears that they have not shared enough information about themselves in their essays to persuade the admissions committee to admit them—they will likely “stuff” their resumes, interview sessions and recommendations with as much crucial information as they can squeeze in. In some ways, then, HBS is just forcing candidates to play a game of “whack-a-mole”—the school is trying to push information out of the essays, but the information will undoubtedly pop up elsewhere! As long as the admissions process is competitive and requires that applicants submit qualitative data, candidates will seek to gain an edge any way they can.
Here is our analysis of HBS’s essay questions for this year—we hope it will give you that edge.
To read the complete analysis, please visit mbaMission’s blog.