Harvard Business School’s New MBA Application
Maria |
June 29, 2024

In the newest episode of Business Casual, the hosts unpack the significant updates to Harvard Business School’s MBA application. HBS has rolled out three specific short essays focusing on business impact, leadership, and growth, replacing the previous open-ended essay, under the guidance of new admissions director Rupal Gadhia. Maria praises the fresh, bold approach, while Caroline discusses the challenges applicants face with the strict word limits.

Tune in to discover how these changes could impact future MBA candidates.






Episode Transcript

[00:00:04.370] – John

Big news, everybody. Harvard Business School has changed its application for its MBA program. The school has replaced its one essay, which was open-ended, with three short essays, and says that it refreshed its criteria for evaluating MBA candidates in the future. Here Here are the three questions, and we’re going to talk about them and how we think you should approach them and what they really mean. There’s a business-minded essay, or it’s so-called, and it says, Please reflect on how your experiences have influenced your career choices and aspirations and the impact you will have on the business organizations and communities you plan to serve. 300 words. That’s your answer. Leadership-focused essay. This one is in What experiences have shaped who you are, how you invest in others, and what leader you want to become? Then the third one is called the Growth-Oriented Essay. It’s also limited to 250 words, and it starts like this. Curiosity can be seen in many ways. Please share an example of how you have demonstrated curiosity and how that has influenced your growth. Up to 250 words. The new change Changes come with just 10 weeks before the first application deadline on September fourth, which some people may find to be a fairly short period of time to get ready and submit their best application.

[00:01:43.650] – John

But there was a delay of nearly two months. Typically, Harvard MBA candidates would know when and what the school expected of them two months earlier than this year. Maria, what’s your take?

[00:01:59.520] – Maria

I mean, well, first of all, kudos to Rupal for really making bold strokes here. This is not an incremental change in what the HBS essay has been for years and years and years. This is a pretty massive change in terms of the essay portion of the application. God bless her for really swinging for the fences in terms of driving change at an organization that can sometimes be resistant to change.

[00:02:25.150] – John

We should point out that Rupal Gadhia is the new managing director of admissions and Financial Aid. She arrived last October. She’s a 2004 Harvard MBA. She has no admissions experience. Previously, she was the global head of marketing for Shark Ninja Robots.

[00:02:44.460] – Maria

Go ahead. Yes, indeed. I think it’s really interesting that for years, not only did HBS have a completely open-ended essay, it was basically like, Well, what else do you want to tell us about yourself? Which could be interpreted in all kinds of delightful and sometimes irrelevant and terrifying ways. A full spectrum of answers could be given to that. But actually, even for years, they didn’t even have a word count limit on it. If you felt that you needed 2,000 words, and most students did not need 2,000 words, but every once in a while, you would encounter someone who really had had a fascinating life. And those 2,000 words, reading them sped by, it was such a delight to read. It wasn’t common, but it did happen. And so they’ve gone from having the most open-ended essay with zero word count limit to now having three very prescribed… Even underneath the umbrella topic. So for example, just to take one, the leadership-focused essay, It doesn’t talk about leadership in general, which could happen. We all know that leadership can manifest itself in many different ways. They specifically are looking at how do you invest in others, which to me is one important facet of leadership, but it’s not the only way in which to demonstrate leadership.

[00:04:01.340] – Maria

And similarly, the growth-oriented essay specifically focuses on curiosity. And yes, having a sense of curiosity can be an important catalyst for any growth that we undertake, but it doesn’t have to be the only catalyst. So not only have they suddenly introduced these three big buckets of topics, but within some of those buckets, it’s very constrained. It’s very, very limited. And I can understand why they did that, and we can talk about that. And I know Caroline has some insights from one of her colleagues about how she thinks that this helps the admissions readers’ jobs, and I agree. But we’re not talking an incremental change here. It’s pretty dramatic. It’s pretty prescribed. And I think the word count limits are bonkers. One of the first things I always do when I encounter new essay questions is I pretend that it’s 2002 and that the Maria of 2002 is applying. So what would I have in response to these essays. I think I don’t know that these essays would have let me show the best parts of my candidacy necessarily, or at least I would have to massage things a little. I’d have to say, Well, moving to Asia was because I was curious about new markets.

[00:05:16.640] – Maria

I’d have to force the best of me into the confines of their wording. I’d have to massage it and twist it like a little yoga pretzel to meet these constraints. I also think I would have a really hard time with some of these word limits.

[00:05:33.570] – John

So we’ll see. And to your point, I’ll go back to the leadership focus essay that you mentioned earlier. So you have 250 words, but really, there are three questions in this one essay. What experiences have shaped who you are? That’s one. How you invest in others? That’s two. And three, what leader you want to become? You’re going to do that in 250 words? Give me a break.

[00:05:58.770] – Maria

Experience says It’s plural. Yes.

[00:06:01.740] – Caroline

So that’s four things, right?

[00:06:04.700] – John

It’s really four things. There you go. Caroline, what’s your first impression?

[00:06:11.020] – Caroline

Yeah, well, so I had some discussions with my colleagues this morning, including Carla Cohen, who used to work in HBS admissions. She’s actually thrilled about this. She says that the problem was with the old essay that they would often get the kitchen sink, right? People didn’t know where to take the essay and so would ramble on and not necessarily say anything that was terribly useful for the file readers. So the file readers would get frustrated that the essay, in some cases, wasn’t terribly useful for them. And so they’ve introduced these signposts to make it much clearer to candidates what they’re looking for. And she also says there is no change to what the school is looking for. So fundamentally, how they’re going to be assessing candidates in the rubric that they’re using behind the scenes to score people will be unchanged. Those key qualities that they’re looking for are embedded in here. So they’re looking at leadership is very important, and that can easily come into two of those essays, right? There’s one essay on leadership, specifically, and then leadership should no doubt also be part of your business essay. They’re looking for impact on community and how you get engaged with the community.

[00:07:25.620] – Caroline

That is part of the business essay and can be brought into the other essays as well. And then also what she talks about appetite and aptitude, and I think that links to the curiosity essay, right? Curiosity is very important to institutions like Harvard and Stanford and top business schools because it’s such an important quality to have to be a good student, right? You want people who are excited to learn new things because they will be more engaged in the classroom. And so And they’ll have more to share. So I think that that is why they have brought that up. But as Maria said, it is quite specific. And so, it may have to do, as she said, a little reverse engineering. But with that essay, something else Carla commented on is that that’s a good opportunity to be vulnerable. And it struck me that with that essay, you can talk about how you’ve taken risks. And as Maria said, maybe she could have talked about how she took the leap to move to Asia. And that was a risk, right? Moving to a completely different country, complete different culture, the other side of the world.

[00:08:34.550] – Caroline

So I think that’s an opportunity to show how you’ve got out of your comfort zone and also be honest about how that has gone. And and show some authenticity there. So I think there’s a lot to dig into in these questions. I agree that the word count is going to be a challenge, and that is probably going to be one of the biggest difficulties for candidates. So I think people will appreciate having the signposts. And on the surface, it can be easier to… It looks like it’s easier to write 250 words, half a page, not a big deal. But as Mark Twain said, I didn’t have time to write a short letter, so I wrote a long one instead. So writing something in 200… Telling a story in 250 words is much harder than telling a story in 750 or a thousand words. So being concise is going to be very challenging, and I think it requires a lot of reflection upfront. You need to think very carefully about which examples you’re giving, because honestly, you probably can only give one example for each of these essays. And if you try to give too much, you’re just going to be skating across the surface.

[00:09:47.980] – Caroline

So I would say, even if it does have it in the plural, I would rather that candidates focus on one specific example, but identifying which is their best example will be critical before they get into drafting any material here.

[00:10:05.040] – John

Before we get into your specific advice on each of these essays for applicants, I want to just step back from the whole exercise and ask you, is this an inspired change? Is it a clever, smart change? It seems to me that the first two essays are very traditional and regressive in some way, commonplace and can be seen in slightly different words than most other applications. The newest or the freshest one is the one that focuses on curiosity. Am I wrong or right, Maria?

[00:10:42.020] – Maria

Yeah, that’s right. Because even when I was applying over 20 years ago, they had a separate essay on basically why do you want an MBA? Talk about your career path to date. I don’t remember the wording, but it was essentially very similar to essay one. But so, yeah, the The growth-oriented essay is definitely a new one. I think what does make it unique is this very explicit focus on curiosity as the primary facet or angle of growth that they’re looking for, as opposed to the other ways in which a person can grow. Emotionally, a person can grow with wisdom, a person can grow. There’s so many other ways that we can grow. But so having to either be something that was genuinely spurred by curiosity or taking your best growth story and then reverse engineering like, Oh, yeah, I curious about how to do this. Then you use that as the excuse to go into your actual story. That one is definitely one that jumps out as me as being fairly unique within the pantheon.

[00:11:42.100] – John

I like that question, frankly. I think intellectual curiosity is key to a fulfilled and meaningful life, and I’m glad that it is in here, much more so than the other two, probably. Caroline, let’s take the first one, the business-minded essay. I’m going to repeat it, and then you tell me what advice you have for applicants in this season to answer this 300-word limit question. Please reflect on how your experiences have influenced your career choices and aspirations and the impact you will have on the businesses, organizations, and communities you plan to serve. How would you approach that?

[00:12:25.230] – Caroline

I think they’re looking here for the logical thread from what you’ve done in the past and how that links to what you want to do in the future. So they’re looking to understand what has inspired you, what has triggered your passions, what is it that has put you on the path that you’re on and drawn you to apply to business school that inspired your career goals. So they will need to, as we’ve said, I think you need to hone in on one or two experiences, max, and really be thoughtful about how you to pick those examples. And I think the impact is an important word in that question. And so they’re looking to understand what person you are in the context of what impact have you had and what impact are you going to have in the future? And I would counsel applicants to not get too bogged down. Keep it brief when you talk about the future, because the school It makes the view that past performance is the best predictor of future success, right? So anyone could cook up a grand vision of what they’re going to do in the future, but it’s much more credible if you can show that you’ve built a strong foundation for that and you’ve achieved great things in the past and you’re on a path of growth, and therefore, you are likely to be able to achieve significant things in the future.

[00:13:52.800] – Caroline

So showing that really strong foundation of impact that you’ve had so far and then linking that to the future. I think it’s about that logical thread and about impact.

[00:14:05.410] – John

Maria, do you have something to add on the business-minded essay?

[00:14:10.340] – Maria

I agree completely with what Caroline said. This is not an essay where you take the total word count and divide it a third, a third, a third between the three sub questions. The future-focused stuff, as she said, it’s purely speculative. I almost wish schools wouldn’t ask it because What leader do you aspire to be? Or those sorts of questions. It’s just so speculative. If you don’t bring the goods, then you could say anything. But if you don’t actually have the receipt, as the kids today call it, if you don’t have the evidence that this is the leader you have been to date, then there’s no real value in speculating about what’s the leader I’m going to be in the future. The leader I’m going to be in the future is hopefully a better, stronger, more impactful version of the leader I am today. So that is where I would focus the essay instead of on the the more speculative future facing.

[00:15:04.180] – John

How do you say anything other than I want to be a collaborative leader who gets results? I mean, seriously?

[00:15:11.720] – Maria

Well, yeah, you’re certainly not going to say, I want to take over the world and become a dictator that starts nuclear war. I would not advise that. And that advice is free, ladies and gentlemen. No, but seriously, of course, you’re going to pick a great… You’re going to pick good examples that show you in a positive light, and then you’re just going to say something along the lines of, I want to continue to be this type of person. Or perhaps if you’re applying with a career pivot story, then you could say, Well, and this is why I now want to shift my energies and bring what I’ve already learned to now the sustainability sphere or something along those lines. But to Caroline, I completely agree with Caroline. I would not make this about your grand vision for the future and the CBS wording, which is like, within What’s your wildest imagination dream job? It’s something like that. They have an essay where, at least in the past, they had a phrasing that was like, go out there and just really tell us what your biggest dream is. I would not focus on that stuff at all.

[00:16:14.250] – John

Okay, Maria, The second essay, Leadership-Focused Essay, What experiences have shaped who you are, how you invest in others, and what leader you want to become? 250 words, say it all. What do you say?

[00:16:29.820] – Maria

Okay, so similar to the previous question, what leader you want to become, presumably you’re telling a good story about a time you have invested in someone else, and therefore the leader you want to become is someone who continues to be good or better. I do think that the emphasis should be on the second piece of that question, how you have invested in others, because the experiences that have shaped who you are can certainly be interesting. But first of all, these are things that happened to you as opposed to things that you actively did.

[00:16:58.880] – John

It’s also covered It’s better than the first question.

[00:17:01.640] – Maria

Yeah, there’s some overlap.

[00:17:02.970] – John

Reflect on how your experiences have influenced your career choice.

[00:17:05.690] – Maria

I know. There’s some over… I know. So yeah, there’s some thematic overlap. But this is more of a… It How you invest in others is something that is not necessarily career-related. It might have happened in a career setting. You might have invested in someone else who was a coworker who was struggling. You might have invested in someone else at work by starting a support group for other people who are also first-generation college students. There are different ways within a work environment or a work setting in which you can invest in others. But normally investing in others is something that I feel that specific wording is one that is a little bit more personal or touchy-feely. To that extent, I think the experiences that shape you, this would be something maybe shaping off the top of my head, how you mentor others or how do you support others or how do you show up for others when they need you. As opposed to more, the first one is more Well, I started a career in health care because my sister has diabetes. It is a little bit different, but there still is this idea of what shaped who you are.

[00:18:10.560] – Maria

The shaping part, though, again, to the extent that it was something that happened to you, As opposed to something that you actively did, I would focus most of the essay on that second part, or time or times that you have invested in others, because that’s where you’re the person driving the action. That’s far more interesting for me to read. The other thing I would caution people to keep in mind is that so many applicants… If you’re thinking about your essays in a vacuum, that’s great. But maybe also think about the fact that there are going to be 9,000 other people who maybe also had that high school football coach that inspired you. A lot of other people have had the grandmother that walked to the field. So just keep in mind that a lot of people are going to have similar major parts their lives that have been shaped in similar ways. But how you then choose to take action, given what you’ve learned and how it shaped you, what do you do with that? How do you then go out to others and support them? That’s going to be very different. We might have all had a family member who inspired us in a certain way.

[00:19:19.990] – Maria

That part might be similar, but maybe one person, it manifestsests itself in that they start a nonprofit, or someone else, it manifestsates itself in that they help one person one-on-one individually. I would focus on that middle part because that’s where you get to show that you are a leader who drives, hopefully, positive change in others.

[00:19:42.630] – John

Right. Caroline, your take on this question?

[00:19:46.080] – Caroline

Yeah, I agree. It’s best to focus on that middle part. So Carla shared some interesting context on this question. So she was talking about a book by Professor Frances Frey. I’m not sure if it’s Frey or Frey as German speaker, I would say Frey, but I apologize if I’ve got that wrong. So she’s written about leadership and talks about how it’s not about you as a leader, but it’s about how you’ve inspired others. And she says, We used to think of leaders and have them study themselves in the mirror, but actually it’s not about them. It’s about how you’re a wind of inspiration for others. And so she sees this this new question in that context. So it’s about how you inspire other people, how you’ve mobilized change, as Maria said, and inspired others around you. And so I think they’re looking to understand how you’ve done that, how you have influenced and and engaged with people around you. And I totally agree with Maria that you’ve got very little space here. So you need to pick a good example of how you’ve done that, link that to an experience that you’ve had and how that helped you to become that type of leader, and then show that logical thread again to the future.

[00:21:15.900] – Caroline

But again, don’t dwell too much on your vision of the future. You need to show that you’re ambitious, but also that there’s that logical thread of who you are, what you’ve become, what impact you’ve had, and then how that is going to lead you to have a greater impact in the future.

[00:21:34.790] – John

Okay, and then we have the third question. So, Caroline, this is the growth-oriented essay, Furiosity can be seen in many ways. Please share an example of how you have demonstrated curiosity and how that has influenced your growth. Again, 250 words is all you get to do that. What’s your advice here?

[00:21:56.780] – Caroline

Yeah, so I think the school is looking to see if you are someone who does have a lot of curiosity because as you said, that is a great quality for a student. It’s a very important part of a good learning orientation. If you’re not curious, then you’re going to sit in the classroom and not be to be engaged and not contribute to the experience. So that relates also to how an MBA program, so much of it is about the peer-to-peer learning, right? And so are you going to be someone who is able to draw out other people’s experiences and be curious about them and be open and vulnerable and able to share your own experiences. So that ability to engage in a learning community, I think, is really critical to top business schools and something that also Stanford talks a lot about. And so that’s clearly fundamental to this question. I think it’s an opportunity. I think you You can take it in different ways. And as Maria said, they might require a little bit of reverse engineering, but I think that you can show that you’re someone who has been led by your curiosity to be bold, to be courageous, to take risks, to go beyond your comfort zone and step out and do something different.

[00:23:23.190] – Caroline

And that may have gone well or it may have gone badly. I think you can be open and honest here and show what you’ve learned. So again, it’s a short word count. You’ve got to be very specific, get down to the nitty-gritty of the example pretty quickly. No long preambles and no long conclusions. But I think they’re looking to understand what growth journey you’re on because that’s going to be so important for your evolution and your development and your transformation at HBS.

[00:23:57.860] – John

Yes. Maria, what’s your take on this one?

[00:23:59.860] – Maria

Yeah, I completely agree. I do think that curiosity is an important characteristic for any MBA to have at any program. But I think specifically, considering the case method pedagogy, if you’re not someone who’s curious, you’re going to read what, 400, 500 cases in your time at HBS, and the chances are that one directly applies to your field of interest is like, what, two out of 400? I think I read two entertainment cases. I didn’t take any electives focused on the entertainment, but that was my at the time for my career. But we were also reading cases on people, I don’t know, like what was cranberry factories and industrial manufacturing companies and all kinds of… If you’re not someone who’s curious, you’re not going to get anything out of the program. Not only are you not going to engage with others, as Caroline said, and be that great classmate who’s helping others learn how to think in different ways and providing that different perspective, but you’re not going to get as much out of it because you’re going to say, Well, I don’t see how cranberries are applicable to me. You’re just going to dismiss it instead of saying, Well, how could I use this?

[00:25:06.000] – Maria

Is this useful for me? Maybe I could think about this in a certain way. I do think that because so much of the teaching there is through cases, and the chances are that the case will probably on its surface not actually be interesting to you. It’s not until you have to force yourself and be like, Well, what can I take from this? What can I learn from this that is useful for me? I think that’s really important. I do also think that out of the three essays, this is the one that is the one that’s going to be the biggest pitfall essay. I think that some people are going to use this as an opportunity to try to brag about their academic prowess. I think some people are going to say, Well, curiosity. I’m super curious. I’m an aerospace engineer. Let me tell you about this amazing algorithm that I developed where I built a wind tunnel. They might use this, I think, as an opportunity to brag about an academic… They may take it to brag about maybe an academic thing that they have taught themselves or learned about or something at work. I’m super curious.

[00:26:01.260] – Maria

I taught myself interest rate policy at my bank, and I’m so smart. I think the pitfall here for some candidates is this is about curiosity, but not I’m so smart. I’m smarter than everyone else. I’m the smartest person in the applicant pool, and you should take me because of that. So just be aware of that as a potential way to look at it.

[00:26:21.100] – John

Now, here’s something interesting. In the blog post, Announcing the Changes, there is a link under the word criteria criteria because Gadeya says, We have refreshed the criteria on which we will evaluate candidates. If you look at the criteria, it goes through these three questions, and then for this one on curiosity, here’s what it says, We will look for the ways in which you have grown, developed, and how you engage with the world around you. Nothing about curiosity. If you look for the second one on leadership-focused, it says, Your leadership impact may be most evident in community initiatives, or your professional work. So this is a clue that you could use any one of these to answer that question. And then on the first one about business-mindedness, Harvard is saying, We will look for evidence of your interpersonal skills, quantitative abilities, and the ways in which you plan to create impact through business in the future. I don’t know how helpful all that is. What do you think?

[00:27:26.900] – Maria

I mean, to the extent that those words, as you point out, don’t direct correctly tie to… I mean, they do, again, if we yoga, pretzel our way backwards, we can say, Oh, I guess it ties to the essay question in a way. But you’re right, they don’t necessarily… The growth-oriented thing. Yeah, I don’t even see anything about… Oh, it does have the word curious students for growth oriented in the paragraph above, but it certainly is not the only thing that they’re talking about. I also, just as a slightly unrelated note, the term business-minded, I really, really wish they would have chosen a different word, organization-minded, team-minded, something because… They do say in the direct from the director blog post immediately… Or where was it? Sorry, maybe it wasn’t on the director. On one of the blog post, it talks about how just because we say business-minded doesn’t mean you have to be from business. You can also be from other things. But then why did you choose that word?

[00:28:23.880] – John

Is it off-putting to nontraditional MBA students or would-be students?

[00:28:30.120] – Maria

Right. The ways in which you plan to create impact through business in the future. Yeah, but I’ve had candidates who want to create impact through the Department of Defense. They want to lead innovative defense initiatives, and they’re in the military and they want to go back to the military. They’re people who want to do nonprofit. Yeah, you could say, Well, okay, fine. We said business, but what we really mean is just organizations. Well, then why didn’t you just choose that? It’s very subtle. I don’t think anyone is going to say, Well, I was going to apply to Harvard Business School, but now I’m not going to because now they’re business-minded. But it does send a subtle signal that I think may be a little off-putting. You can see they’re trying to backpedal. Well, business-minded could be organizations. It says in paragraph above, business-minded is about the interest to help organizations succeed, whether in the private, public, or nonprofit sector. Then why don’t you just say organization minded? Because that’s broader and that does cover things like the military or your country’s central bank or things like that. Or results That’s such a nit to pick.

[00:29:31.140] – Maria

It’s such a nit to pick, I admit. But if there’s any school, all of these top schools, candidates read every word. This blog post is going to get reread and reread, and people are going to delve into every comma and semicolon trying to read the tea leaves. And so I just wish that there would have been a little… I just wish a different word would have been chosen. That’s all.

[00:29:54.870] – Caroline

Just in a defense there, it’s Harvard business school, right? So business is fundamental to the DNA of the school. And I think they have tried to explain in that paragraph that they don’t mean that you have to work in a for-profit business in order for that to be relevant. It’s more about what you’re looking to get out of the experience, what you’re looking to learn, and how you’re going to operate in the future. And you can apply those business principles in a lot of different contexts. So I agree that people could look at that and perhaps superficially think, well, then it’s not for me because I am not a business person and I’m not from that background. But if you are applying to business school, then that should say something about what you’re looking to learn and what you’re looking to get out of the experience.

[00:30:46.930] – Maria

Right. But for years, HBS went out of its way to say, we’re not just for business. The entire two plus two pitch to college undergraduates was, we’re not just for business people. If you want to run that a school system, if you want to be in the government, if you want to be a nonprofit, we’re also for you. You don’t have to go to a master’s in education. You don’t have to get a master’s in social work. The tools that we teach you can drive change in a variety of contexts. Like I said, I don’t think anyone is going to say, Oh, now I’m not going to apply, to be clear. I don’t think it’s going to impact anyone in that way. But to the extent that there are so many synonyms that are a little bit broader that could have been used instead. Like the first one that jumps to my mind is organizations. But I haven’t spent a lot of time thinking about it, but something like that, I think, could have been… It could have been chosen a little bit more carefully. That’s all.

[00:31:38.880] – John

All right. There you have it. That’s the bottom line on the new Harvard MBA application. Three short essays, two limited to 250 words, one limited to 300, and a slightly refreshed criteria in which to evaluate the answers that you give. I think there’s going to be a scramble in round one to fulfill these. We know that applicants typically do many draughts before they settle on something that they think is their best effort. And applicants to Harvard who are successful already have demanding jobs, and they’re typically working 60 plus hours a week to begin with. So it’s going to be a challenge, I think, for many round one applicants to feel good about the answers that they provide to these three questions. My final question to our two co-hosts is this. Is this helpful for MBA admissions consulting because of that round one deadline, which is right around the corner, or is it neutral? Would it not really make a difference? Caroline?

[00:32:49.170] – Caroline

Well, I would say that the timeline is a bit tight. I know it’s going to be a challenge for some candidates who have been thinking about their HBS this application for months already, and so have given a great deal of thought to how they would tackle the previous essay and now have to start from a blank sheet of paper. So I think that it is challenging for this particular batch of candidates and that’s just unfortunate. But at least I think they’re giving, as we’ve said, clear signposts about what they’re looking for, and hopefully the reflection that they’ve done already for the The previous essay and how they would present themselves, some of that reflection should be useful here. So it’s going to be important to take a step back and think about what are the best examples that they have, what do they want to come across? What strengths and results and examples can they give that are going to really come across strongly in these three essays? So it’s definitely going to require a step back. And then a lot of wordsmithing, I think, to get down to those particular word counts.

[00:34:05.240] – John

Maria, good or bad for your business. You already put up a triage video on your site, applicant lab, just before coming on the podcast.

[00:34:15.550] – Maria

Is it good or bad for a consultant? I mean, to the extent that the human response to change is normally not a good one. I do think that the fact that there has been such a drastic change will cause some people to maybe not panic. Panic might be too strong of a word, but certainly, if you have been working on your essay up until now, yes, will you be able to take some aspects of it and smush them into the new three prompts? Sure. But it’s certainly not that. They went from having a wide open field to having a fairly three little constrained corrals. I do think that that’s going to require quite a bit of work. I think to the extent that people will be looking for guidance on, Okay, now Now what? I do think that there will be more reliance on admissions consultants. I also wonder if some folks might delay their round one application to round two because they’re going to want a little bit of extra time, perhaps, to digest some of these questions. I hope not, but I can’t help but wonder if there are some people out there who are going to say, Whoa, I thought it was going to be this, and I was ready to go, and I was ready to hit submit today, because we all know there are people out there who are literally waiting for the day the application opens.

[00:35:29.640] – Maria

I do think that some folks might say, Whoa, I’m going to need a little bit of extra time on this, but hopefully not. Hopefully, if you’re listening to this, you will be able to take the existing reflection, as Caroline said, that you’ve already, hopefully, been doing. If you have written some draughts already, you can hopefully pick and choose and reverse engineer your stories to fit these three prompts.

[00:35:53.730] – John

All right. There you have it. I should also add that what has not changed is the post-interview reflection That is the email that is sent to HBS admissions. If you are invited to an interview, you have to send that within 24 hours of having that interview with an admission staffer, and that has remained the same. So check it out. There’s a fairly brief blog post on the Harvard Business School Directors blog, and then a little more detail buried in the website. You can read all about it, of course, on Poets and Quants. And to all of you out there who actually want to apply to Harvard Business School and do it in the first round, good luck. This is John Byrne with Poets and Quants. You’ve been listening to Business Casual, our weekly podcast.

Harvard Business School’s New MBA Application
Maria |
June 29, 2024


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