With the release of the HBS application today, b-school application season has officially begun. There are some huge changes here, but I will let you see for yourself. Here is the application as presented by Dee Leopold, Director of Admissions:
Stage 1: Written Application
Demographic data, transcripts,/GRE scores, resume, signed acceptance of honor code, $250 application fee
Recommendations (3). Here are the questions for recommenders:
- Please comment on the context of your interaction with the applicant. If applicable, briefly describe the applicant's role in your organization. (250 words)
- How does the candidate's performance compare to other well-qualified individuals in similar roles? (250 words)
- Please describe the most important piece of constructive feedback you have given the applicant. Please detail the circumstances and the applicant's response. (250 words)
- Please make additional statements about the applicant's performance, potential, or personal qualities you believe would be helpful to the MBA Admissions Board. (250 words)
Essay questions (2) - yes folks, you read that correctly, only 2 essays this year! Here are the essays:
- Tell us about something you did well. (400 words)
- Tell us about something you wish you had done better. (400 words)
Stage 2: Interview
No change here: by invitation only, conducted by the admissions board either on campus, in a hub city, or via Skype; 30 minutes
Stage 3: Have the "Last Word" - this section is completely new!
"This is new. AFTER the interview, candidates are asked to do a written reflection on the interview experience which will be submitted via the online application system. This is a chance for you to have the "last word," so to speak." - Dee Leopold
There you have it ladies and gents. Here are some thoughts on the new application:
Clearly HBS has decided to focus less on essays (or at least to focus only on the two most important questions) - this could be an attempt to streamline the review process for the admissions committee. Personally, I think a few factors probably played into this. One, they were probably getting a lot of similar responses to the why MBA question and decided to just cut it and simply focus on responses to said question in the interview. In any case, I think this highlights the fact that the interview is a very important part of the process at HBS. Some schools do not put as much weight on the interview, have current students or alumni administer the interviews, etc. I think the fact that HBS cut down to 2 essays and have members of the admissions board conducting the interviews speaks for itself.
The new "last word" section is very interesting. I think it is similar to the "answer a question you wish we had asked" question from last year, but I like the fact that you ONLY HAVE 24 HOURS AFTER THE INTERVIEW TO SUBMIT IT. This is great for people who like to work under pressure, however I suspect that many people will attempt to pre-write it and simply update it after the interview so as to appear fresh.
With only 2 essays, and the "last word" essay, I think the admissions committee might be attempting to limit the impact of admissions consultants and essay writing services, among other things. I am all for this given that I refuse to hire an admissions consultant and feel that it can be considered an unfair advantage for those willing to shell out thousands of dollars for application "support" (this is not what education should be about). What are other members' thoughts on admissions consultants?
Also note that HBS has changed some of the deadlines for applications. Round 1 applications are now due on September 24th, 2012 (October 3rd last year). Round 2 apps are due on January 7th, 2013, and round 3 apps are due on April 8th, 2013.
All in all, I am very excited about the changes and for the direction that the application process seems to be heading this year. I will be reporting on other schools as they release their 2012 (class of 2015) applications / essays, but I ask that those who have already applied or are applying this year to please share their thoughts. I think we can all benefit from hearing what our members have to say and karma is highly undervalued. So thank you, and happy applying to all!