B-School Application Season is Officially Upon Us!

phantombanker's picture
Rank: Gorilla | 711

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, GMAT/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:

  1. Tell us about something you did well. (400 words)
  2. Tell us about something you wish you had done better. (400 words)

  3. 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!

Comments (17)

May 22, 2012

Interesting format. HBS cares less about the essays than any other top b-school, so it's not surprising that they reduced it to just 2 essays. I'm guessing applications will go up a lot next year due to the more simplistic application format.

May 22, 2012

Hmm, I wonder when Sandy will release his point of view on this

May 22, 2012
Matrick:

Hmm, I wonder when Sandy will release his point of view on this

http://poetsandquants.com/2012/05/22/a-candid-look...

May 22, 2012

Brady, interesting observation. If applications drastically increase, but the class size stays the same, I think that would translate to a very high selectivity rate - probably even higher than Stanford's, which is basically the only statistic in which HBS is not first. Coincidence? I think not!

Matrick, I am sure Sandy will be displeased, but I am also sure that his "point of view" will be released when he changes his price structure for his services. In fact, I just took a look at his website and I see no mention of the option that he used to have which was priced by the essay (I believe like $500 or $600 per essay if I am not mistaken).

May 22, 2012
phantombanker:

Brady, interesting observation. If applications drastically increase, but the class size stays the same, I think that would translate to a very high selectivity rate - probably even higher than Stanford's, which is basically the only statistic in which HBS is not first. Coincidence? I think not!

Matrick, I am sure Sandy will be displeased, but I am also sure that his "point of view" will be released when he changes his price structure for his services. In fact, I just took a look at his website and I see no mention of the option that he used to have which was priced by the essay (I believe like $500 or $600 per essay if I am not mistaken).

No way HBS acceptance rate goes to stanford levels anytime soon. Stanford accepts around 7%. Given that HBS traditionally takes around 1,000 students per year, its # of applicants would need to go up from its usual 10,000 to around 15,000 in order to reach stanford level.

In terms of yield, HBS is already at 90%, the highest among not just b-schools but any school in America (undergrad or grad). To put this in perspective, Harvard undergrad had a 81% yield this year, harvard law at around 67%, and yale law at around 80%. Stanford gsb is also at around 80%.

HBS is very heavy on gpa, work experience, and leadership. If you read sandy's commentary on poets&quants in which he evaluates applicants' chances, he deducts a lot of points from applicants with sub-3.5 gpa and also people who did not exhibit a lot of leadership. HBS is actually not as strict on gmat; they routinely accept people in the 680-710 range, if everything else in their application is top-notch. And finally, they never cared that much about essay execution; primarily they want to read good inspiring stories of accomplishments. So someone who say worked at a major private equity fund but also did some cool non-profit work in a third-world country could write a mediocre essay and still get in because dean leopold cares about what you actually did rather than how the essay was presented.

In the other end of the spectrum, wharton and booth are very essay and gmat heavy. I know of quite a few HBS admits who were dinged at wharton/booth, mostly because they didn't take the essays seriously.

May 22, 2012

Good find ;)

I didnt' know that he changed his price structure. Then again, he's probably the best in the business so no wonder.

May 22, 2012

I have no idea how one can work at a mega fund or a top BB and found his or her own charity on the side?

May 22, 2012
Matrick:

I have no idea how one can work at a mega fund or a top BB and found his or her own charity on the side?

You'll be surprised. I know a few who have done such things. And those are the superstars who get into schools like HBS.

May 22, 2012

Hm interesting. I honestly have no idea how one would go about setting up a charity or non-profit...anyone care to elaborate or give some insight?

May 22, 2012

Fuck it. Guess it wont be HBS for me this season.

May 22, 2012

To address the last part of the OP's post, I personally think admissions consulting is a giant scam. I have personally talked to numerous consultants including the heads of several major b-school consulting services. In NONE of those cases were they able to adequately address my questions or convince me that their services are really worth the exorbitant fee that they charge.

The 2 consultants I do recommend for those who have money to burn and want to ensure that their essays don't get them dinged, are sandy "HBSGuru" Kreisberg and Alex Chu. They're the only ones who are brutally honest and won't sugarcoat your chances. The main downside to Sandy though is that he's a one-man shop, so it could take a very long time before he gives you feedback on your essays. But his analysis of your chances is pretty much spot-on, and he also does a great job with interview preps.

May 22, 2012

Start a business, you losers. You're gonna pay a shitload to learn how to be a consultant? Newsflash, it's not even a real career - it's all bullshit.

Grow some nuts and take a risk. If you're smart enough to go to Harvard, why do it?

That's where things are at...

    • 1
May 23, 2012
Tommy Too-toned:

Start a business, you losers. You're gonna pay a shitload to learn how to be a consultant? Newsflash, it's not even a real career - it's all bullshit.

Grow some nuts and take a risk. If you're smart enough to go to Harvard, why do it?

That's where things are at...

Just curious- which business(es) have you started?

May 23, 2012
duffmt6:

Just curious- which business(es) have you started?

I co-founded two internet businesses, both with annual sales of 800k+

Prior to that, I worked in finance in New York, with stints in HK and Tokyo. I also did an internship with Boston Consulting Group.

Business school is a joke in its current form, and consulting's a joke too. It's basically common sense. Companies bring consultants in because office politics gets peoples' panties in a knot when it's time for change. Moving a call centre from Bangalore to Manila? Come on. A high school student could figure that one out. It just made me realize how goofy the corporate world is.

Why are Harvard Business Grads, some of the most capable people in America (according to applicants), aiming for PE or consulting? Blah Blah, creative destruction, I know what you're going to say. These jobs are a JOKE. Oh wait, I know why....because these people don't have any real skills. There's such a thing as a consultant, but it's the guy with a PHD in Wave Mechanics who's advising a shipbuilder on design.

They should be turning these Business schools into entrepreneurship contests, with major incentives, and strengthening ties between STEM departments and the business department. I believe MIT has some of this going on, but there needs to be more of it.

And if Mitt Romney is the poster boy for HBS...trouble. That's what people crack him up to be. David Brooks, AC, the list goes on...."he looks at the world from a consultant's perspective". It was embarrassing watching him try to connect with voters in the Southern States. I realize this is a very small sample size, but Obama just comes off as a fuller guy, and I think that has a lot to do with his background. Maybe he didn't "create jobs" in a direct sense, but I'm sure he put a lot of people on a path to a better job. People who follow the IB, Consulting to Business School path....it's not producing the results America needs.

And I'm between the Democrats and Republicans right now

May 23, 2012

Thanks for sharing Brady. So what's the verdict? Has the admissions committee induced you to apply this year given how short the application is?

Matrick, starting up a non-profit can be as simple as putting in some thought, doing things, setting up a website. Things aren't usually as complicated as people make them seem. For example, if you want to start a non-profit helping students with dyslexia, you can launch a website with info about dyslexia, maybe do some fundraising for a scholarship, etc.

May 24, 2012
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