News, advice and resources for business school applicants
Jul 30, 2014

New Director Named to Lead Harvard Business School Social Enterprise Initiative

matt segneriHarvard Business School (HBS) has named a 2010 alumnus to direct its Social Enterprise Initiative (SEI), which seeks through an array of programs and activities to advance understanding of the management and leadership challenges organizations face as they work to create social value.

Matthew Segneri (MBA 2010) was named director of HBS’s SEI, which since its launch in 1993 has helped establish and promote the concept of social enterprise. He succeeds Laura Moon, who has become managing director of HBS’s wide array of Initiatives, which focus on research and course development in specific topics such as leadership, health care and digital technology.  Continue reading…

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Jul 15, 2014

Coding Finds Its Way Into Top Business School Curriculums

codingHarvard Business School (HBS) plans to offer a computer programming elective within the next couple of years, and other top business schools may be moving in the same direction as more companies seek MBAs with strong technical skills, according to a recent report in Bloomberg BusinessWeek.

Paul Gompers, who chairs the MBA elective curriculum at HBS, notes that MBA students there have formed coding clubs or head across to Harvard’s Cambridge campus to take introductory computer science, but that a course specifically tailored to business students is needed at the school.

“This is the changing nature of the workforce, and this is what our graduates are going on to be doing in the next five to 10 to 20 years,” Gompers told Bloomberg BW. Continue reading…

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Jul 15, 2014

Trivia Tuesday: The Case Method at Harvard Business School

SocratesThis week for Trivia Tuesday, we take a peek inside our Harvard School Guide to give you the scoop on their use of the case study method.

“Harvard’s mission is to ‘educate leaders who make a difference in the world.’ HBS seeks to accomplish this mission by admitting individuals with proven leadership skills and demonstrated records of success and then imparting the knowledge and skills they will need to be effective across a range of business situations. To accomplish this objective, the school places heavy emphasis on the case method of instruction.

“The case method defines Harvard’s MBA program. There are two components to the approach: the case study and the class discussion. The case itself is a short description of an actual business problem, as told from the point of view of one individual in the situation. Written by a Harvard faculty member who has spoken with the person at the center of the story and spent extensive time at the company featured, each case walks the reader through the considerations facing the protagonist, leaving students to determine how the person should proceed.

Continue reading…

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Jul 11, 2014

Fridays From the Frontline

GMATHello and welcome to Fridays from the Frontline, Clear Admit’s weekly exhaustive enumeration of the enterprising entries in the b-school blogosphere.  This week, current applicants are in full GMAT prep-mode, contemplating choice of schools and full versus part-time programs, while the Class of 2016 is looking forward to starting their MBA programs  in just a few short weeks, and all the life and career changes that will bring. This week we also welcome blogger QuietTiger81who is sharing his perspective as a second year student at Oxford

MBAonMyMind has added YaleSOM to the tally board, given the school’s focus on  social impact businesses, and with three weeks into GMAT prep, all is going according to plan. With a GMAT prep plan of his own, GrantMeAdmission is gaining on his 760 goal with three life hacks to help him stay focused and positive.  GrantMeAdmission also takes some time to discuss the pros and cons of doing a part-time MBA, and why he chose to go the full-time route.

Continue reading…

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Jul 7, 2014

Alumni Gift to Fund Construction of New Conference Center at Harvard Business School

Harvard Business School (HBS) last month announced plans to build a new center on its Boston campus that will serve as a place for students, faculty, alumni and business leaders to convene and share ideas. Called Klarman Hall in recognition of a generous alumni gift, the new building will feature a large conference center, a performance space and a community gathering space and is expected to open in 2018.

A gift from Seth Klarman (MBA 1982) and his wife Beth will make the construction of the new facility possible. Klarman is president and CEO of Boston-based investment management firm the Baupost Group, his wife is president of the Klarman Family Foundation and both serve as members of HBS’s Board of Dean’s Advisors. Continue reading…

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Jun 20, 2014

Fridays From the Frontline

GoalHello and welcome to Fridays From the Frontline, Clear Admit’s weekly summation of the best of the b-school blogosphere.  As the school year has finished, current students have taken the opportunity to reflect on the experience of first year, while MBA hopefuls are putting together a plan of action to ensure a successful application process. Those Round 1 deadlines are not that far off! (Check the Clear Admit blog for up to date deadlines and essay information.) Continue reading…

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Jun 19, 2014

Harvard MBA Admissions Interview Questions: Round 1 / Adcom / Off-Campus

Harvard MBA Admissions Interview Questions: Round 1 / Adcom / Off-Campus

I had my interview with 2 admissions committee members.
1 was the interviewer and the other was noticing my movements and body language
The questions asked were straightforward:

1. Walk me through your resume
2. Why you opted for MBA?
3. What are your main strengths?
4. What are your main weaknesses?
5. What are your post-MBA plans?
6. Is there anything I forgot to ask?
7. Is there anything you want to ask?

Interview was well and lasted for around 40-45 minutes.

Overall it was a pleasant experience. I was surprised by how friendly the Adcom was.

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Jun 17, 2014

Harvard Recommendation Questions 2014 – 2015

300px-Harvard_business_school_baker_library_2009aHarvard’s application is up, and our clients have begun sending out their recommendation requests.  Here are this year’s recommendation questions.

Recommender Info

The first question that may require some thought from your recommender is the following:

Please provide a brief description of your interaction with the applicant and, if applicable, their role in your organization. (250 character limit)

The character limit is hard, so your recommender will have very little space.  The main point of this section is to get the basic facts of the relationship out of the way: how long your recommender has known you (preferably with specific quantities), what the nature of your relationship was (if possible, with quantified statements about how often you met and in what context), and perhaps a quick statement of your biggest accomplishments as your recommender describes your role.

Short Answers

The core of Harvard’s recommendation are two short answers:

1. How do the applicant’s performance Continue reading…

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Jun 16, 2014

Harvard Business School Essay Topic Analysis 2014-2015

As we announced recently, Harvard Business School has released its essay question for the 2014-2015 application season.  Unchanged from last year, this prompt asks applicants to write only one essay, with no word limit given.  HBS Admissions Director Dee Leopold has suggested that some applicants may not even find the essay necessary to include in their files, thereby making this essay technically an optional one.  The school has still maintained its post-interview reflection, which will require those who reach the interview stage to submit a reflection essay within 24 hours following their interviews with the admissions committee.

With such a broad mandate, applicants will need to be careful when deciding whether to undertake the essay and determining its topic and length.  Let’s take a closer look at the essay question:

1. You’re applying to Harvard Business School. We can see your resume, school transcripts, extra-curricular activities, awards, post-MBA career goals, test scores and what your recommenders have to say about you.  What else would you like us to know as we consider your candidacy? (No word limit) 

The school has provided further advice of which applicants should take note, writing, “There is no word limit for this question.  We think you know what guidance we’re going to give here.  Don’t overthink, overcraft and overwrite.  Just answer the question in clear language that those of us who don’t know your world can understand.”

Before the 2013-2014 season, HBS traditionally asked applicants to describe at least one of their accomplishments, yet this year’s essay broadens the range of responses considerably and leaves applicants with a completely open field.  Leopold specifically notes that “Maybe there will be admits this year who say we don’t need to know anything else beyond the credentials they have already submitted – for them, the application may be ‘essay-less.’” The first step is for you to assess whether you feel you fit that description, and if you believe you are represented well enough by your other application materials, including your recommendations, test scores and undergraduate records, you may not feel the essay is a necessary component of your self-presentation.

While this may well be the case for some applicants, it will still be advisable for many candidates to take advantage of this prompt.  Although the essay is just one component of any application, it is the only opportunity applicants have to speak directly to the adcom in their initial materials and therefore a valuable tool for personalizing your file.  If you have an element in your profile that might represent a “red flag,” such as a failed course or a long gap in your work history, it will be especially important for you decide how to make this one essay work in your favor in terms of explaining your situation in a positive light.

Considering that this prompt is the only essay that the adcom will read, it is crucial that you select an approach that allows you to highlight some of the key strengths of your candidacy.  Although it may be tempting to draft a lengthy essay on traditional subjects such as your career goals, greatest successes, and interest in the school, the fact that HBS has been consistently trimming down its essay set in recent years likely indicates that a 1,000-word essay would be unwelcome.  Reflecting on whether your need for an MBA or specific career goals are adequately covered in your other materials is a great starting point for narrowing your focus, selecting your topic and crafting a succinct essay.  You should take care to steer clear of simply “recycling” essays from HBS’s peer schools, such as Stanford or Wharton, as the adcom will probably spot such an essay based on the highly unfocused nature of the HBS prompt and will not respond positively.

When evaluating an applicant’s credentials, HBS has traditionally been very focused on leadership qualities as well as the impact that the applicant has had on a project, group, or company.  Thus, as you brainstorm potential topics for this essay, it might be useful to think about any quantifiable positive change you’ve created that is not adequately described in your other materials.  You might explain the magnitude of a professional or personal accomplishment noted on your résumé, for instance.  You could also choose a particularly meaningful activity or project and share why it is important to you, especially given your personal or professional goals.  Keep in mind, however, the only real directive from the committee: sharing “what else” you want the reader to know about your file.  For this reason, applicants could do well to spend extra time fine-tuning their résumés and working with their recommenders in order to ensure that the essay topic does not overlap with anecdotes or qualities already covered in their other materials.

If you’re unsure of whether you’re on the right track with your chosen topic, try speaking with a Clear Admit counselor. 

Post-Interview Reflection

In line with the policy instituted in the 2012-2013 season, applicants who are invited to interview will be asked to write a reflection about their interview experience.  This essay must be submitted within 24 hours of completing the interview.  Additional instructions regarding the reflection will be sent to applicants who receive interview invitations.

To help draft this reflection, applicants would be wise to jot down some notes immediately after interviewing so that they can later refer to a clear record of what was discussed as well as what, if anything, they would have liked discuss but did not get a chance to cover.  When it comes time to write the essay, applicants should approach their response as if they are crafting a closing argument—or, in the words of HBS, “[having] the last word”—to their application.

You’ll want to take inventory of the message you’ve conveyed throughout your application materials (essay, résumé, data forms, etc.) and your interview, and then write your reflection with an eye towards emphasizing the key attributes of your candidacy.  Lastly, the 24-hour turnaround means that this reflection will require a focused effort from applicants as well as some careful advance planning.

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Jun 10, 2014

500 Harvard Business School Alumni Contribute to First Crowdsourced Article

Harvard Business Review recently published its first formally crowdsourced article, a piece entitled “The Capitalist’s Dilemma” that included contributions from almost 500 Harvard Business School (HBS) alumni. The experiment was designed to helped build on a theory put forth by renowned HBS Business Administration Professor Clayton Christensen about the flawed way that companies make investment decisions, which he first explored as part of a New York Times article in 2012.

Lead authors Christensen, who is best known for his work on disruptive innovation, and Derek van Bever, a senior lecturer in entrepreneurial management at HBS, used a collaborative platform developed by HBS alumni, called OpenIDEO, to first define the questions they were asking and later solicit input and peer review for the piece.

Colin Maclay, who directs HBS’s Digital Initiative, explained the approach in a recent article in the Chronicle of Higher Education. The concept of crowdsourcing an article was to put ideas “out in the open, so that, one, everyone can see them, and two, people can comment on them, elaborate on them further, and help to develop them, to take what might be a kernel of an idea into something that’s much more powerful,” he said.

“Part of our intention in piloting this was to demonstrate the power of this approach for other faculty at HBS and beyond,” van Bever said in a statement. “And we really believe that, going forward, taking advantage of this capability is not only possible, it’s really revolutionary in terms of the speed with which we’re able to work.

“But also with an alumni base as rich in experience and diversity of perspectives as ours is, you’d be crazy not to tap that if you could,” van Bever added.

The debut crowdsourced article was considered a huge success. “Clay has said very recently that he never wants to go back to the old method,” van Bever noted.

Digital Initiative, one of seven new cross-disciplinary efforts underway across HBS designed to examine and contribute to innovation and disruption in business, is now compiling a series of additional crowdsourcing challenges for the coming academic year. Next up is one that will draw on alumni from HBS and Harvard Medical School to examine ways to improve the quality of healthcare or reduce its cost on a large scale.

Read a Harvard Gazette article on the crowdsourcing experiment.

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Jun 10, 2014

Trivia Tuesday: Social Enterprise Initiative at Harvard

social enterpriseIt’s time again for another edition of Trivia Tuesday, our weekly examination of the programs and opportunities that differentiate the leading MBA programs.  This week we take a peek into the Clear Admit School Guide to Harvard Business School to share an excerpt on HBS’s Social Enterprise Initiative.

“Founded in 1993 with the support of John C. Whitehead ’47 and funded by continued donations from alumni, the Social Enterprise Initiative (SEI) aims to prepare both MBA and Executive Education students for socially responsible leader­ship in nonprofits, public management and private ventures. Several MBA electives, as well as the Required Curriculum’s Leadership and Corporate Accountability course, address the subjects of business involvement in the social sphere or strat­egy and management of social enterprises (s
ee Figure 3.1). Students also have the opportunity to pursue field-based study of these issues. Twenty-two faculty members list social enterprise as an area of research and teaching interest, with seven identifying it as their primary focus. Continue reading…

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