Top Insider Tips for Applying to HBS

October 16, 2014 | by Matt Symonds

Since Harvard Business School reduced its application requirement to just one essay in 2013 (which is now an optional essay), applying to HBS became a lot easier. But getting in is a whole other story. Several other top MBA programs have followed the lead of HBS by reducing their essays and it’s no surprise that following these changes, application numbers at some of these schools have increased. HBS is still one of the most difficult MBA programs to get into, with a 13% acceptance rate for students enrolling in 2014, so it’s critical to understand what the program is looking for as it evaluates candidates for admission.

In our new Fortuna Admissions video, Top Tips for Applying to HBS,  Malvina Miller Complainville, former Assistant Director at HBS, shares a few of her top insider tips for hopeful applicants. One of Malvina’s most important tips focuses on presenting your career goals. You want to make sure that your professional aspirations are ambitious yet realistic. Think about your goals in both the short term and long term, and have a backup plan in case your first choice doesn’t work out. HBS is looking to accept applicants who they believe will be strong candidates when applying for summer internships and post-MBA jobs so you should make a strong case for your employability.

Another helpful tip for HBS is to highlight your communications skills since class participation can count for 50% in many MBA classes. Harvard is known for its use of the case method and professors expect students to share their views and debate ideas in the classroom. HBS students will need to be prepared to respond to on-the-spot questions and not be afraid to vocalize their opinions. You want to highlight your own communications skills so think about your past experience in areas such as debate or delivering presentations. Consider examples of when you presented your ideas on a subject and convinced others to follow your suggestions. Also think about what you learned from these experiences.

Last, HBS not only teaches about leadership but also expects its students to demonstrate leadership in their personal and professional lives. Spend time thinking about what leadership means to you and the kind of leader you are and hope to be in the future. Reflect back on past examples when you demonstrated leadership and be prepared to speak about your specific role in these situations. HBS is looking for candidates who will be active leaders in the campus community as well as in their post-MBA careers long after they graduate.

To hear more on Malvina’s tips on applying to HBS, click here to watch her video.


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