An article that appeared in Wednesday’s edition of The Harvard Crimson described an interesting phenomenon that is happening in the first cohort of students who were admitted to the HBS 2+2 Program back in 2008. Rather than entering Harvard Business School as first-year students last fall, a surprising number decided to keep working and delay their matriculation for another year.
According to the article, of the 106 students who were accepted in the HBS 2+2 Program’s first year, 65 entered HBS this past fall, 40 postponed matriculation, and one dropped out. And the trend is growing: For the group that is supposed to start at HBS this coming fall, more than half have decided to postpone matriculation.
If you are a college junior who has considered the HBS 2+2 Program, this only adds to the attractiveness of the program. Some of our clients have expressed concern that they might end up wanting to work more than two years before pursuing an MBA, and we also have wondered whether two years of experience prepares someone as well as four years would.
So, we’re glad to hear that HBS is open-minded about letting students shape what exactly the program is for them. Our advice to potential HBS 2+2 Program applicants? If you are interested, aim for that program, and if you find that you feel ready after two years, then great. But, we would actually advise that you enter the working world with a three-year horizon in mind, and see where you end up.
We wonder if HBS will eventually crack down on this practice, or be flexible about a third year but then become strict beyond that. We understand that they do have numbers to manage, and can’t let students keep postponing indefinitely, but hopefully Harvard will continue to exhibit the same open-minded flexibility that it is shown so far.