Harvard MBA Essay 2013-2014: Tips and Assessment

by on June 9th, 2013

Today, Harvard Business School caused a lot of buzz by reducing the number of its MBA application essays questions to one – and one with no word limit! This is the essay question:

“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?”

What should you do with the no-limit essay?

Don’t submit a book-of-an-essay that is 4000 words or longer.

Don’t submit a hyper-short essay that is 300-words or less.

Take a solid look at your credentials and experiences, and the blend of these that is most likely to make the admissions committee say “yes” to your candidacy. From there, think about how you can put your best credentials in the spotlight in order to persuade the Harvard admissions committee to say “yes” to your candidacy. You should also scour the application form and see what you are writing about in depth in other places – you don’t want too much unnecessary overlap.

For some candidates, the ideal information will be comprised of largely positive information that touches on their professional, academic and extracurricular achievements. For other candidates, you may also have a major flaw to discuss as well, such as a very low GPA. There should be space in the essay to address why that flaw does not define you and what other metrics or experiences are better indicators of your abilities and future potential for success.

You will do well to think about the type of content that most of the Top-7 MBA programs seek to see in their essays and cover some of that ground. What are you passionate about? What has influenced you to be who you are today? What are your long-term goals? Why is Harvard right for you? What are you greatest strengths? What can you contribute to HBS and through your future career?

This essay leaves lots of room for creativity, so take advantage!

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