HBS Announces New Essay Question for 2015
In the spring of 2015, Harvard Business School’s Dean of Admissions, Dee Leopold, announced that the HBS admissions committee would move away from the optional essay question they’d introduced in 2013. Rather than fretting over “What Else?” the HBS admissions committee should know about them, thousands of HBS Class of 2018 hopefuls will receive their first “cold call” before even being accepted to Harvard Business School: The HBS essay question for 2015 asks them to introduce themselves to ninety hypothetical classmates.
The 2015 HBS Essay is, in fact, a script for an introductory speech to the ninety strangers, with whom you will spend your first year of classes at HBS. Read HBS’s essay question closely: “It’s the first day of class at HBS. You are in Aldrich Hall meeting your ‘section.’ … Introduce Yourself … Should you enroll at HBS, there will be an opportunity for you to share this with them.” “Should you enroll,” might be better worded as “should you not be gonged” by Dee and her crew after they’ve read your introduction. But no pressure …
Getting Started with HBS Essay 2015
Before they begin crafting their speech, Ms. Leopold asks that applicants view an approximately thirteen-minute video wherein the class tangibles—the case method, Aldrich Hall, team interaction, and individual passion and insight—figure prominently. With a clear sense of what role individuals play in a learning team, would-be Harvard MBA students can understand their value and position among their classmates by isolating the individual narratives, experiences, and interests that authentically allow them to stand apart from the pack while still contributing to its greater good.
Self-Discovery and Points of Difference
Without a doubt, applicants must chart a course of self-discovery before attempting this essay. Laying out eloquent narratives flush with leadership experiences that lack self-reflection or that fail to generate transferrable details about one’s self won’t suffice. Instead, applicants have to brainstorm their “points of difference,” and positively differentiate themselves from the competition; they have to ask themselves, “who am I?”, “what are my strengths?”, and “what and how will I contribute to my section and to the HBS community, past, present, and future?”. But, how do HBS essay writers distinguish themselves in their introductions without coming across as outliers or, worse, braggarts? The key to avoiding that pitfall is casting each point of difference into the benefits your new HBS section will receive from the things that set you apart.
Generating the Best Essay Content
To hit upon the most authentic, compelling content for HBS Essay 2015, applicants should examine their personal and professional experience with an eye towards what makes them exceptional. From there, the essay writers can generate points—highly specific, concrete content—about the talents, creative initiatives, and passions and interests that reveal who they are. Finally, to turn differentiators into connectors, applicants should consider how the things that make them different also make them of value to this group of 90 classmates and, more broadly, to the HBS community-at-large. Does that sound tricky? Indeed, it is.
Structuring your HBS “Introduction” Essay
Like all essays, HBS Essay 2015 must have a logic to its structure that allows the best details to shine. Limiting oneself to a reader-friendly 1000 words is one part of establishing that structure. Another is to isolate the five points of differentiation that best translate into a concrete value proposition to the HBS community. HBS essay writers must never forget their primary audience: the 90 section mates with whom they’ll be spending their entire first year. The audience wants to know how you will enrich their experience during your two years at HBS and beyond. Consider what they’ll be excited and surprised to hear about in this mother of all ice-breaker speeches—for example, they don’t want to hear about your affinity for the outdoors without hearing about what you’ve got planned for the HBS Outdoors Club.
As another example, you may have isolated your passion for learning about other cultures as a point of differentiation and want to share a memory from a six-month stint of work outside of your native country. From there, you should consider what about your immersion experience aligns with the HBS class composition and the numerous HBS clubs and student-led initiatives devoted entirely to celebrating cultural diversity. Mentioning a role you’d like to hold or an event you like to lead that is distinctive to HBS will allow you to bring this point to a strong, final close before moving on to the next.
Taking a Creative Approach
Uncertain of what to include when resume recitation and humble bragging about accomplishments or leadership triumphs are off the table? If after some self-reflection, you’re still at a loss for words, take a look at the Duke/Fuqua “25 Fun Facts Essay”. The Fuqua adcom’s essay writing assignment lowers the pressure a bit, and, after completing your fun facts, you can see which items truly shine within that list before returning to the more stressful work of drafting HBS Essay 2015.
MBA Prep School’s team of expert admissions consultants are uniquely qualified to help clients craft a rousing speech that will have your future section mates nodding their heads in approval that the HBS admissions board saw fit to invite you to Harvard Business School and thanking their lucky stars that the mysterious HBS section assignment algorithm brought you to their section.