Businessweek Online has posted the transcript of its highly informative chat with Deidre Leopold, HBS’ executive director of MBA admissions and financial aid. A few highlights:
- HBS is changing its essay approach this year. Applicants will respond to two required core essay questions and a choice of three among six other essay topics. This should give you greater latitude in presenting your qualifications.
- "Calculus is not required for admission; however, a core evaluation criterion is a solid analytical and quantitative foundation. If I were to suggest coursework, it might be in the ‘language of business,’ as in financial accounting."
- Applications at HBS were up 11% this year over last year.
- We "use the essays to try to get to know the candidate. Use the essays to tell us about the real you, vs. trying to get our attention."
- "…we view rounds one and two as very similar and are looking for roughly an equal number of candidates from each of these rounds…round three is essentially used as a ‘shaping’ round—looking for candidates who round out the profile of the class."
I found her comments on admissions consultants to reflect growing, if grudging, acceptance of the field among admission committee members. She said:
"We understand that coaching and advisory services play a big role in the current culture While it’s understandable that candidates are trying to seek any information that may be helpful in gaining admission to business school, I would strongly advise that this be limited to self-discovery and exploration of career goals vs. giving anyone else an opportunity to be your voice and tell your story. The business school admissions process is not an essay-writing contest. The essays should be your opportunity to answer some thought-provoking questions and, in the process, find out something useful about yourself. The rest of your application—your academic record, work history, outside activities, and recommendations—are unique to your experience."
The essays should also be unique to your experience. If they aren’t, something is wrong with your writing. MBA admissions consultants and editors can guide you so that your writing articulately presents your unique experience and voice.