Graduating class: 2010
Current Job Title: Strategic Planning Manager at Invesco
Essay prompt: "What would you like the MBA Admissions Board to know about your undergraduate academic experience?"
I first considered applying to Berry College while dangling from a fifty-foot Georgia pine tree, encouraging a high school classmate, literally, to make a leap of faith. Every autumn, my school's graduating seniors took a three-day trip to Berry to bond on the ropes course, talk about leadership, and speak frankly about the future, and it was on that retreat, after the ropes course, that I made my own leap.
I had narrowed my college choices to my top scholarship offers, but after a number of campus visits I still hadn't found a place that truly felt like home. On the retreat, I realized Berry College was different. The students I met were practical, caring, and curious. The 28,000-acre campus was idyllic. The atmosphere was one of service, leadership, and intellectual curiosity (as founder Martha Berry termed it, an education of the "whole person . . . the head, the heart, and the hands"). Berry also offered what I thought was the best opportunity to mold my own academic experience, take diverse leadership roles, and change myself and my college community in the process.
That is exactly what I did. Taking a "case method" approach to my undergraduate education, I complemented every academic lesson with a practical application. I supplemented my formal education in economics, government, and political philosophy with cigar shop chats, competitive international fellowships, leadership in student government, and in-depth academic research. Rather than studying communication, I practiced communication. As a freshman, I was the campus's top new television reporter, and as a junior and senior, I translated that passion for human connection into a stint as Berry's top newspaper opinion columnist and a widely read campus poet. I was the lead in a one-act play and led my college speech team to its highest ever national finish. I learned business, finance, and organizational leadership by founding a community soup kitchen and leading the campus investment group to unprecedented stock market returns; and in everything, I sought not simply to become better educated, but better rounded — a "whole" person—and to change my campus community in the process.
At Berry, I learned that you can stand trepid before a challenge, transition, or experience. Or you can embrace new challenges, define your own experience, and make a leap of faith. I am proud that my undergraduate academic experience was a period lived in leaps.
Why it works
Not only does the essay show that a brand name or Ivy League college isn't the only path to Harvard Business School, it does an excellent job of showing the author's personality through the narrative and the way it's written, has a clear sense of energy, and makes it very clear what John would bring to HBS.
Source: 65 Successful Harvard Business School Applications
Harvard Business School MBA Essay Topic Analysis 2017-2018
As we announced recently, Harvard Business School has released its MBA essay question for the 2017-2018 application season. For the second year running, HBS asks applicants to expand on their overall application. The school is also maintaining its post-interview reflection, which will require those who reach the interview stage to submit a reflection essay within 24 hours following their interviews with the admissions committee.
2017-2018 Harvard Business School Essay Topic Analysis
Let’s take a closer look at the essay question:
As we review your application, what more would you like us to know as we consider your candidacy for the Harvard Business School MBA program? (No word limit)
This year’s essay leaves applicants with a completely open field, but you can start by considering who HBS states they are looking for: students with a habit of leadership, analytical aptitude and appetite, and engaged community citizenship. The first step is for you to assess how you best embody these qualities, and how you may elaborate on them outside of your other application materials, including your recommendations, test scores and undergraduate records.
Of these three categories, leadership should be a priority focus. When evaluating an applicant’s credentials, HBS has traditionally been very focused on leadership qualities as well as the impact that the applicant has had on a project, group, or company. Thus, as you brainstorm potential topics for this essay, it might be useful to think about any quantifiable positive change you’ve created that is not adequately described in your other materials. You might explain the magnitude of a professional or personal accomplishment noted on your résumé, for instance. You could also choose a particularly meaningful activity or project and share why it is important to you, especially given your personal or professional goals. Keep in mind, however, the only real directive from the committee: sharing “what more” you want the reader to know about your file. For this reason, applicants could do well to spend extra time fine-tuning their résumés and working with their recommenders in order to ensure that the essay topic does not overlap with anecdotes or qualities already covered in their other materials.
Given the open-ended length, it is possible to cover more than one meaningful activity, project or accomplishment. However, the fact that HBS has been consistently trimming down its essay set in recent years likely indicates that a 1,000-word essay would be unwelcome. Moreover, it may be tempting to draft a lengthy essay on traditional subjects such as your career goals, greatest successes, and interest in the school; however, your need for an MBA or specific career goals may be adequately covered in your other materials. This should help to narrow your focus, select your topic and craft a succinct essay. You should take care to steer clear of simply “recycling” essays from HBS’s peer schools, such as Stanford or Wharton, as the adcom will probably spot such an essay based on the highly unfocused nature of the HBS prompt and will not respond positively.
In line with the policy instituted in the 2012-2013 season, applicants who are invited to interview will be asked to write a reflection about their interview experience. This essay must be submitted within 24 hours of completing the interview. Additional instructions regarding the reflection will be sent to applicants who receive interview invitations.
To help draft this reflection, applicants would be wise to jot down some notes immediately after interviewing so that they can later refer to a clear record of what was discussed as well as what, if anything, they would have liked discuss but did not get a chance to cover. When it comes time to write the essay, applicants should approach their response as if they are crafting a closing argument to their application.
You’ll want to take inventory of the message you’ve conveyed throughout your application materials (essay, résumé, data forms, etc.) and your interview, and then write your reflection with an eye towards emphasizing the key attributes of your candidacy. Lastly, the 24-hour turnaround means that this reflection will require a focused effort from applicants as well as some careful advance planning.
Clear Admit Resources
Thanks for reading our analysis of this year’s Harvard MBA essay topics. As you work on your Harvard MBA essays and application, we encourage you to consider all of Clear Admit’s HBS offerings:
Posted in: Admissions Tips, Essay Tips & Advice, Essay Topic Analysis, Essay Topics, Essays
Schools: Harvard Business School