Harvard Business School Essay Analysis 2017 – 2018

Last updated on October 5th, 2017

Reading Time: 5 minutes

Welcome to this article in which I’m going to talk about the Harvard Business School MBA program, and its application essay. Firstly, with Harvard Business School, brand credentials are really gold plated. When you think of an MBA, Harvard is the name that comes to your mind. That’s the top selling point for Harvard Business School. In terms of global reach, whichever country you go to, it really gives you the passport of having an alumni network, and having credentials that people will take seriously. The name recognition is a huge thing.


The second thing is the case study method. Harvard really invented this thing, where they said, “We don’t want to teach you by theory, we don’t want to teach you by putting a ppt but we will actually give you a scenario so that students themselves participate”. Everyday, you don’t just walk into class and try to hack it and try to wing it by speaking something. You have to conduct your research the previous evening before you walk into the class. You need to have all your points noted down. You need to make sure that you’re able to present a very cogent argument either for or against the study that is mentioned over there. Remember, if you’re thinking that class participation is going to be easy, you’re wrong. Remember that you’re going to be surrounded by peers who are probably as rabidly competitive as you are. Everybody there wants to make sure that he/she gets their points across. It’s not very easy.


From our students who’ve been to Harvard, we have learned that there is one more thing that is special about Harvard. They have seen that public speaking and confidence level really shoot up in the two years. You are really confident of expressing your thoughts,  of dealing with objections, and of putting your points in a way that can be received better by the other person. You learn all of this at the Harvard Business School.


Next, you’re on the Harvard University campus, and you have various other departments at Harvard. Thus, in terms of infrastructure, the diversity of the student population, and in terms of taking courses/electives in other departments, I think there’s a tremendous opportunity here. You’re in Boston, you’re just across the road from MIT. It’s really a great place, and though it gets a little cold in the winter, it’s a great place to be.


Harvard Business School MBA Deadlines


Round 1 – Sept 6, 2017

Round 2 – Jan 3, 2018

Round 3 – April 2, 2018


So let’s look at the deadlines.


Most of the students come and ask, “what does it really take to get into Harvard?”. Harvard is looking for significant impact that you’ve made, either in your education, or in your experiences, or maybe even in your extra-curricular activities. You cannot be an average guy. You cannot be a mediocre guy; you cannot just have good grades and average experience. To give an example, let’s say you did your engineering with a score of 70%, and then went to work for a large IT company. You’ve worked there for four years and you did routine stuff and maybe a little more here and there but pretty much stuck to that. You have also participated in a little bit of an NGO activity or a hobby that you’ve pursued. You’re average.


Unfortunately, if you’re looking at Harvard, you need to have something that pops out of the paper. Something that makes people say, “Wow!”. People are not looking at a hundred things. One of our students, Raviraj, got into Harvard.  was from IIT Bombay, with a 750 GMAT. All of the things were in place, but what really made a difference was that he started a company while he was still in his fourth year at college. It got picked by a lot of media houses. In fact, he was featured in 27 different publications. He was also featured in Business World, Business Week and on Young Turks on CNBC. He made a huge impact. Now, here is the funny part, his company did not do well and they actually folded in. But the bigger thing is the experience that he had. There was something he did that was very significant. Something that had a huge impact. For that reason, he was able to put in a strong candidature at Harvard.


Let’s now get into the actual essays that you have.




Harvard Business School MBA Essays 2017 – 2018


Essay 1


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)


There is no word limit and it goes on to say, “Don’t over think, over craft or overwrite. Just answer the question in clear language and that those of us who don’t know your world can understand”.


So don’t give me a lot of jargon and don’t expect me to understand a lot. I already have your resume, I already have your recommendation letters, I have your undergrad transcripts, I have your entire work experience, I have all your achievements, I have your GMAT scores with me, I have your Quant and verbal split. I have everything about you. I know all of this and now tell me something else about you. Now if you think about this at a very fundamental level, what Harvard is really looking at is that one story that inspires you. That one thing that gives me the “Why” about you. “What’ I already know but the “Why” I need know. Who’s the person behind all these achievements? What is the real inspiration behind what you do in life?


I will give you an example of a student who had applied to Harvard. He essentially had an entrepreneurial venture in the social space. Hewas into micro-financing and microcredit. He spoke about how he grew up in a family where his father and grandfather were farmers, and he saw the hardships that they went through. While growing up, he realized something as simple as taking loans. Farmers are usually affected by the vagaries of the weather. Sometimes, the monsoons are good, and sometimes they are bad. Invariably, they went to the local money-lender who used to arm-twist them and make them pay through their nose. That’s why he said that growing up and looking at these experiences, he realized that this was something he wanted to set right. He did not know how to do it, but education was the answer. He said, “I went to college not knowing what I would do to fix the scenario but I worked hard and got educated here, and went on to do my Bachelors in St. Stephen’s College in Delhi.” He then went on to get his Master’s. He also said, “When I went back and contributed, I felt in some sense that I am vindicating my parents, my grandfather, and my ancestors because this is something that they faced.”


Talk about something that is very close to you. Something that is personal to you, something that talks about impact because everything in Harvard is about impact. Are you a person who can make a strong impact in the world? It could be through anything, it could be through technology also. If you’re a technology person and you think Harvard is your calling, how will technology have an impact on the world? You need to understand that for Harvard, you can no longer talk about the small things. You need to talk about the larger vision. This essay also has the scope of what you want to do because that’s not mentioned anywhere. You need to talk about your experiences, your background and how you will change the world. I know it’s not easy but that’s how this essay has been designed. It requires you to think and brainstorm. It also requires you to talk to your friends and family, and really put in that core message. Once you have the core message you want to convey, you can blow up the other parts and figure out how to say what. ‘Why” is the core of this essay.


If you’re applying to Harvard, and would like to connect with us, go ahead and click the link below. We can help you draft your essays and can help you brainstorm.