Harvard Essay Analysis

Harvard Business School Essay Analysis 2020-21

Last updated on August 7th, 2020

Reading Time: 12 minutes

Getting an MBA is definitely like adding another feather to your cap. And if you are someone who has years of work experience, MBA is a degree that will not only help you streamline your career but also help you in making a career shift.

And it’s when you start looking for good business schools that you get to know about Ivy league B-schools like Harvard Business School and others. But it is not just enough to know the names of the B-schools, you should know how to draft the perfect essays that will ensure that you get admission at the B-school of your choice. And in this article, we will be looking at how you should approach the Harvard Business School’s Essay.

So, if you are looking to apply to Harvard Business School this year, you might want to go through this article in detail as this is the key to drafting the perfect essay for your MBA application.

But before we get into the Harvard essay analysis part, here are a few points that you need to know about Harvard Business School.

Getting things straight

Brand credentials of Harvard Business School are really gold-plated. And that is exactly why Harvard is the name that comes to your mind when you think of an MBA. And of course, there is the 100 years legacy that the B-school carries.

Imparting knowledge the right way

Did you know that Harvard invented the case study method of teaching?

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”.

So, your course at Harvard will require you to do more than just turn up for the class everyday and try to hack it and try to wing it by speaking something. 

You will 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.

What Harvard is looking for

Most of the students come and ask, “what does it really take to get into Harvard?”. The first thing that you need to know is that Harvard is looking for a 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 just have good grades and average experience.

Let us give you 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 the routine work. 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!”. They are not looking at a hundred things. 

One of our students, Raviraj, got into Harvard. He was from IIT Bombay, with a 750 on the 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 more important thing is the experience that he had. There was something he did that was very significant. Something that created a huge impact. For that reason, he was not only able to tell them an impactful story but also come off as the right candidate for Harvard.

What’s in it for you

If you are a Harvard graduate, 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!

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 their public speaking skills and confidence levels 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, there’s a tremendous opportunity here. 

And last of all, you will be in Boston and you will be just across the road from MIT. It’s really a great place, and though it gets a little cold in the winter, it’s still a great place to be. 😉 

Now, let’s look at the actual essay that you need to submit to Harvard while submitting your MBA application. And yes, we said “essay” and not “essays”. 🙂

Harvard Business School MBA Essay 2020 – 2021

Here’s the essay questions that Harvard has for you this year:

Harvard 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?

Word limit: NIL

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”.

Here’s what it actually means:

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 and 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 them the “Why” about you. They already know about the “What” but the “Why”, they need to know it from you.

Who’s the person behind all these achievements? What is the real inspiration behind what you did and still 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. He was 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.”

Just like this story, you should 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,maybe even technology. 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 to tell them 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. 

We know that 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.

And so, if you’re applying to Harvard and feel that you need expert guidance to brainstorm and help you bring out your story through the one essay, feel free to reach out to us.

Before you leave, if you are looking to apply to Harvard, you need to know the deadlines, right?

So, here are the Harvard Business School MBA application deadlines.

Harvard Business School MBA Application Deadlines

If you really want to get into Harvard, you might want to keep these deadlines in mind. Moreover, with these deadlines, you can now plan your MBA application process better.

Harvard Business School MBA Application Deadlines
Round 1 Sept 08, 2020
Round 2  Jan 05, 2021

So, here we leave you with the most important points and dates that will help you get into Harvard.

If you would like to watch what our GMAT and MBA Expert, Arun Jagannathan has to say about writing your Harvard essay, you can watch the video here.

And as mentioned earlier, if you feel that you need more help in drafting your essays or reviewing your application or let’s say, even brainstorming your ideas, you can always reach out to us.

You can click on the image below and get in touch with our expert.