Earlier this month, Harvard Business School revealed that one in ten MBA students in this year’s incoming class had been rejected by the school when they first applied. That is an extraordinarily high number of re-applicants who made it through HBS’ admissions screen. At most other business schools, dinged candidates more typically comprise fewer than 10% of the entire applicant pool. At Columbia Business School, for example, re-applicants account for 8% of the entire pool, while at Yale School of Management they are about 6% of the pool.
HBS won’t disclose the number of re-applicants among the 9,686 who applied to the Class of 2017, but it has revealed that 94 of the 937 first year students had been turned down for admission.
In an interview with Poets&Quants, Dee Leopold, managing editor of admissions and financial aid, says that roughly 60% of the re-applicants who enrolled came from the regular applicant pool with the remaining 40% from the school’s 2+2 program which gives a deferred admission to undergraduate seniors who then must gain at least two years of work experience before enrolling in the MBA program.
‘SIGNIFICANT INCREASE IN APPLICATIONS THIS YEAR FROM FORMERLY DENIED 2+2ERS’
“There was a significant increase this year in applications from formerly denied 2+2ers,” Leopold says. “I hope that means our message is getting across. The deny letter to 2+2ers makes it clear that ‘not now’ does not mean ‘not ever.’ 2=2 would be a dumb idea if all the people who didn’t get into this tiny program went off and thought that HBS was not in their future.”
Indeed, the ‘deny’ letter obtained by Poets&Quants explicitly invites dinged candidates to apply in the future. “Although this is disappointing news, please understand that this letter says “not now” vs. “not ever.” The 2+2 cohort is only a small segment of the Harvard Business School MBA Class of 2020; we hope that you will continue to grow and develop as a student and a leader and consider an application to the MBA Program in the future (see entire letter on next page).
Leopold says that the acceptance rate for former 2+2ers is “markedly higher” for 2+2 re-applicants than it is for re-applicants in the general pool where the acceptance rate would be below the overall 12% level. She says that there are 82 former 2+2ers in the Class of 2017, accounting for 8.8% of the incoming students.